EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

Why tactics are essential for your team

One of the most interesting parts of being a coach is getting a grip on the tactics that a team plays – one thing for sure is there are a million different ways to play the game. A coach needs to create a playing style for the team and also have a number of different styles up his sleeve should the tactics prove ineffective against the team they are playing.

How long should you spend talking through individual tactics with players?You only need to look at the top teams in the English Premier League to understand that there are not just lots of different tactics played by teams but each one has different distinctive ideas branching off from the main theme.

Playing out from the back

One of the essential ingredients for any team these days is to play out from the back, made popular by the wonderful Barcelona team of Pep Guardiola it has continued to develop and has been adopted by teams at every level of the game.

Defined by short, intricate passing and fluid movement from the defenders to the midfield and beyond, the key to its success is overloading the midfield area with technically skilful players who can retain possession of the soccer for large periods of the game linking play from super quick defenders up to intelligent, creative attackers.

Counter attacking

In youth soccer this can be the most devastating tactic of them all. A counter-attack starts when you steal the ball and launch into an attack at speed – and the best place to win the ball is in your opponents defensive third.

This tactic starts with the opposition on the ball all over the pitch, by committing players forward they leave gaps in behind. The aim is to take the ball off the opposition, exploiting the space left to attack and score.

The high press

If you lose the ball win it back as quickly as possible to prevent the opposition from having possession and creating goals – afterall without the ball they can’t threaten your goal.

The high press works on the idea that the higher up the pitch you win the ball, the shorter the distance you have to go to get into a goal scoring position.

The whole team plays a high line and chases and presses the opposition into making a mistake.

The long ball

Often referred to as anti-soccer this is not one of the more technical tactics to use but can be effective if used in small bursts.

The idea of playing the long ball game is to send the ball forward from deep positions in the air towards a striker who takes the ball down and begins an attack.

My advice would be to keep this up your sleeve and launch it when your team is tied down in midfield.

Park the bus

This is linked to manager Jose Mourinho with his defensive tactics.
The tactic of parking the bus is essentially to take to the field with the sole purpose of not conceding a goal. Attacking soccer is very much secondary when parking the bus; it’s all about frustrating the opposition and keeping a clean sheet.

There are many more tactics you can use with your team. For activities and advice go to our tactics section

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