Players of Chennaiyin Football Club compete during a training match.
© Chennaiyin FC

5 attack vs defence drills that can boost your football skills

Chennaiyin FC assistant coach Admir Kozlic and winger Lallianzuala Chhangte list five drills to help you train for attack vs defence match situations.
Written by Deepti Patwardhan
5 min readPublished on
Chennaiyin FC is one of the top football teams in India. They have structured and intense training sessions to get the players ready for all match conditions.
Admir Kozlic, the Chennaiyin FC assistant coach, and the team’s winger Lallianzuala Chhangte shine a light on their training sessions, and specifically the drills they use to train for attack v defence scenarios.
Kozlic believes these sessions help the coaching staff to pare back to the basics and show the players how to do the simple things right.
“We tell them to keep things simple,” Kozlic says. “Sometimes the players are looking for special moves. There is no need to dance over the ball if a simple pass can actually bring us in a much better position.”
Here are five attack vs defence drills by Chennaiyin FC which you can add to your training.

One-on-one drills

These drills are staple and easy to understand. As the name suggests, two players go head-to-head in this drill.
“It is usually done by setting up two goals facing each other,” says Chhangte. “Two teams, one with bibs, one without. They play ball inside the grid (small field). Ball in. 1v1. One attacker v one defender. Score a goal, you stay, another comes in. As soon as I finish attacking, I have to start defending.”
Usually one-on-one drills are done on rotation basis, with one player doing a round of attack and defence each. Players have to dribble the ball and beat the defender, and then quickly switch to defence mode.
“As our coaches keep telling us, the striker is your first defender,” Chhangte adds.
Chenniayin FC assistant coach Admir Kozlic gives players instructions with defender Deepak Tangri looking on.
Assistant coach Admir Kozlic, with Deepak Tangri looking on

Smaller games

Smaller games, like five-a-side or seven-a-side, help re-create fluid match situations. With league matches on-going, the Chennaiyin camp hasn’t been able to do these drills too often, but assistant coach Admir Kozlic believes these drills should be done every week.
In this drill two teams of five each usually play on a 20 x 30 metre pitch.
“When you have fewer players on a small pitch, it is more action-packed than a big game,” says the Bosnian.
“Many more duels, like one-on-one or two-on-two. Second, you have much more ball contact. Take the ball, pass the ball. Third thing is physical aspect in these small games. You have so many accelerations and deceleration. In a big game, you usually run 20-30 metres and then you run back. Here, every five to six metres, you run, stop, go back, run, left, right. Physical aspect is on the top of the priority.
“The off-side rule doesn’t apply in these games; there are no corners. Every player has to deal with every situation, like defenders have to sometimes attack.”
It hones the decision-making and execution abilities of the players.
Players of Chennaiyin Football Club compete during a training match.
Chennaiyin FC players during a training match

4v0, 4v1 Rondo drill

The Rondo drills, famously introduced into football training by the legendary Johan Cryuff at FC Barcelona, are a play on the popular game ‘piggy in the middle’.
This drill involves two groups of four players each. One group of players will stand on the four corners of a square and pass the ball to each other. Each player is allowed only one touch on the ball.
The second group of players will have a similar set up, but with the Rondo, or piggy in the middle. One player in the middle will try and win back possession. If he does, he replaces the player with the last touch, who then moves to the centre of the other group. One of the two groups will thus have a piggy in the middle at all times.
You can alter the number of groups or the number of players in the group as required (minimum of three). If there are five players passing the ball, two players can be introduced as ‘defenders’ in the circle.
This drill helps with decision-making, keeping possession, passing accuracy and spatial awareness. It is a technical tool often used by the tiki-taka masters of FC Barcelona.
Lallianzuala Chhangte of Chennaiyin Football Club during a training session.
Lallianzuala Chhangte in training

3v2 to 1v2

The drill is set up by placing two small goals at a distance of about 15 metres. Players are divided into two teams, say Team A and Team B, who line up behind each of the two goals.
Two players from Team A will defend first while three players from Team B will attack. The player in Team B who gets the last touch on the ball, whether he scores the goal or not, then becomes the one defender. And the two players from Team A become the attackers. One round ends when they are done attacking and have released the ball.
Two players from Team A will quickly replace them and start with defence first.
The objective of the drill is to sharpen transition play and improve communication.
Players of Chennaiyin Football Club compete during a training match.
Chennaiyin FC players compete during a training match


In this drill, four attackers go up against three defenders in a grid of 30m x 30m.
The attackers will begin with the ball and try to score. They have the numerical advantage here and have to learn to use it well. This drill will help the players in the attack press as a team, spot the open player and break down the defence.
According to Kozlic, one of the keys to good defending is ‘staying close to each other’.
“We always tell the defenders to either put pressure on the opponents or drop back. One or the other. You can’t be somewhere in the middle,” says Kozlic.
With the odds placed against them, the three defenders have to work as a unit and cover for each other. They are likely to find themselves in this position in a counter-attack move in a match situation.
The attack ends when either the forwards score a goal or the defender steals the ball and passes it to the coach.