Pushing Up Your Soccer Goalie on the Attack
If you are Behind this Can be a Good Soccer Tactic
If your team is young and you have a great Stopper it isn't that risky
Letting Your Goalie Take Corner Kicks & Throw Ins
Soccer Tactics for a Wet Soccer Field
Attacking a Packed In Soccer Defense
Pushing Up FBs is Usually Good in U8 Soccer

Coach Doug called to tell me his U8 team is through to the finals in their season-end tournament. Doug had won every game until this one. He is a great coach and a great motivator. This is a brand new team and he was assigned the players, so his team's success has a great deal to do with his coaching.

This game was different � Doug's team was fortunate to tie 1-1. What happened was a rainy day, a wet field, one of Doug's fast defenders didn't show up because they thought the game would be cancelled, some bad luck and the opposing coach was smart.

As you know, a wet field is an equalizer because play is slower and footing isn't normal - a skilled team can't play as fast on a wet field and it favors the slower, less skilled team. A wet field can also cause weird situations around the goal � some shots might "die" when they hit a muddy spot and that can help or hurt you. It is ideal to take "Chip" shots on a wet field because ground balls go too slow and it is hard for a young Goalie to catch wet high balls. Also, the muddy conditions make it harder for a soccer Goalie to move laterally. So Chip shots would have been the way to attack, but Doug's kids are only 6 and 7, so they don't chip that well. A wet field also means footing isn't as good, so players might slip when trying to 'cut", or fall when kicking the ball, or the Goalkeeper might slip when punting, as might have happened to Doug's Goalie. It can be harder to score goals because play is slow, passes move slower which can throw off timing, and it is harder to plant your foot to kick the ball.

Doug's opponent scored first on a fluke goal where Doug's Goalie punted and the ball hit one of her own teammates in the head and bounced back towards Doug's goal where one of the opposing players was able to kick the ball into the goal, so Doug was behind 1-0.

Here is where it gets interesting: The opposing coach was smart and at that point with a 1-0 lead, he packed his Penalty Box and lined up 3 good, brave players in front of the goal on the Goal Box line, with 2 more about 12 yards out and left only his best player out a bit as an attacking threat. It came down to the fourth quarter and Doug was still losing 1-0.

Most coaches would have lost that game 1-0, but not Doug. He had a back-up plan (Doug is an officer in the military so planning ahead is natural for him) and he told the Ref he was switching Goalies (you are supposed to tell the Ref when you switch unless it is halftime). He put the Goalie jersey on his Stopper and told her to continue to play as a Stopper (the only reason to put the Goalie jersey on her was that then when she was in the Penalty Box she could pick up the ball). By pulling his Goalie, he then had an extra player in the field and moved an attacking player up to have 2 players at Striker positions with his 2 wings for four permanent attackers. He left them Pushed Up near the opponent's Penalty Box, which he could do without being offside because the opponent had 3 players on the Goal Box line (Doug only plays 7v7 so there aren't a lot of players on the field).

Doug's Stopper kept the opposing Forward from being a threat and Doug's team kept the ball in his Attacking Third for the entire fourth quarter, earning four corners kicks, hit the post once. Toward the end, the opposing coach packed in ALL 6 of his field players on the Goal Box line and had a wall of defenders. Finally, at the last second, the extra Striker Doug had moved up hammered a low shoelace drive past the opposing Goalkeeper to equalize just prior to the final whistle, the referee signaled the goal and the end of the match at the same time. Doug's team advanced to the final because of goal differential in his other matches.

Obviously, this was very exciting! The other coach probably thinks that Coach Doug got lucky, but this wasn't luck at all. It was smart coaching and good training. The girl that scored was the youngest on his team (not his daughter, it was another good player, but not his best player, a 6 year old, and she blasted it past their packed in defense).

The other team's parents had only seen defensive soccer, not aggressive attacking play. They had never seen a Goalie out of the goal and didn't know it was allowed. They were complaining about Doug's Goalie being "all over the field". Doug let his Goalie (his Stopper in the Goalie shirt) attack all the way into his Attacking Third, and she took all the corner kicks and throw-ins, running back to be safe as soon as she took the Corner Kick or Throw In, then moving up to attack again.

In the fourth quarter Doug's team was in their Attacking Third ALL THE TIME. The reason was that toward the end, the opposing coach packed in ALL 6 of his field players on the Goal Box line and had a wall of defenders. This was a tactical error by the opposing coach - because there was NO threat of an attack, Doug was able to Push Up all of his players. Something similar happened in the 1998 World Cup when Paraguay almost beat France by using a packed in defense, but toward the end of the match made the same mistake of not leaving a Forward out as a breakaway threat and France finally won 1-0 by chipping the ball softly into the middle of Paraguay's packed-in defense. "Packing In" the defense can be an effective strategy against a superior team, BUT if you do this, you MUST leave at least one fast Forward toward the Halfway Line as a breakaway threat - doing so will usually keep 2 of the opposing Fullbacks off your half of the field and makes your opponent worry about the threat of a breakaway. Even better, also leave a Midfielder out some so you have the threat of a real attack. If you can get the ball of your half and make your opponent move most of their players away from your goal, you will obviously be better off. If an opponent stays in your Defensive Third long enough, they will probably score.

A Lesson About Pushing Up to Support the Attack at U8: One thing Coach Doug has reminded me of is that at U8 most teams can safely Push Up their Fullbacks to support their attack. The reason is because the opposing teams usually aren't good enough to launch a fast counterattack. If I was coaching U8, I would Push Up my Fullbacks on the attack and only Defend Deep if I was giving up goals on breakaways. That means you need to have a back-up plan in mind and be ready to make adjustments if necessary.

I think there are some good lessons here and that is why I'm sharing this story.

If you have a great story like this, please send it to me and I will share it.

David at SoccerHelp