Attacking the opposition in soccer is one of the most exciting parts of a game. To be the best at this, soccer players spend hours practicing drills to improve their ability in this area. Today, I’m going to show you 10 of my top soccer attacking drills.
Soccer attacking drills are designed to improve a player’s ability to create goal-scoring opportunities and score goals for their team. Regularly practicing attacking drills ensures a soccer team is adequately prepared for the attacking phase of their upcoming games.
In the past, attacking in soccer was heavily dependent on the attacking midfielders and strikers. However, in modern-day soccer, all players and positions are involved in an attacking move.
Each of these drills is applicable to any player on the field.
Let’s look at each of them now.
1. “Control and Turn” Soccer Drill
Attackers must have the ability to control and wiggle their way out of what may become ‘tight spaces,’ which requires close control of the soccer ball and mental readiness.
This drill will increase a player’s ability to quickly control the ball and then move away from the danger in an instant.
Equipment needed: The coach will need ball(s) and three(3) different color cones/plates/discs/or poles (markers).
If you need some cones, I recommend these from Amazon.
Step-By-Step Walkthrough of the Control and Turn Drill
- Set up the markers in a triangular shape, with each marker five (5) yards apart. Each marker should be a different color.
- The player should stand in the center of the triangle facing directly at the triangle’s base.
- The coach will stand eight (8) to ten (10) yards away directly in front of the player with the ball(s) at their feet, ready to make a pass.
- The coach will then pass to the player while issuing instructions regarding which direction the player receiving the ball should go.
- The player in this exercise will look to control the ball and sharply turn toward the color marker that the coach signals.
- The player should move swiftly as the coach will make the pass/call to him rapidly.
- The player should dribble the ball around the marker and return to the starting location.
- Players should perform this exercise in a time sequence of at least 30 to 45 seconds per rep.
2. “Shooting at Goal” Soccer Drill
This drill is geared directly toward any player that is likely to be in a position to score.
Each player will have the opportunity to control the ball, dribble past a marker and score a goal.
The coach will need to preferably use the entirety of the goal area (the 18-yard box to the goal post) or a makeshift grid similar to the goal area.
Equipment needed: The coach will need ball(s), markers, and a goalkeeper is ideal for this drill.
Step-By-Step Walkthrough of the Soccer Shooting Drill
- The line of players will begin by standing at the edge of the 18-yard box.
- Place three markers five (5) meters away from the players running horizontally five (5) meters apart.
- The coach (or another player) will stand on either side of the 18-yard box or goal area, ready to cross into the attacker.
- As the ball is crossed into the penalty area, the coach will direct the first player to run to one specific marker.
- While receiving the pass, the attacker will have to control the ball and dribble past the specified marker.
- Finally, the player should make an accurate shot on goal, aiming to score.
- This is a timed drill of 30 to 45 seconds.
If you’re working with players who are new to soccer, you may also be interested in my step-by-step guide to the 10 Best Soccer Drills for Beginners. It will give a great start to players that are only at the beginning of their journey with soccer.
3. “Dribbling Past a Defender” Soccer Drill
Dribbling is a crucial skill for all soccer positions; however, attackers dribble the ball more often than defensive players.
If attackers can become proficient in this area, they will find it easier to beat an opposition player on the field.
Equipment needed: the coach will need eight (8) markers (cones, discs, plates, poles) and ball(s).
Step-By-Step Walkthrough of the Dribbling Soccer Drill
- Of the eight cones, place six in a straight line and use the other two to make a gate.
- The cones will be lined up two (2) steps/paces from each other, and the last cone must be at least six (6) steps/paces away from the gate.
- The player will start at an imaginary line dribbling (close control of the ball) through the cones in a weaving motion.
- At the last cone, the player should pass the ball through the gate as accurately as possible.
- This is a time sequence of 30 to 45 seconds.
4. “Heading at Goal” Soccer Drill
Attackers, or more specifically strikers, are taught to head the ball differently than a defender.
Whereas the defender learns to head the ball up and away in a clearance motion, the attacker focuses on heading the ball down towards the goal in an attempt to score (see my guide to heading a soccer ball without it hurting).
