Advanced Offensive Soccer Tactics Training and Coaching: My Soccer Supporting Runs and Creating Space Interactive eBook is a team and small group offensive soccer tactics guide designed to instruct and educate coaches at all levels develop more effective passing and dribbling options for the player in possession of the ball. Keys to the success to maintaining possession and effective attacks are good passing and receiving skills, proper support, creating space for yourself and your teammates, effective ball movement, and the path and timing of supporting runs. For the basics of Offensive Soccer Tactics see below.
” When you play a match, it is statistically proven that players actually have the ball 3 minutes on average … So, the most important thing is: what do you do during those 87 minutes when you do not have the ball. That is what determines whether you’re a good player or not.“ – Johan Cruyff
Supporting Runs and Creating Space Interactive eBook Outline:
Team and Small Group Offensive Soccer Tactics: keeping possession, creating space, fewer intercepted passes, creating better passing options, effective ball movement, combination passes, strong side overloads, switching the point of attack (strong side to weak side), support runs, forward runs, diagonal runs, decoy runs, overlapping runs, and how to create more scoring opportunities. These key soccer tactics concepts are described in detail and illustrated via animated and actual match video clips apply to any formation. These tactics promote a possession style of play.
Supporting Runs and Creating Space Interactive eBook Topics:
1. How to improve field vision
2. How to receive the ball under pressure
3. How to protect the ball while dribbling
4. How to create space for yourself
5. How to create space for other teammates
6. Coordinating the movement of two or three Strikers
7. How to relieve pressure
8. Techniques to avoid becoming off-sides (beating the offsides trap)
9. Supporting the player in possession of the ball
10. How diagonal runs create space and time
11. Balance in supporting runs
12. How to stretch and create gaps in the defense
13. Touchline Tactics
14. Basic patterns and combination play
15. How to create numbers in the attack
16. Combination plays In front of the goal
17. Two and three player combination plays
18. Preparation for switching the point of attack
19. Building out of the back
20. 11 V 11 team soccer tactics
Offensive Soccer Tactics The Basics:
‘Pass and Move‘: During the past 30 years, I have far too often observed players remaining stationary after making a pass, rather than moving to a new and better supporting position. If the player decides to make a pass, he should simultaneously be making a supporting run. Depending upon the situation, these may be diagonal runs, decoy runs, overlapping runs or a run to a supporting position where he can receive the ball again if needed. The video below demonstrates a few supporting run options.
Further, before receiving a pass from a teammate, players need to evaluate and prioritize their options. These options must be re-evaluated as teammates, defenders move and as the ball is passed or dribbled from one location to another. As soon as the ball has come into possession of the player, he needs to decide the best option. Ideally, players should have two or three options in mind prior to receiving the pass. Waiting to evaluate options and then deciding which option is best after the pass is received needlessly delays the process and oftentimes results in a failure to make the best passing or dribbling option.
Soccer Tactics Videos
‘Give and go‘[or ‘Combination Passing‘]: This is a basic soccer tactic which is essentially the same as ‘pass and move’, and is an essential part of the ‘target man’ style of play. The soccer player in possession of the ball plays a pass to a teammate and then immediately seeks to move into space. If the player who passed the ball can ‘lose’ his defensive marker (either through pace, movement, superior fitness or a lack of awareness on the part of the defender) he could then be free to receive a return pass and advance towards and possibly threaten the goal. When the ball is played by the receiving soccer player immediately back to the first player this is known as a ‘One-Two.’
Typically, I coach players to move from left to right or vice versa of the Target Player. Note that supporting players may run into the space created by the movement of Blue Player 2. See my eBook for numerous other options.
Soccer Tactics Videos
Switching Fields: Strong Side to Weak Side: Using a driven pass across the whole width of the pitch to a player in plenty of space is a very effective way of both relieving pressure and building a fresh attack. Teams prepare for the change in the point of attack by drawing defenders to the strong side of the pitch through a series of passes on the strong side of the pitch. Once the defending team adjusts their positions to the strong side of the pitch, spaces on the weak side of the pitch can be exploited. Wide players who drift into the center of the pitch contribute to center pitch congestion, and will not be properly positioned to receive a pass played to a wide position.
