So, what does all this mean for your practice design?
1. Build momentum
Counter-attacks are fast and direct. A great way to build this momentum into your session is to consider your playing area. Try using a pitch that provides space behind the opposition’s defensive line. This means your players have a chance to attack quickly – and prevent the other team from recovering their shape.
Next, focus on a realistic challenge. In the FA cup, the average counter-attack lasts eight seconds. A grassroots team is unlikely to move quite that fast... but you can still recognise players for scoring quickly or using a low number of passes.
Finally, have lots of balls ready for throw-ins and goal-kicks. This helps to keep a fast pace in your game.
2. Consider your use of the pitch
When counter-attacking, 73% of pro-game goals come through central areas only (rather than the ball being played out wide).
To help your team get to grips with this, try rewarding attacks made through the middle of the pitch. Marking out this area can give players a visual reference and help them understand what’s expected.
3. Create uneven teams
When launching a counter-attack, players are often outnumbered. This means they must get used to playing against an ‘overload’.
Counter-attacks play a significant role in football – but getting good at them takes time. To master this move, your players need many opportunities to practise their skills in a realistic environment. One that reflects the demands of matchday.