3v2 counter attacking

This is a great way to get young players to understand the concept of counter attacking – it can be used against any opponents and should be part of your attacking tactical bible.

Why use it

When teams win the ball especially in the opposition half of the pitch you want to see quick reactions and good team work to turn defence into attack.

Set up

You need balls, bibs, cones and two goals. Using half your normal pitch create an area the width of the penalty area x 41 yards split into three zones – outer zones of 16.5 yards inner zone 8 yards. The attacking team has a player either side of the goal and a third player at the side.

How to do it

Attacking team has the overload in a 3v2 using one player on each side of the goal and a third positioned to the side. As soon as the defending team concedes a goal or clears the ball, a third player comes in with another ball on a counter-attack and it’s 3v2 in the other direction. The two defending players closest to the ball – those who started on each side of the goal – react, doing their best to prevent the attack; the third supporting white leaves the area. The player who begins each counterattack cannot be the one who scores. At the end of each attack, the groups stay in the opposite side from where they started. Offsides can be applied if appropriate.


When in possession, look for players exploiting overloads in order to create goalscoring chances. This includes attacking explosively and making smart counter-attacking decisions. Without the ball, defenders need to close space towards the centre. Quick reactions on a transition are imperative – players situated closest to the ball will always be the ones to press.

Counter attacking

    1. The attacking team begins with the ball in a 3v2 overload with a pass from beside the goal out wide
    2. The wide supporting player dribbles into the attacking half of the area after a pass from the players beside the goal. They must get into the middle zone before they can receive a pass
    3. The attacker that started the move cannot be the one who scores the goal so a pass must be made to the supporting player

Counter attack

    4. When the counter attack happens the team that lost the ball must react and organise themselves quickly to prevent losing a goal – the player that started at the side goes off and the other two must defend the counter attack
    5. The counter attackers make quick penetrative runs to maximise the damage they can cause in the attack
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