Counterattack drill – Chasing from behind

by Pablo M23rd Jun 2021

Drill created with Tactics manager

No matter how good your team is, it will have to defend a counterattack at some point in the game. The counterattack drill in this post will help your defenders improve their tackling techniques when chasing strikers from behind.


You don’t need an actual football field to practise this drill, but you need enough space, cones to mark the pitch, small-sized goals and a few balls. If you can’t get hold of goals, use cones or, preferably, agility poles to mark them. Next, distribute the cones to draw a field, as shown in the picture above. Make the length of the pitch about 10 meters wide and 40 meters long.

Ideally, you want to practise this drill with a minimum of 4 players, two defenders and two strikers. However, if you have a good number of players, avoid having them waiting in a queue. So, if you have space, set up multiple fields as in the picture above.

The role of the players doesn’t need to match their actual position in a match. The idea is to allow everyone to practice attacking and defending counterattacks. So, rotate the players after they complete one round.


This drill is simple. The objective is to practice counterattacks and defend them. The instructions for this drill are:

  • Pair 2 strikers with 2 defenders. One striker-defender pair on the left side, the other on the right side.
  • The strikers start about two steps ahead of the defenders.
  • The strikers sprint to the goal, with the defenders chasing them.
  • The striker running with the ball can’t shoot at the goal. Instead, they must pass the ball to the other striker.
  • The striker receiving the pass can’t control the ball. So they must shoot at once.
  • Defenders can slide only to block the ball or to slide from the side. Sliding tackles from behind are not allowed.

Give everyone a chance to score and change players from the left side to the right and vice-versa. So, complete eight rounds of this exercise by changing roles and sides. For example, this will be the progression Player A starting with the ball on the left:

  • Round 1 – Player A runs on the left with the ball.
  • Round 2 – Player A runs without the ball on the left and can score by receiving a pass from the striker on the right.
  • Round 3 – Player A switches sides and runs on the right with the ball.
  • Round 4 – Player A runs without the ball on the right and can score by receiving a pass from the striker on the left.
  • Round 5 – Player A becomes a defender and chases from behind the striker on the left.
  • Round 6 – Player A chases from behind the striker on the left.
  • Round 7 – Player A switches sides and chases from behind the striker on the right.
  • Round 8 – Player A chases from behind the striker on the right.

You can make this exercise a competition for more fun and commitment. If you have more than four players, all starting strikers belong to one team, all defenders to the opposite team. The team that scores more goals at the end of 8 rounds per player wins.

The video below showcases this drill in action.


The main objective of this drill is for defenders to practice chasing strikers from behind. However, this drill covers other aspects of the game. This exercise will improve:

  • Passing accuracy
  • Shooting accuracy
  • Running at speed with the ball
  • Tackling from behind. It should be the last resort, but players need to master it (see how to tackle correctly).
  • Team coordination (both strikers and defenders)
  • Timing and reaction. Strikers should time their passes and shots, while defenders need to time their tackles.

I hope you find this drill useful. If you like this post, please share it with your friends. If you know other exercises or have any questions, leave a comment below.