Selasa, 01 Juni 2010

Soccer training

Finishing and Scoring

Finishing is the act of intentionally placing the ball in the opposite goal by the use of physical techniques. It is often referred to as scoring or shooting. The former word pertains to successful finishing. The latter can be somewhat confusing for the term is associated with kicking yet finishing can be done with the head or virtually any body part other than the hands. In fact, it can even be done without touching the ball. When looking at the game in terms of strategy, we must put aside the mechanics of a player and concentrate on his intention. If an attacker dummies (lets the ball pass through his legs) on a kick that is already directed at goal, he could be considered a finisher. The dummy move itself is not a strategy but a technical method used (in this case) for scoring.

General principles: Accuracy, Power and Surprise
The option to shoot is available whenever the ball is under one's control. Selecting the precise method and time to do so is not always that simple. The most important factor to consider is one's own skill level in terms of the given situation. There's little point in attempting a shot when a player is in his own penalty box. In that case, distance would usually outweigh his kicking ability. The same applies when selecting a specific finishing technique. For example, if volleying isn't one of the finisher's strong suits, his odds of scoring from a cross would improve if he set the ball up first, rather than shoot it right away. But if the finisher is also being pressured at that very time, then there is a dilemma at hand.

By "programming" one's body with technical exercises and/or visualization, the solution comes naturally. Trusting one's instincts is the best way, when it comes to making decisions, selecting the proper technique and timing the execution. Another rule of thumb is to make the decision quickly and go through with it, rather than to hesitate or "over-think" an available opportunity.

When close to the enemy keeper or when he is misplaced, one should emphasize on placement. Finishing by means of accuracy is directing the ball so that the goalkeeper cannot reach it. Chipping over, curving, or simply taking a shot out of his reach are all examples of precise finishing.
Placement is based on observation. Before actually taking a shot, the attacker should know where the goalkeeper is. That can be found by taking a sneak peek at the goal right before conceiving the shot, or better yet, even before receiving the ball. When the ball is moved laterally, the keeper readjusts as to cover the shooting angles. In such cases, one should aim his shot in the direction where the keeper is coming from. It is harder for him to dive in the direction from which he is retrieving from.

Sometimes, there will be just enough time to shoot, without looking. In those cases trusting one's intuition is again the best strategy. Visualizing where would be the most logical place for the goalkeeper is something that every developed striker runs in his mind. Many players resort to power when unsure of the exact location of the enemy keeper. That is a symptom of hesitant play. Aside from having to pick out the keeper's placement and movement, accurate finishing demands a composed and soft touch.

In essence, power is only required when one is shooting from up far. Keepers who are dispositioned or unprepared can often be punished by hard-hit balls. Power shots deliver the ball at high speed and can be devastating if unanticipated by the enemy goaltender. Predictability caused by a long approach is the downside of powerful shooting. It renders it less useful when close to the enemy goal because it may allow enough time for the keeper to adjust. From distance, power alone will rarely beat a good keeper who is properly positioned and ready. Still, if he is misplaced, readjusting his position, or in anyway unprepared to react quickly then hard shots can cause much damage. While powerful shots are harder to direct and easier to track in trajectory once launched, they are difficult to block unless the keeper has prepared himself at the time when the shot was conceived.

Surprise factor
When one nears the enemy goal, finishing becomes harder to prevent and predict since it requires less power, hence shorter approach, hence less time for execution. To take advantage of this, an attacker must shoot suddenly using his foot that is closer to the ball. Poke shots like and such may not look pretty, but can be very effective and unpredictable when one is near the goal.

Finishing Methods

On close encounters, such as breakaways, a finisher is facing the enemy goalkeeper in a one-on-one confrontation. In these situations, it's wisest to finish efficiently, instead of trying to tear the net. An accurate kick in the corner or a surprising, sudden tap will beat any keeper from upclose. The element of surprise should overshadow power. Trying to kick too hard, hesitation and over-complication are the main reasons why most breakaway are squandered.

Going around
Going around means making an extra dribble sideways as to avoid the keeper who must be diving in or has positioned himself in an unbalanced stance. It's not recommended attempting this, if the keeper is in a defensively advantageous form, is jockeying you or is evenly covering both sides. Still, at the moment he initiates a tackle or rearranges footing, he'll become vulnerable for a brief period of time. Faking a kick is an effective way of dis-balancing (or freezing) keepers, thus allowing you the "go around".

