Attacking team shape


Half a pitch


Balls, bibs, cones, 1 full size goal

No. of players

Up to 14 players + 2 goalkeepers

Session time

Unopposed attack: 20mins, Opposed attack: 20mins

This session offers the opportunity to rehearse the shape of a team while attacking from the middle third of the pitch to the opposition’s goal. This practice encourages team movement and develops an understanding of who arrives in the penalty area, when they need to arrive in the penalty area, and what the shape of the side should look like in varying scenarios.

It is set up with the players in team shape and in their own positions, which has a tactical and technical element that enables a coach to show each player their role in the team and why they are asked to be in their relevant positions. It helps players understand positional play, especially if you make changes to your team’s shape.

This practice can be used a couple of times per week with a duration of anywhere between 20 minutes and 50 minutes.


We set up on half a pitch with a goal and a goalkeeper (GK1) at one end and a second goalkeeper (GK2) to the side of the goal at the same end, as shown [1a].


1. Set up player in team shape in their usual positions. Play starts with a long pass from goalkeeper 2 to one of the opposition centre backs
2. The centre back receives and builds an attack from the back
3. The team attacks unopposed, using two-touch play in the build-up < /> 4. A minimum of three attackers must be in the penalty area to finish the move. The shot must be hit first-time

We’re using 10 outfield players, set up as a team in their usual playing positions. Goalkeeper 2 starts play by passing to one of the opposition centre backs, who are on the halfway line. The centre back receives the long pass and sets up the play by building an attack from the back.

The team attacks unopposed, with a minimum of three players having to enter the penalty area to finish off the move. To begin with we encourage two-touch play in the build-up and a one-touch finish from the attackers in the penalty box.

Once the first phase has finished, goalkeeper 2 plays a second ball to a player on the edge of the penalty area for a two-touch finish, as shown [1b].


1. Once the first phase has finished, players should remain alert and in position ready for another attack
2. Goalkeeper 2 plays a second ball to the edge of the penalty area for a two-touch finish

Attacking players must be alert to the second ball being played in. After the second ball is dead, we set up again and repeat this phase of play, starting with goalkeeper 2 passing to one of the centre backs again.

It’s important we use this practice as an opportunity to coach each player positionally. We would run the drill for 20 minutes.


We progress the practice by using the same set-up but we now make it opposed by introducing a back four to defend against the attack, as shown [2]. We would run this practice for 20 minutes.


1. Progress the practice by using the same set up but now make it opposed by introducing a back four to defend against the attack
2. Play still starts with a long pass from goalkeeper 2. One of the attacking team’s defenders receives and then play builds from the middle third

Another way to progress the practice is to vary the starting point of the attack, so for instance we could start play from a throw-in rather than a pass from goalkeeper 2. All other rules and restrictions would remain the same, as would the second ball that is played in by goalkeeper 2. We could also continue to add players to the defending team to increase the challenge for the attacking team, adding to the time spent on the activity as necessary.

To progress the activity further, we could introduce a change of play or a switch of play on the blow of the coach’s whistle.


  • Rotation of midfielders centrally.
  • Who are the players to get into the box and when?
  • Good distribution from the goalkeeper.
  • Overlapping runs from the full backs.
  • Good crossing ability and runs from the wide players.
  • The correct positioning of the holding midfielder.
  • The defensive unit should keep its shape in case of a counter-attack.
  • Good shooting technique of the advanced midfielders from the second ball.


  • Too many players making forward runs.
  • Players may be caught ball-watching from the back line.
  • Play can be too slow so limit touches to ensure quick play.


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