top of page

3 High-Intensity Counter Attack Exercises!!

This week's MSC Breakdown focuses on the attacking transition side of the game and taking advantage of moments when the opponents are potentially disorganized and in moments where you can get a numerical overload in a high-value position. The statistics would show that the majority of goals are scored from transitions, but somehow it's an aspect of the game that is potentially overlooked on the training pitch. Why is that? Perhaps there is a stigma that you are preparing your team to play 'counter attacking football' and celebrating a somewhat negative side of the game. However, as discussed in the breakdown, attacking transitions can be 20 yards from goal or 80 yards from goal, depending on the philosophy of the coach or the moment of the game. However, there can be consistencies with both and that can be worked on in training in a manner consistent with a high-pressing and progressive system.

You can watch the full MSC Breakdown below. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel if you enjoy it.

If you would like the exercise details and dimensions, please find them below:

Exercise One:

This is an exercise from Roger Schmidt when he worked at PSV. The idea is for the 'attacking transition' team to start the game in red, outnumbered in a 2v4 rondo inside a 10x10 yard square. At the edge of the box, two defenders are positioned along with one forward. As the rondo starts in one of the squares, the possession team are looking to get 10 passes for one goal. Once the two defenders win possession, they can play the center forward (also outnumbered in a 1v2 situation), break out and get support from midfielders to overload the center backs and create a chance on goal. When you work one side at a time, it allows players to recover and keeps the moments at intense as possible to replicate the game. This is a great exercise to work on the initial pass in transition which can be challenging for players as space and time is extremely limited.

Exercise Two:

This is an Attacking Waves exercise designed to constantly attack in an overload situation and find the highest player in transition. Play takes place in a 30x55 yard area, split into two with a 5-yard median. Teams are organized into three teams of four players each. There will be one goalkeeper in each goal and the field is split into 3 zones - with a center forward in each zone also. To start the exercise, one team attacks another with the third team waiting in the other zone. If the attacking team scores, they then move to the other end and attack the third team. However, if the defensive team wins possession, they must look to break out of the zone and attack the third team on the other end. The middle zone is a free zone for teams to quickly transition together. Play for 3x5 minutes sets with one-minute recovery between each one.

Exercise Three:

This counter-attacking game is designed for teams who want to be compact defensively and look to break out into space at full speed. Play takes place in a 25x55 yard area, split into two with a 5-yard median. Ten players are split into two teams, with two wide neutrals on each side of the attacking half. Four red attackers plus two wide supporting players look to break down and score against four blue defenders. The objective is for the red team to use the overload and break down the blue team in a 6v4. Deepest red player can drop back to start the game unopposed and the red team also have a 5-yard 'Free Zone' at the halfway line. If the blue team win possession, they are looking to transition immediately to score in the other goals. 'Free Zone' can act as a 'no offside' area to introduce timing of runs on the counter attack. Play 4x6 minute games and switch roles after each game.

If you have any requests for future article topics, please send to Gary Curneen at

1,707 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page