Counter-Attacking Soccer Drills | 5 Drills To Use Now!

Counter-attacking in soccer is a style of play that aims to quickly exploit space in behind the opposition when they have pushed high up the pitch. Some teams make a counter-attack look effortless as where some teams really struggle. These counter-attacking soccer drills will ensure you score more goals from counter-attacks!

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These are the best counter-attacking soccer drills

These are the counter-attacking soccer drills I like to use with my players!

If you are not sure how counter-attacks work, then have a look at this post that goes over the essential tips for a successful counter-attack in soccer

Counter-attacking rondo drill

There are 4 red players keeping the soccer ball from 2 blue players in the square. The 2 blue players are counter-attacking in soccer to score a goal
Rondo soccer drill for counter-attacking


The purpose of the drill is to quickly start an attack when the team has regained possession

Set up:

  • 1 soccer ball
  • 8 players
  • 5 x 5-yard area
  • 10 x 15-yard area
  • 1 goal

How the drills work:

Divide your players into a possessing team and a counter-attacking team.

In the 5 x 5-yard area there will be 4 possessing players and 2 players on the counter-attacking team.

In the larger area, there will be 1 player on the possessing player’s team and 1 on the counter-attacking team.

For every 5 passes, the possessing team makes they will get 1 point.

However, if the counter-attacking team wins the ball they will try to play the ball to their teammate in the largest area and create a 3v1 going towards the goal.

If they score in the attack it will be worth 5 points.

This can be made harder by allowing one possessing player from the square to track back to create a 3v2.

Coaching points:

  • The target player should create angles to receive the ball as soon as a turnover happens
  • Counter-attacking team to play as early as possible into their target player
  • Quickly get up and support your teammate on the ball to create an immediate overload

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • How can the target player help support their teammates when a turnover happens?
  • Can you start a quick counter-attack?
  • As soon as the pass forward has been made to the target player what should you be doing next?

Small-sided counter-attacking game

The red team are counter-attacking after winning the soccer ball in their own half
Counter-attacking small-sided game


The purpose of the drill is to encourage teams to sit back and counter-attack teams in a game realistic environment.

Set up:

  • 2 teams of 4
  • 1 soccer ball
  • 20 x 25-yard area
  • 2 goals

How the drill works:

This will be a regular game of soccer however if the team defending team is able to gain possession in their own half and score in under 10 seconds the goal will count as 3 points instead of 1.

If a team scores without fulfilling the requirements then the goal would be worth one point.

Coaching points:

  • Maintain a solid defensive shape while defining your own half
  • Only try to step in and win the ball when you see a pressing trigger
  • Quickly transition from defense to attack and create attacking options

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • How should you defend when you do not have the ball?
  • When should you step in to try and win the ball?
  • When your team gains possession of the ball what should you do next?

Counter-attacking possession rondo

in the middle there is a 4v1 rondo. The defender is trying to win the ball and pass to their teammates in the bigger area
Rondo transition drill for counter-attacking


The purpose of this counter-attacking soccer drill is to regain and maintain possession of the ball with a focus on a quick transition

Set up:

  • 5 x 5-yard area in a side a 10 x 10-yard area
  • 1 soccer ball
  • 8 players (2 teams of 4)

How the drill works:

Inside the smaller square, there will be a 4v1.

As soon as the defender wins the ball they will play the ball to their teammates who are in the larger area.

This will now create a 4v4 in the larger area.

For every 5 passes that a team makes they will get 1 point, with the game ending once the ball goes out of bounds in the larger area.

The winning team will be the team with the most points.

After each round, the teams will swap starting positions.

Coaching points:

  • When you are pressing close-down passing angles to force players into a mistake
  • If you are on the outside, you should be constantly looking for passing lanes to receive the ball
  • Whether you are in possession or out of possession of the ball you need to quickly transition and change your positioning accordingly

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • How can you force the opposition player into mistakes
  • If you are on the outside how can support your teammate in the middle when they win the ball back?
  • What should you do when a transition occurs?

