How to Get Easy Goals on Soccer Breakaways
9v9 Soccer Formations, 1-2-1-3-1
Dangers of Pushing Up Soccer Fullbacks
What Breakaways Can Teach Players
How to get soccer players to think and analyze their play
Success Story - 10 Year Old Rec Team Beats U12

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Below is a letter from a U11 coach playing a 9v9 soccer formation and my reply

Hi SoccerHelp,

We played the girls' U12 team last night that I had mentioned earlier (if you recall, my players are 10 years old). For the first couple of minutes of the game my girls were not looking like my girls. They were not hustling to win balls and they were bunching up. I asked the girls on the bench to find 2 negative things that our team was doing and 2 positive things our team was doing over the next few minutes. I wanted to make sure they watched the game and saw what I saw. I came back and asked them a few minutes later what they noticed. They mentioned the same things I had seen. My girls sorted it out after about 5 minutes and kept their spacing and really passed nicely the rest of the game. As this was a practice game, we played 3 twenty minute periods. So, after the first period I reminded everybody about hustling and winning 50/50 balls and keeping their spacing to at least a short pass away. I also backed that up with how I saw the change in the team after those first few minutes to better spacing and hustle.

My girls basically dominated the game. I used a 1 - 2 - 1 - 3 - 1. I think the score was 6 - 1. The ball was in our offensive half of the field more than half of the game and we had more shots on goal than they did. I noticed two things that really hurt the other team. 1.) Pushed up Fullbacks that could not keep up with my Forwards and Midfielders on breakaways. 2.) Their Forwards and Midfielders lacked good dribbling skills. More than just a few times they would have the ball while running and be making a simple cut and lose the dribble.

My girls groan a bit at Dribble Across a Square but I will be sure to explain why I use it and how it translates over to a game situation compared to the team we played last night that can't control a dribble. Also, I am still surprised at how many coaches play the FBs pushed up when on the attack. I understand the reasoning, but if those FBs are not as fast as the opponents Fs and MFs... you will give up goals on the breakaway. I think we had 3 of our goals on breakaways.

Coach Al, Premium Member


Hi Coach Al,

It's always great to hear from you.

I think you are really getting it together and predict a great season for you.

You're right about Dribble Across a Square - you will start to notice that your players are much better dribblers than your opponents. I agree that if you remind them of how it helps them, they won't complain about it. Also, be sure to ask each girl her score after each game and do it twice with the square 10 steps wide and then make the square 17 steps wide to practice breakaways, recognizing open space and acceleration into Open Space -- that will really help.

Coaches keep Pushing Up their Fullbacks to the Halfway Line because other coaches do and they think they are supposed to. What they don�t realize is that that�s just one Style of Play and there are lots of other possibilities between Pushing Up all the way and Defending Deep all the way (for example, they can leave one player at the top of the Penalty Box and push the others up). Pushing Up to the Halfway Line can work if their opponents don't counter that tactic the way you do (by using a fast counterattacking Style of Play), but if you leave fast Forwards pushed up to counterattack, and the opposing FBs are slower, then the result will be easy goals on breakaways. I would like to know what the other coach thinks the problem is. Basically, he just hasn't figured it out. Having said that, if a team�s Fullbacks are fast, then it might be safe for them to Push Up as long as their Fullbacks are as fast as the opposing Forwards, and if they Push Up it should result in more scoring by providing additional support for their attack. However, in the game you just played, it sounds like Pushing Up didn�t help that team score many goals, and it allowed you to score 3 goals on breakaways because your Forwards were faster than their Fullbacks.

I'll bet your girls LOVE those breakaways.

They are actually learning a lot from the breakaways -- the passers are learning how to pass the ball to open space (not too soft but not too hard), and the Forwards and MFs are larning how to shift and be ready for the pass to Open Space, how to position so they can get a fast break on the ball and to win those balls, how to Speed Dribble and the MFs are learning how to trail the play to support the ballhandler and be in position for rebounds. Perhaps the most important thing they are learning is the concept of using Open Space to their advantage and Passing to Space instead of always Passing to Feet.

I look forward to hearing about your future games and your team�s improvement.

David at SoccerHelp


Hi David,

Thanks. I think the other coach thought he was in for an easy time last night. He didn't know our age group and asked before the game started. I told him U 11. (They were a U12 team.) He said, "Really? How old are they?" I told him my players were all 10 years old. He kind of had the look like, "Oh man, you're going to get crushed."

And then my girls proceeded to... well, you know what happened.

Coach Al

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