The following posts have been tagged with "soccer through balls"...

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 Target Player


The soccer player who is “targeted” to receive the soccer ball when attacking. Also, a soccer forward whose job is to get as close as possible to the opponent’s soccer goal without being offside. Teammates will try to get this player the soccer ball by passing or through balls. Also, a potential receiver who gets in scoring position.


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 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 Spread The Field


(aka “Stretch The Field”). When you are attacking, you want to “spread” or “stretch” the defenders to open up holes in the defense. By spreading the defenders, you force them to cover a larger area so the defenders are farther apart & can’t do as good a job of supporting each other. (On the other hand, if you are defending, you want to be careful to not get too spread out or stretched). One way to spread out a defense is by using “width” on the attack. One example of this is if you spread your FB’s wide on your goal kick in order to force the defenders to cover the entire width of the field. Another example of spreading the field is to be sure your forwards stay a pass apart. You can also stretch the length of the defense. An example of this is if the other team is “pushed up” and you put your fastest forward at the halfway line & then send “through balls” or long cleared kicks into the open space between the other team’s FB’s & their goalkeeper. If you do this a few times the other team won’t be able to push up as far and you will have “stretched” their defense. (See “Width In Attack“, “Width In Defense“, “Stretched Defense“, “Stretch The Field” & “Goal Kick“).


Soccer Last Defender


The defender (not counting the goalkeeper) who is closest to the goal you are attacking. (The goalkeeper is usually the actual last defender, but it is easier to teach this concept by referring to the last field player as the “Last Defender”).This is an important concept to teach because you may want your center forward to play within 2 steps of the Last Defender. The “Last Defender” is usually as far as a forward can “push up” without the ball & still be “onside”. You want your forwards to stay 2 steps behind the last Defender so they won’t be as likely to be called offside. It is hard to dribble past the Last Defenders. The best way to break through them is by “through balls”, “give & go’s” or “passing to yourself”. (See “Offside Rule“, “Push Up“, “Through Ball“, “Pass To Yourself” & “Pass To Space“).


Soccer High Line


(aka “Pushed Up”). A “high line” is when the Fullbacks push up toward the halfway line. They may do this to support their team’s attack, in which case they are vulnerable to a fast “counterattack” by their opponent. Fullbacks may also push up and play a “high line” when they are on defense in order to create an “offside trap”, but they are vulnerable to “through balls” played into the open space between them and their Goalkeeper that the opposing fast forwards can run onto. In the 2006 World Cup, Ghana played a “high line” and lost to Brazil 3:0 by giving up 2 goals on “breakaways” to Ronaldo and Ze Roberto. Brazil left their great forwards pushed up so they were even with the high line and passed balls through the Fullbacks that the forwards ran onto. (See “Push Up“)


Soccer Flat Defense


(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“).


Soccer Depth


Depth on defense means having several defenders (ideally, multiple layers of defenders) spaced between the ball & the goal who are in a soccer 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. Depth in attack means having support to the rear so the ball can be passed back or “dropped”. (See “Soccer Support“, “Soccer Through Balls“, “Soccer Defending Deep“, “Soccer Zone Defense“, “Soccer Flat Defense” & “Soccer Cover“).


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“).