Guide to Tactical Gameplay

Everything related to tactics, coaching and refereeing
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EF Flying Dutchman
Posts: 2801
Joined: 23 Jul 2006, 19:39
Location: San Francisco, CA


Edit:Will be updated soon, Give me a few days... Updated, but look out as I update once every two weeks or so...

Ok I've decided to revise this and make it an actual guide. Here goes.

Table of Content's

Player Tactics
Playmaker Position
Striker Position
Winger Position
Defender Position

Team Tactics
Team Tactics- The Fundamentals
Team Tactics- Two Touch Passing
Team Tactics- Making Runs
Ok that's it for the table of contents, now the actual thing!

Playmaking and Player Tactics

In this section I cover how to read the field, know where everything is, how to react to certain situations, and other things related to playmaking. So here we go.

Playmaker Position
Many people think that there is some amazing trick to this, but there isn't. The essence of this is to always be watching where everybody is. Example, you are a right midfielder, and the left defender has the ball, you watch the ball and do all of the normal things while you don't have the ball, but occasionaly look around and see where everyone is. By doing this simple task, you can see where everyone is located in their respective positions. You then need to use this information to quickly analyze where potential plays can be made. For example, you see that the center midfielder is open and that the left midfielder is running up the field with none on him. You also notice that the forward in front of you is marked , but is closer to the goal. Well, normally people think that your going to pass up to the forward, but if you cross it to the center mid who then passes it to the left mid, he can then bring it up and cross it in for a goal-scoring oppurtunity. That causes one or two defenders to drift over to the left mid, leaving your marked forward a perfect header oppurtunity.
All this talk can actually be quickly computed in your head, you just need to remember, always always look up. Here is a good example of a play, it is at 30 to 41 seconds Notice that he picked out a guy all the way out of play, that noone was expecting to get the ball. It caught the team off guard, and he just passed it up and then, another interesting point. He passed it back to an incoming teammate, who again, no one was really expecting to get the ball. Interesting.

Striker Position
To be good at this position, you need to be tricky, and slippery to mark. Always be drifting around in a position to get the ball, and when you see your teammate is ready to pass, that is the time to check. To check, you need to first take three or four steps the opposite way you want to go, then turn around and explode back to where you want to go. This is an efficient way to lose your marker. Now that you are free of your marker, and you have gotten the pass, you know must either shoot, or pass to another striker. Starting with the idea of shooting, you can take the goalkeeper by surprise if as soon as you have the ball, kick it low and hard towards the sides, it doesn't neccesarily have to be pinpoint, but just try to hit it where the goalkeeper isn't. Many times the goalkeeper isn't thinking you will shoot, since you are in quite abad position for shooting, but that's what makes a good striker. The ability to shoot in any position. I reccomend that you practice shooting in akward positions by yourself against a wall. When it comes to passing, try to pick out your fellow striker, and chip it over the defense so he can collect it and score. This is how many many goals are scored. Runs for forwards are also very important. Piercing runs through open space between the midfielders and defenders are very good, and lateral runs when you are near the defense helps to stretch the defense out so that open space can be exploited. Finally, for crosses, always be anticipating the cross, as the ball is being crossed, push your marker away roughly enough so he is off-balance (hey it's a physical game), and run in for the header, do not be afraid of jumping to head the ball, or diving to head it in the goal. This is my best advice for strikers.

Winger Position
Winger is one of the most fun positions if you like 1v1 confrontations. If you don't like to confront people with the ball, then this is definitely not the position for you. A wingers job is to run up and down the field, often times taking the ball for long periods of time on a solor run, to then cross it in. To be a good winger you should get a good bag of tricks, and be quick. Wingers can be very tricky as far as how they react when they get the ball. Here are some things you can do...
When you get the ball beat a guy, then the next time beat him again, then after that pass it. Try and make yourself unpredictable with the ball. Also when you go to cross it in, sometimes cross it and other times come in and take a shot. There is not much I can say for wingers, except be tricky as possible, and slippery like strikers.

