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Sag - See "Shift & Sag". Soccer Sag
Sandwiching - A foul occurring when 2 or more teammates "hold" an opponent by boxing him in. Penalized by a direct kick. (See "Fouls"). Soccer Sandwiching
Save - When the goalkeeper catches or blocks a shot and thereby prevents the other team from scoring a goal. Soccer Save
Scissors - The term has 2 meanings. It is a type of Feint (See "How To Teach Feints & Fancy Footwork"), & Scissors Kick is also another name for "Bicycle Kick". (See "Bicycle Kick"). Soccer Scissors
Scrimmaging - See "The Game Is The Best Teacher". Soccer Scrimmaging
Scorebox - (aka "Danger Zone"). See "Danger Zone". Soccer Scorebox
Second Attacker * (Key Concept) - An attacker who is within a short to medium passing distance from the First Attacker. (See "First Attacker" & "Third Attacker"). Soccer Second Attacker
Second Defender * (Key Concept) - There should always be a Second Defender. (See "Support" & "Shift & Sag"). Soccer Second Defender
Second Sweeper - The concept of having the goalkeeper push up to the edge of the Penalty Box (or even farther) when your team is "pushed up" on the attack so he can kick away long through balls (or long cleared balls) that the other team might kick into the open space behind the FB's. This can work very well in youth soccer on a larger field (e.g., U-10 or U-12) because the kids can only kick the ball 25-35 yards in the air; thus, the goalkeeper doesn't have to worry as much about getting kicked over as a high school goalkeeper would. (See "Goalkeeper"). Soccer Second Sweeper
Select - (aka "Travel" soccer). There are 2 types of youth soccer, recreational and select (which is also called travel soccer). "Select" soccer is more competitive & teams often practice several times per week & play year-round. There are usually try-outs for these teams, players can be "cut" and playing time is not guaranteed. The focus of these teams is often on winning tournaments & that is how their success is judged. They are sometimes called "travel" teams because they travel to tournaments in other cities. These teams often have paid coaches or a paid trainer. They have been criticized for having too much focus on tournament play and not enough emphasis on training. (See "Recreational Soccer"). Select Soccer.
Send It - A verbal signal to send a "through ball". (See "Verbal Signals" & "Through Ball"). Soccer Send It
Send It Through - See "Pass To Space", "Pass To Yourself" & "Through Ball". Soccer Send It Through
Send Off - A player must be "sent off" if he receives a "red card". This means he is made to leave the field and cannot return. In some leagues he may not be replaced & his team must play "one player short". (See "Cards"). Soccer Send Off
Serious Foul Play - A player must be given a "red card" & "sent off" for serious foul play. (See "Cards"). Soccer Serious Foul Play
Service - A pass. Soccer Service
Set Play - A planned play that usually occurs after a "re-start" where the ball can't be pressured (i.e., any time play is stopped & restarted, or where the ball can't be pressured, such as on a Corner Kick, Goal Kick, Throw-In, Kick-Off, Free Kick, Penalty Kick or even a punt) where players are assigned a specific task. If a Set Play occurs on a re-start it may be called a "Re-start Play". See Short Corner Set-Play & Corner Kick Attacking Strategies on Premium. Soccer Set Play
Settle - To control the ball, for example when receiving a hard pass. ("He couldn't settle the ball".) Soccer Settle
Shadow Marking - Assigning a defender to mark a dangerous attacker closely. Soccer Shadow Marking
Shadow Play - A training technique in which players try to follow the movements of a coach or of a leader. Soccer Shadow Play
Shape - Refers to whether the players on your team are generally maintaining correct distances between each other so there is "support" & coverage when you are on offense or defense. If they are bunched up or players are too far apart ("stretched") or your FB's are overlapping MF's, etc., then you don't have good "shape". (See "Stretched Defense" and "Sag" & "Support"). Soccer Shape
Shepherding - (aka "Jockeying). See "Jockeying". Soccer Shepherding
Shield * - (aka Screen). When a player legally positions his body so the defender can't touch the ball without fouling. (e.g., The ballhandler shifts the ball to his foot that is farthest from the defender, stays low with his knees bent & feet apart so he can't get easily pushed off the ball & stiffens the arm nearest the defender; the arm can't be used to push the defender but it can point down & slightly out so he's ready to withstand a "Shoulder Charge"). See "Strength On the Ball" & "Shoulder Charge". Soccer Shield
Shift * - Attackers & defenders should constantly be shifting (as the ball moves) so they are in a position to provide "support" or "cover". (See "Support", "Cover", "Shift & Sag" & "Support Distance"). Soccer Shift
Shift & Sag * (Key Concept) - A convenient term for describing what you want your players to do on defense. It has 2 meanings:
- First, as attackers move the ball around the field, defenders should be constantly shifting to maintain good defensive coverage and the players farthest from the ball should "sag" back so they are in position to stop an attack on goal (this provides additional "depth" & concentration of defenders between the ball & the goal). This creates "multiple layers" of defenders in a position to stop an attack on goal. For example, if the ball is on the left side & the LF is the First Defender, then the LMF should be a Second Defender, the CF should also be a Second Defender, & the LFB should be the Third Defender. The CF should shift so he is within 5 - 7 steps of the ball & "sag" back a little so if the onball attacker tries to go to the left of the LF the CF is there to stop the penetration. The CMF should also "shift & sag" so he is between the CF & the goal (i.e., 10 - 15 steps behind the CF), & the CFB should do the same behind the CMF. On the right side, the RF should sag behind the CF, but not go past the center of the field (i.e., the imaginary line between the goals), etc. These relationships are shown in the diagram below. If the ball were on the right side, it would be reversed. Note that all defenders don't try to stay precisely between the ball & the goal (if they did you would have no "width" & your field "coverage" would be poor); however, they are in position to "recover" in time to stop an attack on goal.
