Soccer Overload Drills: How to Create Overloads in Soccer (Football)

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How to Create Overloads in Soccer (Football)

Its nearing the end of the game. The score currently stands 1-1 but your want to push for the win. You’ve got about 5 minutes left on the clock and you ask you players to push further up the field.

Suddenly, the opposition break away on a counter attack and now its 3 attackers against the only 2 defenders you’ve asked to stay behind and cover the space.

You’ve gone from pushing for the win to now playing with fire and potentially losing the game…

But your confident in your two defenders to see this attack out. Why? Because you’ve been working on this exact scenario in training…

Introducing – Soccer Overloads

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Soccer overloads are a brilliant way to recreate real-game scenarios by stacking the ‘odds’ for or against your players in different match-like situations.

A quick way to distinguish soccer overloads is by categorizing the overloads into 2 topics;

  • Attacking Overloads: This is where you’ll set the practice up with the intention of creating an overload where the attacking team has the advantage. For example; 3 attackers vs 2 defenders
  • Defending Overloads: The opposite of an attacking overload, where the defenders now how the player advantage – so for example, 3 defenders vs 2 attackers

Using overloads in your training are a great way to not only add variety to your practice sessions, but they’re also pivotal to;

  • Educating your players on the importance of working as a team
  • Developing a better understanding of the game
  • Helping players understand their individual importance in certain situations
  • Preparing them physically and mentally for real-game situations

In this drills guide I’m going to give you some of the training drills I personally use with my own players so you too can help your players whenever they’re outnumbered or doing the outnumbering…

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Soccer Overload Key Coaching Points

To successfully coach overloads, there are a few key points to keep in mind

Overload Coaching Points:

  • Stay calm under pressure
  • Defending; be aware of and protect the space
  • Defending: Slow the play down in order to allow your team mates time to get back and help
  • Defending: Shut the space down
  • Defending: Communicate with your team mate
  • Attacking: Pass and move
  • Attacking: Create space by finding the pockets
  • Attacking: Don’t be predictable
  • Attacking: Don’t give the defenders time to find their shape – scare them into making mistakes through speed and directness
  • Attacking: Exploit the space

Soccer Overload Drills

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2v1 Overload

2v1 Overload

Drill Setup

This ones a really simple setup that you can get going in a couple of seconds. It’s also easy to explain and even easier to add variations too.

It’s also a great drill to use at the start of training as a warm up drill or can equally as effective at the end of a session.

This drill is the perfect example of a ‘Simple Soccer Drill’ that’s effective and allows lots of room to coach your players.

Setup an area with a grid of 4 boxed off areas. Split your group into 3 teams. Place 1 blue and 1 red in each boxed area. And then have two floating midfielders (in this example: whites)

Drill Details

Each team must try an keep possession. Blues and reds are not allowed to leave their areas. Whites are allowed to float between areas to provide support.

To create a competitive environment you can either give a point to each team that keeps possession and completes 5 passes (with every team member touching the ball at least once.). Alternatively you add some small goals in opposite corners.


  • Variation #1: Attacking 2v1: The team that is in possession has the floating white players on their team to create an attacking 2v1 scenario
  • Variation #2: Defending 2v2: Add additional target players either side of the area to create a 2v2 situation. In this scenario the whites support the team that is not in possession

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2v1 to 3v2 Attacking Overload

2v1 to 3v2 Overload

Drill Setup

For this drill – split your group into 2 teams. Have the attacking team split into two further groups; one half opposite the goal and the other half entering from the side of the area of play.

These will be your attackers. (Reds) Your defenders will line up further down the line (Blues)

Drill Details

  • 1) Play starts by the attackers playing the ball into their team mates.
  • 2) Attackers support the play
  • 3) As the ball is played 1 defender enters the drills to create a 2v1 overload situation Attackers aim is to score past the keeper. If the defender wins the ball they are to aim for one of the 2 goals placed at the opposite end.

