Soccer Offensive and Defensive Strategy

Offensive Strategies

Flick On

A flick on is a pass (usually in the air) to a teammate who has made a legal run behind the defense so they have an easy shot for a goal. The idea is to gain a shot opportunity with no defenders in the way between the attacker and the goalkeeper. A flick on is often a quick pass made instantly when the passing player receives the ball.

Pressing

Pressing is the strategy that requires aggressive man to man defense to create offensive chances. Pressing is based in defense, but mostly done so that the offense will have an opportunity to score right after a mistake, meaning the opposing team is not ready to defend. Pressing is when a team has its forwards high up the pitch closely marking the opponents back line of defenders in order to force a mistake.

Counter

Counter attacking strategy is the offensive plan built around allowing the opposing team to advance their attack, only to quickly regain possession for a quick scoring chance against less defenders. This strategy works best with very athletic and fast attackers, who can take advantage of less defenders with their speed. Teams that use counter attacking as their main offensive strategy will often have a minority of possession in the game.

Breakaways

Breakaways are when a player gains possession behind the defense and has a 1 on 1 opportunity vs the goalkeeper. Due to soccer's offsides rules, this usually requires great timing, or a great pass. A perfectly timed run will allow the player to be in line with the defense, and onside, while the pass is kicked. A forward pass, which is then headed further forward to a sprinting offensive player, is a called a flick-on.

Free Kick Strategy

If a foul is assessed and a free kick awarded near the goal, an offensive player who specializes in free kicks may try to score from the free kick spot (as long as it is a direct free kick). If it is an indirect free kick, they will try to kick the ball nearer the goal, where another player must touch it prior to scoring. These players will attempt to either head or kick it in. A header involves redirecting the ball with a player's head. This principle also applies to corner kicks, and to passes originating from near the touchlines called crosses (as they cross the field of play).

Defensive Strategies

While we've covered basic defensive concepts, let's get more technical and learn about strategies that defenses deploy from match to match.

Coverage

Defensive coverage refers to what a team's strategy is specific to a player or part of the pitch.

Man-To-Man

Man-To-Man defensive strategy is when a team assigns or dynamically chooses each player on their own team to defend a specific player on the opposing team. The idea is that by defending the player, the attacking team will make mistakes or the player will be subjected to a tackle and lose the ball.

Zone Coverage

Zone coverage defensive strategy is when a team assigns each defender a specific zone in a specific situation to defend. The idea is that if they are defending space, there is less chance for the defense to foul and less space to pass, so the opposing team will have their passes intercepted.

Offside Trap

The offside trap is a defensive strategy where the defensive team baits the attacking team into an offsides foul to gain back possession of the ball on a free kick. The idea is to gain possession of the ball without even tackling or intercepting the opposing team. This relies on all the defenders to communicate and move forward together in order for the attacking player to be caught behind them in an offside position.


Search Results