Second, when a team loses the ball, the players nearest the ball should stay & try to be "First or Second Defenders" & slow down the attack. But all others should quickly "sag" back toward their goal (i.e., "Recover") to create multiple layers of defenders. This doesn't mean that everyone runs back in front of the goal; if they do it just makes it easy for the attackers to reach your Danger Zone. A rule of thumb is that the Fullbacks should drop back far enough that a long chip pass won't go over their heads. Also, keep in mind that even when the FB's have sagged back near their goal, you must leave some MF's & F's outside the Penalty Box in a position to win cleared balls & to receive passes so you can counterattack. If all your players are in the Penalty Box you won't be able to get the ball off your end of the field. (See "Defense", "Depth", "Support", "Support Distance & Relative Position" "Formations", "Zone Defense", "First Defender", "Recover", "Funnel" "Mark", "Formations" & "Pressure"). Soccer Shift & Sag
O = Ball
This drawing assumes the other team has the ball & it shows relative defensive positions. It shows a pushed up defense which is sometimes not best for a rec team. (See "Formations"). Notice that there are multiple layers of defenders between the ball & the goal (i.e., "depth") as described above & that there is good coverage. Also notice that players move closer together when on defense. (They spread back out again to get "width" when they go back on offense). Defenders must always "shift & sag" with the ball, constantly moving up, back, left or right so they are in a position to "recover" in time to stop an attack on goal & are supporting each other. Soccer Shift & Sag
Shoot - See "Drive", "Pass", "Chip", "Flick Pass" & "Toe Kick". Soccer Shoot
Shoot-Out - When a game is tied and time has run out, a "shoot-out" is one way to break the tie (another is to play overtime periods). A shoot-out is similar to a penalty kick, except the players must all stay in the middle of the field. Each team will receive a certain number of chances to score. Soccer Shoot-Out
Short - To play "short" means to play with fewer than the allowed number of players. Soccer Short
Short Corner - A corner kick where the ball is put into play with a short pass instead of a long kick. Once put into play, the "Offside Rule" applies. (See "Corner Kick" and "Long Corner"). See "Short Corner Set-Play & Corner Kick Attacking Strategies on Premium. Soccer Short Corner
Short Game - (aka Short-Ball Game, Controlled Game or Indirect Attack). Style of offensive play based on short passes (See "Long-Ball Game"). Soccer Short Game
Shoulder Charge - (aka "Fair Charging"). A type of "tackle" which can be legally used to try to "win" (i.e., gain possession of) the ball. To be legal, it: (a) cannot take place from behind (b) is only permitted within playing distance (i.e., 3 feet) of the ball (c) cannot be violent or dangerous (d) must be intended to win the ball & not just to knock down the opponent (e) must be shoulder to shoulder (not to the opponents chest or back) with the arms (especially elbows) close to the body (f) the player must have at least one foot on the ground (i.e., he can't leap). (See "Tackle", "Fouls", "Shielding", "Strength On the Ball" & "Win The Ball"). Soccer Shoulder Charge
Shoulder Tackle - Another term for "Shoulder Charge". See Shoulder Charge. Soccer Shoulder Tackle
Show - When a receiver makes it obvious to the ballhandler that he is open for the pass or when the passer makes it obvious to the receiver that he wants to pass to him. The passer can do this by looking at the receiver or going toward him or by turning toward him. Three ways the receiver can to do this are to come back toward the ball, by "checking off", or by turning toward the ballhandler in a "ready" stance. (See "Checking Off" & "Target Player"). Soccer Show
Sidearm Throw - A sidearm throw by the goalkeeper is to be avoided because the ball will curve. See "Overarm Throw". Soccer Sidearm Throw
Side Line - (aka "Touch Line"). The long sides of the field. Length will vary by age group & your club rules. (See "Field Diagram"). Soccer Side Line
Similarities To Other Sports - If you think about it, soccer has similarities to many other sports. It is most similar to basketball, which uses both "zone" and "man-to-man" defenses, set plays, "give & go", movement-off-the-ball to create space, & emphasizes passing. There also similarities to hockey & football and concepts such as "follow through", "staying on your toes" & a "quick first step" are used in most field sports. Soccer Similarities To Other Sports
Six - (aka "Goal Area" or "Goal Box"). The Goal Box extends 6 yards from the Goal and Goal Line (See "Goal Box"). Soccer Six
Slide Tackle - When a defender slides on the ground and attempts to kick the ball away from the ballhandler. If the tackle is careless, reckless or uses excessive force or the tackler first contacts the ballhandler instead of the ball, a foul should be called. If the tackle is from behind (from an angle that doesn't allow the ballhandler to see it coming) a "Red Card" can be given. Some youth & adult leagues don't allow slide tackling because too many injuries result. I don't teach it & don't allow it. Beside the possibility of getting hurt or hurting someone else, you can't play if you are laying on the ground. (See "Tackle" and "Fouls"). Soccer Slide Tackle
Slot - The space between defenders. An attacker might pass the ball through the "slot", in which case it can be called a "slotted ball". (See "Channel"). Soccer Slot
