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Soccer Third Attacker


A soccer attacker who is in soccer scoring position or running with the attack but a long soccer pass away from the First Attacker.(See “First Attacker“, “Second Attacker“, & “Third Man Running“).


Soccer Support


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:
  1. “First Defender” – The player closest to the ball must challenge the ball & try to slow down the attack or block a shot, and
  • “Second Defenders” – The second closest player must be the Second Defender and back up the First Defender and stay between the ball and the goal. The Second Defender should stay about 5-7 steps behind the First Defender and should become the First Defender if the ballhandler gets by the initial First Defender. (In this case, the initial defender should drop back to help the defender who was backing him up).
  • “Shift & Sag” – As soon as the ball is lost, your team should quickly “transition” from offense to defense; the closest player should become the “First Defender” the next two closest should become the “Second Defenders” & all the rest should “shift & sag”. What this means is to shift so they are generally between the ball & the goal & sag back to create multiple layers of defenders (which is called “Depth”). There are 2 rules that you can use to teach your players how to “shift & sag” on defense:
    • The left & right players (e.g., the LMF & RMF or LFB & RFB) should not go past the center of the field.
  • Don’t go past a teammate unless it is an emergency & never go past two teammates. These rules apply to defense but not offense because more creativity is allowed on offense. (See “Shift & Sag“, “Shape“, “Depth“, “Cover“, “Width In Defense“, “Support Distance & Relative Position“, “Zone Defense“, “Defense” & “Flat Defense“).
  • 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.


    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 Second Attacker


    An attacker who is within a short to medium passing distance from the First Attacker. (See “First Attacker” & “Third Attacker“).


    Soccer Onball


    (aka “Onball Attacker” & “First Attacker”). Refers to the soccer player with the soccer ball, such as the “onball attacker”. (See “First Attacker“, “Second Attacker“, “Third Attacker“, “Off-The-Ball” & “Creating Space“).