Posts Tagged ‘offside trap’

Simple Tips that will Significantly Impact Games

May 3, 2010

As I approach my one-hundredth post, I have learned the following:

  • Gore sells. Besides the home page, my most popular post was the one about Aaron Ramsey’s broken leg.
  • Initially, I thought I only had ideas for 25 or 30 posts. I now know I have what seems like an endless supply of material to write about.
  • My content must be OK as Soccer America has reprinted five articles to date and Potomac Soccer Wire reprints one of my posts weekly.
  • I have learned that most soccer blogs cover professional games, leagues, and players. Very few blogs are dedicated to improving youth soccer for an audience of youth coaches, players, and parents.

The other day I was looking at the page hits and noticed that a set of very valuable articles I wrote early on has not gotten the love or attention I feel they deserve. I have written 20 articles that start with the title, “2-3 Goal Difference per Game”. These were written primarily for coaches who tend to over-coach, place too much importance on the X’s and O’s, and don’t let their players go out and have fun and make mistakes.

Soccer, especially at the youth level, should be about free play and only a few coaches’ instructions during games. These articles include simple coaching tips that should be easy for players to understand and learn quickly. These tips will dramatically affect the outcome of a game. While player development, and not winning, should be a youth coach’s ultimate goal, increasing a team’s chances of winning without compromising development and fun is not a bad thing either.

You will find the subject matter and respective links to the 20 articles below. Enjoy!

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Playing Out-of-Position is Good

February 1, 2010

A friend reminded me the other day of an old soccer saying. It goes something like, “Good forwards make the best defenders and good defenders make the best forwards”. There is a lot of truth to this saying.

Any good forward is always trying to figure out how to get the upper-hand on the defense. Over time, forwards have learned plenty of tricks to help them beat defenders. Now imagine that same forward playing defense. He/she, knowing many of the offensive strategies and tricks, will instinctively know how to deal with them. For example, he/she is unlikely to get caught directly behind a forward where an accidental bump or a dreaded phantom touch will send the forward crashing to the ground, resulting in a free kick, penalty, and possible expulsion.

The same is true of defenders. Deficiencies a defensive player may have are most likely shared by other defenders. In addition, a good defender should know how certain defensive formations can be exploited. Equipped with this knowledge will give a defender playing forward a tremendous advantage over the other team. Who is best equipped to beat an offside trap than a player who has been employing the trap for years?

Players, you should view ‘playing out-of-position’ as a great opportunity. First of all, you will surprise yourself at how well you do, I promise. Secondly, by playing other positions, you will become a better, more well-rounded soccer player. Also, you will develop an appreciation for other positions, especially when you have to play keeper. If your coach has not offered you this opportunity, ask. At some point in your career, perhaps during a tryout with another team, you are going to be asked to play other positions. That I can also promise.

Coaches, how often have you surprised yourself when a player exceeds all expectations at a position you knew he/she would not and could not play? It happens all the time. As a youth coach, I strongly encourage you to play your kids in all positions. The worst thing a coach can do to a young player is pigeon-hole him/her to one position. With older players who may be labeled as a good forward, defender, or goalkeeper, or who have stated that they only play one position, switch them around. Although you are likely to hear plenty of complaints and even receive a few parent phone calls, give it a shot. It will make those players and your team better.

2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: No Offside Traps

September 3, 2009

I don’t get it. The offside trap is one of the most difficult defensive strategies to implement successfully, yet I see coach after coach yelling at their young players to play an offside trap, especially on free kicks inside the offensive third. My recommendation is that no teams U14 and under should ever employ this tactic. I would even question if older teams should employ it. It is simply too risky and more often than not will lead to more and better scoring opportunities for the other team. These are some reasons why the offside trap is a bad idea:

  • It takes precise defensive coordination to apply an offside trap. All players must be on the same page and must know and when and when not to push up to put the offense in an offside opposition. Invariably, one or more defensive players will not move up which will keep an offensive player onside. Professional players have a hard enough time playing an offensive trap. Just don’t do it!
  • You assume the assistant referee (if there is one) will call the offside correctly. Oftentimes at the younger age groups, the assistant referees (ARs) are just a few years older than the players and they are just learning to be referees. Many of the young ARs don’t follow the second-to-last defender so they will not be in a good position to call the offside. In addition, calling the offside correctly is one of the most difficult calls to make in soccer given the new interpretation of the offside law. Just don’t do it!
  • The new offside law makes it OK for an offensive player to be in an offside if they are not playing the ball or are not directly involved in the play. This makes the call of the AR that much more difficult and uncertain. Just don’t do it!

Offensive Strategy

If you are fortunate enough to be playing a team which believes in the offside trap, count your blessings and count on more scoring opportunities. The best way to counter an offside trap is to:

  • Test the offside trap. The defense needs to be well-coordinated to pull off a successful offside trap. Test them early in the game to see how well they do. If you have several offside calls made against you, so what.
  • Kick the ball across the field into open space. The player the defense is least worried about is the opposite winger. As long as that winger is alert and has some speed, they will get plenty of scoring opportunity.
  • Confuse the defenders. Have an offensive player stand in an offside position. The defense will become pre-occupied with that player and will often forget the whereabouts of other players. As long as this player does not play the ball or is not involved in the play, she will not be called for an offside infraction. A few offside calls against you will be well worth the confusion this player generates. If the referee and AR are calling this player offside when she is not, abandon this idea.
  • If a player is in an offside position and the ball is passed her way, have her stand like a statue or simply turn away from the ball. This indicates to the referee and AR that she has no intention of playing the ball. Good referees and ARs will not whistle this infraction. While the defenders and other coach are appealing for a call, have another offensive player from an onside position, chase after the ball. Use good referees and ARs to your advantage.