Attacking and defending
This is a general session that is made up of various practices that I like to run with teams at training on a regular basis in order to form good habits.
The focus of these activities is on attacking, defending and keeping the ball. They are competitive and enjoyable for the players and we hope they provide an engaging learning experience.
Some of the activities, such as the directional possession warm-up, are performed on a daily basis, while the remainder are probably run at least weekly.
Up to full pitch
Balls, bibs, cones, 2 full sized goals
Number of Players
Up to 20 players + 2 goalkeepers
Directional possession: 15mins
11v11 attack: 20mins
Defending 2v3: 20mins
What do I get the players to do?
We set up in an area of 35×25 yards. We’re using 15 outfield players, split into three teams of five. One team are floaters and they play for the team in possession – they have two players at each end and one in the main area. The other two teams are also in the main area, as shown .
1. The yellow floaters play for the team in possession. They have two players at each end and one in the centre. Play starts from an end floater
2. To score, the team in possession must work the ball from one end to the other, using the central floater if needed
3. The defending team presses to win the ball and if successful, they can play it to a floater at either end. They then become the new possession team
Play starts with a ball played from an outside floater into one of the teams in the main area and they have to work the ball from one end to the other to score, using the help of the central floater to give them an overload. They do so under pressure from the other team. If the defending team wins the ball, they can play to either end to start with but they must then play back to the other end to score.
What are the key things to look out for?
This activity makes players turn out and they do not always play the way they are facing, which is an easy habit to get into. To run this successfully players must develop a much greater awareness of what is around them.
What do I get the players to do next?
Next we set up on a full size pitch. For this activity we’re using 20 outfield players and two goalkeepers, split equally into two teams.
The teams line up for an 11v11 game and play starts with a pass out from the keeper. The team in possession initially attacks unopposed and must build up play from the goalkeeper to the final third, as shown [2a]. To start with the attacking team are not allowed to shoot, so each attack should end with a pass from the attacker to the defending team’s goalkeeper, who then launches an unopposed attack in the other direction. We play for five minutes and then progress the practice for a further five minutes, now making each attack slightly opposed.
1. Play starts with a pass from the keeper
2. The attacking team builds up play by passing through the thirds
3. To begin with the attack is unopposed and the defending team do not press or tackle
4. The attackers are not allowed to shoot but must pass to the opposition keeper, who then launches an unopposed attack in the other direction. Play five minutes unopposed and five minutes slightly opposed
For the final progression we introduce finishing, making sure the teams attack with match pace and intensity for 10 minutes, as shown [2b]. As this is now opposed, it can either be an attacking of defending session and we would concentrate on our key principles, stopping to coach the players when necessary. Play still starts and restarts from the keeper.
1. To progress the activity, teams should attack with match pace and intensity
2. The defending team can now press and tackle
3. The attackers are now allowed to shoot and score
We set up in an area of 40×36 yards with a goal and goalkeeper at one end. We’re using 15 outfield players split into nine attackers and six defenders. The attackers work in waves of three and the defenders work in waves of two.
Play starts with a pass from an attacker to a defender, who passes back to one of the three attackers. The attack then begins, as shown . Each wave of three attackers must combine to go against the defending pair and they should attempt to score. For their part, the defenders should try to delay the attack rather than win the ball, driving the attackers wide and away from the goal if possible.
1. Play starts with a pass from an attacker to a defender. The defender then passes back to one of the attackers and play is live
2. The attackers work in waves of three, taking on two defenders and trying to score in a 3v2
3. The defending pair should try to delay, forcing the attackers wide and away from goal if possible
This is good for basic defending principles as well as providing a lively test for the goalkeeper. The coach should call offsides. We play two games of 10 minutes.