In the first video the point of attack is switched from the strong-side of the pitch to the weak-side. However, Blue Player 3 has drifted inside and contributes to the center pitch congestion. Because he is not pre-positioned wide on the weak-side touchline he must chase after and receive the ball with his back to the goal he is attacking. The extra touches and time wasted nullifies any advantage the attacking team may of been able to exploit on the open weak side of the pitch.
Note that the next video Blue Player 3 is pre-positioned wide on the touchline on the weak-side of the pitch. By positioning himself wide prior to the pass he can receive the ball facing the goal he is attacking and will have some time and space to initiate an immediate attack to goal.
The ‘Through Ball’: Using the Space Behind the Opponent’s Defensive Line:
Passes into this area have a number of pros: If an attacking player reaches the pass, taking care to avoid offside, he may get a 1-on-1 challenge with the goalkeeper, or be in an excellent position for a flank attack. Even if a defender reaches the pass first, the outcome could still be good for the attacking team. The defender will face his own goal, which could prompt him to give away a corner kick or a throw-in, make a risky pass to his team’s goalkeeper, or being put under heavy pressure near the corner flag. Typically, teams with faster attackers than the opponent’s defenders will try challenging this space, while the defending team in these cases will want to keep their defenders low when defending in order to give away as little space as possible between the defenders and the goalkeeper.
“Technique is not being able to juggle a ball 1000 times. Anyone can do that in the circus. Technique is passing the ball with one touch, with the right speed, at the right time, to the correct foot of your teammate.” – Johan Cruyff
The video below demonstrates a method of making a bending run before running behind the defender to avoid becoming offside. The path and timing of the bending run allows Blue Player 1 to protect the ball from the defender while the ball is travelling. Blue Player 2 needs to play the ball to the outside and alongside of Blue Player 1 making the bending run – not ahead or behind Blue Player 1. The pace of the ball needs to match the speed of the Striker making the run. The bending run creates a yard or two of onsides space and allows Blue Player 1 to break to goal behind the defender without being offsides at the moment the ball is passed by Blue Player 2.
Soccer Tactics Videos
The Long Through Ball:
This is a long, and usually high, pass from a teams’ own half, over the heads of the other team’s defense. It is intended for the attacking players to chase and it is important that they remain in an onside position until the ball is kicked. The soccer tactic works best with strong and fast forwards who will have a good chance of winning back the ball, taking control over it, and eventually getting a shot on goal.
Using the space between the opponent’s defensive line and midfielder line (‘the hole’): A common build-up of attacks is to pass the ball into the space between the opponent’s defenders and midfielders. Normally, a Striker will receive the ball sideways on or he will have his back to the goal when he receives the pass. He will seek to turn with the ball, or distribute it to a player facing the goal, who optimally also is in front of the opponent’s midfielders – or even on the move into the space behind the opponent’s defenders.
In the video below Blue Player 2 checks to the ball. Defender 2 elects to follow the supporting run which creates space behind him that Blue Player 3 exploits. Note that if Red Defender 2 had elected to not track Blue Player 2, Blue Player 1 could have chosen to play the ball to the feet of Blue Player 2. Without a challenging defender, Blue Player 2 could turn and face the goal.
Soccer Tactics Videos
This is a movement tactic that allows a safe and quick shifting of the offensive flanks while maintaining control of the ball. In a triangular play the ball is passed between three players to form a triangle. The triangle is then shifted to a different position when a new player is added. Many triangles can be created with various combinations of players with the intention of slowly moving the ball forward and never really compromising possession. This tactic works well when trying to gain control in the midfield. However, it can also be used for pure attacking purposes. The effectiveness of this tactic lies in the fact that defenders are unable to quickly ‘adapt’ to the other attacker’s style of play.
The video demonstrates the supporting runs of players when Blue Player 3 intercepts a pass from Red Player 1. Note Blue Players 1 and 2 quickly move into supporting positions as the ball is in flight. Once they are near optimal positions to support Blue Player 3, they need to turn and face the goal. Their supporting positions should allow an easy pass that can be played within a foot or two in front of the supporting players. This will permit good forward field vision and allow them to step forward to make a pass or begin dribbling to goal. If supporting players receive the pass with their backs to the goal, they will severely limit their forward field vision and their position will nessecciate a needless additional touch to turn and face the goal they are attempting to attack.