Defender Position
Defense is the last line of players to defend the goal, but they can also create vital counter-attacks, but there is not much tactics involved. As I don't know too much about defense, I will just post as much as I know. So, defensively, you need to steal the ball, or intercept passes, that are made near the goal. There are guides on how to do this, so I won't post about that. So once you get the ball, you must feed it out to the sides. The most important part of being a defender (for me at least) is that the defender must not panic. He must be calm and composed, although ruthless when it comes to getting the ball. So once u get the ball, look for a winger or midfielder who is not marked, and give a clean pass to him. If you have a good shot in your leg, you can send a through ball to a midfielder, which helps to get past the opponent's defence. If you get the ball, you can bring it up the side, and once you are challenged, you can kick it up to a winger so he can cross it. This is one of the most dangerous counter-attacks that can be made, because the midfielders and other players, have not had time to set up, since the moment you got the ball, it started to move upfield. That is about all I have to say for defenders, sorry for my lack of information.

Team Tactics

This section is mainly for coaches, but if you have an open-minded coach, or every one on your team listens to what you say :lol: , then go ahead and read this.

Team Tactics- The Fundamentals

This are some of the basic things that the team should be doing while playing...

-Stretch out the defense. When you are attacking always spread out to take up the whole field, therefore stretching out the opposing team's defense, so it is easier to pass the ball around them.

-Compact the offense. When you are on defense, you need to compact the attackers by creating a bowl shape around the goal, so they cannot spread out and infiltrate in between players.

-Quick passes. Always send crisp easily redirected passes. Always always always make sure your passes are good, otherwise you can be the one who let the other team score. And always pass to open space and lead the person.

-Two Touch Passing

Before practicing this style of play, I would recommend that everyone on your team becomes really good at giving clean snappy passes, and being able to trap the ball quickly and easily. Anyways, the idea of this, again, is quite simple. Once you get the ball, control it, then pass it to another player in any open position. By continously doing this, you eventually work the ball up to their penalty box, without them noticing that their letting the ball through. Then it is just a quick shot for a goal. A video is worth a million words I'm guessing (since a picture is worth a thousand), so here is a play from the world cup 2006 that shows how effective this is. Notice that it is ok to pass back to the same person who passed to you, because often they won't be marked, since they just passed the ball away. So that's about it. Good luck practicing it.

Team Tactics- Making Runs
Making runs is a joint effort, so I decided to stick it in Team Tactics, although they are mostly made by strikers...
Here I will list several runs that can be used, and btw always make eye contact with the person with the ball...

-Making Space This is one of the runs that you can do without the ball, and with no intention of getting the ball. What you have to do is run laterally, and your marker will follow, therefore stretching out the defense for the person with the ball to make a piercing run through, or a piercing pass. One of the easiest yet most effective of runs.

-Running for the loft Make eye contact with your teammate with the ball, and signal/tell him to loft it. Run and hopefully he will loft it over the defense for the perfect oppurtunity for a breakaway.

-Garbage Run down the side Another run with no intention of getting the ball, try to run down the sideline and pull your marker away from the action, along with pulling his teammate closer to you. This leaves your teammates the chance to work the other side of the field.

-Running behind your marker Try to jog the opposite way you want to go, then all of the sudden explode the way you want to go (behind your marker), and run diagonally towards the goal calling for the ball. This is perfect for piercing the defense, and after getting the ball you can even loft it for a teammate.

Thanks for reading and I will be sure to add some more as my own tactical knowledge continues advancing. One can never learn everything! Cheers!
Last edited by iwannagopro on 18 Oct 2006, 23:15, edited 10 times in total.

EF Flying Dutchman
Posts: 2801
Joined: 23 Jul 2006, 19:39
Location: San Francisco, CA


lol i don't like to double post but, come on! I've gotten 80 view and people still don't even post a word! It's been 2 weeks and not a single word! Please give me feedback I'm desperate for it! I don't even care if u say it sucks, just as long as u state why its sucks. Thanks

P.S. I know i'm gonna regret posting this :wink:
Last edited by iwannagopro on 10 Aug 2006, 19:51, edited 1 time in total.

Senior Member
Posts: 186
Joined: 15 Mar 2006, 05:41
Location: California


hey! you live in santa rosa! what club do you play on?

sorry. i just found this post yesterday. nice post. i read another post somewhere in this forum that if you wanna go pro, you need intelligence. this post explains just that.
"There's someone out there practicing right now, and if you face him, he will win."

