Attacking Activities from the Midfield

By Chris Kouns
USSF A License (USSF Coaching Education Instructor) – NSCAA Premier Diploma (NSCAA Coaching Education Associate Staff Coach) – Head Women’s Soccer Coach – Georgia Gwinnett College

In these activities we are working on our midfielder’s ability to use movement and run to goal.

Exercise #1

Beginning 15 yards outside of the 18 yard box you will begin with patterned runs and shadow play going to goal. The formation of players will be five in the middle (three central midfielders and then two overlapping backs) along with twin strikers ahead of the ball. There will be a goal keeper in the goal and the attacking players will be limited in their touches and passes (based on ability) to ensure they are not wasting time getting forward.

Shadow Progressions

  • The most central midfielder will play to one of the other central midfield players. That player will look to combine with a checking striker, getting the ball back from him while drifting away from the center.
  • While the initial combination is being performed the off striker will make a diagonal run behind the initial striker in a space where they could get the ball from the oncoming midfielder.
  • The off central midfielder makes a drifting run away from the ball and then slashes into the space vacated by the slashing striker. This is the first option for the other midfielder to play with a diagonal ball.

Coaching Points

  1. Movement by central midfield players should be at an angle with the one in possession being diagonally back from the attacking central midfield runner.
  2. If the midfielder in possession cannot play the diagonal ball they can choose to play the slashing striker who can bend their run to goal or also play to other central midfield runner.
  3. Key for central runners is to watch defenders heads and when they are focused on the ball fill the space behind them.

WCC 22 #1

Exercise #2

Game will take place in the area from the top of the 18 yard box to midfield, with the width of the 18 being the boundaries. Each team will have 5 players in a 2-2-1 formation. Teams will score by dribbling across the end line they are facing. You can also make the set up a 2-2-1 where the top player is stationed along the line and can only move small distances from that area. This will allow for the deeper players to find a target and refine their runs off of them.


Coaching Points

  1. Attacking team should not look to play the highest player on a vertical ball as they will have a hard time dribbling it over line. However, they should look to work off that player who checks into the middle area opening up space for the deeper central players to get into the final third.
  2. Central midfield players should read the hips of the checking player and position themselves so that they can receive the ball with the ability to play a diagonal ball against the shift of the defense.
  3. Central players should utilize the concept of “getting lost” by not always coming to the ball. Often they will be overlooked if they actually go away from the ball and that will create more options to eliminate defenders.
  4. Consider all different types of passing combinations and players to possess the ball. However, the key will be for the deeper lying players to get the ball running forward and not having to wait or delay their runs.

WCC 22 #2

Exercise #3

Two teams are playing 8 v 6 with the 8 going to two smaller goals at the width of the 18 yard box while the 6 will have a full size goal and goal keeper to go against if they win the ball. Distance played will be from the top of the 18 yard boxes and just two or three yards wide of the 18 yard box width.


  1. The team of 8 can be restricted to three touch or less while the team of 6 can be unlimited
  2. The team of eight can be limited to a total of ten passes to get to goal. If they cannot complete the task then it is a turn over where the last pass was completed.
  3. The team of 8 cannot go forward unless it is carried by a central midfield player into the final third of the field or received by a central midfield player in the final third.

Coaching Points

  1. With numeric advantage in the back and midfield the movement of the players in possession should make the defenders rework or reassess their defensive position so as to allow opportunities for players to slip into areas unobserved.
  2. The spacing of the attacking players should be at a width that will allow passing lanes to open up for those players coming from deep lying positions.
  3. Ideally the players on the team of 8 should not have to receive the ball facing backwards as they will not be able to see the players creeping up from the midfield (unless it is a striker receiving it backwards and playing an oncoming central midfield player).

WCC 22 #3


By Chris Kouns: USSF A License (USSF Coaching Education Instructor) – NSCAA Premier Diploma (NSCAA Coaching Education Associate Staff Coach) – Head Coach Georgia Gwinnet College Women’s Soccer (GA)

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