Dealing with long ball tactics

Watching England v Scotland in the Women’s World Cup this week I was interested to see that Scotland tried to combat England’s impressive midfield with long balls to the lone striker Erin Cuthbert.

England’s pressing game had forced Scotland to change their game but England dealt with it very well.

The long ball over the top of the defence can be difficult to defend against in youth soccer, so I’ve put together five drills and activities to help you coach defending against teams that play long ball tactics…

One of the best ways to stop long balls is to get strikers to press high up the pitch and block the long pass early. Badlands teaches attackers how to press to prevent the long ball and defenders how to clear the long ball.

Key to playing against long balls is the reaction time of your players. Read and react is a 12-player game that gets your team reacting quickly and blocking the long ball to prevent opposition strikers breaking away.

A great way to practice defending against long balls played either in the air or on the ground, is to use the practice plans Dealing with long balls and Defending long balls. They are both excellent sessions that put players into situations they would face on match days.

And finally, read my article Playing against long ball teams, which puts the tactic into context and explains how to set up to counter it.

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