Developing Aerobic and Anaerobic Capacity with a Simple 4 V 2 Game

By Justin Cresser

4 v 2 (attackers v defenders) keep-away in a small playing area is an excellent way to work on improving possession skills. In today’s session we use the same number arrangement but with some added benefits.
This game uses a 40 yard by 40 yard playing area, and has 4 attackers taking on 2 defenders and a goalkeeper, who is in a regular-sized goal at the bottom end.
Place 4 cones 7 yards apart on the end line at the top of the playing the area. The two wide cones should be approximately 6 yards in from each sideline. Have 2 to 3 players line up behind each cone. These will be your attackers (Figure 1).
Place another cone on one sideline, midway between the two end lines. Have 4 or 6 defenders (2 or 3 pairs) at this cone. The coach stands opposite this cone on the other sideline with an abundance of balls (Figure 1).

Play starts with the coach passing a ball to the front player of any of the 4 lines. As soon as this player takes their first touch, the front players in the other 3 lines join in and they attack together.
As soon as the ball leaves the coach’s feet, the first pair of defenders sprints unto the field and try to win the ball from the 4 attackers (Figure 2).

The attackers have 20 seconds to score and are limited to 2 (maximum 3) touches only. They must move the ball quickly and attempt to get a shot in on goal (Figure 3).

The play is over when the i) ball goes out of play; ii) if the goalkeeper makes a save; iii) if a goal is scored; iv) if the defenders win the ball and can pass it to the feet of the coach; or v) after approximately 20 to 30 seconds.
As soon as this happens, the 4 attackers must exit the field through the bottom end line and jog back to their respective lines. The defenders have to sprint back to their starting point. As soon as the play is over, the coach passes another ball and the next set of attackers and defenders go (Figure 4).

Continue this sequence for approximately 2 to 3 minutes then rest for 2 minutes. Switch all the defenders during the rest period. Carry on for a total of about 20 minutes. This exercise emphasizes aerobic conditioning (attackers) and anaerobic conditioning (defenders).

Coaching Points:

  • Good shape from the attackers (width and depth)
  • Speed of play from attackers (quick ball movement)
  • Good first touch and support from attackers
  • Good Communication and movement from defenders
  • Encourage the defenders to sprint unto the field, and work as hard as possible to win the ball

Justin Cresser - Has coached soccer at various levels both in North America and abroad (Hong Kong and Africa). His most recent position was as the Assistant Technical Director at the Soccer Club of Toronto. He has his National Diploma from the NSCAA and is also a certified strength and conditioning coach.

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