Soccer Positioning and Tactics to Win the Ball
How to Win the Soccer Ball
Multiple Layers of Soccer Defenders
Strategy for Playing a Better Soccer Team

(Below is Part 2 of a 2 part article. Part 1 was in the prior Newsletter. The links are to SoccerHelp Premium. If you're a Premium Member, you should only have to log-in once as long as you leave a link open)

Hi SoccerHelp,

Just to clarify below...

You are suggesting 1 deep defender, 1 stopper, 2 mids and 1 target forward? The defenders should play the defensive field, backing each other up (1st, 2nd defender), but ultimately I will have 2 defenders. I have tried this and it did not work, however I did not keep the mids back at the 1/2 line, I pulled them into Defense. I am hoping by keeping them at the 1/2 line, they will pull a player or 2 from coming in on the attack. I will let you know how it works this weekend.




Hi Chris,

There are trade-offs and a balance is required. If you can't clear the ball from your Defensive Third and if you can't win the ball at least 50% of the time when you clear it, then you're going to lose. So, when your goal is under attack, you must leave your Midfielders and Forward out to win cleared balls.

Leaving the MFs on the Halfway Line and the Forward even deeper (a long kick away from the ball) should keep some of the opposing defenders from Pushing Up onto your half of the field, and if the opposing Defenders don't mark your F and MFs, and if you can clear the ball onto your Attacking Half, then your F and MFs should be able to score because there won't be any defenders there to stop them.

The key to this is to Win the Ball. You can increase your chances of winning the ball by:

  1. Tell your MF's to stay a "short kick" away from the ball (about the Halfway Line?), they should stay a short pass from each other (say 15 steps) AND they sould shift from side-to-side with the ball.

  2. Tell your Stopper and FB to Clear the Ball STRAIGHT AHEAD by kicking it as hard as possible. That way, your MF's and F will already be in position to win the ball. The kick should go over the MF's, which is GOOD -- you want it to -- that way your MFs can follow the ball and help your F attack. However, if your opponent wins the ball, your MFs are in position to try to steal the ball back.

Consider putting your fastest, toughest player at Stopper. This doesn't need to be your most skilled player -- speed and bravery are more important. This player's job is to stop attacks and clear the ball.

REMEMBER, you are NOT attempting to "build play from the back" because that won't work for you -- your team doesn't have the skill to play a short passing game against tough competition and trying to do that will give your opponents recover to strong defensive positions. Your plan is to launch a fast Counterattack by clearing the ball off your Defensive Half into your Attacking Third and for your Forward and MFs to win the ball and score. Clearing the ball from your Defensive Third means your opponent has to start their attack over each time, and gives your F and MF a chance to Win the Ball, or to steal the ball in your Attacking Half if an opponent wins the cleared ball.

To clarify about your FB and Stopper, I recommend you let your Stopper roam to try to Stop Attacks in your "Danger Zone" (the area from which opponents could score -- I would guess your Danger Zone extends about 20 steps to the front of your goal and about 10 steps to the side) and leave your FB near your Goal Front. Indoor goals are usually small and, obviously, most goals will be scored from in front of your goal. So, the FBs job is to defend that area and to clear the ball or slow the attack until your Stopper can come to apply pressure on the ball. It's important that your FB stays in position and doesn't get pulled out to the side or too far to the front. She should probably not go more than 5 steps to the side and 10 steps to the front. Her job is to not allow clear shots on goal and to be in position to stop passes to the Goal Front and to clear balls that are kicked off the wall to the Goal Front. YOUR FB doesn't have to be skilled, but she MUST be brave and able to clear the ball. She MUST be willing to stop shots with her body rather than jumping out of the way of a shot. If a FB jumps out of the way of a shot, all she has done is to create a screen that blocked your Goalie's view of the ball.

The Stopper's primary area to defend is in front of your goal to about 20 steps out and about 10 steps to the side of your goal, unless she can clear a loose ball, in which case she can go farther, clear the ball and quickly run back to a position closer to the goal.

Your FB should not go farther from your Goal than about 10 steps to the front and 5 steps to the side of your goal, unless she can clear a loose ball, in which case she can go farther, clear the ball and quickly run back to your Goal Front.

This approach will give you "Multiple Layers of Defenders" and will decrease the chances of opponents getting easy goals. If you take away the easy goals, I hope you can limit most of your opponents to 2-4 goals, instead of the 6-7 they have been scoring.

Remember, an opponent can't score from the side -- scores will be from the front, so it's more important to defend the front. Let them have the sides � you can't successfully defend both against teams that are better than yours.

Good luck. I hope this helps.

David at SoccerHelp