2v2s with recovery runs

This is a 2v2 exercise with initial focus on players making recovery runs, then being positive in both attacking and defending situations. It’s a great session to run during the week if we are looking to work players hard, or in pre-season when building up fitness.

It’s a fast-paced drill that requires players to work hard to recover, then affect play in a 2v2 situation. But it works well because players – defenders or attackers – have the opportunity to work on their strengths and weaknesses in their specific positions, with everyone kept engaged.


Up to a half-pitch
Balls, cones, goals
Number of Players
Up to 6v5 plus keepers
Session time
Drill and 6v4 plus keepers 20mins each

What do I get the players to do?

2v2 attacks

We set up as shown (1a), playing out attacks from each end, with attackers looking to work together to score a goal in a 2v2 situation (1b). We play until the ball is dead, then restart with the next group.


1. The first defender plays the ball accurately to the attacker opposite (clipping it at chest height)
2. The defender immediately closes his opponent down
3. As soon as the first ball is played, the second defender makes a recovery run to create a 2v1 defensive situation
4. The second attacker has to recover into an onside position before he can join in


1. Working together to find space, the attackers switch in the central area
2. Defenders fail to get tight
3. The previously left-sided attacker escapes through the gap and scores in the goal

What are the key things to look out for?

The key to success comes down to the positive attitude of the recovering striker. He must work his socks off to get into an onside position quickly before attempting to affect the play with a clever piece of movement or quick interchange. Being vocal is essential, as the striker with the ball needs to quickly assess options and make the right decision. If that man is getting isolated with defenders doubling up on him, make sure the second attacker gets onside quicker, thus distracting the second defender to leave his team mate one on one. If defenders aren’t tight, attackers will have plenty of opportunities to create chances.

Defenders must isolate the striker with the ball and try to take the initiative away from him (2). So the first defender engages the striker while the second recovers quickly to create a 2v1. And of course, we must see showing away from goal, adopting correct distances and getting side on, with the keeper acting as a third, communicating defender.

There are a few attacking tactics that we’ll expect to see. Firstly, the second attacker must distract the defenders by making a diagonal run in behind, leaving space for this team mate to attack.

The front two might alternatively make a quick ‘give and go’ to get behind the defence.

Alternatively, the second attacker receives a pass, then lets it run across his body to create space for a shot.

Finally, attackers can work an overlap and drag defenders out of position that way.


1. The defender has closed the attacker down quickly and shows him outside
2. The second attacker is too static
3. He inadvertently allows the second defender to double up and suppress the threat

How do I progress the session?

We progress by going in to a half-pitch with a 6v4 (or 6v5 with a defensive midfielder) as shown (3). We want to provoke scenarios that come up in open play, looking to encourage the same principles the players practised in the 2v2 drill.


1. Central midfielders are two-touch
2. Their focus is on creating 2v2 scenarios in the final third with the RB/CB, CB/CB and LB/CB pairings in front of them

How do I put this into a game situation?

We play 11v11, stopping to coach when seeing similar scenarios developing in the final third.

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