When facing a well-positioned keeper, it may seem as if he is covering evenly both his left and right side. If it feels like he has closed down a very wide angle, it usually means that he is susceptible to a nutmeg. Checking the positioning of his feet (by taking a quick glance) might reveal that he has a "hole" between his legs. Exploiting this weakness requires a sudden, quick touch and a lot of confidence. It may not be a good idea to attempt a nutmeg unless one is close enough to the enemy keeper and you are certain that you can pull it off.

Once the keeper comes out and gets close to the attacker, he'll be covering nearly the entire goal. He would eventually dive (if he doesn't he risks exposing an open net) at the attacker's feet to collect the ball. At that very moment, beating him can be done with a chip (or by going around). As soon as the keeper initiates his diving sequence, be prepared to lift the ball over him.

Distant attempts
Generally, shots taken from long distance need to be more powerful, otherwise the keeper will intercept them. Placement is therefore somewhat sacrificed. External and subtle factors usually interfere to a larger degree with long range shots. Weather conditions like wind and wetness may play a role by converting simple, straight kicks into a keeper's nightmare. If you see that the weather affects the ball's bounce, handling or trajectory don't be afraid to shoot from outside the box. Long, hard kicks during a rainy match can often trouble keepers. Just like field players, keepers also have preferred sides. Most goalkeepers have a weaker diving side that can be exploited. Finding out his weaker side can be determined by watching him during the pre-match warm-up. When challenged to his weak side, the keeper would usually be slower to react.

Angled attempts
Let's say that you're approaching the enemy goal from the side and there are teammates around the penalty box. You decide to shoot rather than cross or pass the ball, but the keeper is covering equally the near and far corners. It looks like a near-post shot would have the same chances of going in as a far-post shot. Which side should you pick? Aiming at the near-post may force the keeper to punch the ball out-of-bounds while a far-post shot would be much harder for the goalie to handle. If he attempts to punch the ball it will have to be infield. Assuming that your teammates are still in the penalty box, that can produce a very dangerous rebound play.

Low angled shots
An interesting phenomenon occurs when approaching the enemy goal from a very low angle. If the ball is out far enough, the keeper will usually assume that you are about to cross the ball. He will step forward off his line, ready to punch or handle your potential cross. At this time, he would become vulnerable for a chip or a far-post inswinger. Don't be shy about testing this, although it may seem unlikely. Many great goalkeepers have been punished by this "optical illusion" (Ronaldhino's free kick versus Seaman in Brazil - England at the 2002 World Cup, Luis Figo's goal versus Barthez in Real Madrid - Manchester United at the 2002/3 Champions League)

Finishing crosses
When the ball is served from outside into the danger zone, it is up to the attackers to finish it off. There are numerous types of crosses, but a general set of principles applies to the methods used in finishing them. Getting the ball past the keeper should be the one and only concern of the finisher. Good ball contact is in the core of success. Composed and balanced body posture is therefore essential. Make sure you have your body leaning forward on low or tricky bouncing crosses. On high balls, the best way to beat the enemy keeper, is usually by directing a shot downward. The ideal spot to aim for is in line with the keeper's feet, but not directly at them. Technically, the ball should be stricken at or above the equator. Remember, proper contact is more important than power, especially with the goal is at close proximity. In fact, hard serves should best be redirected or eased into the net. Finishing crosses is mostly about adjusting to the cross itself, rather trying to force or hit the ball really hard. It is quite too often we see, even in professional matches, an attacker missing wide open shots with unfittingly hard and poorly controlled attempts.

Passing is the exploitation of possession by transferring the ball from one teammate to another. Passes could be offensive or defensive in their nature. Regardless of their purpose, passes are always executed with the desire to keep possession of the ball.

General principles
Old-timers often state that by passing, players "make the ball do the work," but that is not completely accurate. Aside from having conspicuous advantages, passing is a skill that demands good technical ability not only from the distributor but from the receiver as well. The latter is actually making up for the passer's relieved workload. The collectivist principles of passing therefore distribute the overall workload, demands and responsibility, more or less, evenly amongst players of the same team. That does not always mean that the overall energy exerted by a team is less.

At young age, kids tend to kick the ball in direction of their teammate without much thought. But as skills are built up, players begin to look up and take mental notice of their teammates before executing a pass. Correspondingly, the receivers may want to answer with eye contact as to ensure that they want the ball. Passing will also become more of a responsibility and players must restrain themselves when the available passing lanes are inadequate for their skill.
Passing is a tool with great creative potential and does not always have to be directed at a teammate's feet. Imaginative passers target the ball into spaces where same-team players can reach it before the opposition.
A player may pass the ball either to a teammate's feet or in open space where it could be collected. Both methods are effective and applicable in particular situations. Passing ahead of a moving player is required when he is in the middle of a run. When a teammate is immobile, the ball can only be directed at his feet. It is way too often, that we see during matches, the mishandling of balls either because the receiver fails to move or the passer misinterprets the initiation of a run. Who's at fault is irrelevant in these cases, but we must be concerned of the situation and narrow our margin of error.
From the position of the passing player, precision can be improved by good approach and settling the ball. That however consumes time, which could be very costly.

