Overloads in attacking play


Full pitch


Cones, balls

No. of players


Session time

3v2s 10mins, 4v3s 15mins, Overload build-up 20mins

Breaking down and dominating the opposition backline is essential if a team is going create genuine goalscoring chances in games.

Opposition teams will often set out looking to adopt a very defensive mindset, especially at the start of matches. Therefore being able being able to find a way through with positive and dynamic overload play is a fantastic weapon to have.

What do I get the players to do?

3v2 in and around the box

In a third of the pitch, we start with two defenders inside and three attackers outside the area. The coach feeds in to a defender, who plays the ball out to an attacker (1a) . This player must link up with his team mates to fashion a 2v1 situation, as highlighted  (1b), overcoming the lone defender then supplying the striker – who is 1v1 – for a positive end product. To keep things fresh we’ll rotate defenders and attackers.


• In the 3v2, two attackers must work together while their team mate looks for space


• Two attackers approach one of their opponents, leaving the other defender exposed 1v1 against the remaining attacker

4v3 overload

We divide a 72x44yard space in four. Attackers start in areas 1 and 3, while defenders begin in 2 and 4 – three players in each. The keeper serves into area 1, and an attacker passes through to area 3, with a team mate advancing for a 4v3 overload in that half (2a). Defenders can advance up to the halfway line in attempting to block the attack.


• In the 4v3, the full-back advances to create a 4v3 overload as a through-pass is made

If play is turned over, we either signal a restart or allow the counter-attack (2b).


• A good interception sees play coming back the other way. Whites attack with the claret player looking to regain position

Overload build-up play

The last game is played in the space between the two penalty areas. The area is split into thirds – clarets set-up as a 4-3-3 while whites are 4-4-2.

Again, the same principles apply, so in the first third it’s 4v2, with two full-backs moving forward with the ball to form a 5v4 overload in the middle zone (3a). In the final third, two progressing midfielders create a new 5v4 (3b). Attackers are therefore always switching overloads in their favour, looking to exploit mini 2v1 situations in each third. We again have the option of restarting with the keeper or allowing a counter-attack to develop in the opposite direction.


• In the final overload game, the 2v1 develops within the 5v4 overload in the middle section


• Midfielders press forward to maintain the attacking overload advantage in the final third

What are the key things to look for technically/tactically?

We require good movement in manufacturing 2v1 situations at every opportunity, and a worthwhile end product – a shot, pass or cross.

For defenders, shape is important – when repelling a planned attack that starts with the opposition keeper, but also when players have to regroup quickly in the event of a counter-attack.


  • Ball movementBall movement
  • Player movementPlayer movement
  • DribbleDribble
  • Optional movementOptional movement