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Transitioning to Attack

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 28 x 32 Yards

Time: 15 mins

Players: 4 v 4 + 1


  • To force turnovers with a connected press.
  • To keep the ball afterwards and be able to make a quick decision on what to do with the ball.


One area with 4 goals and 4 coned areas in front of the goals. Two teams of 4v4 with a neutral to overload the decision process of the team that wins possession.


Pressing is a style that is very popular at this time, a lot of clubs/teams have a philosophy of pressing and coaches will show ways to press and where to go etc. This exercise is focused on what to do after you win the ball back from the press depending on the scenario you see.

Before I discuss that aspect of the activity it is important to ‘set up’ the press and give the team starting in possession a task. So, whenever the ball goes out of bounds or after there is a goal the team who starts is trying to maintain possession. They score by receiving inside the triangle between the goals and cones. The aim is to use the whole area by spreading out and switch the ball constantly away from the pressing team.

The players pressing cut off passes to nearby options and surround the ball to nullify the overload the other team has. Because players further away from the ball and on the other side of the press can’t receive the ball directly their larger numbers do not count and players can anticipate where the ball is going and step in front to win possession.

When the pressing team wins possession, they have 2 options, pass or move with the ball (dribble or drive). Below 1) the individual has space to drive in to and sees the goal straight ahead with no obstructions. 2) They can pass in the same direction they were going to go but this player may be in a better position to score and 3) they can pass away from the goal closest to them if players surround the goal.

After the initial press from the 1st team when they win possession the team who has just lost possession then becomes the pressing team and tries to score into the goals. This continues until there is a goal or the ball goes out of bounds. For each restart the aim is to move the ball away from the press and score by receiving inside the triangle area.


  • Add goalkeepers/or sweeper keepers
  • Each team can only score in 2 out of the 4 goals
  • Have one team always play possession after they press to win the ball back

By Sean Pearson. Sean is also the author Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1, Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1 and Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3

Getting Behind to Finish

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 46 x 38 Yards

Time: 20 mins

Players: 7 v 7


  • To make runs behind the defense from different angles
  • To make quick decisions when finishing with 1st time shots


Three zones divide the field into 3 sections. There is 6v6 in the middle zone with 4 players in the middle and 2 from each team on the outside in the attacking area to act like wingers. Only the goalkeeper is in the end zone.


This exercise is for teams who struggle with their players who want to either walk the ball into the goal or wait until the perfect moment to shoot. Either scenario is not ideal as the other team’s job is to stop both from happening. Now, if you ever play a much weaker opponent this may be enough, however to develop your players you should be playing teams who are roughly your level if not slightly better.

With even competition comes a challenge to score, one thing you need to have as a player is mental strength as it is not easy to continually overcome missing chances in the aim to score the next chance, but it is what makes great goal scorers great. It’s the mentality of not fearing the miss but the need to score and part of that is shooting when the opportunity is not always perfect.

This activity focuses on shooting with a 1 touch finish rather than take too many touches so the chance disappears, it also encourages players not to rely on perfect scenarios that rarely ever happen in a game, if ever.

The offside line is the line across that separates the end zone from the middle area. Players look to pass into the end zone and the receiving player has to shoot 1st time. Players can play directly into the end zone or use the wide players to do so. You want the pass to be central so the players shooting has a better angle to score from.

So as to vary the recipient who enters the end zone the wide player can make an out to in run behind a defender. Because of the angle of their run and the pass the shot in this instance should aim to curl around the goalkeeper.

Not all passes into the end zone need to be on the ground. When players have the ball and are one side of the middle area with all players moving towards the ball, the opposite winger can make a run into the end zone while the player on the ball plays a long diagonal ball over everybody, again the winger receiving the ball shoots 1st time with either a head or volley.

You can also encourage players to run from deep and run beyond the striker. To advance the activity and challenge the player shooting you can allow 1 defender into the end zone.

If the defender manages to win possession from the turning player, they pass to a player in the end zone and the play resumes but with the teams changing roles.


  • Allow 2 attackers 1 defender in the end zone then 2v2
  • Allow shots from the middle zone if the opportunity arises
  • Play with 6v6 in the middle zone and no players on the outside

By Sean Pearson. Sean is also the author Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1, Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1 and Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3