Depending on the amount of pressure a player must be ready to make a quick pass at his first touch. If there is more than one person pressuring the player with the ball he must lay it off right away. There is little sense in settling the ball if defenders are about to pressure you.
Midfielders in particular must learn how to execute accurate passes in the least amount of time possible. One way to save time is deciding what to do with the ball before actually getting it. To do this, you must scan for teammates prior to receiving the ball and track their movement mentally. This saves valuable time which you would otherwise waste by looking around while in possession of the ball (slowing down the entire attack).

Nature of the pass
The direction of the pass alone does not determine its nature. The situation or play, which is consequently developed by the pass, gives its nature.
Defensive passes are executed with the sole purpose of keeping possession and relieving pressure. Passing the ball backward for example ensures possession and slows the game. Both of these advantages are especially beneficial if the defender is exerting enough pressure so that a turnover might result. If the opposing team has closed all passing lanes, defensive passes are the most secure way of preserving team control of the ball. It draws opponents out of their compact arrangement and forces them to work.
Defensive passes are always directed away from areas where opponents are concentrated. Defending is based on compactness produced by decreased width and depth therefore playing away from the pressure of a defending team usually means passing the ball wide and backward.
All attacking passes must result in a more offensively advantageous situation. That means that the ball must be handed over to a player into a more dangerous position.
Support is the big prerequisite for making attacking passes. Having a lot of support may produce more dangerous attacks but it also might leave "holes" at the back.
There are various options when it comes to building up with attacking passes. Some teams head straight to goal with the minimal number of passes, other teams are cautious and pass the ball around draining the enemy of patience and energy. Long or direct passes forward are a relatively simple way of suppressing turnovers. Even if the ball is lost, it would at least be away from our own goal. On the other hand, short passes usually have higher success rate and provide more control over the game. Moving the ball around with short passes keeps it away from the opposition and prevents them from scoring, but it also demands a team comprised of skilled players (the more people are involved in the buildup, the higher the margin of error) Direct attacks with few (but usually longer) passes are conversely based on speed and can be constructed by the involvement of fewer players. Counter attacks are usually a form of "direct" attacking.
Giving the ball to a player who is in position favorable for finishing is the most offensive type of pass. Crosses and piercing passes behind the defensive line are common examples of assisting passes. Midfielders are typically expected to produce accurately placed assists that the attackers could finish. Assists are usually the most risky types of passes.
Advanced players must not be simply aware of the various types of attacks and passes. They must also analyze the current play and find the most reasonable way to distribute the ball. The player with the ball must decide whether to initiate a fast break forward or pass back into safely. The correctness of this decision must be based on the current strategic situation. For example, if the opposing team has been caught in a turnover in the middle of the pitch, then a quick but risky counter has greater chance of success.

Different Types of Soccer Passes

Passing to a player
Passing exactly at the feet of a teammate is recommended in close quarters. More advanced players will target the ball at the preferred foot of their teammate. When passing to a marked teammate, the ball should be directed at the foot that is farther away from the marker. If the ball is moving slowly, the receiving player may want to check back to it. This is especially important if he is being tightly marked and is incapable of holding off the defender. Slower players may want to throw a fake or two before moving to the ball. Another method used to shake off markers is to use them as springboards and physically push off of them with your arm.

Passing into space
Passing into space must also be mastered, for it is used frequently when the game is played at high speed. The player without the ball must initiate the pass by making a run into space. The ball carrier has to look around and keep verbal communication for tracking the movement and runs of his teammates. The player passing must notice the pace and orientation of the target receiver and weigh and direct his pass accordingly. Timing and accuracy are essential.
If a teammate moves toward you, the ball carrier, he's trying to tell you that he wants the ball. Such situations usually suggest the formation of a turnover combination or a wall pass.

Wall passes
One-two passes or wall passes are combinations where one of the attacking players passes to a teammate who frees himself into space. The player receiving the ball lays it off, with one touch, into the space in front of the first attacker.
Wall passes can often unbalance slower defenses. Most chances for wall passes happen on the wing, as the ball is played inside and back out. The only way to stop a wall pass would be with careful and thigh marking where each defender follows his man instead of the ball. Going around the attacker, whose job is to set up his friend, is another method for interrupting this play. That however requires strength, speed and is only possible when the first pass is slow.