Small Sided - Most youth leagues play with less than 11 players per side until U-12 or U-14. This is called playing "Small Sided". At U-6, there may be as few as 3 per side; at U-8 4 or 5 per side; at U-10 6 to 8 per side, etc. At young ages it is much better to play small sided; the players get many more "touches" on the ball & it is much easier to teach them the important concepts such as "support", "First Defender", to "shift & sag", and to spread out & get open for passes. In small sided games with 5 or less players per side, you shouldn't worry about "formations" or "positions" but should teach basic concepts, teamwork, passing, dribbling & basic tactics such as "shifting & sagging" & to mark up behind a man when the other team has a throw-in or is near our goal. To quote Bobby Howe, Director of Coaching Education for the U.S. Soccer Federation & author with Tony Waiters of 2 excellent books:
Fewer players on the field
Reduces the size of the "swarm;"
Creates more touches;
Does not allow players to "hide" or be excluded from the activity;
Presents realistic but simple soccer challenges;
Requires players to make simple but realistic soccer decisions.
Realistic Experience + Fun = Improvement In Play.
Some coaches incorporate small sided play (e.g., 4 vs 4) into practices. However, this can be difficult to administer and is not a substitute for practicing specific skills.
See "Number of Players", "Formations", "The Game Is The Best Teacher", Soccer Small Sided
Soccer Field Maintenance - Click here to go to the article "Soccer Field Maintenance and Management". Soccer Field Maintenance
Soft Pass - A ground pass with the proper "weight" (i.e., pace & spin) & so the receiver can take a good one-touch shot on it; especially a ball played to space within shooting range of the goal. Soccer Soft Pass
Space = Time - Attackers want to get away from defenders into open space so they have time & room to attack. Defenders don't want to give attackers space, especially if the attackers are in scoring range (i.e., in the "Danger Zone"). Soccer Space = Time
Spatial Defense - (aka "Zone Defense", "Mark the Ball" & Space Marking). Soccer Spatial Defense
Speed Dribbling * (Key Concept) - Speed Dribbling is a way to move the ball fast when you are open. Instead of keeping it close to your feet, you kick it forward and run to it (being sure to get there before an opponent), then kick it forward again, etc. The techniques are different for Control Dribbling and Speed Dribbling. To Speed Dribble, you kick the ball forward using the outside top of the front of the foot (not the inside of the foot). There is an excellent demonstration of Speed Dribbling on the Anson Dorrance-Tom Stone Soccer Clinic DVD at minute 19:15, "Dribbling for Speed". (See Pass to Yourself, How To Teach Dribbling and Control Dribbling). Soccer Speed Dribbling
Sports Drinks - Which is better for soccer players, water or sports drinks?. Soccer Sports Drinks
Spot Kick - A "Penalty Kick". Soccer Spot Kick
Spread The Field (Key Concept) - (aka "Stretch The Field"). When you are attacking, you want to "spread" or "stretch" the defenders to open up holes in the defense. By spreading the defenders, you force them to cover a larger area so the defenders are farther apart & can't do as good a job of supporting each other. (On the other hand, if you are defending, you want to be careful to not get too spread out or stretched). One way to spread out a defense is by using "width" on the attack. One example of this is if you spread your FB's wide on your goal kick in order to force the defenders to cover the entire width of the field. Another example of spreading the field is to be sure your forwards stay a pass apart. You can also stretch the length of the defense. An example of this is if the other team is "pushed up" and you put your fastest forward at the halfway line & then send "through balls" or long cleared kicks into the open space between the other team's FB's & their goalkeeper. If you do this a few times the other team won't be able to push up as far and you will have "stretched" their defense. (See "Width In Attack", "Width In Defense", "Stretched Defense", "Stretch The Field" & "Goal Kick"). Soccer Spread The Field
Square Defense - (aka "Flat Defense"). See "Flat Defense". Soccer Square Defense
Square Pass - (aka "Flat Pass"). A pass across the field (parallel to the end line) A "cross" can be a type of square pass. (See "Cross The Ball"). Soccer Square Pass
Steps - In youth soccer, it is useful to talk about distances in terms of "steps", instead of yards. When used in this book, the term "steps" refers to the size step a player in that age group might take, with U-12 being adult size. This term is useful because it adjusts the distances to fit the size of the player. For example, if it says the CF should be 5 - 7 steps from the LF, the distance is shorter for U-8 than for U-12. Soccer Steps
ST - Abbreviation for Stopper. (See "Stopper"). Soccer Stopper (ST)
Steve Spurrier Quotes - Motivational quotes for soccer coaching
Stop/Turn - A method of turning where the player uses the bottom to his foot to stop the ball while on a fast run, lets his momentum carry him a step or two past the ball, but quickly turns and comes back to the ball. Similar to a "Pullback" except the ball is not pulled back and the player makes the turn away from the ball, whereas on a Pullback the player turns toward the ball. Soccer Stop/Turn
Stoppage Time - Time added to international games to extend the game to make up for "stoppages" such as injuries, substitution, time wasting, lost ball, etc. This is added by the center referee & he is the only one who knows how much "stoppage time" is being added &, therefore, the only one who knows exactly when the game will end. This is also mistakenly called "Injury Time". Soccer Stoppage Time
