Soccer Attacking StylesIt's easier to have a good defense than a good offense because defense is about destroying (or disrupting) and offense is about creating. Rec teams can have a decent defense by simply putting tough, aggressive players near the goal you are defending and having them kick the ball away. By doing so, the opponent must start the attack over each time and if your Midfielders or Forwards can win those cleared balls, then not only do you have the opportunity to attack and score, but you keep the ball away from the opponent so the opponent can't score. On the other hand, to score against a good defense usually requires a coordinated effort involving several players and skillful passing, dribbling, teamwork and doing the right thing at the right time. One mistake, one bad pass, and the attack ends with the ball either kicked away or with the opponent gaining possession of the ball. And even if the attackers are successful in getting close enough for a decent shot, the ball must still get past the Goalkeeper and go into the goal for a score to count. There's an old saying "Learn to crawl before you try to walk and learn to walk before you try to run". When deciding which Attacking Style to teach your team, you must be realistic or you will be disappointed, your team will become frustrated, you will be unsuccessful and no one will have much fun. Let me use an analogy: If you decide you want to learn to juggle tennis balls using your hands, you will first start with one or two balls � you won't start with 4. I actually learned how to juggle tennis balls and started with one, then two, then 3. I never got to 4 because I didn't want to dedicate the time to practicing. When deciding what Attacking Style you will teach your team, you must be realistic about your player's abilities, the number of weak players you have on your team, and the amount of practice time you have. The Attacking Style you can successfully use with a team of all great players that practices 3 hours per week year-round and has been together for a year (e.g., a Travel team) will be different from the style you can successfully use with a Rec team that has a mixture of players (some good and some weak) and only practices one hour per week. In brief, don't expect a Rec team that has weak players and only practices once a week to be able to play the same Attacking Style as a Travel Team that has all great players and practices for 3 hours per week. Why does the number of weak players matter? The reason is because if you try to use a "Possession" style of attack they are like "weak links in a chain". I don't say this to be mean, just to make the point that it is a factor you must consider when choosing an Attacking Style. If you have 3 players who can pass the ball and one who can't, a short passing attack won't work if it involves the player who can't pass. This is why in some ways Rec coaches have a tougher job than Travel Coaches, and the Attacking Style that is realistic for a Travel Coach might not be realistic for a Rec Coach. The ideal Attacking Style would be to control the ball when you attack. Since we know that a player can't dribble very far against good defenders, it would seem logical that the best way to control the ball is by passing it, and that's true. That Attacking Style is called a "Possession" style (or a short passing style or an "Indirect" style). Ideally, the team with the ball would control the ball all over the field, even if the ball is near your own goal (which is called the "Defensive Third"). In fact, many professional teams play this way. But it's also true that not all professional teams play this way, and not all National Teams play this way. The reason is that it's difficult to make lots of consecutive short passes and if you turn over the ball near your goal, your opponent might score. Think about U.S. football: Most of the time a team will punt on fourth down if they are within their own 35 yard line (which is their Defensive Third). The reason is because it is too risky if they were to turn over the ball there. Here is our recommendation: Use the Attacking Style that is realistic for your team and that gives your team the best chance to be successful. Some coaches think they should try to teach Rec players a "Possession" style for the entire field. That is probably unrealistic for 99% of all Rec teams. On the other hand, most Rec teams can play an Attacking Style that uses long kicks (a "direct" style) to get the ball into their Attacking Third (the third of the field closet to the opponent's goal) or into the Attacking Half and then play a Possession style to the extent they are able. We don't think you're hurting anyone by using this style and the way we advise you to teach this is very different from just kicking the ball hard � in Premium we explain how you can teach your Midfielders and Forwards to shift so they are in position to win balls that are cleared by the Fullbacks. How do the Midfielders and Forwards know where to positions themselves? Simple: Teach your Fullbacks to kick a "Lofted Pass" straight ahead and teach the MF's and F's to expect that and to position so they can win those balls. How to teach this is explained at "Attacking Plan for Rec Teams" in Premium. This is an "Attacking Plan" that is simple to teach and can be used successfully by Rec teams. If a Rec player goes on to play on a Travel team, he or she will simply learn a more controlled Attacking Style at that time. But in the meantime they will have fun and can learn a lot, such as proper technique for an inside-of-foot pass", an "advanced throw-in", "Passing to Space", "Movement off the Ball", "First Attacker/Second Attacker/Third Attacker", "how to shift to be in position to win a cleared ball", hustling and playing hard, that they must position and fight to win the ball, and a Possession style of attack in the Attacking Third or Attacking Half. And on defense coaches can teach "Shift & Sag" (essentially maintaining shape and funneling for those of you who use those terms), "First Defender/Second Defender", "Coaching Rule No. 3", "marking", a "zone defense" and many other things. How to teach a simple Attacking Plan is described at "Attacking Plan for Rec Teams" and at "Attacking Plan for Rec Teams No. 2". For a list of Attacking topics go to the "Attacking Navigation Page". Also see "Styles of Play" for more about the different Styles of Play, "Evaluating Your Teams Play", "Scoring More Goals, "Counterattack, "Support, "Support Distance & Relative Position, "Creating Space and "When to Dribble/When to Pass.
How to Develop a Realistic Soccer Attacking Plan
Why Soccer Offense is Harder to Teach than Soccer Defense
"Indirect/Possession" Soccer vs. Long Ball Style ("Direct") Attacking