Running Beyond the Striker in a 4-3-3

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 36 x 50 yards. (middle zone 36x30, end zones 36x10)

Teams: 7 v 7

Time: 20 Minutes


  • To know when to run beyond the striker
  • To know who should run beyond the striker

In games the idea is to score, simple. The best player at this job is the striker, this places a lot of pressure on them. Therefore, coaches encourage players around the striker to score as well whether it be a central midfielder or wide midfielder. The problem with midfielders not scoring enough is that they do not get into good enough positions, they think they have to stay in position or are not positive enough in their thinking and movement. This SSG encourages players to run forwards, to pull defenders out of position and get into goal scoring positions. The aim is for the 2 AM’s and WS’s to receive the ball in the end zone to shoot.

Set up in a 4-3-3 (without the 4 defenders) so the midfield is point down. The #6 is the player everything goes through, almost the quarterback of the team. As the middle will be congested tell them to look wide. When the wide striker sees a gap between the lines and with a clear line of sight to the central striker they should look to play into their feet. The attacking midfielder on the side of the ball, in this case the #8, should also see the scenario and run into the gap beyond the striker. As the CB is committed to the striker, the FB is committed to the wide striker.

Running Beyond the Striker in a 4-3-3 (1)

When the central midfielders begin to spread out to counteract the ball continually going wide, that is when to go through the middle. It is important that whichever side the ball goes to the striker runs across to that direction, in front of the defender and further away from the ball.

Running Beyond the Striker in a 4-3-3 (2)

The attacking midfielder can either A) play into the striker’s feet, with the wide striker running behind the FB. The striker then plays a ball through, into the space for the wide striker. Or B) The attacking midfielder uses the run of the striker to drag the CB away and creating a gap for the opposite wide striker to receive the ball in. Both wide strikers must be as wide as possible and behind both FB so they can run behind and lose their marker.

If the defending team wins possession can they counter attack quickly to exploit the space. The team need to commit to players going forward and choose the right pass to move the ball quickly and effectively out of pressure.

Running Beyond the Striker in a 4-3-3 (3)

It is important that the players attacking are unselfish and their aim is to pull defenders out of position or create indecision. Defenders much prefer attackers making straight runs because they are predictable. That is why your players must make diagonal runs to confuse the defender. Now the defender has to make a decision, whichever way they move play to the other runner.

Running Beyond the Striker in a 4-3-3 (4)

It is important to tell your players that when making their runs forward, even if they don’t get the ball they are helping the team because they are pulling players out of position, giving their teammates more time and space to score and if you do it for others, others will do it for you, emphasizing the team ethos over individual achievement.

Coaching Points

  • See the space develop and know when and where to run beyond the striker
  • Make runs behind players so they lose sight of the runner and don’t track back


  • Add a neutral to create overloads.
  • If you don’t have goalkeepers enforce a onetime finish in the end zone to promote forward runs
  • Say 2 players must make runs into the end zone at the same time

By Sean Pearson.  Sean is also the author Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1, Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1  and Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3

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