Posts: 585
Joined: 16 Apr 2005, 15:06


Good post man , lots of people will find this really helpful. Keep playing and the more experience you get the more tactical knowledge you'll gain. Keep it up mate :D

New User
Posts: 2
Joined: 19 Aug 2006, 09:26
Location: Valencia, Spain


Nice post man! :wink:

I think that better players not depend of their partners, and the good right or left side players must to dribble, or try to dribble, and do the goal pass when he arrives at the deep line.
Good players like Robben or CR are so individualist, but they are the most dangerous players in this position.
I preffer this type of wingers or L or R midfielders, more than other players that no have ideas in the face to face. :P

EF Flying Dutchman
Posts: 2801
Joined: 23 Jul 2006, 19:39
Location: San Francisco, CA


i updated it to a guide, so it is a bit more useful

Junior Member
Posts: 92
Joined: 28 Dec 2005, 06:43
Location: Kuwait


That is pretty comprehensive and yet precise.

Well done.

Going through and checking your other posts as well !!!


Posts: 641
Joined: 11 Apr 2005, 10:05
Location: Bristol


It's ok but not great.

I think it's a good idea to do a guide to tactics etc, but you'll find on here that a post with several paragraphs and a few colours activates a stream of "nice post" "great post" "good post man".

But yeah, it's a good idea to do this sort of guide.

Perhaps it could be a bit more expansive? I mean, at the moment it is just for playmakers etc, and selected tactics.

Good effort.
He who thinks too much about every step he takes will stay on one leg all his life.

Posts: 1212
Joined: 15 Apr 2005, 10:03
Location: England


Nice post. ;)

It's pretty good, though as Wiseman says, a bit of expansion is always nice. What he doesn't point out, is that it's still miles better than most posts on this site, and you've obviosly put in some effort, finding suitable links to help people understand what you're saying.

Even though I think the post rating system is being binned soon(ish), I still think you deserve your...

Post Rated: 4 Stars - iwannagopro

EF Flying Dutchman
Posts: 2801
Joined: 23 Jul 2006, 19:39
Location: San Francisco, CA


quite, I understand what u mean magicfeet and wiseman, this will be expanded, as I read more and learn more. It's going to take me a while before people think it's really good, but I will eventually get there. I will try to update this as soon as I can, but I have to get ready for a game right now (yipee lol) and so I will try to later on. Thanks for the stars magicfeet! and thanks wiseman for the info.

edit: I lost the game 10-0 lol, my team really sucks, I'm debating whether or not I should quit :cry::sad:, but I updated the guide for defense and offense!

Guide Goddess
Posts: 2068
Joined: 30 Jun 2006, 22:00
Location: USA


Why isn't this stickied? I mean, its such a good post, and it has such good information. Users should have quick access to a post like this! If this isn't stickied, it will fall onto the second page then the third and so on... then it won't benefit anyone :(

Good Post iwannagopro!

Veteran Member
Posts: 1925
Joined: 11 Aug 2006, 17:36


Wow, this is an old post, but nonetheless a good one. It has some nice info and suggestions for positions. Like Soccer4life mentioned earlier; it puzzles me why this is not a sticky. :/

Senior Member
Posts: 158
Joined: 04 Jan 2006, 08:13


s is also exceedingly useful for all players:
Soccer Strategy

Where you play the ball, when, and how will come with experience. To gain experience, try to get in as many games as possible. Whether it's small sided games, two on two or three on three to little goals (two bags - two feet apart or two cones that act as the goals): these types of competitive games will improve your play and help you make quick decisions.
Of course, real eleven versus eleven games are ideal - there's always a different feeling surrounding an actually game. You will learn something new every time you play. But it's important to play more games, whether real eleven versus eleven or a small sided pick up game at the park with friends. In each setting you can improve different parts of your game.

Often the pace of the game will dictate where you play the ball. If you play a good team and you are constantly put under pressure you will be forced to play the ball quickly. This will only make you a better player as you get older, so try to play at a game like intensity all the time – look to play against the best competition. Don't do things that you know you wouldn't get away with if you were playing a good team.

Overall, the key to playing good soccer is keeping the ball moving by playing one and two touch soccer - passing and moving off the ball and being creative. The ability to do this goes back to a good first touch, using your body to shield the ball, and knowing what you want to do with the ball before you get it.
In a way soccer is about getting the ball into the right person's feet; the one who has the most time and space (faces the least pressure) and is in the most advantageous position to score or make that goal scoring pass.

