Supporting the striker

This session is all about encouraging players to make forward runs to support the striker. To make attacks lightning fast, it is also focused on getting the ball to the striker as quickly as possible.

We would run this session when we see a team that has defenders and wingers that aren’t very quick and aren’t good at seeing danger and getting into good positions.

SET-UP

Area
Up to two-thirds of pitch
Equipment
Balls, bibs, cones, 2 full size goals,
4 small goals
Number of Players
20 players + 2 goalkeepers
Session time
Support the striker: 16mins
Progressions: 16mins each
Small-sided game: 16mins

What do I get the players to do?

Support the striker

We set up on two thirds of a full size pitch with a goal at each end. A one-yard free zone is marked out across the width of the pitch, 17 yards from the goal, as shown [1].

1

1. Play starts with a pass from the keeper into the one-yard free zone. When the keeper has the ball, two defenders can drop into the free zone to receive
2. One attacker is locked in the free zone but he is not allowed to intercept the pass out from the keeper to the defender
3. Play builds up from the back but after at least three passes are made the ball can be played into the striker in the free zone
4. When the striker receives the ball, he can break out of the free zone but he only has four seconds to score


We’re using 20 outfield players and two goalkeepers, split into two teams of 11. We’re playing 11v11 but one striker for each team starts locked into the free zone.

Play starts with a pass out from one of the goalkeepers. When the keeper has the ball, two defenders can drop into the one-yard free zone to receive the pass and the opposition attacker is not allowed to intercept.

Play then builds up from the back, with the defender passing into the central zone. Teams must make three passes in the central zone before being able to play the ball to their striker in the free zone. The striker can then break out of the free zone to go 1v1 against the goalkeeper, but he has only four seconds to score.

Play four games of four minutes, as it is hard work in the central zone.

How do I progress the session?

Progression 1

We use the same set up, but in the progression two wide attackers are now allowed to run in behind the striker. They give the striker passing options and can go up against the goalkeeper in the penalty area.

In a further progression two defenders are also allowed to go into the penalty area to track the wide attackers, making it 3v2 in favour of the attackers, as shown [2].

2

1. In this progression, two wide attackers are allowed to make supporting runs in behind the striker and go up against the keeper in the end zone
2. Progress further by allowing two defenders to go into the area to track the wide attackers, making it 3v2


Progression 2

We progress the practice further by positioning a defender between the goal and the free zone. As soon as the striker in the free zone has received the ball, the defender can enter the zone to try and win possession, as shown [3].

3

1. Progress further by adding a defender between the striker and the goal. When the striker receives the ball, the defender can enter the free zone to try to win possession
2. When the striker receives the ball, he should be looking to play the ball back and link up with the midfielder
3. A midfielder combines with the striker and can enter the end zone with the wingers and the tracking defenders, making it a 4v3


An extra midfielder can also combine with the striker and cross through the free zone with the two wingers and two defenders, making it a 4v3 in favour of the attackers in front of goal.

When the striker receives the ball he should be looking for opportunities to play it back and link up with the midfielder.

How would you put this into a game situation?

We set up an area of 30×22 yards, with three-yard end zones and one-yard free zones at each end. We position four small goals, as shown [4].

4

1. The coach plays a ball for one team to drop into the free zone to receive
2. The team in possession builds play from the back with good passing
3. The team in possession must make four passes before the ball goes to the striker in the free zone
4. Attackers should make supporting runs into the end zone to receive a pass from the striker and finish in one of the small goals


We are using 10 players, split into two teams of five. It’s 4v4 in the central area and each team has a striker locked in the free zone at the end they are attacking.

Play starts with the coach, who passes into the free zone where one defender has dropped to receive the ball. The team in possession builds up play from the back and must make four passes before the ball can be played to the striker in the free zone. Team mates should now be making supporting runs into the end zone to receive a pass from the striker and finish in one of the target goals.

Progress by allowing a defender to track runs into the end zone.

What are the key things to look out for?

We are looking for the wide attackers to make well-timed runs and to see whether they run inside or make their runs outside. We also want to see quick passing through the midfield to get the ball into the striker as soon as possible.

The striker must be constantly on the move in his free zone so he is always open to a pass from his team mates. If he fails to be a passing option, the session will fail.

What are the typical mistakes players might make and how do I avoid them?

A typical mistake is that players can make too many passes – this can be caused by players missing the chance to hit the striker when the pass is on. To make a success of the session, players must be quick thinking and make the correct decisions.

Also, the wide attacker must be careful not to make his runs too early as he could easily be caught out of position if his midfielders lose possession.

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