Tag Archives for " tactics "

3 v 2 & 4 v 3 + Goalkeeper

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 40 x 30 Yards

Teams: 20 mins

Players: 3 v 2 & 4 v 3 + GK


  • To use width against inferior opposition
  • Attack with speed and be positive in decision making


Two teams with players in wide positions off the field and next to the goal. There are 2 GK’s and 2 sets of balls next to each goal.


One team attacks 3 v 2 and looks to use width and decisions to beat the 2 defenders to get a shot. If they score all players come off and the other team comes onto the field and attacks 3 v 2.

If the 2 defenders manage to either tackle, intercept or make the attacking team make a mistake and lose possession, they can then counter attack with 2 players coming in (1 from each side) to attack the previous team 4 v 3.

Once the team either has scored or had a shot at goal then both teams exit the field to the side to allow the next attack from a team to start straight away. Players return to where they started. You can alternate where players start from throughout the practice.

When the next players start the attack the 3 v 2 is reversed. Encourage quick decisions and a fast temp to the attacks.




  • Only allow forward passes
  • Teams must shoot within 8 seconds

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

Building your Back Four

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 1/3 of a field

Teams: 20 mins

Players: 4 v 4 + GK


  • To work together as a unit to deny penetration by the attacking team
  • To move up the field together when the ball is passed forwards


1/3 of the field is needed. There are 3 teams that alternate being the defending team. The players at the back are neutrals. Set up 4 areas for each defender to force them to stay in position. Off side is in effect.



The aim is for the 4 defenders to work as a unit. By that they should be organized and know who should press and who should cover depending on where the ball is and who has the control of it. Whether it be in front, to the side or behind.

Whichever section the ball is in, the defender in that section pressures and the players either side cover them, this is to deny any space to penetrate through the unit. Communication is needed for the group to slide left or right, press & cover. Body shape is taken from the pressuring defender.


Defenders look to anticipate passes across the area and intercept them. Then pass the ball up to the neutral players to continue game realism.


When a player passes up to the neutrals all the players must act like the ball is going forward to the midfielders when playing a game. Thus sprint up to first line and reach it together so players can’t be onside if the ball gets played over or through from the midfielders losing possession.


Then have the 4 defenders face the 4 attackers using width. Place two players wide of the 18-yard line. Whenever the ball begins to travel that’s when players should start to sprint to pressure them to stop any potential cross.


Eventually, when each team reacts quickly to passing forwards and moving up together the next progression is to have a neutral, immediately as the defenders get to the first line, pass a ball behind them. The pass can be in many directions and in the air or on the ground. The defending team now has to run back to recover their defensive position.


Finally, add a neutral to be a striker so the defenders have another player to think about. This now requires the defenders to communicate more and puts them under more duress with being in an underload situation.




  • Allow attacking players to move areas
  • Players can shoot if there is no pressure

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

Wingers Attacking Off the Line

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 18 yard area + 5 yards

Teams: 20 mins

Players: 6 v 7 (Underload)


  • To drive inside, off the line, at every opportunity
  • For other players to make supporting runs off the ball to move opposition players for the winger to make decisions on what to do with the ball.


The attacking team sets up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, but with just the midfield and striker. The defending team does the same. Three goals are at the top of the area for the defense to score in if they win possession. Each time the ball goes out at the ends either #8 or #6 retrieve a new ball.



First of all, it is important that you switch your wingers so their strong foot is on the opposite side. As the attacking team you must get the ball to the #7 or #11 as often as possible. When they receive the ball their first touch should be inside, they should aim to drive at and commit the closest CB. At the same time the #9 should move to the opposite side the ball went, they should run along the line of the CB’s and look to run in behind the CB as the winger players the ball into space. The #10 and #11 also make runs behind the defense.


Once the defending team can stop this pass, have the winger continue their run across the field, The #10 should make a curved run and opposite winger a run behind the full back. Depending on how far in the full back has come this decides their pass.


Finally, If the #7 or #11 receives the ball deeper, have them run more of a flat line across the 18yard area, (see most Arjen Robben goals on YouTube). Have the #9 run across the 1st CB, to almost screen the #7. Have the #10 do the same with 2nd CB. Right now is the time for the #7 or #11 to shoot.



  • With more players you can use FB’s on the attacking team
  • Try different options with players such as a ball to the opposite winger behind the defense

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

Finding the Forward

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 18 yard area + 15 yards

Teams: 15-20mins

Players: 4 v 3

Time: 15-20 Minutes


  • To combine with the striker through different combinations
  • To use the position of the defenders to make decisions on which combination should be used


This is for teams that play in a 4-2-3-1 formation or something similar for the 7v7 or 9v9 models. It can easily be adapted for a 4-3-3 system. Set your players up in a diamond against the 2 CBs and GK below.



The starting trigger is when the striker (#9) checks away and moved down, diagonally towards the #10. The #9 sets with the left foot if they go left and right if they go right. This is so the angle of the pass back to the #10 can’t be intercepted by a CB. The #10 then plays a pass into space to the #7 or #11, depending on which side the #9 runs.


Next, work on having the striker run in between the CB’s after the set. Have the #10 play either (1) an opposite (reverse) field pass to the opposite winger or (2) play through the CB’s to the striker. This depends on where the CB’s position themselves. Play (1) if they are narrow (2) if they are separated by a large space.


If the defenders are able to get out to a wide player before they can get forward explain the pass to the #10 should be on. The #10 can either (1) shoot or (2) pass across if the 2nd CB blocks the shooting opportunity.




  • Add a 3rd defender to act as a defensive midfielder
  • Play 2 touch

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