Spread out on offense and become a compact unit on defense. On offense, use the entire field to open up the defense - creating gaps and spaces to attack. On, defense you want to do the opposite, stay compact as a team unit and defend with numbers. For instance, if the opponent is attacking down the right side, then the far right midfielder can move into the middle and help out since the player on the far side is not as dangerous as those attacking with the ball.
Of course, he or she must still be aware of the player they are marking, but they can gamble in a sense, and keep their eye on the ball and the wide player and help clog the middle and intercept passes. If the opposition makes a long pass to the far left winger, he or she needs to be able to get there before the ball does, and then the whole team will have to shift positions to the right side. If you gauge it right, you should be able to arrive before the player has time to control the ball and attack down the line. Make the player get his head down by putting pressure on him – don’t be too far away or too close – but put enough pressure on the player so that have to think and get their head down.

On offense, to open up spaces in the opposing teams defense, the key rule that you can follow is keep the ball moving. Let the ball do the work. Play the ball into the forwards feet, and then they lay it back to the midfielder who plays the ball wide. The wide midfielder then tries to get a cross in or switches the ball back to the other side where there is more space.
Draw the defense out by playing the ball into the forward's feet, and if he or she is covered they can lay the ball back to a midfielder or lay the ball off to someone making a run through towards the goal. Your intention, when you play the ball to the forward who is tightly marked is to draw the defense into this player, once the forward gets a touch on the ball and holds the ball up with a touch or two, you (the midfielder) can get the ball back and play another player through who now becomes open, since the defense has collapsed around the forward or shifted their focus on the forward. You can make the pass in behind the defense and get them chasing the ball with their heads turned.

A number of ideas have been repeated throughout this site and these themes are what should guide you as a player.

Here again are the key themes of this site:

1. Keep the ball moving with one or two touches.

2. Change of pace after making a move to beat a player on the dribble.

3. Keep the ball out of your feet when controlling the ball – control the ball out in front of you a few yards.

4. Play the ball with pace; make a crisp solid pass, whether it is a 10 yard pass or 20 yards.

5. Get the cross in.

6. Take shots.

7. When dribbling, touch the ball with every step you take, to ensure close control and enhance your ability to cut the ball away from defenders.

8. Play the ball and move – get it and give it.

9. Demand the ball.

10. Always want the ball.
11. Communicate – tell teammates to turn or man on or you have time. When you make a pass give some directive along with that pass.

You should also add to the above short list: spend time with the ball on your own, whether it is practicing your dribbling moves, juggling, or striking the ball against a wall - with both feet.

Back to Strategy

In terms of style of play, selfish play becomes contagious. When someone is dribbling all the time others will pick that up and do it themselves or not be as active in the play and stop making runs. The great thing about soccer is that this will usually correct itself because the game doesn't allow you to play that way. The team that moves the ball around and shares the ball the most makes things the easiest for themselves and will have the most scoring opportunities. If you play selfish soccer you will not be successful in the long run.

Additionally, before you play the ball, when picking out a player for a long pass or serving the ball in from a long distance, you should have a plan in your mind of what is going to take place next. The player you are making the pass to should have someone to lay the ball off to or time to turn, or you yourself should support the pass if nobody is available. For instance, as when a defender drives the ball into a forward who lays the ball back to the center midfielder. Picture a series of plays that are going to take place when sending a long ball or starting a play. Try to always think of where the ball should go next – that way you’re making good decisions and setting up your teammates – putting them in advantageous positions.
For instance, you want to play the ball to your teammates left foot if they have someone covering them on their right side. You want to lead your teammate with a pass that puts them in the best possible scenario to make the next successful play or pass. If they are making a run through towards the goal you want to put the right pace on the ball so they don't have to break their stride. Bend the ball into the path of the player or if they are better on their left foot then play it to that foot or play it to the space where your teammate can make the play but not the defender.

Again, the best methods are to play the ball hard, to pass and move, to play and follow your pass or to give it and get it, to always want the ball, and always put yourself in a position to receive the ball and make a play. If you are not going to get the ball then make a run to receive the ball or take a defender away and open up space for a teammate.

Making Runs

Playing and moving covers the basic idea behind making runs, but the important thing to remember is to make these runs dangerous and make runs that lead to goal scoring opportunities or open up space for a teammate. Make a run in behind the defense for instance, and then if that is not on, check back to the ball, get the ball and lay it off and then make that run behind the defender again, so the midfielder can chip or loft the ball to you in the air. Or if the midfielder on the left side has the ball you as the center midfielder can make a run down the line to receive the ball or open up space for the left sided midfielder to take his opponent on the dribble and move into the open space in the middle.

