This session is about attacking players improving their decision-making and movement, and helps them build advanced understanding of how to create goalscoring opportunities around the box.
The modern game sees more and more attacking play through central areas of the pitch, so it only seems right to construct a practice that helps improve players’ potential to exploit these areas around the box.
At first the set-up is unopposed, but we go on to introduce defenders so as to create what is essentially a match situation.
Half a pitch
Balls, cones, goals, mannequins
Number of Players
Up to 12
Session 15mins, Development 20mins, Game situation 20mins
What do I get the players to do?
We set up on half a pitch but will generally use just the final third. The practice benefits from the use of five mannequins or large cones.
We set up as shown with three attackers outside an arc of cones and two more in advanced attacking positions (1). Outside players are two-touch, and must pass the ball around before feeding into the forwards. When they do receive, these forwards combine quickly, and with good timing. The end result is a threaded pass in between the mannequins (defenders) so that breaking the line presents a clear chance on goal. Ensure forwards make ‘opposite runs’ – namely one comes short while the other goes long.
• Outer players combine and pass into the forwards. One goes short, the other goes long in breaking the line, and the attacking move ends with a shot past the keeper
To progress the practice we replace the mannequins with four defenders, also adding in two extra attackers. Offsides apply and attackers can lay back to outer players if it benefits the idea of having a direct and dynamic final pass that the attacker can run on to (2).
• In the progression, mannequins have been replaced with defenders, and in this instance the outer player makes the final pass onto which the attacker runs and shoots
Again, forwards must look to play between defenders as well as ensuring they are not easily marked. Timing and direction of runs is critical – after all, the run dictates the pass.
To progress further, we can allow players behind the cones to have more of an active part in attacks. For instance, if one of these players is responsible for a final pass into the danger area, it enables attackers to time their runs onto a ball from deep, as well as offering variety in terms of how many attackers are going forward against four defenders (3).
• Here, intricate passing between and around defenders leads to the ball being fed to an outer player, whose deep cross enables attackers to practise staying onside as they break the line looking to score
How do I put this into a game situation?
Placing a goal at each end of half a pitch can produce, in effect, two halves of attack versus defence. Because there is little space to build up, what’s created is a quick set-up that transitions quickly from one team’s attack to the other’s.
This session improves and develops attacking balance when going forward.
Often we have to switch play or break out at pace, and it’s important that we retain structure and don’t become one-dimensional. To help achieve this we adopt our club philosophy of utilising the full width of the pitch when attacking. We will practise this in training in the same way that we construct it in a match situation, ensuring that players understand how and when to move the ball from one side of the pitch to the other. MORE
At any level, the ability to attack the opposition with quick, positive forward play can yield terrific rewards.
This session requires determined and aggressive forward movement and clever passing, and the key is to always be moving forwards or sideways – so never backwards, and never remaining stationery. If players follow this simple blueprint, we, as a team, have the makings of fast, invasive attacks, which are so dangerous. MORE
“…fantastic… I encourage all my coaches to read it,”