Double passes
These types of combinations are the same as the one-two, except that there is an extra pass involved. Notice that all passes are done with a single touch.

Turnover combinations
Do not confuse turnover combinations with taking the ball from an opponent. Turnover combinations occur between two teammates, where the player with the ball simply leaves it to the other one. Using turnovers is best in packed areas of the field, where the two attacking teammates are bunched up closely. Turnovers can be time consuming when dealing against a single opponent and are best against defending players who have a numerical advantage. These types of combinations are usually safe, because the ball remains between two players who are facing each other. Performing turnovers is not only confusing opposing defenses but may also decrease the visibility of the opposing goalkeeper.
Some turnovers are done with the use of physical force. Stronger attackers, for example, may simply stop the ball and push off their marker just to clear space for an oncoming teammate who can shoot. Deceptive turnovers can also be used. The ball carrier for example can fake a dribble and runoff without the ball while his teammate collects it. Fake or "dummy" turnovers are also possible. In such, the potential ball receiver simply runs by, causing the defenders to at least step back.

Piercing passes
Also known as tunnel passing, it will surely bring havoc (or at least some disorganization) to the defense by taking some of them out of play. Piercing passes are usually executed without a preparation touch and require good timing. Ball movement in general leads to the opening of passing lanes. Organized defensemen will move as a whole unit, accordingly to the ball. If given the appropriate time, they will adjust, making it nearly impossible to move the ball directly through. If the ball, however, is played along the width of the defensive formation, opportunities for penetrating passes will likely arise until the opponents can rearrange. In practice, ball movement may be restricted by pressure. Therefore, our attention is not only on penetrating the defense but also on avoiding the direct pressure. Be on the lookout for piercing passes in a 45 to 90 degree angle of the direction in which the first defender (the one who's pressuring the ball) is headed. Just by beating that first "on ball" opponent, the entire defense line can be left unbalanced and would have to regroup.
Shots arising from piercing passes are seen in counter attacks where small-sided challenges are common. In a regular buildup attack the defending team usually has a large numerical advantage and is likely to apply pressure along with cover. Piercing passes are very tough to develop then, especially in shooting distance, because of the defensive concentration. So, in order for piercing passes to become available, the ball has to be centered horizontally in front of the defensive line. That, however, isn't the only prerequisite, because that zone is extremely packed with defenders. If we were to place an attacker who would service the piercing passes in front of the enemy defense he would get marked quickly. When he gets marked, his passing angles will decease dramatically. Now, there are two factors we must consider - creating space in front of the defense, or if there already is, exploiting that space. Generating the space can be done with a decoy attacker who drags his marker away from play. During the same time another player looms into the middle where he receives the ball and lays down a piercing pass, if hopefully the defense hasn't predicted the combination. Here comes in the tricky part, which is the reading of play by the other attacker. At the time when the distributor in the middle of the field is about to receive the ball, they need to initiate penetrating runs. Keep in mind that all of this is highly theoretical and requires proficient levels of skill and midfield to attack collaboration.

How to disguise your passes

There are plenty of ways to disguise your passes. The most important factor is planning. Know what you want to do before it comes down to the execution.

1. Deception
Using your upper body to trick opponents is effective when you have time or when an enemy is approaching you with caution. Try pointing with your hand in one direction, just to pass the ball in the opposite. Similarly, you may raise your head as if you are looking for a pass to a particular teammate. Vocal deception supplements well the above-mentioned tricks.

2. Shaking off your marker
Sometimes, the defender will be positioned so that he is blocking your shooting/passing lane. There are various moves that you can apply in order to shake him off.
Inside-out [video]
This simple move is commonly used by midfielders. Take notice of where you want to pass the ball. Dribble away from your target at about 90-degrees using the inside of your foot. The defender will move in front of you thus leaving your desired passing lane open. As soon as he shifts, pass the ball in the original direction with the outside of your dribbling foot.
Stepover [video]
Here's a move that can provide you with valuable time to cross, shoot or pass the ball. It works well around the opposition's penalty box or on the wing. Using the same foot, you step over the ball, then tap it in the opposite direction and kick.
The hook (aka The sleeper) [video]
The move is quite effective when an opponent is running either at you or alongside you. Slide the ball forward with the inside of your foot, then quickly stop it by placing the sole of your foot over it.

