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overloading in the circle?

how do you stop your team over crowding in the circle? what drills or game situations could i use at training?

Hi Rebecca,

I'm pleased that the players are trying to make things happen and affect the play, the following information will hopefully make them a little more wise in their use of space and timing of midfield movement.

Essentially there are two competing philosophies:-

  1. Fill the circle with as many attacking players as possible to maximise the chances of the ball ending up on an attacking stick or
  2. Create space in the circle for forwards to operate by ensuring that midfield players do not clutter the circle and drag more defenders into the circle.

The secret is to combine the two philosophies. Leave room to operate in the circle by ensuring your three forwards operate at different depths of the circle and retain width (inside the circle) maximising the space each has to operate in. It is critical the three forwards look at each other and move in harmony with each other. For example (see attached drill) the forward at the top of the circle may move left to right. The deeper forward will use the space created by moving right to left. One attacker threatens the deflection or widens the goal.

When the ball is passed to the goal line or a player dribbles towards the goal line, this is a signal for midfield players to make late runs into the circle and take up positions in space created by the forwards or populate the head of the circle for secondary opportunities.



1. Think stand in a channel 'Passing Lane'  so the ball can go through rather than in space behind opponents

2. Take up a position that makes the defender (& GK) choose between marking a man and dangerous space

3. Forwards should communicate and look at each other so they utilise different areas of the circle (coaches can cone these areas to make it clear in practice)

4. Reward players who create space by pulling defenders away to create a passing lane

5. The furthest away attackers – those closest to goal - should react and run opposite lines to those nearer the ball

6. Forwards should operate at different depths  maximizing space each has to operate in

7. Forwards should be side onto goal allowing them vision of the target

8. First touch to space to create time to shoot (this may be behind them)

9. Ball carriers should retain wide vision so opportunities are spotted

10. Widen the goal by taking up a position on the far post

Coaching Points:

Midfield may not in this practice cross the 25 until the ball enters the circle (or ball passes the line of the penalty spot).


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  • or access our tried and tested plans