The following posts have been tagged with "soccer depth"...
Soccer Attackers want to “spread the soccer field” & get width in an effort to find open spaces to move the ball (e.g., down the side lines) & to “stretch” the soccer defense so holes are created that the soccer offense can attack & penetrate. Defenders, obviously, want to prevent this by maintaining cover, depth, support & shape. (See “Soccer Support“, “Soccer Shape”, “Soccer Depth“, “Soccer Support Distance“, “Spread The Soccer Field” & “Stretch The Soccer Field“).
(aka Through Pass). A soccer pass between defenders into the open space between the fullbacks & the soccer goalkeeper with the idea that a forward will beat the defenders to the soccer ball. There are 2 types: a “Straight Through Ball” & a “Diagonal Through Ball”). (See “Pass To Space”, “Leading Pass” & “Pass To Yourself”). This is a very important soccer concept to teach & one that I think should be introduced by U-8 & definitely by U-10. By U-12 (& sometimes by U-10) defenders will be “pushing up” & it will become very difficult for attackers to dribble past the “Last Defender”. “Through Balls”, “Passing to Yourself”, “Switching The Play” & “Wall Passes” become the keys to a successful offense. If the other team is having success with through balls, it may be because your soccer defense if “flat” & doesn’t have “depth”. (See “Depth“, “Zone Defense“, “Push Up“, “Last Defender“, “Leading Pass“, “Give & Go“, “Pass To Space“, “Diagonal Through Ball“, “Styles of Play” & “Stretch The Field“).
(abb. “SW”). A fast & tough player who usually plays just behind the fullbacks, although he is allowed to roam. His job is to cover the space between the fullbacks & the goalkeeper & to stop “breakaways” & “sweep up” the ball or kick long “through balls” out of bounds so the defense has time to recover. Using a sweeper increases your “depth” & field coverage and therefore allows your fullbacks to push up to support your attack. A Sweeper is like a free safety in American football. A good sweeper must be fast & willing to make contact to steal the ball. A Sweeper can be like a coach on the field and can help direct adjustments, since he is usually the deepest field player and in a good position to view the game. The trend with pro teams is to not use a Sweeper but instead to use a “flatback four”, which is 4 Fullbacks playing a zone defense and using a lot of “offside traps”. A Sweeper was originally used to back up man-to-man defenses. However, using a Sweeper can also be used with a “Zone Defense” (i.e., “Spatial Defense”). A great Sweeper who has speed and great coverage skills can allow your Fullbacks to push up to support your attack, even if they aren’t fast, because he will slow down the attack and give your Fullbacks time to recover. However, if you don’t have a great Sweeper, a better alternative for most recreational teams is to use a 3-2-2-3 formation where the FB’s stay deep, as described in “Formations”. (See “Push Up“, “Formations“, “Through Ball“, “Breakaway“, “Second Sweeper“, “Support“, “Cover“, “Defending Deep” & “Zone Defense“).
On offense, you want to “spread the field” & to add “width”. This means the distance between players (especially F’s & MF’s) will be greater than when they are on defense. The players still “support” each other, but on offense, players will be more “square” than when on defense. For example, if your LF has the ball & is attacking, your CF may be even with him or in front of him & a long pass away. Whereas, on defense, if your LF is the First Defender, your CF will probably sag back & move within 5-7 steps so he can provide defensive “support” (meaning he is helping contain the attacker & is a Second Defender because if the ballhandler moves his way he must become the First Defender) & “cover” (meaning that he is covering space so there isn’t a hole for the attacker’s to easily penetrate; in other words, if he wasn’t covering that space the attackers would go through it to penetrate the defense). (See “Support“, “Cover“, “Depth“, “Zone Defense“, “Sag” & “Creating Space“).
You want to have “support” on both offense & defense. “Support”
refers to having teammates who are properly positioned near the ball (i.e., within passing range on offense and within 5 – 10 steps of the First Defender on defense):
- A. On Offense, there should always be 2 or more teammates within passing range (7-15 steps, depending on age) who are open for a pass. One of these can be following the ballhandler (a “trailer”). The key concepts are “First Atacker”, “Second Attacker”, and “Third Attacker”. (See “First Attacker”, “Push Up”, “Support Distance & Relative Position”, “Attacking”, “Attacking Tips” in Chapter 1, & Chapter 2, “How To Teach Offense & Defense”).
- B. On Defense there are 3 key concepts:
- “First Defender” – The player closest to the ball must challenge the ball & try to slow down the attack or block a shot, and
- The left & right players (e.g., the LMF & RMF or LFB & RFB) should not go past the center of the field.
- C. All players should shift toward the ball whether on offense or defense. Ideally, there should be multiple layers of support on both offense & defense.
