Posts tagged ‘attacking’

Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3

We’ve recently released the third edition of our books on Coaching Team Shape. The first one covered the 3-3-1 for playing small-sided games. The second in the series looks at  the 4-2-3-1. This edition focuses on the 4-3-3 formation.

Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3 shows you how to give players the positional discipline they may be lacking with grid based training. Not only do grids force players to maintain team shape, but it also helps to improve their decision making, passing angles and gives them a deeper understanding of how to move the ball quickly up the pitch.

This excerpt of the book covers the movements of the central midfielders and striker.

Central Midfielders & Central Striker

The reason we will look at the central striker and the central midfield together is that the striker takes their position from the movement of the midfield. They should work by moving in a rotation to create angles for each other and cause headaches for the opposition. We will look at their movement depending on which area of the field the ball is in.

When the Defensive Midfielder has Possession Deep:
The most important factor for the 3 midfielders and CST is to work together and be a successful unit by rotating to constantly make diamonds with their movement and positioning. This gives passing options at different angles and depths to penetrate the opposition’s lines. The CST takes their position off the CM’s.

4.0 Continue reading ‘Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3’ »

Creating a ‘False 9′

This excerpt is from one of our most popular titles, ‘The False 9‘. This is a unique offer of both an eBook and videos that compliment each other very well. Detailed diagrams and descriptions from the eBook are followed up with video analysis that present a complete picture of the techniques and tactics that are necessary to create a dynamic False 9.

This section is from the chapter on Functional Skill Exercises. These types of exercises are important to use in whichever system you use but the ones presented here are especially useful in training the skills necessary to play in the False 9 position.


How to Create a Functional Skills Exercise

Functional Skills Exercises are passing exercises and drills that work the individual technical action. These are exercises that work specific actions within different size grids to create repetition with the technical action.

Functional Skills exercises are used to zoom in on a specific technical skill to create more repetition on that Technique. This could be players working with a ball, passing in twos or threes, or a full team with a number of balls passing and moving whilst repeating certain technical actions. Functional Skills Exercises are not built within tactical shape – they’re designed around, and are expected to focus on, a specific action.

Functional Skills Exercises are limited to 15 minutes and should not be used for a full session. These exercises are based on repetition and unless the session is progressed the learning outcomes are often poor. By progressing the session the player, will have opportunity to try out these skills progressively by receiving more pressure. The failing with using Functional Skills alone is the player can look technically sound but often they cannot reproduce the skill under pressure. If we progress the session, the player will also develop tactical knowledge. This will assist them in their movement, positioning and when to practise the given technical act or skill.

My reason for including Functional Skills is to not isolate many technical trainers who prefer using this type of training. I do however, recommend this is not over-used and is just a starting point to the training session.

146 How to create a functional skills session footage 1


Functional Skills – Circle Passing

147 Functional skills session circle diagram

Timing of movement and explosive actions.

Exercise Description:
This game starts with 1 ball then we can add up to 3 balls. This covers a straight pass into 9 with a one-touch through ball and explosive actions. Outside player to move towards the ball and the player on their left will explode and receive the pass.

Coaching Points:
• Speed dribble – Head up with lots of small touches
• Striking the ball – firm pass side-foot into selected end player
• Drop-off Pass – Move towards the ball and strike through the ball into the path of the runner

Explosive run – Break quickly, do not slow down, keep looking at the passer so you can see the pass.

Functional Skills – Creating opportunities

148 Functional skills session creating opportunities diagram


Improve passing options, ball speed, game tempo, timing of movement.

Exercise Description:
1. Players passing straight lines and follow the pass
2. Players pass to the diagonal cone and follow
3. Players pass a straight pass, bounce back then up

Coaching Points:
• On the balls of their feet
• Move towards the ball
• Slow down to cushion ball
• Standing leg slightly bent
• First touch out of the body
• Move towards the ball
• Head up and strike the ball back to teammate

This is only a very small part of a comprehensive look at the False 9. The eBook and videos go into great detail on the history of the position, the players that have made the most of the role, the teams that use it and how they use it as well as the training sessions and methods you can use to create this same success with your teams.