Pressure from behind counter-attacking drill

1 defender is passing the ball to the attackers to star the drill while 2 other defenders are making recovery runs to make it a 3v3
soccer drill for a quick counter-attack


The purpose of the drill is to encourage speed when counter-attacking to prevent the opposition team from resetting

Set up:

  • 20 x 25-yard area divided in half
  • 2 teams of 6
  • 2 soccer balls
  • 1 goal
  • 2 pug goals

How the drill works:

A defender will start with a ball and pass it to the attacking team of 3 on the halfway line.

As soon as the ball is played the defender who passed the ball will press the team of 3 while 2 defenders 7 yards behind the attackers will begin making recovery runs.

If the attacking team can score the goal they will get 3 points.

However, if the, defending team can regain possession and score in other of the pug goals they will get 1 point.

If the ball goes out of bounds then the round will come to an end.

Coaching points:

  • Attack quickly and take advantage of the overload
  • Be direct with your passing and dribbling
  • Use the whole width of the area to stretch the defenders

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • What speed should you attack at?
  • What should your first thought be when your team receives the ball?
  • How can you create more space on the pitch?

Goalkeeper counter-attacking drill

One goalkeeper is crossing the ball to the other goalkeeper. The goalkeeper receive the cross is trying to score in the pug goals while 2 defenders are trying to stop them
Goalkeeper counter-attacking soccer drill


The purpose of the drill is to help the goalkeeper of the team start counterattacks

Set up:

  • 1 goal
  • 4 pug goals
  • 4 players (2 goalkeepers and 2 defenders)
  • 15 x 10-yard area
  • 5 soccer balls

How the drill works:

The first goalkeeper will cross the ball for the other goalkeeper to catch.

Once the ball has been caught the goalkeeper must throw, kick or roll the ball into any of the 4 pug goals in front of them.

The defenders are allowed to try and block the ball from going into the pug goals.

If a goalkeeper scores in under 5 seconds from when they caught the ball they will get 3 points, and if they score after 5 seconds they will get 1 point.

After 5 soccer balls have been played the goalkeepers will swap roles.

Coaching points:

  • As soon as the ball is caught scan the area to see where the defenders are in relation to the pug goals
  • The quicker you can throw/kick/roll the ball into the pug goal the less time you give the defenders to organize
  • Throwing and rolling are more accurate but less powerful as where kicking is more powerful but less accurate

Questions that can lead to coaching points:

  • What should you be doing as soon as the ball is caught?
  • What happens if you take your time trying to score a pug goal?
  • Which technique is more powerful or more accurate?

Counter-attack drills conclusion

A big focus of these counter-attacking soccer drills is to focus on the transition between defense to attack.

The quicker your players can transition the better their counter-attacks will, with a higher chance of creating dangerous opportunities.

As a coach, you should also look at defensive shape soccer drills, as the defensive shape of the team players a huge role in the counter-attacking play style.

If you are struggling for the perfect formation for you a counter-attacking style of play then I would recommend you look into the 4-5-1 soccer formation.

Now your teams have perfected a counter-attack, make sure they know how to stop a counter-attack too!

If you found these counter-attacking drills helpful then please share them with a coach!

Thank you for reading and sharing,


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The Youth Soccer Coaching Handbook

Take the stress out of coaching youth soccer with 250+ pre-made soccer sessions and drills, just turn up and coach!

Here’s the breakdown of what you’ll find inside:

  • 35 Defending Drills
  • 35 Dribbling and 1v1 Drills
  • 21 SAQ Drills
  • 47 Passing, Control, and Possession drills
  • 31 Goalkeeper drills
  • 36 Shooting and Finishing drills
  • 30 Soccer Games U4 – U8
  • 20 Pre-made soccer sessions (90 minutes in length each)