Playing off the front men

This session is all about playing off the front men to get in behind the opposition’s defence. It will also help develop possession to create good opportunities to play into either of the two strikers up front – and then it works to improve combination play between the strikers or link play with midfielders to get in behind the opposition. It will have your team looking to slide balls between defenders or using wingers in wide areas.

It possesses all the key elements of the game and is very match realistic for players. The closer you keep training sessions to the game itself, the more engaging it is for players, and hopefully they can relate the work to what you want them to replicate in a real game. 

With the session taking place with 20 players in a relatively small area, it will ensure that it is performed at a good tempo because players must move the ball quickly and move off the ball to achieve success.

This could be used as a session for a Tuesday or Thursday in a normal week with the team playing on a Saturday. It can be used to try to build relationships with players within the team, especially a front two partnership. It is also an ideal session for trying things out with new signings and partnerships within the team. It would generally be a training session focused on our approach when playing in a 4-4-2 formation and how we want to play when we have the ball.


Up to 60×40 yards
Balls, bibs, cones, 2 full size goals
Number of Players
20 players + 2 goalkeepers
Session time
Total: 60mins
Each part: 20mins

What do I get the players to do?

Overload game

We would tend to use this overload practice after a warm-up (not shown). Set up an area of 30×30 yards. We are using 20 players, divided into two teams of 10. Five players from each team alternate around the outside, while a 5v5 is played inside the area, as shown [1].

The aim for each team is to keep possession by moving the ball quickly with their team mates.


1. Play starts with an outside player passing in to a team mate in the area
2. Players must move the ball quickly using their outside men for support, making it a 10v5 overload to the team in possession
3. Outside players must pass to a player in the centre. They cannot pass to another outside player
4. The opposition press and if they get hold of the ball they become the new team in possession

Play for two minutes before switching the players, so the outside men get their two minutes in the area. The numbers of touches players take can be conditioned accordingly.

What do I get the players to do next?

10v10 game

Set up a 60×40 playing area and divide it into four zones, as shown [2].

It’s 10v10 and players now set up in their respective shapes for this directional game. 


1. Balls are served in from the sides for defenders or midfielders to start off attacks
2. It is important that the ball is played forwards whenever possible, in order to get it quickly to the strikers.
3. Players score by passing to a team mate in the end zone they are attacking. The ball must be under control to score
4. To replicate a match, the end zones also mark offsides, so players must time their runs to make sure they are not caught offside

What are the key things to look out for?

The key to getting the ball to the strikers in the 10v10 game is the ability of the defenders and the midfielders to play forward – body shape is important so when players receive the ball they can see both the passer of the ball and the forward players. This means body shape must be side on to the pass with first touch key to the movement and passing ability of the player. 

The positioning of the midfield players is also important. It is vital that they are in positions to receive the pass and have options further forward, as this is key to moving the ball through the zones and setting up the strikers with a through ball on goal.

How would you put this into a game situation?

Set up on your pitch, using the space between the two penalty areas, with the wings coned off, as shown [3].

Play a game with normal 11v11 rules but with the twist that if the ball is played to the striker in the build up to a goal, it counts double. This reinforces the main theme of the session.

Encourage quick passing into strikers and movement to support them from the midfielders. You want to see teams attacking and scoring.


1. You want to see quick forward play from defenders and midfielders to get the strikers involved quickly
2. If the ball is played to one of the strikers in the build up to a goal, it counts double

Share this

Follow us