The following posts have been tagged with "soccer over-the-top"...

Soccer Styles of Play

On offense, the two primary styles of play are a “direct attack” (which tries to quickly move the ball into scoring range, often using long passes, “through balls”, or long air balls) and an “indirect attack” (also called a “Possession” style, which is slower and uses many short passes, often sideways or backwards, while looking for a weakness in the defense.) On defense, the two primary styles of play are a “zone defense” and a “marking defense” (i.e., a man-to-man defense). There are several different terms that describe other styles of play. For example, “passing to feet” vs. “passing to space” and “onball attacking” vs. “off-the-ball attacking”. With most formations you can use different styles of play.

When comparing styles of play, you can look to other sports for analogies. In American football, for example, the dominant style of play used to be the running game, but today more teams emphasize the pass than the run. The best teams recognize that a balanced attack that uses both the run and the pass is best. In American football, if a team only runs, the defense will crowd the offense to stop the run. In soccer, if a team only attacks with short passes, the opposing defenders will push up to the halfway line or farther. The threat of through balls and long balls “stretches the defense” and is what forces defenders to stay honest. Another analogy to American football is that when you have the ball near your goal you definitely do not want to turn the ball over. In American football, even the best teams will protect the ball and punt. For this reason, it is best for most rec soccer teams to clear the ball away from their goal if there is any pressure, and hope they can win the cleared balls at least 50% of the time. (Although if there isn’t pressure or you have skilled FB’s you can “build play from the back”).

If you watch a lot of professional soccer from different countries you will see that most good teams from around the world control the ball and build play in the midfield, but also incorporate through balls and long balls into their attack (i.e., they mix the indirect and direct styles of play). In fact, depending upon the league, between 15% and 30% of the goals scored are a result of through balls or long air balls.

The style of attack you teach your team should depend on the ability of your players, the amount of time you can practice, and your coaching ability. The style of attack that will work best also depends on the type of defense the other team plays (e.g., whether they are “pushed up” or “defending deep”) and whether your Forwards are faster than the other teams FB’s. For example, if the opposing FB’s push up and your Forwards are faster, you should try through balls and quick counterattacks. A select team that practices 4 hours per week can play a better short passing game than a typical rec team. In any case, you will want to teach the concepts of “First Attacker”, “Second Attacker”, and “Third Attacker”.

As for a defensive style of play, a “zone defense” and “First Defender/Second Defender” works best for most rec teams. This is because many rec FB’s don’t have the speed or stamina to play a man-to-man style of defense. How to teach a zone defense is explained at “Zone Defense” and at “Support”. (See “Attacking“, “Attacking Plan“, “Boom Ball“, “Counterattack“, “Creating Space“, “Direct Attack“, “Possession Style“, “Spread the Field“, “Stretched Defense“, “Through Ball“, “Long-Ball Game“, “Over the Top“, “Zone Defense“, “Support“, “First Attacker“, “Formations“, and the section titled “Scoring More Goals”).

Soccer Possession Style

An “indirect” style of play that emphasizes soccer ball control and many short passes, as opposed to long airballs. The argument in favor of this style is that it teaches soccer players to control the soccer ball. The argument against overemphasis on this style is that soccer players can lose sight of the real objective, which is to score, and not to just see how many consecutive passes can be made (i.e, a team should possess the soccer ball in order to score, but the objective is to score and not to just possess the soccer ball). Most Recreational soccer teams cannot be successful trying to play a possession style because they aren’t capable of making 7-10 consecutive passes under pressure. Some people think “Possession Soccer” cannot be combined with “Attacking Soccer” (meaning a more direct style that uses long passes and long “over-the-top” airballs), but that is not true. In fact, the two styles can be effectively combined. For example, the Amsterdam professional soccer team Ajax (pronounced “eye’ ax”) does so, often playing a series of short passes in the “middle third” (in order to lull the opponent and to give their Forwards time to go forward) and then suddenly sending a long airball into the Penalty Box. See “Styles of Play”, “Formations” and “Attacking Plan” for more information and attacking styles more suitable for recreational teams.