Whether you want your team to play with a False 9 or simply want to train players to be as versatile and dangerous as the most notable False 9 like, Cruyff, Messi, Fabregas and Eriksen this book will provide you with the blue print.

Have a great day!



Game Realistic 1 v 1’s

When many coaches create 1 v 1 environments for their team it’s limited to an attacker facing a defender who then tries to beat him to score. This certainly occurs during games but there are so many more scenarios that players need to learn how to deal with. This week I want to present ways to make the same old 1 v 1 exercise realistic to more scenerios that occur in a match.

A simple way to adjust the traditional 1 v 1 exercise is to change the position of the players and angle of the passes.


The angle gives the defender the opportunity to Continue reading ‘Game Realistic 1 v 1’s’ »

Combinations in Attack

These two activities that focus on attacking combination play are from a session contributed to the WORLD CLASS COACHING magazine by Renato Lopes Moreira. A new edition of the magazine is available each month as a part of the Member Drills Database. The rest of this article can be found in the March 2014 issue.

1v1+2 Continue reading ‘Combinations in Attack’ »

The Art of the Duel

These 1 v 1 exercises are from our latest book by Tony Englund, ‘The Art of the Duel‘. Here’s what Anson Dorrance has to say about Englunds book:

‘I am thrilled to endorse Tony Englund’s new book on 1 v 1 play.  The game in the United States continues to evolve at an astounding pace.  American coaches now have easy access to coaching methodology and training curriculum that is world class in every sense, and our players are increasingly Continue reading ‘The Art of the Duel’ »

Training 2 v 1 Situations

Playing indoor soccer or Futsal during the winter provides a great opportunity to focus on teaching players how to break down defenses in 2 v 1 situations. This is an important tactical situation for players to understand and be familiar with because so much of the game can be broken down to 1 v 1 and 2 v 1 situations.

A book by David Goldstein, 2 v 1 Attacking Drills and Exercises , provides a tremendous amount of insight into the technical and tactical elements of combination play against one defender. It is very comprehensive; starting with basic principles and patterns before moving on to exercises and small-sided games. Here’s a short excerpt as an example.


False Double Pass Dribbling Option from Diagonal Pass

What is illustrated is a possible solution for an attacker when the defender, labeled C, makes a recovery run by tracking attacker B which in turn blocks the passing lane. The attacker B receives the ball in Square A from attacker A. The pass is numbered 1. In Square A1 attacker B passes off the ball diagonally, numbered 1and attacker A steps forward to receive the pass with a run numbered 1.

In Square A2 attacker B spins around the defender C in an attempt to get the ball back behind the defense. This run is numbered with a 1. Defender C however, starts making an effective recovery run which disrupts the ability of attacker A to return the pass to attacker B. In Square A3 where the pass should be sent forward defender C’s good recovery run and closing of the passing lane prevents the pass from occurring. The attacker A, now in possession of the ball, does not have a workable Double Pass Pattern anymore.

One of the best options for the attacker with the ball is to dribble into and across the area where attacker B’s run pulled defender C out of the space with the run. This solution is shown in Square A3 and attacker A’s dribble is numbered 1. There are a myriad of possible solutions but this is an effective one because it exploits the space that the defender had to surrender to achieve the blocking of the passing lane.

Diagonal Wall Passing

This use of wall passing is not often pointed out, taught or practiced with players. The left half of the above soccer field is Diagram 14 A and the right half is Diagram 14 B.  I hope that I made this clear enough that if you just walk through it slowly all the lines should come clear.

The reader can see in Diagram 14 A, page 54, the attacker, labeled A, use attackers B and C to create wall passes diagonally across the field. Attacker A uses a Low Wall Pass Pattern with attacker B and a Curved Run with attacker C to get into a scoring position behind the defense.

