Strategy of Counter Attacking

he following comes from Jeff Tipping's book, “Drills and Exercises to Develop the Elite American Soccer Player©.”

This book focuses on sessions and exercises which address the issues specific to American players. It is a book for coaches at every level but, especially, coaches of players aged U9 to U14. This is a vitally important age when players are, without even knowing it, making decisions on which sport they will choose to play. Preview

From Jeff Tipping, UEFA A License, USSF A License, Former NSCAA Director of Coaching Education

One of the considerations in developing a counter attack strategy is what to do with the forwards once the ball goes past them. This is important and needs careful reflection. I saw the Danish team in Euro 1988 playing with one forward high and the other in a low “mirror” position when the Danes were defending. They, therefore, had a short pass available when the intercepting player was under pressure and a long pass to a high CF when pressure was broken. As you will see in the diagram the forwards for the red team have shifted to “mirror” the position of the ball in case it is won. This is the kind of strategic thinking coaches must consider when putting together a counter attacking strategy.

strategy of counter attacking

Another strategic issue is whether to force the opponents into the center of the field. This is a classical strategy of a coach who has a heavy emphasis on counter attacking as the middle of the field is a far better place to win the ball and counter than the areas by the touchlines.

Counter Attacking Using Shadow Play Methodology

The key to good counter attacking is getting down the field from one end to the other in lightening fashion. At first that can be done with no opposition with the coach either counting the number of seconds till a goal is scored, or number of passes. Coaches can set the team out into a full 11 players and provide them with their playing shape.

Counter Attacking - Goalkeeper Begins The Counter Attack Using Shadow Play

In the scenario pictured below the coach has one of the players kick the ball into the GK who throws the ball to a back player making a break down the flank, hits one CF over the top or the other’s chest. The players will keep the counter going by, quickly, switching the ball as appropriate. For players above the 14 plus age group a goal should, certainly, be scored in less than 12 seconds.

counter attacking 2.png

Counter Attacking - Ball Played Off Mirror Center Forward

In this scenario the coach passes the ball so that the right RCB can intercept it. The RCB plays the ball to the DCM who plays the ball to the RB. The RF drives the ball down the flank to the HCF who is making a diagonal run and who, immediately upon getting to the ball, switches the point of attack to either the LB or CM, both of whom are streaming out of the back. The ball should be in the back of the net in less than 10 seconds. Other scenarios can be practiced using this kind of methodology which would include a player intercepting the ball and running the ball forward, ball being played directly over the top of the forwards to run on to etc.