The most notable mark of a good attacker is his ability to read plays and trouble the defense even when he doesn’t have the ball. The smart attacker positions himself into areas where the ball could eventually end up either by pass or deflection. Sometimes, the attacker runs simply to distract the defense and to create opportunities for his teammates.
Direct vs indirect runs
Making a direct run means going forward into an area where you can shoot and score. For example if the ball is on the flank, an attacker would run in the penalty box to meet the incoming cross. On the other hand, indirect runs are intended to stretch apart the defense. These may include checking back to the ball or running into space toward the sideline.
Getting behind your marker for a pass is difficult, especially if he is faster than you. However, the dummy run may give you an extra step over the defender. Start by moving back as if you’re checking to the ball. Once your marker follows along, turn and run behind him.
Running forward vs checking back
When you are playing alone against two or more defenders, it’s typically a bad idea to run behind them right away. This will usually result in a footrace that you have bad odds of winning, especially when the goal is far away or the pass is not perfect. It is much better to check to the ball and lay it off back to the midfielders. This will give your midfielders the chance to step up and get involved in the attack.
The overlap occurs when one player runs forward by going around, behind the person with the ball. It is often used when the player with the ball is near the sideline and there is space in front of him. The overlap can also work across the width of the field.
In order to open up the game, the team that has possession always needs to spread out. This forces your opponents to spread out too and improves your team’s passing options. Attacking players should never be bunched up together so whenever you see a teammate running into your area, move out of his way to another position.
Checking to the ball
When you check to the ball, you need to move at an angle, preferably toward the sideline. If you run straight toward the ball, especially while being marked, you are limiting the options of your teammate. In addition to providing support for the player with the ball, checking back draws out opposing defenders.
Square pass support
By aligning yourself to the left or right of the player with the ball, you give him the option to make a square pass. Usually, you want to stay a few meters behind the line of the ball so that you can provide help in case your teammate losses possession.
Switching the field
When the ball is near the sideline, the defending team is usually shifted toward the same side of the field. This leaves the opposite flank open to counter attacks. Switching the field quickly can sometimes turn the play from 5v5 to 3v3 which is much better for the attackers. Encourage your players to change the field as much as possible, especially when the ball is played back.