Running backs

This session will help school your players in defending against the many difficult situations that arise from opponents launching long balls down the pitch. A retreating defender chasing or running alongside an attacker has a number of problems to solve. He has to get the ball and make sure he doesn’t foul, especially in the penalty area.

Set up

Set up an area of 45×20 yards with a 15-yard square in one corner and a goal made from two cones. We’ve used 12 players. You need balls and cones.

How to play it

You need two defenders, one attacker and two servers. The first server plays to the second server, who hits a long pass into the target area. The defenders and attacker start their runs when the first server passes. The attacker has to control the ball and pass it through the cone goal in the 10 yard box, while defenders must try to win the ball and put it out of the area for one point or return it to the server without it going out for two points.
Defenders always start in the same place but move the attacker each time and alternate the second server between three positions. Each attacker has three goes.


This practice works on a range of skills. The defender must try to steal the initiative and deal with the ball if they can win it by forcing play, tackling or blocking.

    1. The move starts each time with a pass from one server to the other server, who plays a long pass into the target zone

      2. The attacker and defenders move as soon as the first pass is made, with the attacker trying to put the ball between the cones

        3. Move the second server so the pass comes from a different angle

          4. Move the attacker so his run is different – here the attacker is much closer to the zone and has an easy run on goal

            5. The attacker often has to use skills to control the ball quickly and gets it through the cones using shielding and a good first touch

              6. If the defenders can not only win the ball, but get it back to the server they get double points

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