Soccer Tactics Videos
Swapping of the Wing Men:
Sometimes, a soccer team with two flexible (position wise) wide men will allow them to interchange as the game progresses. The aim of this is to confuse the defenders who are assigned to mark them, thus maybe leading to opportunities as the defender tries to find their man in set pieces (corners, free kicks etc., where the man may be in a totally different position and thus evade his grasp). Also, if the wingers are different types of player (one favouring crossing from deep positions whilst the other is prone to trying to dribble past their marker for example), then it might be to exploit a weakness in the opposing defender.
Strong Side Overloads:
An offensive attack can pressure the defense on to one side of the pitch by running most of its attackers and midfielders to one side letting a wing player or defender come to the opposite side with little or no coverage. The ball is then crossed or passed to that unmarked player for a free or near free shot. See Switching Fields: Strong Side to Weak Side video above.
Using a Target Man:
This soccer tactic is useful when the team possesses a quality striker who has the ability of taking on the whole defense on his own. He will usually occupy two defenders, thus making the defense more vulnerable. Combined with two fast wingers, this soccer tactic may give the 4-man defence potential problems. The team may also benefit from a target man at set pieces. The target man, can use give/go tactics described earlier, can attempt to “knock down” high passes to teammates or can simply try to over power and outmuscle opposition defenders to create scoring opportunities for himself. Alan Shearer, Duncan Ferguson, Chris Sutton, Emmanuel Adebayor, Luca Toni, Emile Heskey, Jan Koller, Christian Benteke, Nikola Žigić, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Peter Crouch, Didier Drogba, Olivier Giroud, and Miroslav Klose are all examples of strikers adept at playing this role. See ‘Give and go‘ video above.
Moving Into Space: Diagonal Runs:
Moving into free space is one of the most critical skills that soccer players must develop. Attacking soccer players must move off the ball into space to give an advance the maximum chance of success. Passes to space are feasible when there is intelligent movement of players to receive the ball and do something constructive with it. Skilled soccer players are able to find seams between defenders, positioning themselves to receive a pass.
The following video demonstrates a diagonal run by a midfield player who receives the ball near the far touchline. Diagonal runs permit the player receiving the ball to place his body between the marking defender and the ball.
Soccer Tactics Videos
Principles of Play for Soccer:
Penetration – When you are dribbling forward, passing forward, or shooting, you are attempting penetration.
Depth (Support) – Good width and depth provides the player on the soccer ball with all around support so that there are options to play the ball forward, square or back. The more options a soccer player has, the less likely they will lose the ball. Creating depth means spacing out up and down the soccer field.
Mobility – Mobility means movement. Movement is important in the game so that soccer players can create space for themselves or for their teammates. Soccer players without the ball need to keep moving to unbalance the opponent’s defense, and by making “runs” into positions that will create scoring opportunities or create space for the teammates near the ball.
Width – Creating width means spacing out side to side on the field. Good width provides opportunities to attack on either side of the field and up the middle of the field.
Improvisation – When soccer players use their own individual flair to create passing or shooting opportunities to themselves or for teammates. Clever dribbling or passing eliminates defenders and creates openings for attackers.
Finishing – Simply put, finishing is successfully scoring a goal on scoring opportunities. This means shooting when you should shoot, making sure your shots are on goal and not wide nor over the goal, getting the ball past the goal keeper, etc. My favorite technical and tactical shooting drills. Click Here.
Coaching and Training Overview
I have thirty years of soccer coaching and training experience including middle school, high school, youth and adult premier club, college, Michigan AAU, and Olympic Development Program. Head coaching includes soccer, swimming, wrestling, volleyball and basketball.
Experience & Qualifications:
Head Premier Youth and Adult Club Soccer Coaching & Training
Currently coaching and training the Spartans of the Central Florida Football Club, Orlando Elite Premier League. Previous clubs include the Lumber River Gunners, North Carolina; Mid-State United, North Carolina; Sunrise Youth, Florida; Huron Valley, Michigan; Livonia Youth, Michigan; Michigan Wolves, Michigan; Gladiators, Nebraska; Pacesetter, Ohio. NW Ohio Premier Soccer Club, Ohio. Teams won three state championships, and competed in the U.S. Canada, and Europe. Coaching experience includes boys premiere club teams from U10 through U19 as well as adult, and girls U19.
