This is an extremely high tempo session that focuses purely on counter-attacking to create overloads and fast transitions to set up as many scoring opportunities as possible. The objective, as the counter-attacking team, is to transition from defence to attack and to flood the attacking zone as quickly as possible, using the overload target players if needed to break the opposition down and score goals.
Defensively, the defenders must track runners, get into defensive shape and get organised as quickly as possible, and on regaining the ball, they should launch their own counter-attack.
This session creates a fantastic work ethic, a strong team mentality, and it requires quick passing and movement to create goal scoring opportunities.
Defensively, due to the overloads, the defenders have got to do the hard yards to get behind the ball, get organised and defend with discipline. As the reward for putting in the hard graft, if the defenders regain the ball they can counter-attack. This helps to create a high tempo session and instils a hardworking, winning mentality in the players.
I would use this session in different forms as either a pre-season conditioning game in a large area or as a high energy, speed endurance session in a moderate size area on match day -3.
“This session creates a fantastic work ethic, a strong team mentality, and it requires quick passing and movement”
REVERSE GOALS GAME
We set up a playing area of 60×35 yards split into two 25-yard end zones with a 10-yard “free zone” in between. A full size goal is positioned on each free zone line facing into the end zones, as shown.
We’re using 16 outfield players and two goalkeepers. The outfield players are split into two teams of eight. Four red players and four blue players start in the free zone. The other four players from each team stand outside the end zones, as shown, with one team around one end zone and the other team around the other end zone. These outside players can support the play with bounce passes when their team mates are attacking but they are restricted to two touches on their first touch of the ball and one touch thereafter. Outside players can’t pass directly to other outside players.
The coach starts the practice by serving the ball into the free zone. The team that is given possession attacks towards the end zone surrounded by their team mates and the other team must defend against the attack.
In the example below, the red team receives the ball in the free zone and quickly attacks. Meanwhile, the blues recover to get back into defensive shape. To attack, the reds play a through ball for a runner to sprint onto in their attacking end zone and the red players combine to score, as shown [1a].
- The coach starts and restarts play by serving the ball into the central “free zone”, where the blues and the reds are in a 4v4
- The team that is granted possession, here the reds, works the ball towards their attacking end zone – the end zone surrounded by their team mates on the outside
- The out-of-possession team, here the blues, sprint into the end zone to get back into defensive shape and try to defend against the red attack
- After sprinting into the end zone, a red attacker receives a through ball from the free zone and sets up a team mate for a shot on goal
- The coach has restarted play and this time the blues have possession of the ball in the free zone
- The reds have been quick to recover from the central free zone and have themselves in good defensive shape in the end zone
- To successfully break down the red defence and score, the blues use their team mates on the outside to support the attack with bounce passes, creating an 8v4 overload
- Outside players are restricted to two touches on their first touch of the ball and one touch thereafter. Outside players can’t pass directly to other outside players
“The blues use the players on the outside to support their attack with bounce passes, creating an 8v4 overload to break down the red defence”
Play starts and restarts with a ball from the coach. In the example above the blues have received the ball in the free zone but the red team are quick to get back in good defensive shape. The blues therefore use the players on the outside to support their attack with bounce passes, creating an 8v4 overload to successfully break down the red defence and score,
as shown [1b].
However, if the out-of-possession team wins the ball at any time, they must counter-attack quickly by working the ball into their attacking end zone to create a goal scoring opportunity, as shown [1c].
If the goalkeeper saves a shot, they play it to the defending team to launch a counter-attack. If the ball goes out, the coach makes the decision on which team keeps possession and is absolutely pivotal in controlling whether the session has the desired energy.
- Here the blues try to work the ball into their attacking end zone by playing a through ball from the free zone
- If the out-of-possession team wins the ball at any time, as the reds do here, they must counter-attack quickly
- Here the reds work the ball into their attacking end zone to create a goal scoring opportunity before the blues can recover
What are the key things to look for?
In terms of attacking play, we are looking for good decision making by the players on where to dribble, where to pass, and on the detail of the pass – should it be a ground pass, a driven pass or a flat pass to get the counter-attack moving forward as quickly as possible? It’s also important that players can recognise where and when to use the help of the outside support players.
We want to see good off-the-ball support from the attacking players when creating overloads and they should use good angles, good support movement and effective shot selection.
In terms of defensive play, we want to see players tracking runners, delaying attacks and getting in good defensive shape behind the ball. Discipline in defending is also important, as is being able to spot the right moment to turn defence into attack.
What are the typical mistakes players might make and how do I avoid them?
The coach should control the session and its tempo and it is important this control is maintained.
Due to the session sometimes becoming over frantic, its can become technically very messy. It’s vital that the set-up of the session and the required outcomes of the session are always understood and communicated to the players.