3. Unusual kicks
There are several types of kicking techniques which can fool your opposition because they are rather uncommon. I would not recommend using them in defense since they are risky.
Stop and pass [video]
Stop and pass is an easy move to execute, even when you are running at speed. Simply put one of your feet on top of the ball and kick it with the other. Your opponent will most likely freeze up when you stop the ball, thus giving time to nutmeg or go around him.
The roll [video]
This move will allow you to pass or cross the ball when a defender is standing right in front of you. Roll the ball sideways, from one foot to the other. In the same motion, kick the ball with your latter foot.
Double tap [video]
Similarly to The roll, this move is used when a defender is covering your desired passing lane. When you do it quickly enough, you can play the ball next to (or between) the defender's feet and he won't able to react.
Rabona [video]


Dribbling is the way players move the ball from one point to another. Dribbling is not just beating an opponent in a man-to-man confrontation. Moving with the ball in itself provides advantages.

General principles

Running into space
If you have the ball and there's free space ahead of you it could mean one of two things. The opposing defenders have either withdrawn or are out of position. By carrying the ball forward, you are stretching out the enemy defense and opening up the game. So, anytime there's open space in front of you, take it!

Creating passing angles
Dribbling across the field usually creates passing opportunities. Midfielders need to use this to their advantage by scanning the field while they dribble. Always keep your head up unless there's pressure on you.

Attracting opponents
When you dribble back or away from your marker, you are attracting pressure and drawing out defenders. This is often used by midfielders and makes the defending team less compact. Think of a midfielder who controls the ball with his back to goal. As a defender runs after him, the midfielder dribbles left then suddenly turns and passes the ball to the right.

Beating opponents
Talented dribblers can beat defenders in 1v1. By changing direction and/or speed the dribbler can deceive his opponent and gain an advantageous position over him. Good dribbling can cause problems for any defense. Trying to beat a defender is risky and should only be done when you're trying to create a shot on goal or out on the flanks. Near the sideline, dribbling can work wonders and it's not as dangerous when possession is lost there.

Effectively beating opponents requires patience and good reflexes. As you near an opponent, lock your eyes on his feet and be prepared to react to his threats. When you decide to go around him, lower your eyes to the ball and concentrate on the execution.

Evading tackles
Approach your enemy at a comfortable pace. Keep your center of gravity low by leaning forward and bending your knees. Do not try to beat your opponent right away unless he is out of balance or flatfooted. Instead, stay on your toes and be prepared to move laterally in either direction. Look at these visual examples:

In both situations, the defender starts out with balanced footing. But in frame two he raises one foot off the ground. If he raises his foot that is further away from the ball, you move out. If he raises his foot that is nearer to the ball, you move in. Get it? You're "attacking" his supporting foot.

At times, your opponent will be very patient. If he has you covered and refuses to "bite", you can get him off his balance by faking. When you execute different feints and tricks, you force your opponent to freeze up or lose balance. Be prepared to react quickly, because he may be off balance for just a split second. Read more about this in the question When and how to use feints in soccer.

What are the most simple/effective moves for a forward

The most effective moves to use as a forward depend on your personal abilities and style. Here are some of the essentials:
1. First touch (you can easily beat or trick defenders by applying a deadly first touch)
As a forward, your time is limited, as you will often be marked by at least one opponent. Learn to set up the ball in direction uncomfortable for your marker instead of trapping it.
2. Change of pace (approaching your enemy at full speed makes you predictable)
If you approach your enemy at top speed there is little more you can do. This becomes predictable and he probably won't let you beat him the second time. That is why, when approaching an opponent, you should be moving below your top speed. As you near the enemy, you suddenly change direction and/or accelerate past him.
3. Faking (very effective way of freezing your opponent)
Feints are effective not when elaborate but when your enemy doesn't see them coming. Every time an opponent confronts you, ask yourself, what is the first thing that he expects you to do?

Controlling the Ball

Controlling ground balls and dribbling are identical in terms of technique. That is why dribbling is often referred to as "running while controlling the ball". Both control and dribbling are used for preparing the ball for following touches, but there is a difference between the two. When controlling, the player brings the ball under possession while dribbling is manipulating the ball after it has been brought into possession. The ability to control the ball is called upon ever time you are about to receive a pass. Sometimes, players distribute or shoot the ball at first touch. This is not considered control.