Stopper - (abbreviation is "ST") As used in SoccerHelp, a Stopper is a player who plays between the Fullbacks & Midfielders who is good at stopping attacks up the Center (straight toward goal), similar to a Defensive Midfielder. A Stopper is like a Pushed Up Center Fullback or a Pushed Up Soccer Sweeper and there can be one or two. Their job is to slow down the attack so Midfielders have time to recover to help defend. The Stopper can simply kick the ball out of bounds if needed to slow down a fast break by the opposing team. Even slowing the attack for ten seconds can stall the opposing attack by giving your Midfielders time to run back to help defend. The best Stoppers are brave, not afraid of contact and fast - a player doesn't need good soccer skills to be a great Stopper, but he or she MUST be fast and brave and able to stop or slow down attacks. With a great Stopper your team won't give up any goals on breakaways or fast transitional attacks. If you don't have many skilled players, save them for Center Midfielder and Forwards (Center Midfielder is a critical position in Rec soccer and the CMF should join in your attack). A Stopper is a good addition to a formation. For example, instead of playing a 3-3-1. push up the Center Fullback so it is a 2-1-3-1. See "Tips" for more about how & when to play a Stopper. NOTE: A Stopper can make an immediate HUGE difference in Rec soccer, but will make less of a difference in Travel soccer. The better the opposing attackers, the less difference a Stopper can make. Think about your situation and how goals are being scored on your team and whether a Stopper could make a difference. Ask yourself - Are we giving up goals on breakaways or fast transitional attacks and do I have a player who could play Stopper and slow down those attacks? (See "Formations", "Tips", Click here for an excellent article about how to select a Stopper, the importance of a Stopper and Assigning Positions). Soccer Stopper (ST)
Straight Lines - Sideways, Forward or Backward, as opposed to diagonals. Encourage attacking players to play angles as well as straight lines, including diagonal passes onto open space. Soccer Straight Lines
Strategy - See "Formations", "Creating Space", "Attacking" & "Defense". Soccer Strategy
Streaming Video - Soccer Streaming Video
The Ball - Refers to how hard it is to steal (i.e., "dispossess") the ball from the ballhandler. You will notice that it is easy to steal the ball from some players but difficult to steal the ball from others. The difference depends on footwork, shielding & "strength on the ball". To protect the ball, the ballhandler should shift it to the foot farthest from the opponent and, if the opponent is close by, prepare for a "Shoulder Charge" by bending his knees, bracing himself & stiffening the arm closest to the opponent. Players should always keep their knees bent, even if they don't have the ball. At advanced levels, the ballhandler will stay very low when defenders are close by & may drop his shoulder to keep from getting pushed off the ball. You want your players to have "strength on the ball" so they are not easily pushed off the ball. (See "Shielding", "Shoulder Charge" & "Drag The Ball"). Soccer Strength On The Ball
Streaming Video - Soccer Streaming Video
Stretching - See "Warming Up & Stretching". Soccer Stretching
Stretch The Field - (aka "Spread The Field"). See "Spread The Field", "Stretched Defense", "Width In Attack" & "Width In Defense"). Soccer Stretch The Field
Stretched Defense - When defenders are too far apart. A stretched defense has holes & is vulnerable to attack. (See "Stretch The Field", "Width In Attack" & "Width In Defense"). Soccer Stretched Defense
Strike The Ball - Kick the ball, head it, knee it, etc. A player can strike the ball with any part of the body except the hand, arm or shoulder. Soccer Strike The Ball
Striker - A scoring forward, usually a center forward (as distinguished from a "wing" forward, whose job might be to cross the ball to a striker) who is very skilled at scoring. There could be one or two of these. The term implies a player who is great at shooting & "finishing". This player will sometimes stay "pushed up" when the rest of the team is back on defense. Many great strikers are poor defenders & if so they are called "pure strikers". You can argue that a great striker is born & that the instincts & quickness required can't be taught. (See "Forward", "Wing" and the Section titled "Scoring More Goals"). Soccer Striker
Strong Side - The side of the field (i.e., the side, not the end) that the ball is on. The other side is called the "weak side" or "back side". Soccer Strong Side
Styles of Play - On offense, the two primary styles of play are a direct attack (which tries to quickly move the ball into scoring range, often using long passes, through balls, or long air balls) and an indirect attack (also called a Possession style, which is slower and uses many short passes, often sideways or backwards, while looking for a weakness in the defense.) When you attack, you can Defend Deep (meaning to leave your defenders near your goal to defend against fast counterattacks) or "Push Up" (meaning your Fullbacks move up toward your Halfway Line to support your attack). On defense, the two primary styles of play are a zone defense and a marking defense (i.e., a man-to-man defense). There are several different terms that describe other styles of play. For example, passing to feet vs. passing to space and onball attacking vs. off-the-ball attacking. With most formations you can use different styles of play. On offense, an Indirect Style of Attack is also known as "build, possess, penetrate and score" and a Direct Style of Attack is also known as a Counterattack. Most Rec teams can be more effective using a Direct/Counterattacking Style of Attack because they lack the team skill to make lots of consecutive passes as is required to score goals using an Indirect/Possession/"Build, Possess, Penetrate and Score" Style of Attack.
