The following posts have been tagged with "soccer support"...

Soccer Width In Defense


Too much width in your soccer defense is bad. The wider your soccer defense is, the more spread out & the easier it is to penetrate. Your defenders should stay close enough together to support each other, but not too close (if they are too close, they lose effectiveness & can’t cover enough space). Your soccer defense should be just wide enough to slow down the attack (i.e., just wide enough that the attackers can’t easily go around you) & should “shift & sag” so there are multiple layers of defenders between the ball & the goal. As your team gets older & plays better teams, the attackers will start to “switch fields” and use a wide attack as a way to get around your defense & to loosen it up. (See “Soccer Support“, “Soccer Cover“, “Support Distance & Relative Position in Soccer“, “Spread The Soccer Field” & “Stretched Soccer Defense“).


Soccer Width In Attack


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“).


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 Sweeper


(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“).


Soccer Support Distance & Relative Position


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“).


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 Small Sided


    Most youth leagues play with less than 11 players per side until U-12 or U-14. This is called playing “Small Sided”. At U-6, there may be as few as 3 per side; at U-8 4 or 5 per side; at U-10 6 to 8 per side, etc. At young ages it is much better to play small sided; the players get many more “touches” on the ball & it is much easier to teach them the important concepts such as “support”, “First Defender”, to “shift & sag”, and to spread out & get open for passes. In small sided games with 5 or less players per side, you shouldn’t worry about “formations” or “positions” but should teach basic concepts, teamwork, passing, dribbling & basic tactics such as “shifting & sagging” & to mark up behind a man when the other team has a throw-in or is near our goal. To quote Bobby Howe, Director of Coaching Education for the U.S. Soccer Federation & author with Tony Waiters of 2 excellent books (see “Recommended References” in Chapter 3 for the titles):

    Fewer players on the field

    Reduces the size of the “swarm;”

    Creates more touches;

    Does not allow players to “hide” or be excluded from the activity;

    Presents realistic but simple soccer challenges;

    Requires players to make simple but realistic soccer decisions.

    Realistic Experience + Fun = Improvement In Play.

    Some coaches incorporate small sided play (e.g., 4 vs 4) into practices. However, this can be difficult to administer and is not a substitute for practicing specific skills.

    (See “Number of Players“, “Formations“, “The Game Is The Best Teacher“, “Small Sided Games & Formations” which is No. 11 in the Section of Chapter 3 titled Basic Information & Tips for Beginning Coaches and the Comments at “Small Sided Scrimmage Without A Goalkeeper” in the Practice GamesTM).


    Soccer Shift & Sag


    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.
    Second, when a team loses the soccer ball, the players nearest the soccer ball should stay & try to be “First or Second Defenders” & slow down the attack. But all others should quickly “sag” back toward their goal (i.e., “Recover”) to create multiple layers of defenders. This doesn’t mean that everyone runs back in front of the goal; if they do it just makes it easy for the attackers to reach your Danger Zone. A rule of thumb is that the Fullbacks should drop back far enough that a long chip pass won’t go over their heads. Also, keep in mind that even when the FB’s have sagged back near their goal, you must leave some MF’s & F’s outside the Penalty Box in a position to win cleared balls & to receive passes so you can counterattack. If all your players are in the Penalty Box you won’t be able to get the ball off your end of the field.
    (See “Defense“, “Depth“, “Support“, “Support Distance & Relative Position” “Formations“, “Zone Defense“, “First Defender“, “Recover“, “Funnel” “Mark” & “Pressure“).


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