General principles: Precision, Delay and Breaking
Settling the ball usually attracts pressure. Realizing how much time available you have is vital. Sometimes, a quick one-touch pass or shot might produce better results. If there is a tempting opportunity available to shoot or pass it is probably better to avoid controlling the ball all together. If you find yourself running out of time, lacking options or being closed down it is usually a sign of poor decision-making (should not have controlled the ball) or skill (should not have taken so long to control the ball). On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with controlling the ball, as long as it doesn't interfere with the situation. For example, there's rarely time to trap the ball when you are in the opposing penalty box, so you shouldn't attempt to trap it unless you do it quickly enough.
Controlling the ball draws opponents in. Therefore, the situation itself should dictate when to use control and when to play at first touch. In general, a quality player must be able to play both with and without settling the ball. For example, the ability to shoot at first touch is a must for any bona fide striker. Another example is that all midfielders should be able to complete quick wall passes.

The technical advantage of using control is that it provides you with a comfortable ball thus making your following touch easier and more precise. When you trap the ball first you can then produce a far more accurate shot, pass and so on. At times, the use of control might be a necessity. For example, you might receive an uncomfortable pass that requires control. But You should always keep in mind that settling the ball requires space and time.

Delay (inviting pressure)
One of the results of controlling the ball is that it attracts pressure. This in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. Some players may intentionally preserve the ball into their control just to invite (and direct) pressure by your opponents. Wingers positioned wide may keep the ball only to draw in tightly packed defenders. Midfielders often use control to "manipulate" pressuring defenders. Upon receiving the ball such a midfielder may push it towards the left flank and as his markers follow along he would then turn and pass to the right.

Breaking (avoiding pressure)
Control can be used to break through pressure. "Breaking through" means directing the ball to escape threat from defenders. In contrast to controlling for delay, breaking is done to avoid pressure rather than to attract it. The number of opponents in the vicinity should be your first concern when deciding whether to control the ball or not. Be aware of nearby opponent and direct the ball in order to escape their tackles. You may have to use shielding. For example, if a ball is served to you and there is a defender on your right, you would turn with the ball to the opposite side. But if you have a defender on each side you should take note and bail out by passing the ball without controlling it.

Methods of settling the ball
There are three general uses of control - to make the ball easier for subsequent touches, to evade pressuring opponents or to delay play and draw them in.

Dead trap
Dead traps or "cushioning" the ball is used when you are planning to stop completely in order to evaluate your options. This is not recommended if there are opponents in the vicinity. Trapping is also good for stopping very hard or uncomfortable balls, which cannot be settled otherwise. When using this method of control, one has to be certain of the placement of opponents. Taking too long to settle the ball could be dangerous if defenders are nearby so make sure you scan the pitch before controlling the ball. This is especially important when you trap the ball with your back to the opposing goal. In that case, you should always be peeking over your shoulder.

Bringing the ball along
This particular skill is used when you're headed in a specific direction and the ball comes to you from the side. Bringing the ball is a fundamental skill every player needs to develop. Look at any professional game and you'll notice that the ball and the players around it are constantly moving. Very rarely will somebody stop and trap the ball at his feet. Good anticipation and touch are needed to direct the ball so it converges with your path. You don't want to just hit the ball in any direction and then run after it.

Steering away
Using control to evade tackles and threats is the sign of a truly skilled footballer. Good vision and tactical awareness is the basic foundation of this skill. By detecting where the nearby opponents are located, or more precisely their heading (direction), you can put together a plan for beating them. You have to scan the pitch ahead of time and find an spot that is out of enemy reach. Sometimes, less is more and stopping it completely may shake off a defender who is running in from the side. Advanced footballers may sometimes use flicks, cunning techniques where the ball is spun by 180 degrees past the defender while they go around from the other side. Throwing a fake before contacting the ball can also be effective in shaking off your marker.

Turning with the ball
When a player receives the ball with his back to the opposing goal, he would often have to turn around in order to pass, shoot or dribble. This happens to players who are checking back towards their own goal. The most important factor of turning with the ball is the availability of space and time. You don't want to turn when an opponent is right behind, so you need good awareness and vision. The second most important element in turning is the situation. If the player receiving the ball is a center forward on top of the center line then there may not be good reason for him to turn at all. He would have no support or teammates ahead of him. You have to be aware of where your teammates are since, in general, you don't want to be turning away from your support. Also, it's a good idea to warn your teammates when to turn by calling out either "man on" or "turn".

Shielding away
When opponents are pressuring as you are receiving the ball, the most important thing is not to panic! By using upper body and footing the player receiving the ball can brush off the pressure. Turning one's back in direction of the opponent provides a safe way to guide the ball along. To ensure the defender's containment, keep your body between the ball and the opponent. The foot further away from the defender should be used to control the ball. While the other foot, which is closer to the defender, should be planted as a barrier that will block his tackles. Using one's arms for protection is also helpful to keep the pressuring defender away. In fact, many professionals trampoline off their markers while simultaneously securing possession. Pre-planning is the key for effective shielding so scan the field before you receive the ball. Never trap the ball completely when an opponent is on your back. If you don't keep it moving, he will charge in.

