Supporting the lone striker


The space between each 18-yard box


Goals, balls

No. of players

3 attackers 2 defenders 1 goalkeeper

The session is about working with a lone frontman. It concentrates on supporting play, attacking with pace, quality finishing, an end product, and exploring key areas of the pitch. 

We like to go with one frontman and encourage the midfield players to support. Attacking with pace gives opposing defenders less time to react and it therefore becomes easier to get in behind them. This technique also improves our own defending solidity, as our centre-halves are actively involved too. And, of course, being the type of drill that requires pace and movement, it is good for fitness as well.

What do I get the players to do?

We place goals on the 18 yard line of each penalty box, the width of which (44 yards) acts as the width of the whole playing area, and both ends are attacked one at a time.

Each attack is 3v2. Two attacking players start on their own 18 yard line with one forward acting as the target man, attacking the opposite goal, and marked by two defenders.

Play is started with a free pass to the target man, who then lays the ball off to either of the other two attackers who are now in play. Players have restricted time to score a goal, to be decided by the coach and reduced as the move becomes more familiar.

If defenders get dragged wide, encourage attackers to go through the middle.

If defenders remain narrow, encourage attackers to go on the outside to penetrate.

We work on this regularly and very often we see the results in matches (1a/1b/1c).


• Play starts with a pass to the forward. Fellow forwards move towards him at pace.


• The ball is laid off to a supporting man. The other forward attacks the space.


• The ball is played forward. In this instance, the first defender has been dragged out of position, opening up the possibility of a pass left or right.

What are the key things to look out for technically/tactically?

I’m always looking out for service to front men, the lay-off from the forward player, the pace of the attack, movement of the forward players plus, of course, the execution of hard and low finishes across the goalkeeper.

How do I progress the session?

Vary the starting positions of the defending and attacking players. Alternatively, make the pitch the full width and play four attackers versus three defenders. We would also bring in another goalkeeper and switch play, attacking end to end, always ensuring an overload of strikers (2a/2b/2c).


• To progress the move, start the supporting players as wide men.


• Attempt short passes in the middle instead of attacking forward passes


• Switch play end-to-end, always ensuring an overload of attackers.

How would you put this into a game situation?

Go with a full-sized 11v11. Work on the same principles of attacking with pace.


  • Ball movementBall movement
  • Player movementPlayer movement
  • DribbleDribble
  • Optional movementOptional movement