Positional play – support behind the ball

The closer an attacking team gets to the opposition goal the more pressure the defenders will exert on the man in possession in order to prevent him from playing the ball forward. This means that the player on the ball needs support from his team-mates. It is important that the supporting players take up their positions early so that the tightly marked man in possession has the option of passing the ball with his first touch.
This drill helps to teach the basics of supporting play.

Supporting players have to determine two things;

(i) the correct angle of support
(ii) the correct distance of support

By taking up the correct angle and distance the supporting player will achieve:

  • a position in which he has a full range of forward vision
  • a position in which he receives the ball comfortably
  • a position in which he can switch the play
  • a position in which he can play the ball forward without being under pressure

positional playOrganisation

Area: 30×40
Players: 4 Attackers, 3 Defenders
Equipment: Footballs, Bibs, Markers


X plays the ball into X1 who is tightly marked by O1

X follows his pass and supports X1

X2 must lose his marker O2 and provide support for X1

X1 lays the ball off to either of the supporting players X or X2

X3 makes a forward run and provides the outlet for the through pass from X or X2

O3 is the recovering defender who tracks the run of X3

X’s must run the ball through the markers to score

Key Points

  • Assess the angle and distance of the support positions offered by X and X2
  • Assess the timing of the forward run made by X3
  • Assess the accuracy, timing and weight of pass played by either X or X2 into the path of X3
  • Ensure that O’s defend properly