When the ball is already headed in a desirable direction where you can collect it there is no need to trap it. A good example of this is when a tightly marked player is standing with his back to the opposing goal. A pass is made to the marked player but instead of stopping the ball, he lets it go through his legs and runs 180-degrees around his marker. When executed properly (and not repeated too often) this trick would frequently stun the marking defender. One of the downsides of faking is that it requires space. The ball must already be headed in an open area, away from threat, where the player can collect it. Another factor involved is the weight (speed) of the initial pass. If the ball is going too fast you may not be able to turn fast enough to collect it, if it's too slow it may be intercepted.

    Related soccer questions
  1. What to practice against the wall
  2. How to sharply turn with the ball

Clearing the Ball

Clearing is making sure that the ball remains "clear" of enemy intervention at a crucial moment in the game. For example, kicking the ball out of bounds can provide precious seconds to an outnumbered defense. Remember that a clearance, as well as any strategy is not bound to a particular technique but rather to a specific function. A defender may shield the ball so that it goes out of play without even touching it. In that case, he is ensuring a clearance without actually kicking the ball.

General principles
The first principle of clearing is ensuring that your opponent can't gain possession of the ball. It should be used in defense where no other safe options are available. We don't want to make risky passes in our defensive third. For example, when a defender is pressured and has no support at the time it's probably best for him to clear the ball. Goalkeepers often clear crosses when they are not certain about catching the ball. Clearing is a last resort option for players who don't feel confident in defense. Typically, the direction in which the ball should be cleared is wide, away from the center of the field.

Another common situations where we might want to clear the ball is when our opponents are attacking with a lot of momentum. This will not only stop the attack, but diminish our opponents' drive. It is hard to resume the attack with as much fervor after a defender has kicked the ball over the stadium's grandstands.

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Making Finishing Runs

Making a finishing run means aligning oneself with the intent of producing a scoring play. Contributing to a scoring attempt can be done either directly or indirectly. If the runner has the intent of scoring by physically receiving the ball and shooting it, then he is directly involved. On the other hand, a player could make an indirect finishing run where he doesn't plan to contact the ball but for example sways a defender away from the "active" zone.

General Principles: Direct vs Indirect Runs

The most notable mark of a prolific finisher is his ability to read plays and inflict damage to a defense just with his positioning. An intelligent attacker should be able to initiate direct runs by placing himself into areas where the ball could eventually end up either by pass or deflection. This greatly increases his chances of scoring. A complete player should not only make direct runs for goal but must also be able to disturb defenses by other means. With indirect runs, the attacker moves without the intent of contacting the ball. He simply distracts or dispositions the defense thus creating opportunities for his teammates. Defining whether a run is direct or indirect can only be finalized after the play is over therefore one must position himself based on two more fundamental factors. These two are "attacking target points" and "manipulating defensive concentration."

Target points
These are aggressive runs based on moving players into an area where the chances of scoring would be increased. That usually means forcing the play regardless of the defensive opposition. For example, if the ball is on the flank, an attacker would run for the box where he could potentiality meet a crossed ball.

Opponent concentration
Opposite to direct runs, indirect runs are done with the intention of manipulating the defenders (and goalkeeper.) That process itself may include drawing marking defenders into designated areas or positioning attackers into zones where they could distract or disturb the defense.

Direct Runs

Piercing runs
One of the more instinctive finishing runs is the piercing run. In it, a player heads for the area behind the defensive line where he is simultaneously served a (usually lofted) pass. There are many variations of this method, including quick combinations with wall or double passes. Regardless of the different improvisations, the major principle remains: an attacker is headed behind the defensive line and the ball is provided to him.

Receiving crosses

Near post run
In an attack from the flank, the first player who reaches the opposing goal is typically expected to head for the "near post" or the post that is closer to the ball carrier.

Far post run
The second target spot for incoming players during crossing attacks is the far post. Because the far post is on the opposite flank from the ball, players situated in it are harder to track for the defenders. They would have to throw glances back and forth between the ball and the player. The far post run is usually executed after a preceding near post run because it has a higher chance of interception. Another quality of the far post run is that when supplemented with a near post run, it introduces a more challenging environment for the defenders because it manipulates the direction of their attention.

