Don’t stand deeper, start right

Help players understand when and how to run onto the pass to create pace into your game and crucially, better go-forward.

There are five main causes of a player taking the ball standing still.

  1. Over-eagerness
  2. Over-cautiousness
  3. Poor communication
  4. Poor understanding
  5. Ball carrier indecision


Don’t align your team standing so deep in attack that the third and fourth receivers are 20-30m behind the gain line. Remember the first principle in attack is to go forward and starting 20m behind the gain line puts you at a huge disadvantage.

You need to demonstrate to your players the importance of depth in attack and how they can create it without starting a long way behind the ball carrier.


Put the depth principle into a 2v1 game.

The ball carrier runs round the first cone and into the box at the same time the defender runs round the corresponding cone and into the box.

Encourage the ball carrier to beat the defender on their own and only use the support player if necessary. The support player has to run round the far away cone before they can get involved. This forces them to come from deep and at pace.


Scenario: Four players start in a flat line between two cones, they have to run forwards passing the ball down the line so player four can score at a flag 10m in front of him.

To start with let the players do their natural thing which will probably involve all setting off together and all taking and giving passes at jogging pace.

Problem 1: Ask the players if they can create some depth so the fourth player is running at full pace when they receive the ball.

They will start by moving backwards to create a steep line and then realise that they can’t keep up with the ball carrier.

Passes will be dropped or simply thrown anywhere as the support players will be too far away.

Problem 2: Now tell the players that they cannot move backwards and must stand still until they start to run forwards.

What you will usually see is that they all set off together as before but when they receive the ball they will accelerate for a bit and then slow down and give the next pass.

Player four will accelerate when he gets the ball to score.

Problem 3: Insist that all players are coming from depth and at pace and receive their pass at full pace.

They can then slow down slightly to give the next pass.

The players will by now be realising that the only solution is to set off at different times. If they don’t then you can give them a hint that by letting the player inside them start then counting to two before setting off they will create depth and be able to attack at pace.


You can add more problems by adding defenders to the exercise.

Initially the defenders can only move forwards in straight lines but as the players improve allow the defenders to move sideways as well to ask more questions of the attackers.

Players will realise quite quickly that if they come from depth and at pace it is easier to see the space and break through the defence.

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