Pre-season session 11: Attacking

At the moment I feel we have a solid organization when defending. We still need to work on the transitions, but the pressing concepts have been grasped and the positioning of my back line is also improving. So it’s time to start working on attacking.

Yesterday I conducted my first session solely focused on attacking since pre-season started. I did one before, but it was during off-season work. It wasn’t a very well organized session because for the first time coached the U11 team in the previous hour, using the same space. That means I can’t set up in advance anymore. I’ll have to find ways to be as agile as possible with that transition not to waste a lot of time.

So after I finished the warm up and the Rondos I went straight to the positional game. I had 14 players at my disposal and did a 7v7 where I was the center back of the attacking team helping to keep the circulation of the ball. The first coaching point I touched was the concept of Through passes vs square passes. Sometimes a square pass will be much more effective to break down a defense then a through ball. The more organized is a back line the more you wanna keep possession. A quick combo of square passes might open gaps in the opponents line. And that’s when you should look for the through ball. The choice for the through ball will also depend on a few more factors, such as: distance to the goal, momentum of the receiver, urgency to score a goal, etc.

The receivers have a big role within this concept. If my forwards are always asking for the ball on the run with their body positioning, it will lead the attackers to force unnecessary through passes, with very low percentage of success. I didn’t even have to correct any positioning for the spaces to start opening, allowing through balls or more favourable 1v1s.


The diagram shows two different situations. In the first all attackers are closed down and the lanes are shut. In this situation it would be better to keep the circulation of the ball until a position unfolds in shown in the second example.

I ended the session with a finishing exercise where the players could only score if the ball was lower than 1m. It forced them to look for a different body positioning not to hit the ball from underneath.

The next session will be also focused on those concepts, but now thinking more about attacking patterns and the usage of third man runs. Also, I need to correct the positioning of the wingers. Their movements should include variations, where you drop deep, come inside, switch with strikers and so on. The full backs can’t be comfortable with the predictability of the wingers.

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