A counter attack is a strategy employed for when a team whilst defending, obtain possession and quickly take it up the field and turn defence into attack. It is meant to catch the opposition while they have lots of players forward so the now-attacking team has a greater advantage.

Strategy and UseEdit

The ideology behind the counter attack is to catch the opponent off guard. It can be used by a team with an attacking or defensive mentality although it is mainly used by smaller, defensive teams playing bigger, attacking teams. The idea is to sit back and defend whilst the opponent has the ball until they give possession away. Once possession has been given away some of the defending team's players will start to run up and attack. The defender will distribute the ball to one of these players and create an attack. This creates situations where there are an even or greater number of attackers than defenders thus increasing the likelihood of creating a good chance and scoring a goal.

Although largely employed by small (relegation threatened teams), defensively-minded teams (especially when playing much better sides), it has been used by big teams as well. Counter attacks happen in lots of football matches but they're instinctive attacks when players react to situations whereas a team employing the counter attack will look to use it nearly every time they win the ball. When used by a good defensive team it makes sure they are solid defensively and less likely to concede but will still pose a threat, making a very hard team to beat.


  • Tight defensively but still posing a threat
  • Increased likelihood of getting a good chance when on the attack
  • Makes a team hard to beat
  • Effective against slow teams and defences
  • Effective against very attack-minded teams with overlapping fullbacks


  • Requires faster players in midfield and upfront who are good at keeping the ball
  • Requires defenders with good ball skills and creativity
  • Game plan effectiveness reduced if team concedes the first goal and undone if a team goes down by two
  • Will be very weak if they lose the ball and are countered themselves