Soccer drill to get players cutting across a defender

Attackers should move across the defender to make it harder for them to tackle when they are through on goal. This gives your attacker a better chance to score, because the danger is behind them and the defender either gives away a free kick around the edge of the area or a penalty. Use this soccer (football) coaching drill to help.

Attack and defend soccer drill

This soccer (football) drill session gets attackers to race past the defender and take the defender’s angle of recovery away from them. It is then between attacker and goalkeeper in a 1v1.

Have a helper behind the goal to collect any wayward shots. Or tell your attackers to follow any shots that miss the goal and bring the ball back. That way they have an incentive to get the ball on target!

Drill set up

Start this soccer (football) drill off using a third of the pitch – do this for all sizes of pitch. You need a group of attackers and a group of defenders. Once the attacker has run and shot you can get them to join the defender group and the defender join the attacker group so everyone has a chance to play each role.

Soccer (football) drill to get attackers running, shooting and defending.


Attacker and chasing defender stand 4-5 metres outside the “D”, with the attacker standing at a wider angle than the defender, who has their back to goal. The coach passes the ball toward the goal, and the attacker and defender sprint toward it. The attacker must beat the defender to the ball and cut across before shooting. Vary the angle and weight of pass so the attacker can practise running across the defender both with the ball and before gaining possession.

Develop the drill

Increase the pressure by having the defender face the goal but starting on one knee to allow the attacker a slight advantage in order that they can get in front and practise the skill. Finally, remove all conditions on the defender, although the pass should still slightly favour the attacker.

Using half a soccer (football) pitch, mark two lines across the width, one approx 20 yards away from goal and the second about 40 yards out. Play 4v3 in this zone, and have a keeper in goal. Play begins when the server passes the ball to one of the attackers, who must try to release a teammate from the central zone for a shot on goal. Once a through pass has been made only the nearest of the three defenders can leave the central zone and give chase.

Tony Carr is the Academy Director of West Ham United in the English Premier League and the editor of the Smart Sessions soccer coaching plans – they come in advanced and core versions. You can get these sessions dropping into your inbox every week by clicking here.

Click here for another attacking soccer drill.

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