Equipment needed: two(2) or more balls will be required, and the player can be assisted by the coach or other players. The drill may or may not include a goalkeeper.
Before looking at the step-by-step walkthrough of the drill, check out this video below that gives some great advice on how to head a soccer ball.
Step-By-Step Walkthrough of the Heading Drill
- The player will first do a standing jump header where the coach will toss the ball upwards, and the player will jump to meet it at an ideal spot to perform an attacking header on goal.
- This will be a timed sequence of 30 to 45 seconds per rep where the player will keep heading the ball repeatedly throughout the rep.
- The next phase of the drill entails running, jumping, and heading the ball downward.
- The player will start at the edge of the 18-yard box, making various angled runs to head the ball.
- The ball will be tossed in the air towards the oncoming attacker to make the most accurate attempt on goal.
- This is another timed sequence of 30 to 45 seconds.
- Upon completion, the diving header will be introduced. The player will essentially be making similar angled runs, ready to head the ball while leaping forward.
- The player(s)/coach(es) will toss the balls in so the attacker can perform the appropriate diving header, with the aim being to score a goal.
- Note, if there is a sufficient number of players, you can split them into groups of twos (crossers and attackers). This means the crossers will simply make a run down the flanks and cross the ball, with the attacker’s intent being to perform the three phases of headings.
If you are a coach, you may also be interested in my 10 Best Soccer Coaching Drills: Perfect for Practice Sessions guide. It will give you a drill to cover almost every area you need to focus on while coaching soccer.
5. “One V One” Soccer Drill
A one vs one scenario in soccer is an ideal opportunity to move around the player in front of you and put pressure on the opposition’s defensive line.
This drill will allow the player to combine all the fundamental steps in attacking, such as ball pressure, interception, footwork, and physicality.
The drill is easy to set up.
Equipment needed: a ball, two players – one attacking, one defending – four (4) cones, and four (4) discs.
Step-By-Step Walkthrough of the One V One Drill
- Place the four (4) cones in a square grid 20×10.
- The four (4) discs will make up two goals on either side of the grid. (Picture a smaller version of a soccer field)
- The attacking player will start with the ball at his feet in the center of the grid.
- The attacker’s sole intention is to dribble past the defending player.
- When the attacking player demonstrates an understanding of the play, the coach will then introduce a goal to give the chance of taking a shot on target.
- The second phase of the drill entails both players starting in the center of the grid. The defending player will now begin this phase of the drill by passing the ball to the attacker, who will then make a play for either goal (the discs on either side of the grid) to make a shot on target.
6. “Reaction and Mental Sharpness” Soccer Drill
Reaction speed and mental sharpness are vital attributes for any player.
The quicker a player can make a decision and act on it; the more effective their performance will be on the field. This is why I included it in my explanation of how to be a faster player in soccer.
This drill will enhance the player’s ability to react quickly to defenders. Also, it will seek to test their mental sharpness as the drill will be timed for thirty seconds non-stop where the players are required to follow the coach’s instruction.
Equipment needed: Four(4) different colored markers.
Step-By-Step Walkthrough of the Reaction and Mental Sharpness Drill
- The coach will need four (4) different cones, discs, or poles to form a 5×5 grid.
- It is important to note that four different colors should be utilized when making the grid.
- The player should begin the drill by standing in the center of the grid.
- The coach will issue instructions as to which poles the player should touch. The idea is that the player should run to touch one of the four poles then quickly run back to the center.
- The coach will repeat each instruction at a varying pace over a 30 second period. The objective is to touch each base on instruction correctly.
This is also a great drill to practice with younger as they will enjoy running back and forth between the different color markers. You may want to use it alongside the list of 9 Fun (and Effective) Youth Soccer Drills For Kids that I put together.
7. “Gameplay” Soccer Drill
This is a simulation of various game situations that the attackers will likely come across.
The better prepared each player is for what they will encounter, the more effectively they are likely to negotiate any situation.
In this drill, a player will undergo a series of challenges to complete one (1) rep. These include control, turn, dribble, passing, shooting, and heading.
Equipment needed: Cones, ball, and coach, or another player, to cross the ball.