Two Quick Reminders:
• When going at a defender on the dribble - make the defender commit to you and then lay the ball off.
• Angled runs are harder to defend - and you can use your body to better protect the ball you are receiving.

Another example of a run: the center midfielder has the ball dribbling towards the right. The right winger or midfielder breaks down the sideline to receive the ball, and if he or she is covered checks back to the center midfielder to receive the ball.

If there's an opportunity to take the defender on, go for it, if not, lay it back to the center midfielder and break down the line again to receive the ball. The center midfielder can also make an overlapping run. The right sided midfielder can play a one two with the forward who is posting up. There are numerous options if everyone on the field is looking to put themselves into position to receive the ball and help one another.

To execute these types of exchanges, a give and go or overlap you need to lead the defense into believing you are going in a different direction. Keep them on their heels; lay the ball off at the right time. You can always start over. If one side of the field is too clogged up and crowded then switch the ball to the other side. It could be two square exchanges of the ball and then on the third pass someone breaks into the open space to receive the ball in behind the defense.
Starting over can mean making a run to get yourself open or setting up your defender – for a return pass. Dart down the line and checking back to get the ball. Make an angled run into the middle and then checking to the outside. Essentially, this is making space for yourself by taking the defender with you into the middle and then breaking to the outside. Draw the defender away from the space you want to receive the ball in - and then check back into the space you just opened up. It could even just be walking five yards towards the sideline and then breaking back to the middle. Check back to the ball at an angle. This way you will have more space to turn and see the field, your body is already half turned if you check back at an angle. You can check back to the ball side on – so you’re already half turned, can see where you want to play the ball next, and keep your body between you and the defender – control the ball with the outside of your foot.

Running Without the Ball

If you make a run towards a teammate with the ball but don't receive it - break into space to drag the defender with you. For example, make an ambitious run towards goal for a through ball just to draw attention to yourself and open up a play for someone else – a decoy run.

Give and Go or Wall Pass

The base foundation for all of soccer in a way. Again, the key is setting up your defender. You almost need to sucker the defender towards you, as though he or she is going to be able to intercept the ball, then play the ball and go - accelerating into the open space to receive the return pass.

The Cross Over Exchange

This is where you dribble the ball towards a teammate and exchange the ball with him or her. You can also fake the exchange and keep the ball if the defender has read the play. Exchange the ball with same foot as your teammate. Meaning, that if the player dribbling is using his or her right foot then their teammate will pick the ball up with their right foot, since they are coming in the opposite direction. This enables you to shield the ball from the defender with your body.

Exchanging Positioning

This is another good way to open up space for a teammate and confuse the opposition. For example, an outside midfielder you can exchange positions with a center midfielder. If during the game they end up in close proximity when making a run or when exchanging the ball – this switch may confuse the defense for a brief moment and give you an opening. The outside midfielder makes a run into the middle, receives the ball, makes a pass to the forward who holds the ball and then lays it back to the outside midfielder who sends it down the line where the center midfielder has made a run.
This kind of movement can take place all over the field during a game. Although it is important to fall back into your position or make sure each position is covered, and your team shape is intact.
Again, change of pace is the key, when dribbling and when making a run. A slow jog, away from where you want to go or disguised by moving into a different position, and then a quick movement towards the area where you really want the ball. You need to bring the defender away from where you want the ball played. Pushing up the field so you can break back towards the ball. Or the opposite, bring the defender back to the ball, so you can break in behind him or her, and your teammate can play the ball through and behind the defense.

Back Door Runs

Make an exaggerated move back to the ball then break away to receive the ball behind the defender who has now overcommitted to the play since he or she thought you were going to receive the ball in front of you.

Serving the Ball Into the Box

Target a player and drive the ball in to them, most likely a forward. The important thing to keep in mind is playing the ball at the appropriate pace. You can't serve the ball in to a player from thirty yards away without striking the ball crisply and solidly. If you send in a soft lofted ball it is likely to get intercepted by a defender. Again, a driven ball is easier to control and redirect, on to goal or to another player. It is in this way that you should play soccer: see the next play that should take place before you make a pass. You want to give a directive via the pace of the ball.

Attack Quickly

Attack quickly when there's an advantage or an opportunity. Don't hesitate. Try to keep the ball moving as quickly as possible. If there's a chance to break - break with a few precise and crisp passes.

