Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Why route one doesn’t work as a tactic

Once your players have got used to playing against the route one tactic they should be able to deal easily with it. Route one – where players hoof the ball to a target man up front – can sometimes work for your team but as a tactic it is outdated.

Not only that but route one is probably the most boring tactic of all. One of my teams played against a team that was playing route one, with a fast player up front and long balls played to him all the game. All they succeeded in doing was give the ball back to us and we won easily. I don’t think my goalkeeper had a shot save!

For all the talk of creating chances by getting the ball into the box more often it has to be a good long ball to have any chance of success.

Later that day I saw the match between West Ham and Stoke. Stoke play the long ball tactic with Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross lumping long balls up front towards John Carew. It was boring and above all it didn’t work. Stoke’s threat was minimal.

It was probably West Ham’s easiest game of the season, with Stoke failing to create a single clear-cut chance. Carew was easily shackled while his partner, Jonathan Walters, continued his dismal run of form – how he gets picked ahead of Kenwyne Jones is a mystery.

It will have put a smile on the face of the West Ham Academy Director Tony Carr who’s Smart Sessions regularly feature in my Better Soccer Coaching publication. West Ham are playing some great free-flowing football and not only pleasing the crowds but also winning.

For all those coaches who play route one it’s time to stop – just look at Stoke, they haven’t scored a league goal from open play since Dean Whitehead’s header against Manchester United on 4 January.

You’d think that would make them good at Soccer AM’s crossbar challenge where players have to kick from the half way line and try to hit the bar… but it doesn’t watch the video below.

 Soccer Skills and Drills


What do midfielders bring to the party?

DavidClarke1When you pick midfielders for your team you need them to be able to tackle well, hit accurate long balls and shoot at goal.

It’s a hard position to fill which is why players like Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are so important to their team.

You need someone who is more than just a link up player. They must be able to break up attacks and provide some level of defence for the players behind them. Youth teams are vulnerable to attacks through the midfield and must tackle to force play away and give defenders more space, and time, to see where the danger is coming from.

Watch these two clips of good midfield play, they play at different levels but both can do what you want to see in a midfielder.