Soccer coaching drill to improve players' speed

In youth football, constructing a good counter attack often comes down to one team being quicker than the other.

The quick counter attack requires players in a team to react with speed and concentration, and often the most important man will be your striker, who receives the ball under pressure from a defender.

He must control it and either shoot at goal himself or pass into the path of a supporting attacker.

Speed is vital because opposition players will be running back while often relying on a lone defender to hold up play.

Using this drill, you can replicate counter attacks in training, perfecting the process using recognised support and teamwork, rather than just raw pace.

How to set it up

  • Mark out a playing area measuring 30x20 yards.
  • There is an eight-yard zone at each end of the pitch. At one end this is marked by cones across the pitch, while at the opposite end it’s best to use a pitch marking or cones on either side to denote the line.
  • There is one goal, with a goalkeeper in place.
  • Put two teams of three players in the coned end zone. One acts as attacking support, the other as defending support.
  • Place a striker in the middle area of the pitch and a defender in the zone near the goal.

Getting started

  • You serve the ball to the striker.
  • As soon as that pass is played, the attacking support can move.
  • When the lone attacker controls the ball, the defending support can move, as can the defender in the far end zone.
  • Attackers must work together to move the ball forward and finish with a shot on goal.
  • Replay the move so that players become comfortable in their roles, but going forward, experiment with different conditions to keep the counter attacks challenging. For instance, change the time between defenders and attackers moving by calling out “attack go” and “defence go”. Also try varying the number of players in the near end zone in order to favour either defence or attack. This also means you can involve all members of your squad at once.
  • Rotate players often so that everyone samples the demands of each role.

Why this works

  • Counter-attacking talent is as much about routine and teamwork as it is the ability to control and pass. By rehearsing this move, attackers become accustomed to knowing the right areas to run into, and when to make their move.
  • Defenders must also practise getting back at pace, watching all the time the movement of their lone team mate in order to prevent the attack.
  • Practice makes perfect, and although workmanlike in training, the counter-attacking move can prove hugely valuable and visually brilliant when played out in a match situation.

This session originally appeared in Soccer Coach Weekly.

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