Angled Movements

Dribble down the line and cut the ball sharply to an open teammate in the middle. For example: you are a wide midfielder, you feint like you are going to take the ball down the line. You are on the left side dribbling with your left foot so your body is protecting the ball, and if the defender tries to poke the ball away you will get a throw-in.

Dribble across the field, cutting in, and chop the ball out wide just as a defender approaches. In both cases, waiting until the last minute to release the ball. The key is making the defense think you are going to do one thing and do the opposite. Sell like you are going to dribble down the line or as though you are cutting across the middle of the field.

Team Shape

Expand on offence and use the whole field. On defense you want to become a compact unit - enclosing the area where your opponent has possession of the ball, making it difficult for them to make a pass. You will have enough time to reach an opponent if they make a long pass.
On offence you want to become big and use all of the available space on the field. It's more difficult for the opposition to cover a team that uses all of the space on the field rather than one that doesn't require them to move and cover the whole field.

This is why it is good to switch play and keep the ball moving on offense - so your opponent cannot close down your space and make it difficult for you to make a pass and you can find holes in their defensive structure by stretching them out. By moving the ball laterally you can find time and space and pick out a teammate in a goal scoring or advantageous position.

Also see: Patterns
A Few Quick Tips


When you move into the professional level it becomes even more important to communicate on the field. Simple directions or alerts, such as 'man on' and 'turn' or 'you have time' make playing so much easier and become more important as the game speeds up at higher levels.
Give it and get the ball - play the ball quickly with one and two touches. You should also be prepared to receive the ball at all times, and want the ball! This kind of energy, wanting to always be involved in the play, puts the other team that much more on their heels. So play simple soccer, get the ball and play it. Look to go forward.
Try to attack the space when have the ball. See if you can draw a defender in and then release the ball just when they close you down.


A simple and great exercise is to dribble in a small square and have an opponent try to take the ball from you. Use your body to shield the ball from the defender. Always keep your body between you and the defender. Tell your friend or the person who is acting as the defender to fight for the ball with a game like intensity, pushing you and playing so hard they are almost fouling you. You can add more players and if the defender wins the ball you switch roles. This game can eventually build into a possession game that focuses on shielding. You can call out to stop play now and again which ever team doesn't have the ball has to do push-ups or a few sprints.

When you can, carry the ball into the open space - all the while shielding the ball from the defender. Carrying the ball with the inside of your foot, this is the where you will get the most control, kind of dragging the ball along as the defender pushes against you. Make sure to bend your knees and have a strong sense about you that this person is not going to get the ball from you. Then, try to work on cutting the ball back and forth. Practice shielding the ball using all parts of both of your feet.

Try shielding the ball for a few yards with the inside of your right foot and playing it to your left and carrying it in the other direction. Next, you can use the sole of your foot to turn or switch directions. Try to use all the different surfaces of your foot without letting the defender get a touch on the ball. Chop and cut the ball back with the inside and outside of both feet. Keep the defense honest by turning and taking the defender on from time to time.

Freeze the Defender
Fake like you’re going to make a long pass or about to take a shot, before receiving the ball – this will freeze the defender who is rushing towards you and give you more time. Simply pull your leg back as if you’re going to play the ball down the field, or, get more animated with it, and throw your shoulders and whole body into selling the fake kick. Either way, this simple move will freeze the on rushing defender. Again, just before you receive the ball (and control it), fake like you’re going to shoot or make a pass by drawing your leg back in the shooting or kicking motion to momentarily freeze the defender.

Switch Play

As a team keep the game flowing by ball swinging the ball from one side to the other to find the best ratio of numbers and the most space. Release pressure by switching the ball.

The Quick Switch - Blind Pass

Dribble to the right with your right foot and then swing a ball to the left, send almost a blind pass. Do the same for the left. Dribble to the left side of the field and swing a ball back to the right side of the field with your left foot. The defender on the other side will not expect the pass. Hopefully you will catch the opposing team sleeping. You are selling the idea that you're going to the side you're dribbling towards when in fact you are swinging the ball over to the opposite side. Team mates will adjust to the expectation that a switch is always coming.
Sometimes you can dribble a few times in the opposite direction you really want to play the ball - to throw the defense off - then you swing the ball to the other side of the field. It doesn't have to be a long switch, just a quick cut back to the other direction can buy you time.

