EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

Shut down and break

Your defenders should not think their job is over once they’ve won the ball. If the opposition has attacked in numbers, it could be the ideal time to launch a counter attack. Use this session to encourage your defenders to identify and create attacking opportunities.

What this session is about

Moving the ball quickly up the pitch from defence.

What to think about

  • Speed – keep passes and touches to a minimum and be ready to spring into action.
  • Move directly towards the goal/target.
  • Sometimes, the fast break is not possible. It is important in these circumstances for defenders to keep possession and wait for the chance to play a forward pass.

Set-up

Play 2v2 in a 20 yards by 10 yards area, split in two halves.

Warm upSessionDevelopmentsGame SituationWarm Down
10 minutes15 minutes10 minutes15 minutes10 minutes

What you get your players to do

Each team lines up on its goal line. Play a 2v2 with the defending team restricted to its half. To score a point, an attacker must dribble the ball across the defenders’ goal line. If the defenders win the ball, they can launch an immediate counter attack. The attackers then have to get back to defend as quickly as possible. Once either team scores a point, or the ball goes out of play, possession is handed back to the original attacking team. Play for, say 2 minutes, then swap team roles.

The defending team wins the ball in their own half and counter attacks to score.

The defending team wins the ball in their own half and counter attacks to score.


Development

This time, if the defenders win the ball, only one can enter the opposition’s half. The defender in possession can either dribble towards the goal line or pass to their partner, who breaks quickly into the other half. If the counter attack isn’t possible, the only way a player can release their team mate into the opponent’s half is by crossing back into their own half with the ball (see the bottom picture).

A defender breaks into the opponent’s half but is closed down quickly.

A defender breaks into the opponent’s half but is closed down quickly.


Game situation

Play 4v4, plus two goalkeepers, on a 30 yards by 20 yards playing area. The team not in possession must have three players in its own half and looks to counter attack when the ball is won.

The defender returns to his own half to release his team mate and passes for him to score.

The defender returns to his own half to release his team mate and passes for him to score.


What to call out

  • “Get your head up.”
  • “Get on the move.”
  • “The attack starts the moment you win the ball.”
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