Banish the drift attack

How often do you despair that your players can’t score when there’s an overlap? Why is it players drift out in attack and play into the hands of the drift defence? Here are my simple solutions.


The greatest reason for drifting is lack of depth and hence the time and space to be able to select your line rather than be dictated to by the defender. You need to get players to understand that when they get the ball the most important space to them is between them and the defender, not the space out wide or behind the defence.

Players must not ball watch but should scan all the time. In doing this they will manage their depth by changing speed or line, or both.

Control of their feet and core are crucial to doing this. That means they stay balanced and do not fold at the hips or waist, so the legs go the same way as the upper body. If they have control of their core they are stronger in the pass and can follow the pass rather than fall off in the wrong direction.

To get players to scan, stand behind the defender with coloured cones, and as the attacker sets off, hold a cone up and he must call out what colour it is. Do it again as soon as he has caught the ball or even again just before it is about to be passed.

The depth needed is dependent on their technique and skill under pressure and the more they are exposed to this the better they will become at knowing what depth they need.


Coaches tell players to run straight. This is better than drifting out with the ball in their hands. However, a good defender who can stay square to take an attacker who is coming straight can usually drift out on to the next receiver.

As coaches we should be aiming to make defenders turn in and not be balanced enough to push straight out on to the next attacker.

With the correct depth control players will need to follow an out-to-in line. This means firstly go as if you are taking an “overs” or “drift” pass, which will turn the defender out. Then the attacker turns back in to push the palms of his hands to the passer. This will turn the defender back in and so he will not be in a position to get out to the recipient of the attacker’s pass.

It is crucial that the attacker stays as square as possible up to the point of delivering the pass. If he really does a good job turning the defender in he can pass quite early. If he doesn’t keep the defender turned in he must carry the ball longer and make the defender bite as he passes.

A simple practice is to put cones on the ground that guide the attacker along the lines you need. The best things are poles to run through – this is crucial to get the player square as he passes. The poles also make the player look in front more, or he collides with poles, just as he will collide with defenders.



In a 2 v 1 exercise, stand behind the defender and get the first receiver to call out the number of fingers or colour of the cone you are holding up. Do it before he receives the ball, just before he catches it or again just after it is passed.


If the passer can be square before he passes, he will fix the defender more effectively. Use poles and cones to help the receiver run the right out-to-in line.

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