Get the Cross In

As a rule almost, when you have the opportunity, swing in the cross. Do this the next two or three times. Then the fourth time, or when you see the opening, you can take that player on the dribble, beat him or her down the line and cut the ball back to a teammate. Of course, you can always go to goal yourself if the opening is there.

Play with Older Players

Try to find the best game possible near where you live when you are training. To become a great player you should push yourself, and there is no better way to do this than to play with more experienced players.
You can pick up all of their tricks and skills that they have learned over the years. This kind of mentoring process is a huge part of improving your game and often you won't even realize what subtle skills you'll pick up, just by watching and playing with better and more experienced players.
Challenge yourself by playing with experienced players when you can. It will speed up your play, make you play stronger, and you will learn from their experience - where to play the ball, when, and where to make runs.

Slow Down

Essentially this is making the easy pass to the open player. It doesn't mean necessarily slowing down your speed of play, rather it's letting the ball do the work, and not forcing the play. Keep your mind moving fast and focused. If there is an open player play them the ball. Then when they get closed down they play the ball back to you.
As a young player one of the difficult things to learn is patience. This means things like letting the ball do the work through one and two touch play. Each time you make a pass the defense changes their position and new things open up at different angles on the field - new spaces to run into, dribble, and pass are created when you move the ball.

Quick Decisions

As a professional or collegiate player you won't have time to dribble or think after getting the ball. Try to know what you are going to do with the ball before you get it. Eventually, playing simple soccer will become automatic when you are involved in the rhythm of the game, wanting and always asking for the ball trying to find the player in the most advantageous position. Two or three short simple passes can lead to someone who is open in a position to make that goal scoring pass or score themselves.
You will need to use your body to shield the ball. Play simple give and goes with your teammates to get out of pressure. Be aware of where you can move or how you can position yourself to help out your teammates. Using your body means dribbling with your left when there is a defender on your right and dribbling and shielding the ball with your right foot when there is a defender on your on your left. If you don't know you can turn or have time, keep your body between the ball and the defense and get your head up and take a look around. You should always try to know where you are on the field by taking quick looks before you receive the ball.

Hold the ball for a second while I get open or in a better position where I will have more time and can see the field better. This is one of the greatest aspects of the game of soccer, where you work with your teammates to ping the ball around the other team and through the other team, where they can't even get a touch on the ball before you score a goal.


Thigh: Top of your thigh used to deaden the ball. Used when the ball is hit high in the air. Try to push yourself by hitting the ball to the side when controlling the ball, as if a defender is trying to get the ball or even make a quick pass with your thigh when a ball is played to you in the air.

Chest: Use the upper chest region to deaden the ball. Try to control the ball to the side away from the defender or control the ball up and out in front of you if you have space, so you can make the next pass immediately.

Head: At times used to control the ball to yourself - bringing your head to the ball to deaden it. More often used to flick or re-direct the ball to a teammate.

Inside of the foot: The most common surface area used to control the ball; large surface area.

Outside of the foot: Often used when coming back to receive a ball so as to have your body between you and the defender.
Top of the foot: To deaden the ball from a high pass, goal kick, or punt. See if you can re-direct the ball to yourself to the side and move with the ball.

Controlling the Ball to the Side

Once again you want to make use of your body to protect the ball when receiving a pass from a teammate. Turn your body to the side. So your hips are not open to the person who is playing you the ball but to the side you want to receive the ball. Receive the ball at an angle with the outside of your foot. Using the outside of your foot to control the ball is rare, most often used when you are tightly marked and checking back to the ball. Forwards sometimes check back to the ball at an angle so they can turn their defender. Normally you want to use the inside of your foot to control the ball so you can make a quick return pass.
Turn to the right if you are going to control the ball and make a pass with your right foot and the opposite for your left. This way your body is between you and the defender. Be conscious of controlling the ball a little bit in front of you so you can make a pass or take a shot with your next step. This is knowing what you want to do with the ball before you receive it.

Control the Ball Out in Front of You

Control the ball out in front of you. Using your body to protect the ball, you are making use of the space given to you. When you have space, play the ball ahead of yourself to a degree so you can get your head up and make a play with your next few steps. This is controlling the ball into the open space. If you are a defender and you receive a pass with loads of time and open space in front of you, just after someone has switch the ball from the other side of the field you can even control the ball five or six yards out in front of you so you are ready to attack the space and make your next pass. By doing this you can get your head up and see the entire field. You are not back on your heels but pushing the ball forward when you receive the ball.

