Finding a weakness in your opponent's soccer formation
Simple Attacking Plan for U-12 Rec Soccer
Using long punts by soccer Goalkeeper to attack
Short Corner Kick Soccer Set-Play That Really Works
Keeping your soccer team motivated after a big win
Good Guys Can Finish First
Inspirational Soccer Success Story

PART 2 of 2

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Have you ever had to play a soccer team you've never beaten who is bigger, faster, stronger and rubs it in when they beat you? Below is the rest of the story that started in the last newsletter. The correspondence started with the Coach asking for suggestions about how to play his team's arch rival � the bigger, faster, stronger, arrogant team that they had never beaten.

Hi SoccerHelp,

Good news! We had our soccer rematch this evening and I'm happy to report we came away with a convincing 3-1 victory. It was our rival's first loss in two seasons. We scored the first goal on a short corner kick and lead 1-0 at the half. We opened the second half with two quick goals and the other team couldn't recover. We actually had two more shots at an open net but put them wide.

I changed my soccer strategy a bit. I used two smaller, but much quicker soccer defenders. I told one to stay in the box at all times to prevent the crossover passes and provide a last line of defense for the goaltender. The other defender was told to challenge the ball as soon as possible and push the attack to the outside as much as she could. These two did a great job all game. (Note from David: Channeling the opponent's attack to the outside is an excellent strategy � it's much harder for Rec teams to score from the side than from the Center of the Field. You will notice that in this game, John's team didn't give up any easy goals. If you recall, he was previously Pushing Up both Fullbacks and gave up easy goals against this opponent due to defensive breakdowns and the opponent's superior speed. In this game, he left one of his FBs to Defend Deep so he didn't give up any breakaways and used the other Fullback like a Stopper to Push Up, slow down the attack, and Channel the attack toward the sideline so his Midfielder had time to get back to help defend. 6v6 is tough on the Midfielder -- it is hugely helpful if you have a MF who can play both offense and defense. In fact, in 6v6 a great midfielder might be the most important player, although having a Goalie who can punt to the Halfway line is a huge plus too.)

Our goaltender did a great job of punting over the other soccer team's forwards and we ended up with several 3 on 1 and 2 on 1 situations.

I don't think our girls ever truly believed they could win. You should have seen how excited they were. Well, there's one more week in the regular season and then the soccer playoffs start. I've already got the brackets and if we win our first game in the playoffs, we'll face this same team once more in round two. The difference this time is that we know we can beat them.

Thanks for all of your help. I really appreciate it!


Hi John,

You have made my day!!! It's tough to beat a team that hasn't lost in 2 seasons, especially one that is faster, bigger and more aggressive. I'll bet the opposing coach was shocked. His team was supposed to beat yours. You won because you out-coached him and motivated your players better than he motivated his. If he's a good coach, he will adjust, so I would anticipate a tough game the next time.

One tip: After a big victory it is easy for players to get cocky and complacent. They tend to slack off, not play as hard, and lose the next game. This next game is one I would worry about. This even happens to college and pro teams.

That's great news and I know you are proud of your girls and gratified that your efforts are resulting in improvement. Some people might look at this as just a "game", but what it teaches is that hard work, perseverance, teamwork, doing your "job" and trusting your teammates to do theirs, and following directions can lead to success that is beneficial to all involved. In that way, it teaches us all some valuable life lessons. I know those are lessons I want my children and grandchildren to learn.

I congratulate you on adapting and figuring out a better way. I get letters occasionally from people who chastise me for discussing formations and tactics on SoccerHelp -- they say "just let them play -- don't worry about positions or tactics". But the truth is that if you hadn't made the adjustments you did, your team would have lost and if it weren't for your good coaching, they might have been humiliated. I've never seen much good come from repeated humiliating defeats -- they are demoralizing, destroy confidence, kids tend to become discouraged and quit playing soccer, and they aren't any fun. It's much more fun to play a competitive, inspired game, even if you lose. As you say, your girls have now gained confidence in their abilities. What they have learned is that with a positive attitude, discipline and teamwork they can beat teams that are individually faster and more skilled. Soccer is a team sport and one of the beautiful things about it is that a "team" can beat a group of individuals, even if the individuals are more talented. Players benefit from good coaching, and I think you are an excellent coach.

By the way, I always had good success with Short Corners and am glad you did. They can put a lot of pressure on the opponent. I'm glad you mentioned that. Did you try the Short Corner Set-Play in Premium?

What Formation did you play? Did you play the 2-1-2 soccer formation I recommended? I would like to know your attacking strategy. It sounds as if you had the Forwards drop back into the Defensive Third when your Keeper had the ball so they could win the punts and then attack with as a group with your Midfielder -- is that correct?

Thanks for being a Premium Member and for sharing this. You have some excellent ideas. Please let me know how you do in the tournament.

David at SoccerHelp

On the short corner, I used a variation of the play in Premium. I had our player with the strongest leg take the corner to keep the defense guessing whether we would go short or long. Because we play 6 v 6, I had one of our defenders move up into the offensive zone to take the pass from the player taking the corner kick. She stood only 2-3 yards outside the corner arc. Upon receiving the ball, she immediately dribbled halfway up the endline and let loose a shot into the group of players massed in front of the goal. The ball deflected off one of the opposing defenders right into the goal. (Note from David: John's idea of having the shooter kick it hard into the �pack� when the shooter is on the endline is an excellent one for Rec teams U-8 and older. There is a good chance of scoring that way. Here's a tip: The rules require the opponent to stay back from the kicker on a Corner Kick, usually 8 to 10 yards, but you can have a second player come to the Corner Arc, stand facing the goal with legs apart immediately in front of the �kicker�, and the �kicker� can pass thru the �receiver's� legs so the receiver simply runs onto the ball and can take a quick shot. That keeps the receiver from having to turn with the ball, there is an element of surprise, and the �passer� can run beside the receiver to be in position for a pass and to worry the defense. Note that an advantage of this is that by dribbling along the endline, everyone is �onside�, whereas if you passed the ball back toward your own goal, then players in front of the goal might be in an �offside position�, depending on where the defenders are. This is described in the �Short Corner Set-Play� in Premium. Youth teams should take Short Corners 50% of the time. Short corners will teach your team some valuable attacking and teamwork concepts.)

As for our soccer attacking strategy, we used two forwards and one midfielder ( 2-1-2 soccer formation). The midfielder would help out on defense with the forwards falling back to about a third of our defensive zone. I instructed the offense to turn and run downfield as soon as our goaltender got the ball because she can punt it well over the midfield line. Our opponents didn't seem to grasp that she could kick it that far and they were repeatedly out of position. Because our offense was already in full stride running when the ball landed we were able to get quite a few 3 on 1 and 2 on 1 situations. During the whole second half, the other team was playing with 4 forwards and one defender. I assume they were doing this in an attempt to score and catch up. With only one defender back, it was fairly easy for us to pass around that person and get some shots on goal.

Thanks for your advice about not having a let down in our next game. We've already beaten this team once this season 5-0 but I would hate for the girls to have a let down and lose. I'll make sure they stay focused.

I'll let you know what happens when we reach the playoffs.


Congratulations to Coach John and many thanks to him for sharing the this story and his strategy.