When comparing styles of play, you can look to other sports for analogies. In American football, for example, the dominant style of play used to be the running game, but today more teams emphasize the pass than the run. The best teams recognize that a balanced attack that uses both the run and the pass is best. In American football, if a team only runs, the defense will crowd the offense to stop the run. In soccer, if a team only attacks with short passes, the opposing defenders will push up to the halfway line or farther. The threat of through balls and long balls "stretches the defense" and is what forces defenders to stay honest. Another analogy to American football is that when you have the ball near your goal you definitely do not want to turn the ball over. In American football, even the best teams will protect the ball and punt. For this reason, it is best for most rec soccer teams to clear the ball away from their goal if there is any pressure, and hope they can win the cleared balls at least 50% of the time. (Although if there isn't pressure or you have skilled FB's you can "build play from the back").
If you watch a lot of professional soccer from different countries you will see that most good teams from around the world control the ball and build play in the midfield, but also incorporate through balls and long balls into their attack (i.e., they mix the indirect and direct styles of play). In fact, depending upon the league, between 15% and 30% of the goals scored are a result of through balls or long air balls.
The style of attack you teach your team should depend on the ability of your players, the amount of time you can practice, and your coaching ability. The style of attack that will work best also depends on the type of defense the other team plays (e.g., whether they are "pushed up" or "defending deep") and whether your Forwards are faster than the other teams FB's. For example, if the opposing FB's push up and your Forwards are faster, you should try through balls and quick counterattacks. A select team that practices 4 hours per week can play a better short passing game than a typical rec team. In any case, you will want to teach the concepts of "First Attacker", "Second Attacker", and "Third Attacker".
Pushing Up and Defending Deep are 2 different styles of play that youth coaches need to consider. Until U8, it is safe for most youth teams to Push Up their Fullbacks when they attack. The advantage is that doing so puts more players within range of the ball when it is in your Attacking Half and it creates an Offside Trap. Until U8 to U10. most teams don't have the skill to launch an effective fast counterattack, so teams are safe Pushing Up their Fullbacks when they attack. However, by U8 to U10, some teams start to develop an effective team attack and at that point they will kill teams that Push Up slow Fullbacks. Even at the highest levels of play, Defending Deep can be a very effective strategy, especially against a team that has Forwards who are faster than your Fullbacks.
As for a defensive style of play, a "zone defense" and "First Defender/Second Defender" works best for most rec teams. This is because many rec FB's don't have the speed or stamina to play a man-to-man style of defense. How to teach a zone defense is explained at "Zone Defense" and at "Support". (See "Attacking", "Attacking Plan", "Boom Ball", "Counterattack", "Creating Space", "Direct Attack", "Possession Style", "Spread the Field", "Stretched Defense", "Through Ball", "Long-Ball Game", "Over the Top", "Zone Defense", "Support", "First Attacker", "Formations", and the section titled "Scoring More Goals"). Soccer Styles of Play
The concepts of Positions, Support and Shift & Sag teach teamwork and, when combined with a Formation and "Style Of Play", they provide the organization for your team's play, and collectively are called your System of Play. Starting at U-8, you should teach your players the concepts of "Positions" (i.e., that there are Forwards, Midfielders, Fullbacks and a Goalie), Support (i.e., First Defender/Second Defender and First Attacker/Second Attacker/Third Attacker) and to Shift & Sag. These concepts are easily taught and, in essence, teach teamwork. They can make a huge difference in your team's play.
Substitutions - (aka "Subbing"). See Substituting (Substitution, Subbing) - Rules, When To and How To. Youth Leagues usually either allow "unlimited substitutions" (which usually means the coach can "sub" as many times as he wants during the game but only at certain times such as goal kicks) or only allow subbing between quarters. If "unlimited substitution" is allowed, you can usually sub at these times (check with your league to see if they follow these rules): after a goal kick is called for either team, after a goal by either team, after a throw-in is called for your team (not the other team), at halftime, and at an injury time-out if the other team replaces a player (but you can only sub as many players as they do). You usually cannot sub on corners, or free kicks. Substitutions may only occur with the Referees permission (you can get his attention by yelling "sub"). Players entering & leaving the field should only do so at the halfway line. The rules technically say that a player must leave the field first before his sub can enter the field. Many referees don't enforce this in youth games because there is so much substitution. However, if the Ref says "call them off first", this is what he means. Often, midfielders are subbed the most because they run the most. (See "Unlimited Substitutions"). Soccer Substitutions
Success Stories - Soccer Success Stories
Support * (Key Concept) - You want to have "support" on both offense & defense. "Support" refers to having teammates who are properly positioned near the ball (i.e., within passing range on offense and within 5 - 10 steps of the First Defender on defense):
- A. On Offense, there should always be 2 or more teammates within passing range (7-15 steps, depending on age) who are open for a pass. One of these can be following the ballhandler (a "trailer"). The key concepts are "First Attacker", "Second Attacker", and "Third Attacker". (See "First Attacker", "Push Up", "Support Distance & Relative Position", "Attacking" and "Attacking Tips").
