How to stop clever attackers

Use this session to help defenders to decide whether to hold up play or win the ball when outnumbered, often the attacker will have their head down looking at the ball – the defender can hold a goalside position so the attacker has to look up which is the best time to force a mistake.

Why use it

Get defenders to use clever positioning in seemingly irretrievable situations that often leads to attacks breaking down. Coach your players to read positions when outnumbered in defence helping them to make a decision hold up play or to win the ball.

Set up

Use half of your pitch. Create a channel either side of the centre circle 10 yards wide up to the 18-yard line. We’ve used 15 players. You need balls, bibs, cones and a goal

How to play

The players attack in twos and go one channel at a time. There should be one defender for each channel. The defender plays the ball to one of the attackers and then moves to cover the channel. The two attackers have 10 seconds to get the ball down the channel and take a shot at goal. The defender has to decide what to do – to stop them or hold them up for 10 seconds.


There are a number of decisions that have to be made by the defender here: where to position themselves in the channel, body position sideways on so they are not caught on the back foot, the art of changing 2v1 to 1v1 by moving quickly to cut off the player on the ball and attempt to win possession.

Stop clever attackers

    1. The session starts with one of the defenders playing a ball into the pair of attackers in their channel
    2. The defender must quickly get into a side-on position to make life difficult for the attackers

    3. The supporting attacker must move to give options if the attacker with the ball comes under pressure from the defender
    4. Here the defender times his move well and manages to close the attacker down before he can pass the ball and the move breaks down

    5. If the defender is beaten he must try and put off any shot – once the ball has gone dead the next group go immediately
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