Soccer Coaching Certification, Soccer Coaching Awards & Experience:
• 166 hours of training in advanced soccer coaching, training and team management techniques
• Former players included members of the U.S. Olympic Team, U.S. Pan American Games team, World University Games team, and U.S. National Youth Soccer Teams
• Former University of Toledo Athletic Trainer
• Former Ohio and Nebraska State Team Coach for the Olympic Development Program
• Named Coach of the Year by the Northwestern Ohio High School Coaches Association
• Hold the National Diploma from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America
• Three successful tours of Europe coaching premier travel teams.
• Named All Area Coach of the Year in southeastern Michigan
• Hold a National Coaching License from the United States Soccer Federation
• Minored in Athletic Training and Interscholastic Athletics
• Named Regional Coach of the Year by the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association
• Record of 45-9-8 for a .73 winning percentage during three seasons as a Michigan Class A Head Boys Varsity Soccer Coach
• Former high school players I have coached who are former professional players in the MLS: Michael Gentile, Scott Lamphear, Jeff Cassar, and Jason Kreis.
• Other notable former players I have coached include: Douglas Mitchell (Furman), and Kenyon College Hall of Fame inductee Michael Donovan.
• Former Athletic Director of the Mid American Indoor Soccer League
• 2018 Spartans of the Central Florida Football Club, Undefeated Orlando Elite Premier League Champions
• 2006 North Broward Prep School, Coconut Creek, FL. Head Boys Middle School Soccer Coach.
• 2006 Flora Macdonald Academy, Red Springs, NC. Head Boys & Girls varsity Soccer Coach.
• 2005 Gateway Charter School, Ft Myers, FL. Head Boys Middle School Boys Soccer Coach, Basketball Coach, and Volleyball Coach. Undefeated league champions in soccer and volleyball.
• 2003 Cardinal Mooney High School, Sarasota, FL. Assistant Varsity Coach. State Finalist. Ranked #6 in the Southeast Region, and #2 in the final state poll 2003. Record of 22-1-2.
• 2001-2002 The Sagemont School, Weston, Florida. Head Boys Middle School Soccer and Flag Football Coach
• 1998-2000 Grand River Academy, Austinburg, Ohio. Head Boys Varsity Indoor and Outdoor Soccer Coach
• 1995-1998 Randolph-Macon Academy, Front Royal, Virginia. Head Boys Varsity Soccer, Wrestling and JV Basketball Coach
• 1995 Linden High School, Linden, MI. Head Girls Varsity Soccer Coach. District Champions.
• 1990-1993 Winston Churchill High School, Livonia, MI. Head Boys Varsity Soccer Coach. 1990 State Finalist with a final record of 20-1-1
• 1989 Harry A. Burke High School, Omaha, NB. Head Boys Varsity Soccer Coach. State Class A semi-finalist.
• 1988 Tarkio College, Tarkio, MO. Head Women’s Soccer Coach
• 1986 St. John’s High School, Toledo, OH. Assistant Boys Varisity Soccer Coach. Class AAA district finalist. Undefeated league champions.
• 1984-1985 DeSisto Academy, Howey-In-The-Hills, Florida. Head Boys Varsity Soccer and Basketball Coach
• 1983 – 1988 Staff Soccer Coach Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH.
• 1983 St Francis De Sales High School, Toledo, OH. Head Boys’ Varsity Soccer Coach. Undefeated league champions.
• 1982 Perrysburg High School, Perrysburg, Ohio. Assistant Boys’ Varsity Soccer Coach. Undefeated Class AAA Northern Lakes League Champions.
• 1981 First high school Head Boys Varsity Soccer Coach at Bowsher High School, Toledo, Ohio. Undefeated league champions.
• 1979 – 1980 Initiated club soccer at both Sylvania Northview and Sylvania Southview high schools club. Success prompted the Sylvania school board to add varsity programs at both schools in 1981.
• 1978 – 1981 Director of Coaching, Referee Administrator and Trainer of the Sylvania Area Recreation Coalition in Sylvania, Ohio.
“I have known Coach Mason since 1978, and can extend the highest praise and recommendation. His early involvement with our referee program, to his involvement with basic team organization, to coaching our elite travel teams to several state championships, major tournament championships, and numerous league championships, is now legendary. Coach Mason played a major leadership role in the success of our programs. Your gain will be our loss, but we now have in place an excellent program thanks of the in great measure to the unceasing efforts of Coach Mason.”
– Charles Scharte, President – Pacesetter, Inc., CEO of SYSA