A competitive drill that improves defence and attacking skills


Divide your team into attackers and defenders.

Attackers in red bibs, defenders in blue bibs.

Three lines of attackers – A1, A2 and A3 – spread out equally at the midline. A1 has the football.

Centre defender D1 is positioned at the top of arc.

The goalkeeper is positioned in front of the goal somewhere out near the edge of 6 yard box.

Two additional lines of defenders D2 and D3 at opposite sides of the pitch on the touchline about ten yards inside of midfield. The defenders D2 and D3 should count slowly to 5 before entering the field.

Attacker A1 dribbles at defender D1 and uses combinations of passes, overlaps, wall passes, through balls, etc. with A2 and A3 in a 3v1 breakaway to get a shot or cross off. First touch shots that score are to be rewarded with two points. Other goals count one point.


Coaching Points:

Defender D1’s job is NOT to tackle A1 or win the ball, but rather to delay the attack (until help is available) and force the player with the ball wide (out of the middle) in order to give up poor chances of scoring only – that is shots from out wide and shots that the keeper will be able to cut the angle down and defend easily. It is also very important that defender D1 position himself so that he can intercept passes into the area in front of the goal should the player with the ball choose to cross the ball.

The defenders D2 and D3 should count slowly to 5 before entering the field. Their job is to make looping recovery runs to aid defender D1. They should pick up an attacker to defend or combine with D1 to double-team the player with the ball only if they can do so without risking giving up an easy shot on goal. If they are unsure where to make their recovery run to, tell them to go to the penalty spot and organize their team defence from the penalty spot into a better defensive position. When in doubt, the penalty spot is the universal recovery destination. Defenders should get goal-side of their marks as soon as possible.

Defenders should not tackle or try to win the ball until they have their defense organized and have defensive support behind the tackler or double-team.

Attackers can not waste time as defenders D2 and D3 will recover within five seconds. They must combine quickly to work the ball into shooting position and must get a shot off before D2 and D3 are in recovery positions. First touch shots are a must. They should also “crash” the goal immediately after the shot is taken. Goals only count if all three players touch the net within three seconds of a shot. Coaches should count out loud to remind players.

On offence, the objective in a 2 on 1 situation (or 3 on 1) is to get the ball to an open attacker in the middle. If … the attacker comes out from the middle too early the job is relatively easy. The player dribbling down the outside of the field need only pass to their teammate in the middle. If the defender is much smarter and stays in the middle then the player with the ball should dribble at an angle across the field toward the far corner. The other attacking player should wait until just after they have passed the middle, then run behind them toward the opposite corner of the field. This crossing movement confuses the defenders and the goalie. It draws the defenders out of position and creates a good opportunity for the second attacker to take a drop pass or back heel pass and shoot into the open net on the far side of the goal. A similar crossing movement is also useful in 2-on-2 fastbreaks. From “The Art of Soccer” by Mark Catlin, MD

On defence, From “The Art of Soccer” by Mark Catlin, MD

  • Delay
  • Don’t be beaten
  • Force play to the outside
  • Protect the centre, prevent movement and passing to the centre
  • Approach ball when scoring threat is high but at an angle to prevent centering pass.


Count by defenders D2 and D3 can be adjusted depending upon age and success wanted. A higher count (i.e. 10) to start off to insure that attackers get a shot off. After initial success, move to a lower count to apply pressure to get shot off quicker.

Vary number of defenders that start in box.

Give defenders one point for every attack that they thwart. Keep score.

Start ball with attacker A2 or A3 to vary the attack origin and options and movement off of the ball.