- B. On Defense there are 3 key concepts:
- "First Defender" - The player closest to the ball must challenge the ball & try to slow down the attack or block a shot, and
- "Second Defenders" - The second closest player must be the Second Defender and back up the First Defender and stay between the ball and the goal. The Second Defender should stay about 5-7 steps behind the First Defender and should become the First Defender if the ballhandler gets by the initial First Defender. (In this case, the initial defender should drop back to help the defender who was backing him up).
- "Shift & Sag" - As soon as the ball is lost, your team should quickly "transition" from offense to defense; the closest player should become the "First Defender" the next two closest should become the "Second Defenders" & all the rest should "shift & sag". What this means is to shift so they are generally between the ball & the goal & sag back to create multiple layers of defenders (which is called "Depth"). There are 2 rules that you can use to teach your players how to "shift & sag" on defense:
- The left & right players (e.g., the LMF & RMF or LFB & RFB) should not go past the center of the field.
- Don't go past a teammate unless it is an emergency & never go past two teammates. These rules apply to defense but not offense because more creativity is allowed on offense. (See "Shift & Sag", "Shape", "Depth", "Cover", "Width In Defense", "Support Distance & Relative Position", "Zone Defense", "Defense" & "Flat Defense").
- C. All players should shift toward the ball whether on offense or defense. Ideally, there should be multiple layers of support on both offense & defense. Soccer Support
Support Distance & Relative Position - On offense, you want to "spread the field" & to add "width". This means the distance between players (especially F's & MF's) will be greater than when they are on defense. The players still "support" each other, but on offense, players will be more "square" than when on defense. For example, if your LF has the ball & is attacking, your CF may be even with him or in front of him & a long pass away. Whereas, on defense, if your LF is the First Defender, your CF will probably sag back & move within 5-7 steps so he can provide defensive "support" (meaning he is helping contain the attacker & is a Second Defender because if the ballhandler moves his way he must become the First Defender) & "cover" (meaning that he is covering space so there isn't a hole for the attacker's to easily penetrate; in other words, if he wasn't covering that space the attackers would go through it to penetrate the defense). (See "Support", "Cover", "Depth", "Zone Defense", "Sag" & "Creating Space"). Soccer Support Distance & Relative Position
SW - Abbreviation for Sweeper. (See "Sweeper").
Sweeper * (Key Concept) - (abb. "SW"). A fast & tough player who usually plays just behind the fullbacks, although he is allowed to roam. His job is to cover the space between the fullbacks & the goalkeeper & to stop "breakaways" & "sweep up" the ball or kick long "through balls" out of bounds so the defense has time to recover. Using a sweeper increases your "depth" & field coverage and therefore allows your fullbacks to push up to support your attack. A Sweeper is like a free safety in American football. A good sweeper must be fast & willing to make contact to steal the ball. A Sweeper can be like a coach on the field and can help direct adjustments, since he is usually the deepest field player and in a good position to view the game. The trend with pro teams is to not use a Sweeper but instead to use a "flatback four", which is 4 Fullbacks playing a zone defense and using a lot of "offside traps". A Sweeper was originally used to back up man-to-man defenses. However, using a Sweeper can also be used with a "Zone Defense" (i.e., "Spatial Defense"). A great Sweeper who has speed and great coverage skills can allow your Fullbacks to push up to support your attack, even if they aren't fast, because he will slow down the attack and give your Fullbacks time to recover. However, if you don't have a great Sweeper, a better alternative for most recreational teams is to use a 3-2-2-3 formation where the FB's stay deep, as described in "Formations". (See "Push Up", "Formations", "Through Ball", "Breakaway", "Second Sweeper", "Support", "Cover", "Defending Deep" & "Zone Defense"). Soccer Sweeper
Switch - On offense, when 2 players swap position in an effort to get open. On defense, when 2 defenders are man-marking & swap the men they are marking. In both cases, one of the players might yell "switch" to the other. Soccer Switch
Switch The Play or Switch Fields - (aka Change Fields, Switch Fields or Reverse The Field ). An attacking concept where the ball is quickly passed from one side to the other (i.e., to the "weak side") where the defense is weaker. This is usually done by a long pass (often a chip pass). This also has the effect of loosening or stretching the defense so it is less compact & easier to penetrate. (See "Strong Side", "Back Side", "Width In Attack" & "Width In Defense"). Soccer Switch The Play or Switch Fields