Step-by-step Walkthrough of the Gameplay drill
- The player performing the drill should start on the halfway line of the soccer field.
- Between the halfway line and the penalty area, the coach should set up five (5) cones (two paces apart) running horizontally ten (10) yards toward the goal.
- Place the gate diagonally ten meters away from the last cone.
- To begin, the player will receive a pass with their back to the cones.
- The player will then turn and dribble (weave) through the cones.
- At the end of the dribble, the player should make a ten-yard diagonal pass through the gate.
- The player will then sprint to the 18-yard area to receive a cross.
- They then finish the drill with an attacking header or shot from the cross.
8. “Ball Mastery” Soccer Drill
For this drill, attacking players will improve their ability to manipulate the ball to their advantage.
This ability is essential in a game where the players will only have a moment to use the ball effectively and make it count for their team.
Equipment needed: The coach will need various items, namely; balls, cones, discs, and poles.
Step-By-Step Walkthrough of the Ball Mastery Drill
- The coach will set up a grid of 10×10, and the player will stand in the center of the grid.
- The coach will then pass the ball in the grid allowing the player to express themselves (keep-ups, step-overs, sole rolls, and anything that promotes their comfort and familiarity with manipulating the ball)
- At the end of 30 seconds, the player should then pass the ball immediately and directly to the coach x 3
- The coach will then introduce outer markers of different colors, five (5) yards outside the grid in a diamond shape.
- The coach will pass the ball into the player, signaling them to express themselves within the grid.
- While doing so, the coach will randomly shout out one of the colored markers. The player must quickly react by dribbling to that specific marker and making a pass to the coach, then sprinting back inside the center of the grid.
- This is a timed exercise of 30 to 45 seconds per rep.
For more drills focused on improving a player’s footwork, check out my list of 10 Soccer Ball Control and Footwork Drills (For All Ages). You’ll find plenty of options that will significantly impact a player’s performance.
9. “Looped Passing” Soccer Drill
A great attacking team in soccer is also one that knows how to maintain possession of the ball and pass effectively between players.
The looped passing drill helps improve ball control and ball movement while passing between the team. The drill focuses on players’ first touch and the ability to pass the ball quickly and accurately.
Equipment needed: Two(2) cones and a ball.
Step-By-Step Walkthrough of the Looped Passing Drill
- Put two cones ten yards apart
- A player is positioned behind each cone
- Player with the ball goes around the cone, moving the ball with his first touch from the left side to right
- Player passes the ball toward his partner with the second touch
- Passing partner does the same thing, tips the ball with the first touch from left to right, and sends it back with his right foot.
- After a few minutes, change the direction of the drill.
- Players now should move the ball from their right side to their left and pass it with their left foot.
- When without the ball, players should be skipping.
If you work with high school-age students, you may want to add this drill to my list of 7 Most Effective Soccer Drills for High School Players. Improving their passing game can really set them apart from the competition.
10. “Sprints” Soccer Drill
Sprinting is a somewhat overlooked technique; however, in modern soccer, physical speed is a significant asset for most of the best clubs around the world in present-day soccer.
Teams are ultra-attacking, and even in defending, coaches sometimes set up for quick counterattacks where the critical component of sprinting is required.
Equipment needed: For this drill, the coach will need several markers of various colors and types, and balls.
Step-By-Step Walkthrough of the Sprints Drill
- The first setup will require the coach to place five (5) markers at an increasing distance from a starting mark (i.e., from 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 paces)
- The players will start five (5) yards from the first marker.
- At the coach’s instruction, the player will begin a rapid sprint to the first marker, where the player will touch the first cone then return to the starting location.
- Straight away, the player will turn around and sprint to touch the second cone, then get back to the starting marker, turn around and sprint to touch the third cone.
- Once the player has repeated this for each cone, they will then complete the sprints again from the fifth marker in descending order till complete.
If you are looking for even more drills, I would encourage you to go back through the article and find the links I added to various other drills I have put together.
You may also be interested in my list of 5 Soccer Ball Juggling Drills to Improve Your Skills if you want to work more on your ball control skills.