Penalty box session


Up to a half-pitch


Balls, cones, goals

No. of players

Up to 20

Session time

Link-up attacks 8mins, with full-back 8mins, with defender 8mins, game 2x8mins

This is about high quality of crosses into the box with good finishing.

It’s important to practise this because despite the minute attention to detail that soccer demands, it is basic technique, skill and tactical awareness that ultimately leads to goalscoring chances being created. And that applies at all levels of the game.

What do I get the players to do?

Player movement:

Players 1 and 2 link, feed player 3, then sprint to the box for the return
Players 4 and 5 link, feeding player 6
Players 7 and 8 link, feeding player 9
Players 10 and 11 link, feeding player 12
Players 13 and 14 link, feeding player 3

Two-box link-up attacks

We set up two goals a distance of 41 yards apart (two penalty boxes end to end, plus the D, as shown). The practice uses an even number of players – between 12 and 20.

In the first part, player 1 passes in to the coach, who sets the ball for player 2 to drive out to player 3. Player 3 controls and crosses for those two active players who have now made runs into the box (1a). After an effort at goal, players 1 and 2 join the queue behind the goal.


• Players 1 and 2 combine, feed the ball to player 3, then sprint into the opposing penalty area looking to score from the resulting cross

The sequence now comes back in the other direction, with players 4 and 5 combining to hit player 6 on the wing, and so on (1b).


• Now the move comes back the other way, with players 4, 5 and 6 combining to set up a similar chance

Full-back progression

In the progression, the drill starts the same way, but 3 now sets the ball back to 12 for a first-time cross (2). The practice then continues with the same new sequence – 4 and 5 pass out to 6, who sets back to 9, and so on.


• In the progression, the move commences as before, but instead of player 3 crossing, the ball is set back for player 12 to send over a long cross

Defender progression

Now put a defender in position at each end (3). This will require attackers to find space, as well as requiring greater accuracy on deliveries from wide players.


• Putting a defender in place creates an additional challenge – for attackers in finding space, and for wingers in picking out their team mates in the middle

What are the key things to look out for?

The tempo of the practice must be at match pace. If the session is too slow it doesn’t work. We’re also looking for the timing and angle of runs into the box to be precise, and players must attack the ball as a pair – one to the near post and the other to the far post. Attackers must use the pace on the cross and guide a finish into the goal. Crosses can be whipped in, driven or set back.

How would you put this into a game situation?

For a game situation, set up a half-pitch game with two wide players for each team. Goals can only be scored from crosses (4).


• Playing out the principles practised in a small-sided game, goals can only be scored from wide crosses into the middle