System Of Play - The concepts of "Positions", "Support" and "Shift & Sag" teach teamwork and, when combined with a "Formation" and "Style Of Play", they provide the organization for your team's play, and collectively are called your "System of Play". Starting at U-8, you should teach your players the concepts of "Positions" (i.e., that there are "Forwards", "Midfielders", "Fullbacks" and a "Goalie"), "Support" (i.e., "First Defender/Second Defender" and "First Attacker/Second Attacker/Third Attacker") and to "Shift & Sag". These concepts are easily taught and, in essence, teach teamwork. They can make a huge difference in your team's play. How to teach "Positions" is explained in SoccerHelp Premium at "How To Teach Soccer Positions". How to teach "First Defender/Second Defender" is explained at "Quick Team Improvement Program" section no. 3, at "10 Defense Tips & Tactics" section no. 7 and at "Support" in the Dictionary. How to teach "First Attacker/Second Attacker/Third Attacker" is explained at "First Attacker" in the Dictionary, and In Premium at "Scoring More Goals" and "Attacking Plan". How to teach "Shift & Sag" is explained in Premium at "Quick Team Improvement Program" section no. 4 and at "Shift & Sag" in the Dictionary. On Premium, also see "How To Teach Soccer Formations", "Formations" and see "Styles of Play" in the Dictionary. Soccer System Of Play
Tackle - To steal the soccer ball. Mostly done while standing (see "Shoulder Charge" & "Block Tackle"), but also see "Slide Tackle". (Also see "Fouls"). Soccer Tackle
Tactical Foul - (aka "Professional Foul"). See "Professional Foul". Soccer Tactical Foul
Tactics - See "Formations", "Creating Space", "Attacking" & "Defense". Soccer Tactics
Takeover - When a ballhandler moves in one direction but leaves (i.e., "drops") the ball for a teammate behind him who moves in a different direction. Too complicated for youth teams. Soccer Takeover
Target Player - The player who is "targeted" to receive the ball when attacking. Also, a forward whose job is to get as close as possible to the opponent's goal without being offside. Teammates will try to get this player the ball by passing or "through balls". Also, a potential receiver who gets in scoring position. Soccer Target Player
Techniques - Skills such as dribbling, shooting, passing, receiving, throw-ins, etc. Soccer Techniques
The Game Is The Best Teacher - This is a frequently repeated statement & there is truth to it, but don't think it means that a coach isn't needed. I can't imagine a child who wouldn't benefit from being taught proper technique & basic soccer terms, concepts & rules. These aren't things a child will learn by themselves in the backyard. However, "over coaching" can be as bad as "under coaching", & that is what "The Game Is The Best Teacher" warns against. Thinking of yourself as a "teacher" & not as a "coach" may help you avoid the tendency to "over coach". Some coaches believe that the best way for players to learn to play is by playing or scrimmaging instead of practicing. This idea doesn't make any more sense for soccer than it does for basketball, hockey or any other sport. Scrimmaging is no substitute for practicing specific skills. Also, if you scrimmage a lot your players may be less excited about their real games. (See "Over Coaching" & "Small Sided"). Soccer The Game Is The Best Teacher
Third Attacker * (Key Concept) - An attacker who is in scoring position or running with the attack but a long pass away from the First Attacker.(See "First Attacker", "Second Attacker", & "Third Man Running"). Soccer Third Attacker
Third Man Running - (aka "Third Attacker). The concept that, when attacking, a teammate "off-the-play" (i.e., a third player other than the passer & receiver) should run to support the receiver. The "third man" can then become a receiver or an alternate receiver and the original passer can become the "third man" after he passes the ball. Good examples of this can be seen in professional games on TV where a "3 man line" will run toward goal on the attack; for example, the RF with the ball, the CF who is the likely receiver & running toward the near post and the LF who is running toward the far post. (See "Movement Off-The-Ball", "First Attacker", "Third Attacker", "Creating Space", & "Off The-Play"). Soccer Third Man Running
Through Ball * (Key Concept) - (aka Through Pass). A pass between defenders into the open space between the fullbacks & the goalkeeper with the idea that a forward will beat the defenders to the ball. There are 2 types: a "Straight Through Ball" & a "Diagonal Through Ball"). (See "Pass To Space", "Leading Pass" & "Pass To Yourself"). This is a very important concept to teach & one that I think should be introduced by U-8 & definitely by U-10. By U-12 (& sometimes by U-10) defenders will be "pushing up" & it will become very difficult for attackers to dribble past the "Last Defender". "Through Balls", "Passing to Yourself", "Switching The Play" & "Wall Passes" become the keys to a successful offense. If the other team is having success with through balls, it may be because your defense if "flat" & doesn't have "depth". (See "Depth", "Zone Defense", "Push Up", "Last Defender", "Leading Pass", "Give & Go", "Pass To Space", "Diagonal Through Ball", "Styles of Play" & "Stretch The Field"). Soccer Through Ball
