How to Effectively Counter Attack

Counter attacking is now a common tactic utilised by football teams at a range of levels, with the ability to drive at a defence after winning the ball back being hugely effective if carried out well. So, just how can teams make the most of counter attacking football?

Taking advantage of the opposition having players out of position in the final third of the field is a favourite tactic for many coaches, however it requires quick thinking and clever runs to consistently make the most of it. Whether it be one defence splitting ball or tika-taka style passing around the remaining defenders, let’s take a closer look at how coaches can best implement the counter attack.


  1. Goalkeeper Gaining Possession – Whether it be from a broken attack or set-piece, goalkeepers have the ability to quickly start counter attacks through a pinpoint kick or throw, taking opposition players out of the game in the process. While this option requires speedy runners, if they can reach the ball before the opposition, there is likely to be a good chance for an effective attack.


  1. Long Ball Forward – Counter attacks do not necessarily have to be pretty, with one ball over the top when the oppositions defence has been left exposed being just as effective at times. Especially useful for teams with quick forwards, one accurate pass can take out an entire backline in some cases.



  1. High Pressing – Teams such as Liverpool and Manchester City have achieved great success over recent years due to their high pressing games, with winning the ball back from defenders and midfielders opening up a host of opportunities for attacks. However, pressing must be done as a unit, with most teams finding it difficult to pass their way out of trouble.


  1. Defend Deep – Teams can also set themselves up to be organised and disciplined, breaking up attacks from the opposition before looking to break forward themselves when the time is right. A tactic often adopted by managers who are coming up against more skilled teams, this can often bring about the “sucker punch” goal. Invite the opposition onto you, before taking advantage of your fast runners, who must perform at both ends of the field.


  1. Aggressive Running – Perfect for teams with both skilful and direct runners, the ability for wingers to break the defensive line of the opposition can help to create a hatful of chances, whether it be through a subsequent cross into the box or a shot at goal themselves.