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Strikers - coping with tight marking (Part C)

Please click here to read the article, Setup 1 & 2

Receiving, Protecting, Turning and Combination Play

3. Setup

  • 20 yards square.
  • Each team consists of four players: two inside and two outside the grid.


  • The practice is a 2v2 game inside a 20 yards square with the team in possession playing from end to end to their own target players. Here, A1 passes into A2 or A3 who are closely marked by B2 and B3. They work individually or in combination to create a situation where a pass can be played to A4. On achieving that, A4 will return the ball back to A3 and A2 who attempts to pass it to A1. Should B's gain possession then they are tightly marked by A's and play to pass to B1 and B4 alternatively.

Focus On:

In the practice, coach and player can work together to improve understanding and the ability to:

  • Lose tight markers.
  • Turn.
  • Screen.
  • Combine the play with a team-mate.
  • Combination play would involve:
    • Wall-passes
    • Take-overs
    • Overlaps
    • Diagonal runs

All skills involved in playing in and around the penalty box when closely marked.


After a period of play (possibly two minutes only) the pairs could change with the outsiders as this work is physically, as well as mentally and tactically, demanding.

4. Setup

In an area 50 yards long and 40 yards wide, four pairs of players play a man-for-man game against each other. Each team has a goalkeeper and free playing team-mate.


  • Each free playing team-mate has a maximum three touches in possession play.
  • The role of the free playing team-mate is to initiate attacks from a goalkeeper's throw out and to support and feed the players ahead of him/her as well as a normal defending role.
  • The pairs play strict and tight-marking against each other. Consequently, when the team is in possession, players must work to create space and lose markers, screen the ball, turn, dribble 1v1 situations and combine with other team-mates to beat opponents.

Focus On:

  • This practice enables the player to work on all aspects of play when tightly marked.
  • Combination play would include the wall-passes, take-overs, overlaps and any other combined movements that cause defenders a problem. Running and movement of the ball is also a feature, as is the knowledge of when to hold your opponent away from action areas which are to your teams advantage.