Space and Time

What You Will Learn:

  • Soccer can be viewed as a battle between two teams trying to use time and space to maximum effect. To understand these concepts, and how they affect all other factors in the game, is to understand football.
  • "Having the run"
  • "Timing"

Coaches and players need to be aware of both the defensive and attacking use of time and space and timing if they are to really understand the tactical side of the game. If you look at every situation in soccer in terms of time and space you will be able to explain it. Defending is about denying time and space in critical areas. Attacking is about creating space and finding space, about moving the ball quickly, probing the oppositions defensive position, testing their concentration and waiting for a player to be out of position to pounce.

A football game between two sides who are well organised, and whose players have reasonable technique and tactical awareness, will follow a similar pattern. The attacking team will spread out. The defending team will compress the area around the ball and avoid leaving an "easy ball" for the opposition in to the space between the back four and keeper. This will leave space out wide away from the ball.

If a ball can be moved quickly from end to end, and side to side, it makes life more difficult. (John Peacock, Insight, winter 2004).

The object of the game is for the attacking team to get the ball into this space and move forward. This is often done by switching from one side of the pitch to the other and moving forward gradually as the "easy ball" over the top is not available. The defending team will try to stop this. If the attacking side moves the ball quickly, players support each other, and have reasonable technique, they will get the ball to the opposition's 18 yard line.

They will then try to deliver the ball into the penalty area. Three things can then happen.

Timing is the link between time and space. It determines when a player arrives in a space. There are two elements we need to understand about timing.

Lets firstly look at "having the run".

Extra Tips

  • All players need to know their defensive role.

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