A convenient term for describing what you want your soccer players to do on defense. It has 2 meanings:
- First, as attackers move the soccer ball around the field, defenders should be constantly shifting to maintain good defensive coverage and the soccer players farthest from the ball should “sag” back so they are in position to stop an attack on goal (this provides additional “depth” & concentration of defenders between the soccer ball & the goal). This creates “multiple layers” of defenders in a position to stop an attack on goal. For example, if the soccer ball is on the left side & the LF is the First Defender, then the LMF should be a Second Defender, the CF should also be a Second Defender, & the LFB should be the Third Defender. The CF should shift so he is within 5 – 7 steps of the soccer ball & “sag” back a little so if the onball attacker tries to go to the left of the LF the CF is there to stop the penetration. The CMF should also “shift & sag” so he is between the CF & the goal (i.e., 10 – 15 steps behind the CF), & the CFB should do the same behind the CMF. On the right side, the RF should sag behind the CF, but not go past the center of the field (i.e., the imaginary line between the goals), etc. These relationships are shown in the diagram below. If the soccer ball were on the right side, it would be reversed. Note that all defenders don’t try to stay precisely between the soccer ball & the goal (if they did you would have no “width” & your field “coverage” would be poor); however, they are in position to “recover” in time to stop an attack on goal.
(See “Defense“, “Depth“, “Support“, “Support Distance & Relative Position” “Formations“, “Zone Defense“, “First Defender“, “Recover“, “Funnel” “Mark” & “Pressure“).
As attackers move the soccer ball around the field, defenders should be constantly shifting to maintain good defensive coverage and the soccer players farthest from the soccer ball should “sag” back so they are in position to stop an attack on goal (this shifting & sagging compacts the defense provides additional “depth” & concentration of defenders between the soccer ball & the goal). This creates “multiple layers” of defenders in a position to stop an attack on goal. Depth on defense means having several defenders (ideally, multiple layers of defenders) spaced between the soccer ball and the goal who are in a position to “recover” in time to stop an attack on their goal. This and First Defender/Second Defender are the most important defensive concepts. Depth is the opposite of a “flat” defense. See Support.
(aka Spatial Defense or “Zone Defense”). To play the soccer ball & defend space (i.e., Zone Defense) as opposed to marking a man. This is done by creating “multiple layers of defenders” between the soccer ball & the goal (”depth”) and the closest defender to the soccer ball becomes the “First Defender”, the next closest are “Second Defenders” & other defenders “shift & sag” as the soccer ball moves. This is a more accurate term for “defending space” than the term “Zone Defense” because what you are really doing is defending the space between the soccer ball & your goal. (See “Pressure“, “Zone Defense“, “Flat Defense” & “First Defender“).
(See “How To Teach Soccer Formations” at SoccerHelp Premium for how to teach Formations.) Does your team give up goals on breakaways, have trouble playing good offense or defense in the midfield, or not score enough goals’ The problem may be that you are trying to make your team fit a formation and style of play instead of using a soccer formation and style of play that fits your team. The formations that work for Select or Travel teams usually don’t work well for Rec teams. Rec coaches usually don’t have the time to teach complex systems of play, and complex formations and styles of play can cause players to become hesitant and frustrated. The easiest thing you can do to cause a huge improvement in your team’s play is to change to a simplified, easy-to-teach formation and style of play that gives your team the best chance of being successful. SoccerHelp Premium explains how to choose and teach simplified Formations that are easy to teach and really work for Recreational teams. The soccer formations and style of play explained in “Attacking Plan“, “Scoring More Goals”, “Quick Team Improvement Program” and “Formations” on Soccerhelp Premium will not only result in your Rec team winning more games, but your team will play better, have more fun, and players and coaches will gain a better understanding of the game. For example, Coach Scott, a Texas USA U-13 Boys coach, had only won 1 game of the past 20, but switched to a 3-2-2-3 formation and style of play as explained in Premium and went 6-2-2 (6 wins with basically the same team) and finished in second place. And Coach Lisa’s U-11 Girls team (also of Texas USA) switched to a 3-2-2-3, and doubled their goal production (from an average of 2 to 4 per game). The great thing about both these cases is that it only took a few practices to see the results.
If your team is younger than 10, you don’t need to worry much about soccer formations, but for ages 10 and older the formation you use can have a great deal to do with your team’s success. Your “formation” determines how many players you have at FB (Fullback), MF (Midfielder) & F (Forward). The purpose of having a “formation” is to ensure “support”, “depth”, “width” & field coverage on both offense & defense. Players are assigned a position & with it comes responsibilities. For example, a right side player (whether a RF, RMF or RFB) should not be way over on the left side of the field. (Right and left are as you face the other team’s goal). If he is, then he has left a hole that is not covered. Each player must do his job and trust his teammates to do theirs; that is what makes a good “team”. There are many different formations, but in all (unless you are playing 3 vs 3 or 4 vs 4) you will have F’s, MF’s, FB’s & a goalkeeper. You may hear about a 4-4-2, a 4-3-3, or a 1-3-3-3 formation. These numbers never include the goalkeeper but always start with the player closest to the goalkeeper. Thus, a 4-4-2 would be 4 FB’s, 4 MF’s & 2 F’s, a 1-3-3-3 would be a “Sweeper”, 3 FB’s, 3 MF’s & 3 F’s, and a 3-1-3-3 would be 3 FB’s, a “Stopper”, 3 MF’s and 3 F’s. (These assume 11 players on the team. For smaller sized teams adjust accordingly).
The formation you choose should be based on:
- The ability of your players.
(aka “Square Defense”). A soccer defense that is straight across the field, parallel to the end line. A flat soccer defense has no “depth” & is vulnerable to “through balls”, but can “offside trap”. (See “Soccer Depth“, “Soccer Support“, “Soccer Through Balls“, “Soccer Zone Defense” & “Soccer Offside Trap“).