How to Teach Soccer 1v1 Attacking and Defending
How to Win Soccer 50/50 Balls
How to Prevent Soccer Breakaways
Tips for Soccer Scrimmaging
Avoiding Physical and Mental Fatigue in Soccer Players
How to Maintain Soccer Field Coverage Attacking and Defending
How to Position Soccer Players to Win Cleared Balls

Hi Premium Forum,

Thank you David and Coach S for the excellent advice. Our first soccer scrimmage ended in a 2-2 tie. We played a very good defensive game despite not having my 4 top strikers that day. I implemented the 2-1-1-2 soccer formation, which most of the time ended up looking like a 1-1-1-3. This concerned me at times since my offensive midfielder would push up too far and it seemed as if we didn't control the middle third of the soccer field as much. I like the idea of telling my mid-fielders not to enter our soccer penalty box, or the other team's penalty box unless saving a goal or to score an easy goal. I have one great defensive midfielder (aka soccer Stopper) head and shoulders above the rest. She is very fast and extremely agile. I hate to sub her out knowing that she is the anchor of our defense which is probably why my middies wear down late in games against better teams. Because of this, I plan on using the "Win the 50/50 Ball or be the First Defender 1v1 Attacking and Defending" game at my next practice in order to have more confidence in my Stopper subbing.

I have a soccer practice/scrimmage vs a U12 All-Star girls team this week. I also have another practice/scrimmage with a U10 All-Star boys team and finally a practice/scrimmage against another U11 girls All-Stars team. I think this will acclimate the girls to size and speed for the upcoming tournament. Do you think the upcoming scrimmages would be beneficial?

Coach M, U11G


Hi Coach M, This is David at SoccerHelp.

I think scrimmaging quality soccer teams can be good if it isn't a substitute for soccer practice, except I suggest perhaps playing shorter quarters or only one half instead of a full game. The reason is to avoid having your players get physically and mentally fatigued. Perhaps that isn't an issue with your players, but it was with mine. I noticed that if we played too much, my players lost their edge. The problem with fatigue is that you won't know it until the tournament starts, and then it will be too late. I think it's good that you are practicing and not just scrimmaging, so I assume your scrimmages are only for 30 minutes or so.

If you scrimmage, I think it's better to do as you are doing and play good competition because that will make your players play at full-speed. If you ever find your team playing a much weaker team, get worried, because that can allow your players to get cocky and to goof off and develop bad habits, then when they play a great team you have a problem because your players will start out playing slow.

Giving players some specific boundaries to guide their position on the field is a good idea. Telling your MFs to stay out of the Penalty Boxes unless saving a goal or to score an easy goal is a good idea. Tell them in both cases to Shift with the ball. That way, they will be in position to win cleared balls, or to win those balls that tend to "pop out" of the "pack". In your Attacking Third, if your Attacking MF will stay just outside the Penalty Box and shift with the ball, she will get some scoring chances. You might think about teaching her to step up and take a quick one-touch shot before the defenders can cover her.

Teaching your Midfielders to stay outside the Penalty Boxes (unless saving a goal or to score an easy goal) will solve your problem of having such a big gap between your Forwards and your MFs. For example, in your Attacking Half your Stopper (aka your "Defensive Mid") should be shifting with the ball in an imaginary line across the inside edge of the Center Circle, so if your Attacking Mid is just outside the Penalty Box, you have good coverage and will win most of the cleared balls. Positioning your MFs this way, combined with leaving one of your FBs on the Halfway Line to shift so she stays in an imaginary line between the ball and your goal, and the other one a little deeper (say halfway between the Halfway Line and the Penalty Box) and also in an imaginary line between the ball and your goal will stop breakaways � you will have "Multiple Layers of Defenders" between the ball and your goal, which will make it hard for opponents to score. And in your Defensive Half, your Stopper should be just outside the Penalty Box and shifting with the ball, and your Attacking MF should be a long pass from the ball and shifting, and your 2 Forwards should be a Long Kick from the ball and shifting, and staying a short pass apart so they aren't clustered. This will give you good Field Coverage to win cleared balls and launch a counterattack.

I suggest teaching your FBs to clear the ball straight ahead -- that way your Stopper, Attacking Mid and Forwards will know what to expect and will shift to be in position to win those cleared balls. Clearing it Straight Ahead will also keep your FBs from accidentally clearing it to the "weak side" of the field which could lead to your opponent getting an easy goal through the "back door". As your team gets older and better, you can change this approach to something more advanced.

Let me know how you like the "Win the 50/50 Ball or be the First Defender 1v1 Attacking and Defending" soccer practice game. I tried for 7 years to come up with a game to teach those things and I spent 3 years working with coaches who tried different variations. I only put that game online about a year ago and so far I've gotten excellent feedback. I can think of 3 coaches say it's their player's favorite soccer game, which is surprising in that it's a very competitive one-on-one game. If your team likes this game, that's GREAT, because it will help them a lot and you should see fast improvement in your team's ability to win 50/50 balls, being the first defender if they don't win the ball (which will result in few breakaways by your opponents and in your team causing more turnovers), and 1v1 attacking and defending -- all of which are VERY important and will definitely make a difference.

Please let us know how you do and what you learn in the process -- sharing ideas is how we improve.

By the way, I just received this comment about the Win the 50/50 Ball or be the First Defender 1v1 Attacking and Defending soccer practice game from a Premium Member:


You know you are doing the right thing when you say practice is over after 90 minutes in 93 degree heat and 7 year old girls still want to play the Win the 50/50 Ball or be the First Defender 1v1 Attacking and Defending soccer practice game."

-Coach Troy, Premium Member, Maryland

David at SoccerHelp