Soccer Over The Top

“Over The Top” has 2 meanings:

1. It is most commonly used to mean a long lofted soccer ball that is kicked deep by defenders toward the other team’s soccer goal. This is a “direct” attacking style of play (sometimes called a “long ball” style) where the objective is to get the soccer ball away from your goal onto the other soccer team’s half of the field in hopes of gaining “territory” by winning the soccer ball and creating a scoring opportunity. It is the opposite of a controlled, indirect, posssession type of play that relies on many short passes. (See “Long-Ball Game“, “Direct Attack“, “Attacking” & “Counterattack“).

2. (aka Over The Ball). This phrase also refers to a dangerous tackle where a tackler’s foot goes over the top of the soccer ball & often cleats the ballhandler in the shin. A variation is when the defender raises his foot above the soccer ball so that if the attacker kicks the soccer ball he will be cleated. This is called “going over the ball”.

Soccer Long-Ball Style of Play

(aka Long Game or Direct Attack). A style of offensive play where the objective of the attacking soccer team is to send “long balls” thru or over the defense which they hope their forwards will beat the defenders to. This style keeps pressure on the defense but it is much more effective if the attackers can also use short passes when near the other soccer teams goal as a way to finish the attack. (See “Short Game“, “Over The Top“, & “Direct Attack“).

Soccer Long Ball

A soccer ball that is kicked “long”. This usually refers to a long ball from the FB’s to open space or to an air ball that is sent between the FB’s & the goalkeeper. (e.g., “send a long ball”). (See “Through Ball“, “Sweeper“, “Over The Top“, & “Push Up“).

Soccer Chip

Similar to golf, a chip pass or chip shot is made by a jabbing motion down & under the ball so the soccer ball goes up into the air. Chipped balls have backspin. The soccer ball can be approached straight on or from the side & can be struck with the top of the laces or the side of the laces, but in all cases the ball is struck low using a downward jabbing motion with little follow-through. The more downward the strike, the more rapidly the ball rises & the more backspin. A chip shot will only work if the goalkeeper is out of the soccer goal or if the goal is too tall for the goalkeeper to cover. But it can be very effective in youth leagues against a short goalkeeper in a tall goal. Not all “airballs” are chips. A soccer ball struck low with a normal backswing and a normal follow-through will also rise into the air. This ball, called a “lofted drive”, will not rise as quickly as a chip and has little or no backspin, but it will travel farther & with more pace. When coaching a Rec team, I often used the word “chip” in a generic way when I wanted a player to send a soccer pass “over the top” of the opponents or to “clear” the ball, because it was easier than saying “kick a lofted ball with backspin”. See “Chips Game” and “Chip Pass or Shot” in “Techniques & Fancy Footwork”, which is part of the Premium site. (See “Lofted Drive” and “Hopped Pass“).

Soccer Boom Ball

A slang derogatory soccer term referring to when the ball is frequently kicked in the air toward the other teams goal. This occurs by youth soccer teams who have no attacking plan but it can also be an intentional and effective tactic with forwards stationed in position to win long “over-the-top” balls. You see a certain amount of “Boom Ball” in most professional soccer leagues and it is used extensively by some successful professional teams. For example, in 2001 this long over-the-top tactic was used by Celtic, which had a secure lead at year end in the Scottish Premier League. It is easy to criticize teams for playing Boom Ball, when in fact most professional and select teams “boom” their goal kicks and long corners and punt their goalie distributions rather than controlling the ball and building from the back, and many teams FB’s “boom” the ball to clear it when they are under pressure. I think it is fair to define “Boom Ball” as when the ball is kicked long without any real purpose or strategy and when the kicker’s team has only a 50/50 chance or less to win the ball. However, if you send the ball forward as part of an attacking strategy, or when under pressure in the Defending Third, or when your team has a better than 50/50 chance of winning the ball, it isn’t “Boom Ball”. “Boom Ball” is very different from “Kick & Run”. (See “Styles of Play“, “Kick & Run“, and “Attacking“).