Counter-attacking masterclass

This session looks at counter-attacking with an overload. We run this regularly because when an opposition attack breaks down, it’s crucial we’re ready and prepared to break quickly, capitalising on the fact they are out of position.


Half pitch
Balls, cones, goal
Number of Players
Session time
Counter-attacking game and half-pitch game – 4x4mins each

What do I get the players to do?

Counter-attacking game

Setting up as shown, this game is 5v5. The object for each team is to link up with clever passing, break into the end zone and score in the goal (1a). Defenders cannot retreat into the end zone until attackers enter it. 


• In the counter-attacking game, whites attack at pace, move into the end zone and score a goal

When a team scores, the goalscorer has to run around the goal and re-enter the playing area from the other side. As he is doing this, the server plays a new ball into the area to the other team, therefore encouraging them to counter forward in a 5v4 situation (1b).


• The player who scores must run around the goal, and a new ball is served immediately, thus creating a 5v4 counter-attacking overload

Players who were previously on the attack are now defenders, their task being to contain and recover the opposition’s attack while their fifth player comes back into play. It is for this reason that counter-attacks are done at pace, so as to make full use of the one-man advantage. However, players must ensure moving at pace isn’t at the expense of losing possession (1c).


• But on this occasion the counter-attack fails, and whites find themselves back on the attack

Half pitch

Now we move to  a half pitch, with four groups of three attackers (2a), and two groups of two defenders who rotate frequently.


• In the half pitch game, the ball is fed to the whites who attack the goal 3v2

Blue attackers feed whites on the halfway line. These players advance, attacking 3v2 (2b). As the attack happens, blues assume the positions of the reds, ready to commence the next attack. When the white attack finishes, players exit to the opposite side they received the ball from.


• Clever movement and use of space sees the attackers work a goalscoring chance as blues prepare to start

To progress this practice, we leave two attackers on the pitch after each 3v2, also adding two extra defenders who approach from behind the goal. This creates a 5v4 (3).


• By leaving two attackers up the pitch and bringing in two defenders, we change the game to a 5v4

What are the key things to look out for?

In each practice players need to pass and move at pace. If too many touches are made, or if players fail to utilise good movement and positioning, attacks will break down. 

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