Space and movement

Soccer, although it is played with a ball, is really a game of space and movement without the ball. Unlike some other sports, (baseball, for instance), soccer does not really have positions. Rather, players have differing responsibilities which change as the ball and the other players move about the field. In a strict sense, only the goal keeper really has a “position” to play.

Once your players have attained proficiency in the basic techniques of receiving, passing and shielding a football, you can introduce them to the fact that they will actually only spend a relatively small amount of time (perhaps as little as three or four minutes in every hour) with the ball at their feet.

Your players need to understand that they will actually spend around 90% of every game supporting their team-mate with the ball or moving into a position where they could receive the ball if the player in possession chose to pass. Knowing where they need to be at any given moment of a soccer game is, therefore, just as an important a skill as passing or shooting. Perhaps it is even more important.

There are many games and drills that will allow young soccer players to practice finding the right space and position for themselves on the soccer field.

Equally, there are many that focus on providing support for each other. The simplest of these – keepaway – is used by coaches at every level.

Keepaway, however, can get a bit boring if the only objective is to string as many passes together as possible. This is, after all, not a ‘soccer like’ activity – there is no point in possession without a goal at the end. Children prefer to play games that have an identifiable end result to possession, like the one described below.

Spreading outSpreading out and positioning

Organisation

Grid is 60 yds x 40 yds
2 players (one at each end) on end lines who must use feet only-targets.
Retain possession until able to deliver ball to target
If successful in delivering ball to target, he returns the ball to the successful team and they attack the other end.
Use one neutral player (shown here in yellow) for both teams.

practicing movement, finding space and support play

Key points

  • ‘Spreading’ out as a team when in possession.
  • ‘Positioning’ in order to receive the ball in as much space as possible.
  • Appropriate controlling touch of the ball.
  • Pass forward accurately and sensitively wherever possible.
  • Movement to make forward passes possible: ahead of the ball and from behind the ball.