Defence vs attack – Counterattack drill

by Pablo M30th Oct 2020

A quick transition from defence to attack can open the field for your attacking players and leave them in numerical advantage. In these scenarios, your players must move as fast as possible towards the goal. This post discusses a counterattack drill that will improve your chances of scoring and simultaneously prepare your defenders to stop these types of attacks.


You can practice this drill with just 6 players: 3 attackers, 2 defenders and 1 goalkeeper. You need half of an actual football pitch. If you have an entire field available and enough players, organise two groups running the same drill in parallel.

You will also need a clock to time the attacks. Ideally, get a portable clock with built-in horns.

Counter attack drill
Drill created with Tactics Manager


There are two teams, defenders vs attackers. The drill is simple; attackers try to score, and defenders attempt to stop the attack. In addition to the basic football rules, follow these instructions:

  • The attacking team starts the game from the kickoff mark in the middle of the field.
  • The attacking players have 20 seconds to score. You can adjust this time as needed. For reference, the average EPL counterattack takes 15 seconds to completion.
  • Attackers are allowed unlimited touches.
  • All three attackers must touch the ball before shooting.
  • Defenders stop the attack by controlling the ball, kicking the ball out or delaying the attack so the attacking team runs out of time.
  • A ball is considered controlled by the defense when a defender has touched the ball three consecutive times. If a defender blocks the ball but it bounces straight back to an attacking player, the attacking player can continue the attack as long as there is still time in the clock.
  • Sliding tackles are not allowed.
  • The next group of attackers starts as soon as the attack is stopped, the goalkeeper saves a goal or the attack scores.
  • Switch defenders after they stop 5 attacks.


This drill fulfils two purposes: it prepares your defence for counterattacks and improves your scoring chances when your team runs a counterattack. This exercise also focuses on these aspects:

  • Unlimited touches allow the attacker to practice his dribbling skills and the defender to improve his 1vs1 defensive skills.
  • Not allowing sliding tackles forces defenders to be patient and keep their position.
  • Because defenders are outnumbered and the attack is timed, they learn the importance of being patient and positioning.
  • Using a time limit improves the speed of your attackers. They must dribble at speed and make decisions quickly.
  • Forcing all attackers to touch the ball encourages them to move quickly in triangles.
  • Rotating players allows everyone to practice different skills.

I hope you find this counterattack drill helpful. You can find more drills below or in our drills section. If you like this post, please share it with your friends. If you know other exercises or have any questions, leave a comment below.