Garbage runs
The so-called "garbage runs" are intended to position the attacker into a spot where the ball could potentially rebound or be deflected to. A player making such runs has the role of a "garbage man" because his job is to collect miss-hit clearances or deflected shots. Because defenders intuitively tend to initiate turnovers (or clearances) by directing the ball to the opposite side from which they were attacked, the garbage man must remain away from the crowded "action" zones when his team is attacking. Garbage men usually roam behind the first line of attackers. When the ball is in the middle, they stay centered behind it. If the ball is played to the flank, the garbage man typically drifts to the opposite side and slightly forward. Making garbage runs is usually the most indirect way of trying to score. Many players overlook initiating it simply because of this fact.

Indirect Runs

Pulling out defenders
When an attacker is tightly marked, he would be of little use to his team if he remains stationary. This principle is especially true if the marking defender has a physical advantage in winning first balls. There would be no need for the marked attacker to challenge his marker. He could simply make a run to the outside of the pitch or back towards his own goal. This would either take the defender out of the current play or free up the attacker. Consider that this tool can isolate or at least disposition a designated defender.

Attracting attention
Attracting attention simply means situating oneself into a spot where he would draw the consideration of defenders (and goalkeeper.) When making near post runs on a cross, an attacker lures the surrounding defenders who are generally concentrated on the near side of the pitch. The player headed for the near post not only threatens to finish off the cross, but he also relieves the pressure off the far post thus providing a "clear" zone for a second attacker. On crosses, staying very close to the goalkeeper usually has the same effect, for it absorbs his attention or at least distracts him.

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Making Supporting Runs

Movement off-the-ball done with the purpose of preserving possession is referred to as "providing support". Generally, showing up for a pass is considered an offensive action, but closer examination shows that supporting runs can have defensive character. Possession in itself must not be associated with attacking. For example, some teams keep possession of the ball when trying to preserve a narrow lead.

General principles

When attacking, players must preserve space between each other. This gives them an advantage by forcing the defensive team to spread out. It would be easier for a defender to cover or pressure two attackers when they are close together. Therefore, when a teammate is running into your spot, you must find another one, or take his. On the other hand, if you're making a run to an area where a teammate is already present you should notify him to move out of your way.

Creating space
When defending, teams usually saturate the area in front of their own goal. This makes them less permeable to direct attacks. When trying to get open for a pass, a player must usually move away from the opposition's zone of pressure. That means moving back or towards the sideline, away from the middle of the pitch.

Target man
Players situated in an "appetizing" area are almost always marked. To receive a pass, they have to move, dragging their marker along. If properly timed, this could leave a hole in the defensive line, suitable for a through pass or for another attacker to move into. Another variation might be actually passing the ball to a marked, target player. He moves sideways or back with the ball drawing his marker in. Then, he suddenly lays the ball back to the distributor. Dribbling sideways or toward one’s own goal is a good way of pulling apart tight defensive lines.

Methods of Giving Support

Back support
Giving back support means providing a passing lane, behind the ball carrier. When the ball is out on the wing, it is a good idea to give the ball carrier a back pass option. If he plays the ball back, you usually want to switch it to the other side.

Changing point of attack
Passes that are perpendicular to the goal line, often create shooting opportunities. Changing the point of attack with a long pass creates a lot of work for a shifted, compact defense.

Winning Mentality in Soccer

Long-term success in the game requires a positive attitude. Do you blame your environment or personal circumstance for your lack of success in the game? Do you prefer to abstain from competition because you fear failure or you think you are not appreciated by your coach? The above examples are weak and timid ways of looking at the world around you. Successful people are active. They see failure and rejection as temporary obstacles, not as career-ending events. When confronted by a challenge, they immediately start dealing with it. Losers will see it as a problem - they will actually exert themselves to justify their attitude. You can achieve anything you want in the game, if you want it bad enough.

Game Face
Positive self-talk during competition is crucial for peak performance. Talking yourself down or doubting your skills will set you back emotionally and technically. Focus on what you are in control of right now!
Do not compare yourself to other players. Instead of trying to be the “shining star” on the pitch, focus on playing up to your own strengths.
Anxiety at important events is normal, but don’t let your fear get out of hand. Be prepared to make mistakes and don’t allow them to stop you from your objective.

Never look for excuses. Trying to justify your mistakes is a sign of weakness. When you slip up (which you will, sooner or later) just let it go. Do not put blame on your teammates, especially during a match. When you are a part of the team, you must share both responsibility and merit. If you want to criticize a teammate, do it briefly and constructively. Explain your suggestion as an alternative, not as the only right way. Remember to give positive feedback to your teammates as well.

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