The following posts have been tagged with "soccer styles of play"...

Soccer Through Ball


(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“).


Soccer Tips


There are many soccer coaching tips in this soccer Dictionary. See “Coaching Rules“, “Attacking Plan“, “Soccer Formations“, “Creating Space“, “Shift & Sag“, “Spread the Field“, “Styles of Play“, and “Support“.


Soccer System Of Play


The concepts of “Positions“, “Support” and “Shift & Sag” teach teamwork and, when combined with a “Formation” and “Style Of Play“, they provide the organization for your team’s play, and collectively are called your “System of Play”. Starting at U-8, you should teach your players the concepts of “Positions” (i.e., that there are “Forwards“, “Midfielders“, “Fullbacks” and a “Goalie“), “Support” (i.e., “First Defender/Second Defender” and “First Attacker/Second Attacker/Third Attacker“) and to “Shift & Sag“. These concepts are easily taught and, in essence, teach teamwork. They can make a huge difference in your team’s play. How to teach “Positions” is explained in SoccerHelp Premium at “How To Teach Soccer Positions”. How to teach “First Defender/Second Defender” is explained at “Quick Team Improvement Program” section no. 3, at “10 Defense Tips & Tactics” section no. 7 and at “Support” in the Dictionary. How to teach “First Attacker/Second Attacker/Third Attacker” is explained at “First Attacker” in the Dictionary, and In Premium at “Scoring More Goals” and “Attacking Plan”. How to teach “Shift & Sag” is explained in Premium at “Quick Team Improvement Program” section no. 4 and at “Shift & Sag” in the Dictionary. On Premium, also see “How To Teach Soccer Formations”, “Formations” and see “Styles of Play” in the Dictionary.


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 Pass To Space


Teach players to “pass to space” (i.e., to “open space”) & teach receivers to anticipate passes to space, as opposed to “passing to feet”. These passes are sometimes called “leading passes” (if they are made to space in front of a receiver) or “through passes” (if they are through the defense into the open space behind the defense). This is a very important soccer concept to teach & one that I think should be introduced by U-8 & definitely by U-10. It becomes increasingly important, as soccer players become older, & is very important by U-12. An advantage of this style of play (as opposed to “passing to feet”) is that soccer players learn they must be alert and must go to the ball and not wait for the ball to come to them. Passing to space also encourages “movement off the ball”. (See “Creating Space“, “Leading Pass“, “Through Ball“, “Wall Pass“, “Formations“, “Attacking Plan“, “Styles of Play“, “Pass To Yourself“, “Open Space“, “Pass To Feet“. Also see the Section titled “Scoring More Goals”). I strongly recommend you teach “Passing to Space” and “Aggressive Receiving” — Passing to Space is easier for beginning soccer players and will result in much better soccer ball movement, better soccer ball possession, use of Open Space and “field vision”. Aggressive Receiving” is a better way to teach receiving and will result in a big improvement in your soccer players and their ability to retain the soccer ball.


Soccer Direct Attack


To quickly move the ball forward toward the other soccer team’s goal by passing or dribbling; as opposed to a slow “indirect soccer attack” which uses a lot of backward or sideways (”square”) passes while searching for a weakness in the soccer defense. Unless your team has excellent passing ability, a direct attack will be more effective. (See “Soccer Counterattack“, “Soccer Attacking“, “Soccer Possession Style“, “Styles of Soccer Play“, & “Creating Soccer Space“).


Soccer Breakaway


A soccer fast break where one or more attackers get behind the defenders so that only the other team’s goalkeeper is between them & the goal. Soccer Breakaway’s often happen because a defense is “pushed up” & “flat” (i.e., has no “depth”), which makes it vulnerable to “through balls”. The “Sweepers” job (if you use a Sweeper) is to stop breakaways by kicking the ball out of bounds. In recreational soccer, a good strategy for stopping the other soccer team’s fast break is to teach your FB’s to kick the ball out of bounds. This will give your FB’s & MF’s time to “sag” back to defend their goal. A “sagging” defense with “depth” prevents breakaways by having multiple layers of defenders in position to slow down the attack. On 1 vs. 1 breakaways, the defending goalkeeper should come out of the goal toward the ball in order to reduce the shooting angle. He should do this when the soccer shooter gets within shooting range & once he starts he must run quickly toward the shooter & cannot stop or turn back; if he does, the shooter will probably score. (See ““, “Formations” (3-2-2-3), “Push Up“, “Styles of Play – Soccer“, “Through Soccer Ball“, “Sweeper“, “Last Soccer Defender“, “Soccer Zone Defense” & “Soccer Goalkeeper“).


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“).


Soccer Attacking Plan


For recreational soccer teams ages 10 and older, it is very important to have a simple and realistic soccer attacking plan that players clearly understand & can execute. For example, a simple attacking plan could be to clear the soccer ball away from your Defending Third, have your forwards be positioned to win the ball, and launch a quick attack. This is not as easy as it sounds. How to achieve this is described at SoccerHelp Premium.

(See “Soccer Attacking“, “Center The Soccer Ball“, “Clear the Soccer Ball “, “Soccer Counterattack“, “Defending Deep“, “Finish“, “First Attacker“, “Formations“, “Pass To Space“, “Push Up“, “Rebound“, “Shift & Sag“, “Styles of Play“, “Support” and “Win The Ball“).


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