Goal kicks: Phases of play


Full pitch


Balls, goals, mannequins

No. of players

11v7 plus keepers

Session time

Goal kick scenarios 20mins total, 11v7 40mins total

This session focuses on the phases of play from offensive and defensive goal kicks and pass-backs.

It’s important to get goal kick phases of play right just as it is any set piece, given that it’s an opportunity to start an attack. Indeed, the good thing about running this session is that although the players set up for a goal kick, you can let them play a bit thereafter, coaching the rest of their game as well, because play will always start from a goal kick off the floor then go into a match-realistic attack versus defence situation.

It’s a short session so if the players have had a tough workout in the morning we might run this in the afternoon.

What do I get the players to do?

We set up 11 v 7, as shown, and are looking to work mainly with the team of 11. The team of seven set up as one keeper, two centre-backs, centre-midfielders and centre-forwards, with mannequins in the full-back and wing positions.

We now work through three different scenarios – opposition goal kicks (1), attacking goal kicks (2), and how to organise when the ball is passed back to our keeper (3/4)


1. The opposition keeper begins by kicking the ball out
2. If the ball is kicked towards the full-back and he has time to head it unchallenged, the winger must get wide early to pick up the second ball
3. If the ball drops to a yellow’s feet the first aim is to get the ball wide and begin a new attack
1. The opposition keeper begins by kicking the ball out
4. If the ball drops to a red, yellow defenders must ensure they win the ball back quickly and counter
5. The second centre-back should cover round until the first centre-back and opposing striker compete for the header. He should then stop dropping off and hold his position


1. Our keeper starts with the ball
2. When the defence has pushed up the keeper will aim to hit the winger most likely to win the ball and keep possession
3. Wingers are unchallenged in order to offer positive attacking options, but defenders can be added in the progression
4. In open play we must make simple passes. There is no need to try the difficult pass
5. They must hit crosses early between the defenders and the keeper and make strikers attack the ball


1. When the ball is passed back to the keeper, the centre-backs should drop and split to the width of the 18-yard box
2. Full-backs should pull out wide and make themselves available
3. If the full-back on their side of the pitch receives the ball the winger should move to a wide position
4. The central midfield player moves to support
5. The opposite winger moves forward to attack the far post


1. The defensive centre-midfielder should then make himself open for a keeper’s pass through the midfield, although he should only be passed to if he has time and space to turn. Usually, the opposing centre-midfielder will go with him, which creates more space for strikers and midfielders
2. The full-back should be ready to make an overlapping run
3. Midfield players move to support
4. If none of the five active players are available to play out, the keeper must look to play long and the defence will then squeeze up to pick up the second ball

How do I progress the session?

The progressions come with each scenario but eventually we can alternate between the three.

We can run this session as an 11 v 11, but 11 v 7 is best for working overloads and fashioning plenty of crosses and shots.

What are the key things to look out for?

Main technical and tactical instructions are shown on the diagrams, but there are specific guidelines for keepers and in respect of offsides that should also be addressed in open play.

Keeper instructions

If the full-back is on the ball under pressure the keeper supports from the near post side.

If the full-back has time, the keeper goes to the far post and looks to switch play. The strikers will have further to close down that way.


As far as offsides go, it’s for us to make a call on it, but players must never stop running. It’s okay for them to appeal with a hand up, but they must always play to the whistle and assume the referee isn’t going to award them a decision.


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