This will simulate real game scenarios as your defenders will have to look to pass the ball out of danger whilst under pressure.


  • Variation #1: This drill can be turned into 3v1 and 3v2 overload by adding more players to the mix.

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4v2 Waves

4v2 Waves

Drill Setup

Split your group into 4 teams of 4 players. Two teams will be attacking and will take it in turns to attack. The other team will be your defenders

Drill Details

Defenders will engage the attackers a defender in two’s while the attackers will come in waves of 4 players – creating a 4v2 attacking scenario.

If the attacking team scores they stay on for another wave of attack, if they fail to score they rotate with the other attacking team.


  • Variation #1: This can easily progress to a 4v3 and 3v2 overload situation

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Diminishing Overload

Diminishing Overload

Drill Setup

This is a great practice to get whole team of players involved in the same practice at the same time.

Split 12 players into two teams of 6. Place your attackers (Blues) in the middle with a load of balls behind them. Then place your defenders (Reds) in front of and defending a goal.

Drill Details

The drills starts with the blue players attacking the goals in a 1v1 scenario.

As the number of balls are reduced (through scoring and dead balls) the drill will naturally progress into various different overload situations. 2v1, 1v2, 3v2 etc.

If a defender wins a ball they are to kick it out of the marked area. The winning team is decided by the amount of goals scored (attackers) vs the amount of dead balls (defenders)


  • Variation #1: Change the amount of players you have setup from the start. Eg. 2:1 attacker to defender ratio.

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Gladiator Overload

Gladiator Overload

Drill Details

For this drill – split your group into 2 teams. 6 players stand at 3 starting positions at the top of the pitch.

Drill Details

Each ‘wave’ of attack will involve 3 red players.

They must work together to get past each of the marked area and it’s occupying defender.


  • Variation #1: Reduce the amount of attackers that start to 2. The first area will be a 2v1, the second, 2v2 and the third a 2v3 disadvantage which is a very common scenario you’ll find in the final third of your teams attacking play

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SSG Overload

SSG Overload

Drill Setup

This is a great conditioned small sided game you can use at the end of your training practice. Set up two teams each with their own goalkeeper.

Split the pitch into 3 parts;

  • 2 defenders,
  • 1 midfielder
  • 2 attackers from each team

Drill Details

Whatever team is in posession will be the team providing the extra player for the support – or the overload. So the example in the diagram above shows;

  • 1) Blue defender passing the ball through to the midfield.
  • 2) The non passing player provides the support to create a 2v1 attacking overload
  • 3) The first midfielder passes the ball to the supporting player.
  • 4) The supporting player plays the ball into the attackers
  • 5) The non passing player runs into the attacking area to create 3v2 attacking overload.


  • Variation #1: This can also be changed to a defending overload. Where the nearest defender to the ball makes the run into the next area to provide a 2v1 or 3v2 defending advantage.

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Supporting Grid Overloads

Supporting Grid Overload

Drill Setup

You’ll need to split your playing area up into a grid of 6 different areas. Outside these 6 areas you also need to mark out 4 target zone – one each side.

Finally split your group into 3 teams. 1 Player from 2 teams will occupy a grid square each while the third team will take up a position each in the surrounding target zones.

Drill Details

Each grid player plays in 1v1 scenario but the team in possession can use the outside target players as support creating either a 2v1 or 3v1 situation.

And of course, each player can use the supporting player in a neighboring box to help keep possession.

In order to score a point, if a player uses a target man as a support player, they then must get the ball out to the opposite target man to score a point for their team.


  • Variation #1: You can limit the amount of touches taken to score a point. So eg; If a player uses a target man, then the team can only have a maximum of 5 touches before the ball gets to the opposite target player.
  • Variation #2: You can also set a time limit to get the ball across eg; 5 seconds to move the ball across the opposite side to the target player.
  • Variation #3: Another scoring system you could use would be to make a set number of passes before losing the ball. It’s up to you if you want to include your target players as part of these passes

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