Football attacking drill – Attack vs Defense

by Pablo M02nd Oct 2019

Drill created with Tactics Manager

Attack vs Defense drills are part of most training sessions. These exercises help players to familiarize themselves with the team’s preferred formation and game style. However, often the focus is on the attacking players. In this post, we discuss a football attacking drill that involves all players in your team.


This drill closely resembles real game situations. Therefore, you are required to practice it on an actual football pitch with a full 11 aside team if possible. However, you only need half of the field. So, if your squad is over 20 players strong, your substitutes can practise the same drill in the other half of the pitch.

You will need 4 cones and 3 small goals (or 6 cones). Position the 3 goals in the middle line, one in each wing and one right in the centre of the field. Then use the cones to make one gate outside each side of the penalty area. Position these gates just behind the penalty spot line and between the sideline and the penalty box. The picture illustrates the setup for teams using a defensive line of 4 players.


This drill aims to practice possession football by moving the ball across the park. The basic rules of the game are:

  • 2 teams of 5 players each.
  • 1 goalkeeper.
  • Only 3 touches are allowed (e.g., 1 touch to control the ball, 1 touch to change direction and 1 touch to pass the ball).
  • The attacking team must pass the ball through both gates to be allowed to shoot at goal.
  • If the defensive team intercepts the ball, the attacking team must pass the ball again through both goals.
  • When the defensive team recovers the ball, their objective is to score in any of the small goals.

Be creative and add your own rules. For example, you may want to only allow passes on the ground, no high crosses. You may also want to play with unlimited touches. Whatever the changes you make to the base game, maintain the spirit of the drill: working from the sidelines and a clean transition from defence to attack.

Lessons to be learned

Attacking drills are often designed to improve individual skills (e.g., crossing and shooting). This football attacking drill focuses on working as a team. It is a great drill that involves every player in your team and keeps everyone moving constantly.

  • Creating opportunities from the wings. The sideline gates simulate wingers running by the line. When the first gate is cleared, players must circulate the ball instead of shooting at the goal or crossing high to a teammate’s head.
  • Transitioning from defence to attack. The defensive team’s objective is to score goals too, but in a different way. Therefore is not enough to intercept the ball and kick it high and out. The defensive team must pass the ball around to score in the small goals in the middle of the field.
  • Passing. Since limited touches are allowed, players need to circulate the ball around and, in the process, improve their passing technique.
  • Playing as a team. Although individual skills play a part in the game, limiting the time players can hold the ball forces everyone to play as a team.
  • Players positioning. This drill is designed to allow you to practice your preferred formation. Players get used to their positions in the field.
  • Finishing. This drill is played with a goalkeeper. Therefore your offensive players are faced with real finishing scenarios.