Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Control the game without the ball

davidscwnew

An important characteristic of modern teams is their ability to control the game even when they haven’t got the ball. The whole team plays a part in this tactic with the intention of forcing the opposition into awkward situations.

The formation succeeds by covering all avenues of opposition attack, meaning that play is stifled. It relies on pressing as soon as the opposition has the ball. The defending team always keeps the action in front of them and tries to stop any balls through the centre or in behind.

This tactic requires good fitness from players because it is hard work. And for pressing to work, the team must prevent any switches of play as this will give overload initiatives to attackers. But performed well, the game rewards are significant.

How to set it up:

  • Set up an area measuring 30×20 yards. Make three 10-yard zones across the width of the pitch.

  • You will need bibs, cones, balls and goals.

  • The players in the middle zone must prevent other teams passing through them.

  • This featured session uses nine players split into groups of three (one group in each area), but it will work with any equal denominations.

  • No balls are allowed over head height.

  • Players are restricted to two touches.

Getting started:

  • Play starts with either end zone team. Players pass amongst themselves before threading a ball through to the team in the opposite end zone.

  • For the first two minutes, the middle team is not allowed to move any player out of its zone.

  • After two minutes, allow one player from the middle zone to go forward into the an end zone to press the ball. Play this for three minutes.

  • If the ball is intercepted, play restarts at the other end.

  • Rotate play so that each team fulfils defensive duties in the middle.

Now try this:

  • Remove the zones and add two goals, with a keeper in each. Also add a halfway line.

  • Keep the teams in threes but this time the middle team attacks one end, then turns and attacks the other.

  • The outer two teams must defend the area and clear the ball using the pressing technique.

  • If a goal is scored, play restarts with the middle group and they attack in the opposite direction. If a tackle is made, the defenders’ reward is to now switch places with the middle group, thus becoming the attackers.

Why this works:

Pressing the ball is a great tactic for winning back possession. This activity shows the value in doing that, compared to standing off waiting to intercept. Pressing means opposition players rarely settle on the ball and mistakes can be forced, either through poor control or a rushed pass.



Why Rooney is the best defender

There is no better proponent of the art of defending from the front than Wayne Rooney of Manchester United and England. His defensive qualities set him apart from the other best attackers in the world – think of Cristiano Ronaldo or Francesco Totti neither would be seen charging the defenders high up the pitch where his bubbling enthusiasm can often see him win the ball back in his opponents half.

His movement when Manchester Utd lose the ball means that as the full backs advance Rooney can fill in as a third defensive midfielder blocking the attacking runs of the defenders.By forcing the play back he creates space in the centre of the pitch for Manchester’s more creative players like Ryan Giggs and Darren Fletcher to flourish.

These creative players then use the space to slip balls behind the opposing backline for Rooney or his striking partner to run on to making it hard to defend against.

This idea is something I like to make use of during my coaching sessions. If I can get the attackers in my teams to push high up the pitch to close the opposition defenders down before they are out of their own half it can force a mistake which opens up huge opportunities for my team to attack the space behind the defence.




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