Attacker A sends a pass numbered 1 to attacker B. Attacker A then makes a run past the defender.  The run is numbered with a 2 which allows the pass back from attacker B. The return pass is also numbered 2 because the pass and the run are essentially simultaneous. Attacker A then passes the ball to attacker C with a pass numbered 3. While attacker C holds the ball in a shielded position attacker A makes a Curved Run around attacker C. The run by attacker A is numbered with a 4. Attacker C then plays off the ball with a pass numbered 5 for attacker A to shoot at goal which is numbered 6. This attack is done across the field in an East to West motion and not in the more traditional North to South manner of penetrating a defense and attacking the goal.

In the right half of field the reader can see Diagram 14 B, page 54. Another East to West attack is demonstrated using 2 versus 1patterns to penetrate the defense. Attacker A uses attackers B and C to cut diagonally across the field. The first pattern that A and B use is a High Wall Pass followed by a more traditional Wall Pass that combines attacker A and C which leaves attacker A with the ball in a position to pass the ball behind the defense to attacker D who shoots the ball at goal.

Attacker A starts the sequence by dribbling at the first defender; the dribble is numbered with a 1, and then passes the ball to player B to combine for a High Wall Pass. The pass to attacker B is numbered with a 2. The return pass by attacker B is numbered 3 as is the run by attacker A past the defender. Attacker A then passes the ball to attacker C to start a wall pass. This pass is numbered with a 4 and the run by attacker A to get behind the next defender is also numbered with a 4. Attacker C sends a penetrating pass back to attacker A, who receives it behind the defense. This pass is numbered with a 5. The attacker A is now in a position to cross the ball to attacker D who is making a run towards attacker A in front of the goal mouth. Both the cross by attacker A and the run by attacker D are numbered 6. The shot on goal is numbered with a 7.

Three Grid Game: Set-Up

This shows the organization for the start of the Three Grid exercise. Each group has a goal keeper, two defenders in the grid next to their goal keeper, one midfielder in the middle grid and one attacker in the grid where they can score. The exercise requires four field players for each team and a goal keeper for each team. The black team defenders are lettered B and A. The black midfielder is lettered with a C. And the attacker for the black team is lettered with a D. The white defenders are lettered E and F. The midfielder for the white team is lettered with a G and the attacker for the white team is labeled H.  Goal Keepers are stationed on both ends.

Teaching players to recognize and deal effectively with 2 v 1 situations during the indoor season will transfer very easily to the outdoor game in the spring. If they can see the ‘pictures’ in a 5 v 5 game they can look for the same cues when the game is 11 v 11.

Have a great day,


Attacking in Transition

This is a portion of an article that appears in the November edition of WORLD CLASS COACHING Magazine. It’s available to all subscribers of the Member Drills Database. The article contains an analysis of the game between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. The author, Stevie Grieve, looks at the factors that lead to an effective transition resulting in a goal.

Direct passes into the striker need willing runners from deep to become effectiveBayern v Dortmund 8


As Gundogan receives possession, he quickly initiates a new attack by passing directly into Lewandowski’s feet to hold up play while 2 runners break wide from midfield to offer support on the counter attack.

Note both wide midfielders have dropped deep to cover the runs from Robben and Ribery on the sides.Bayern v Dortmund 9


As Lewandowski receives with his back to goal, he is unpressured and can turn to look for options for a forward pass to attack direct to goal using the speed or the support runners who both have 1v1 races on the outside into the spaces left by the full backs. If Lewandowski can turn, an attack is on.Bayern v Dortmund 10


Lewandowski turns and has 2 options, but chooses the best one – right to the faster and in more space to attack, Aubameyang, who runs through 1v1 against the goal keeper.

The reason this was the best option is because the right of the 2 centre backs is able to intercept a pass between the central defenders into Gundogan on the left, and there is nobody who can do that on the right side. Unfortunately the pass is slightly over hit and Neuer can make the save.

To see the rest of the article log in to the Member Drills Database or click here to subscribe.

Have a great day!


The False 9

Our latest book explores how some of the best teams in the world play with a withdrawn forward, also known as a False 9. The number 9 relate to the classic number given a the striker.