Throw-In * - This is a type of "Set Play." See the review of "Coaching Set Plays" for Set Play Tactics. Throw-ins are very important because each team will take 25 or more of them during a game. When the ball goes out of bounds over the side line (i.e. the "touch line"), it is "out" on the team that last touched the ball before it crossed totally over the side line, and the opposing team is allowed to get the ball and one of their players (often the closest, or a player designated by the coach to take the throw-ins) is allowed to inbound the ball by picking it up with his hands and throwing it back onto the field. This is called a "throw-in". This is the only time a player other than the Goalkeeper is legally allowed to pick up the ball with his hands. For a throw-in to be legal: (a) the ball must be thrown from behind & over the head (b) it must be thrown using both hands (c) the thrower must face the field (d) at the instant the ball leaves the thrower's hands, some part of both feet must be on the ground, either on or outside the side line (e) the ball must be throw-in from the place where it went out of bounds (Referee's usually let the throw-in be taken from the approximate point where the ball went out of bounds, and you rarely see arguments about this). If the thrown ball does not enter the field, the throw-in is retaken by the same team. The thrower may not touch the ball again until it has touched another player. The penalty for an illegal throw-in is that your team loses the ball & the other team gets to take a throw-in from the same spot. A goal may not be scored on a direct throw-in (i.e., it doesn't count if it is thrown into the goal without another player touching it first). A player is not offside if he receives the ball direct from a throw-in. An opponent must stay at least 2 meters from the thrower and can be given a yellow card for standing closer than 2 meters (note that this rule probably won't be enforced at very young ages). Also, an opponent is guilty of unsporting behavior and should be given a yellow card if he unfairly distracts or impedes the thrower (e.g., by jumping around, shouting or making gestures to intentionally distract the thrower, or by jumping in front of the thrower). When a throw-in is awarded the Assistant Referee will point the flag in the direction in which the attackers will advance (i.e. toward the goal of the team it is out on). (See "Offside Rule", and "Assistant Referee"). See the Throw-Ins Navigation Page. Soccer Throw-In
Tips - There are many coaching tips in this Dictionary. See "Coaching Rules", "Attacking Plan", "Formations", "Creating Space", "Shift & Sag", "Spread the Field", "Styles of Play", and "Support". Soccer Tips
Toe-Kick - Generally to be avoided because it is easy to mis-kick the ball with the toe (the inside of foot or instep is much larger & more reliable). However, if near the goal or to steal the ball, a "toe-poke" (as opposed to a kick) is perfectly acceptable. (See "Drive" & "Pass"). Soccer Toe-Kick
Toe-Poke - A type of "tackle" that is usually made by poking the ball with the toes of the front foot. Also refers to a toe-kick that has a short backswing. (See "Tackle" & "Toe-Kick"). Soccer Toe-Poke
Total - A style of play that allows all players to come into the attack or to play defense. This was used successfully by the Dutch in the 1970's. It requires outstanding speed, stamina, skill and decision making. This style is not suitable for most teams and is rarely used today. It can leave a team without depth, width and field coverage. Soccer Total
Touch Line - Side line. Soccer Touch Line
Tracking - When a defender stays with an attacker (i.e., marking him man-to-man) even though the attacker has run into another defender's zone. The alternative to this is to "pass on" the attacker to another defender. (See "Passing On"). Soccer Tracking
Trailer - On the attack, the player behind the ballhandler should move up & stay open for a backward pass. Having a trailer is also a big advantage if you lose the ball, because he is in a good position to defend. A "trailer" is also used in basketball. (See "First Attacker"). Soccer Trailer
Transition to Defense - See Recover and Coaching Soccer Transition. Soccer Transition to Defense
Trap - (aka "Receive") There are occasions when a player should literally trap the ball; for example, if an "air ball" is coming at his feet, he can use the bottom of his foot to trap the ball against the ground. However, when someone uses the term "trap" or "trapping", they usually mean "receive" or "receiving". The terms trap & trapping are falling out of use in favor of "receive" & "receiving". Years ago, the objective was to "trap" the ball using the feet, chest, thigh, etc. Today, play is more sophisticated & the objective is usually not to "trap" the ball, but to receive the ball so it goes in the direction & the distance that is advantageous for the receiver (e.g., left, right, or forward and toward open space away from defenders). Soccer Trap
Travel - (aka "Select Soccer"). See "Select Soccer" & "Recreational Soccer". Travel Soccer
Triangles - Like basketball, triangles are an important part of attacking soccer. This means that at least 2 teammates should always be supporting the ballhandler & one of these should be a "trailer". Soccer Triangles
Turn The Defender - A misdirection play with the objective of causing a defender to turn by using a decoy run or a pass. Wall passes are a very good way to "turn the defender". (See "Commit The Defender" & "Channel" for the definition of turning the attacker). Soccer Turn The Defender
Turns - The primary methods of turning are the "Pullback" (aka "Drag Back"), the "Hook" (aka the outside-of-foot hook), the "Cutback" (aka the inside-of-foot hook) and the "Stop/Turn". These are described herein and in "Techniques and Fancy Footwork", which is part of the Premium site. Soccer Turns
Two Touch * (Key Concept) - When the ball is stopped & then passed so that it has been touched 2 or more times it is called a two touch pass. (See "One Touch" and "First Touch"). Soccer Two Touch
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