The moment an opponent loses the ball is the time to exploit the opportunity of players being out of position, so this session looks at transitions and counter-attacking with a specific focus on running with the ball. MORE
This session is focused on counter-attacking, with the emphasis on encouraging teams to attack with speed and a sense of urgency. It’s a session that creates numerous counter-attacking situations and players get to experience 3v2, 5v4 and 1v1 scenarios. It is also a good test for defensive players, giving them plenty of experience in combatting a counter-attack, especially when outnumbered.
The session ultimately progresses towards the final activity, which puts everything that the players have learnt into an 11v11 game.
|Up to full pitch|
|Balls, bibs, cones, 2 mannequins,
4 mini goals, 2 full size goals
|Number of Players|
|Up to 20 players + 2 goalkeepers|
|Counter attack 3v2: 12mins
Counter attack 5v4: 15mins
11v11 game: 18mins
We set up on two thirds of a pitch, with a goal and a goalkeeper at one end. Two target goals and a mannequin are positioned on each side in a wide zone. We’re using 17 outfield players, divided into 11 attackers and six defenders, starting as shown [1a].
Two defenders begin by combining to bring the ball out of the penalty area before hitting a diagonal pass up the pitch to the first wave of attackers, who counter-attack against the defenders in a 3v2. They have seven seconds to complete the attack with a shot on goal.
At the same time as the central attack is going on, the attackers in each corner dribble into the wide zone and take on a defender in a 1v1. They should either play the ball inside to score in the target goals or run beyond the mannequin.
Once the attack has finished, players move as shown [1b]. The central striker re-joins the back of the central queue where he started, ready to take part in the next 3v2. The other two attackers from the 3v2 switch roles with the wide attackers, so they all get to practise both the 1v1 and 3v2 attacks. The defenders rotate their starting positions for the same reason. Play four blocks of three minutes.
As the activity progresses and the players get used to it, change the time limit on the attack to make it quicker by giving the players, say, five seconds to attack instead of seven seconds.
The speed of the counter-attack is vital, which is why we impose a time limit on the attack. If necessary, the coach can count down the seven-second time limit to instil a sense of urgency in the attacking players.
The two players on each side of the centre forward in the 3v2 must not drift too wide to be able to score, which is why we cone off the central attacking area to the width of the penalty area.
We set up on two thirds of a pitch, coned off from the corners of the penalty area to the ends of the halfway line. This is designed to force any counter-attack in the direction of the goal.
We’re using a goal and a goalkeeper at one end. We’re using 16 outfield players, split into two waves of five attackers and six defending players. The defending players are made up of two central defenders, two active defensive midfielders and two more who are waiting for their turn. Each wave of attackers is made up of a centre forward, two wide attackers and two attacking midfielders.
To start the practice, the two centre backs combine to play a pass in the direction of a team mate over the halfway line, which is intercepted by an attacking midfielder. The first wave of attackers must then counter-attack, with the player that intercepted the ball having to pass with his second touch, as shown [2a]. After the pass is played, the defending midfielders can then track back to defend, making it 5v4 in favour of the attackers, as shown [2b]. The defending players must communicate as they recover and should try to stop the counter-attack.
The attackers have an overload, which should help them take advantage of the situation, but they are allowed only seven seconds to try to score.
We set up on a full size pitch to play an 11v11 game. Set it up so the counter-attacking team remains low and compact, so they can win the ball and make the counter-attack successful, as shown . If the counter-attacking team fail to win possession and are unable to start a counter-attack within two minutes, the coach must manufacture a counter-attacking opportunity by playing a second ball into them and play continues from there.
Once the attack has either been successful or has broken down, set up again and start play from the centre circle with the opposition team in possession again and the counter-attacking team defending.