Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Shutting down a team’s options

I picked up a good defending tip from an English Premier League in November when Birmingham City took on the might of Manchester City.

When I get my teams to defend an opposition goal kick I get them to leave one of the full backs ‘open’ so the goalkeeper has an easy option to pass to them. In that way my team can control the play better by closing down that player’s options forcing them into speculative kicks down the pitch.

If the kicks come from the goalkeeper they usually have more height and power and are harder to defend against.

However in the Premier League the opposite occurred. Manchester City’s goalkeeper JOe Hart likes to pass to the full backs or centrebacks and the team builds up from there. The Birmingham City manager Alex McCleish got his team to cut off the routes to the defenders meaning Hart had to launch the ball to the forwards.

But with a forward line of Carlos Tevez, David Silva, James Milner and Adam Johnson the Birmingham players easily won the headers and Manchester City were very unsuccessful from goalkicks.

So as a coach you often have to size up the opposition to see your options when launching balls forward.


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