Whether you control the ball to the right or to the left or straight ahead, you have time and space, controlling the ball a few feet in front of you gives you a chance to play the ball quickly since your next step can be a pass or a shot, and the ball is not tangled up in your feet.
When you control the ball too close to your body you will have to take another touch to set yourself up to make a pass. This extra touch gives the defense another chance to adjust and close you down and you will miss seeing a teammate making a run since you are busy trying to get the ball out in front of you to make a pass. First touch is key. Make it sharp and a little bit out in front of you so you can see the field and make the next play. Of course, there are exceptions, and times you want to control the ball close to you.

The Half Turn

When you are in the midfield you should position your body so you can connect with the forwards. You can accomplish this by not having your back to the forwards, that is usually their role, midfielders should try to be half-turned and facing one of the sidelines. This way you can view both the back line, if they are trying to make a pass to you, and the forwards to see where they are making a run.
When you play on the wing or in a position along the touchline you should open yourself to the field - in a position to see the whole field and receive the ball. Again instead of having your back facing the forwards you can turn your shoulder towards the outside touchline in this way you are open to the field.



One forward should sit closer to the midfielders while the other tries to stretch the defense (standing next to the last player on the other team, usually the sweeper). With this alignment, the first forward can check back to the ball and then cut inside if he doesn't receive the ball.

The player with the ball (let's say the right back) can then play the ball inside to the first forward or to the forward who is posting up deeper into their opponents area. The post up forward can either try to receive the ball while he or she posts up or check towards the ball after the other forward makes the initial run back to the ball. The first forward then takes up the deeper position. Checking in and out and exchanging positions makes up the movement of the forwards.

The two forwards are aligned in a pair in the center of the field and the closest forward checks back to the ball at an angle, to the right or left. If he or she is marked then he or she can cut into the middle to receive the ball. They must keep running and rotate back to the post-up position.
It is really two runs: checking back to the ball, and then if that isn't on, making a run back into the middle. Meanwhile, the other, posting up forward, can check back to the ball, and the other forward spins to offer support.


With quick check back runs towards the ball midfielders can get open. These can be five or ten yard runs back to the ball, to the side or into the attack. It could even just be bringing your marker into an area where you don't want the ball so you can run into the space where you want the ball. Walking away a few yards and then darting back to the ball.

Back Door Cuts

If your defender is too tight you can fake like your checking back to receive the ball and then make a run into the attack.
Checking back to the ball, you see that the defender is too close, invite them to mark you tightly so you can sneak into the space behind them. Make this a quick burst behind the defender.


Defensive movements are mostly in support and cover positions. As on offense you are moving in to position to relieve pressure and switch the ball into an open area of the field. Although defenders can often get into attack by overlapping or making delayed runs when the time is right.

On defense you want your team to be compact and on offense you want to open up and expand. As a compact unit you can close down a certain area and win the ball and still have time to get back if the other team makes a long pass to the other side of the field. As a defender you want to run back towards your goal - re-group and defend as a unit.
1. It starts with one person pressuring the ball so the offensive player has to make a decision and can't get his or her head up.
2. Then a cover person who lets the pressuring person know if her or she should try to win the ball.
3. Next, is a organized compact unit letting those ahead of them know where players are around them and which direction they should steer them so the unit can win the ball.

Ideal Performance State
Relaxed readiness – possessing energy without tension – calm, loose, and responsive to the pressures of the game.
• Get a good sweat going before the game.
• Stretch
• Breath
• Excite – music and video
• Eat well and get a good amount of sleep.
• Massage – helpful after an intense workout.
• Visualization – map out in your mind positive actions.
• Be fit and prepared.
• Set goals for the season.
• Work hard.
• Do something decisive (make a tackle, shield the ball strongly from an opponent, clear the ball, or go seek out the ball and get involved).

EF Flying Dutchman
Posts: 2801
Joined: 23 Jul 2006, 19:39
Location: San Francisco, CA


WOW! That was rather comprehensive, but also hard to understand? Did u write all that, or did u get it from some site? I think I am going to read it over and summarize the whole thing and add it into the guide. Thanks...

EF Flying Dutchman
Posts: 2801
Joined: 23 Jul 2006, 19:39
Location: San Francisco, CA


updated the guide once again, after reading that post that zizou got from it refreshed my memory and I wrote some more stuff down.

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