Breaking the line


Breaking down a back four can be difficult – here, attackers learn how to create space and defenders learn how to close it down.


You need balls, bibs, cones and a goal in an area 32×32 yards split into 8×8 yard boxes. We used nine players in the session.


The attacking team pass the ball across their zone until one decides to take on a defender 1v1. The defenders are each restricted to one 8×8 yard box and can tackle the player with the ball or force them backwards or sideways into another defender’s box. Once through the defensive line the attackers try to score against the goalkeeper unopposed. If the attacker is tackled they go back and start again. Only the player with the ball moves beyond the defensive line.


The techniques to coach are defending and attacking in 1v1, 2v1 and team situations – skills, support, movement and speed all relevant here.

1. The attacking team must play the ball across the squares looking for an opening to exploit
2. The defenders must keep a tight formation ready to go 1v1 against the attacker.

3. Here the player loses the ball and the defenders can run the ball out of the squares
4. When the attacker moves into one of the squares the defender must move across and defend the area

5. Here the attacker breaks through the defensive  back four to go 1v1 with the goalkeeper
6. Now as players gain more understanding see if they can quickly exploit the moving defender to catch teams out

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