There are several keys to an effective attack, but the concept can be broken down into three simple ideas.
Players must 1) penetrate 2) support and 3) make runs in order to maintain possession en route to scoring a goal.
The first attacker
The first attacker is the player who first makes an offensive movement towards the opponent’s goal. He attempts to penetrate, whether by dribbling (if no defenders are on him immediately), passing (if other attackers are open) or shooting (if he has a shot on goal).
The key here: If there is a defender present and he has no shot on goal, he must rely on his teammates in order to maintain the attack. The role of the other attackers becomes critical. Unlike defenders, who have up field and the sidelines as allies, attackers can only rely upon each other.
The second attacker
The attacker who is closest to the first is the second attacker and is the first option for maintaining possession. He must get open to provide a viable opportunity to continue the attack. The spot he selects to go to in order to receive a pass must work for both players.
Third and fourth attackers
Third and fourth attackers are working to unbalance the defensive team by making runs that increase the team’s options. Most runs are intended to penetrate the defense, but they can also create space for passes.
Playing to space
If penetration (getting behind the defense) proves difficult, the attackers must utilize their field space, playing the ball across and backwards on the field until space opens up inside the defense. Playing accurate passes to the feet of teammates is key to maintaining possession. Mobility, or movement off the ball, is key while attempting penetration.
Mobile players create space (increasing chances for penetration), keep the defense on its feet, and provide options for the first attacker. Mobility is improved by attacking drills as well as overall cardiovascular conditioning.