Coaching Corner: Attack Space

This past weekend, I watched a close game turn into a not-so-close game because one team forgot to attack space. Here’s what I’d tell them.

The game got away from you not because of the direct mistakes that turned into goals for the other team that you all were yelling at each other about.

Those mistakes are inevitable.

The problem is that ALL of you made the mistake of allowing the other team to shrink your margin of error so that any mistake was more costly.

That mistake was ignoring the open space on the field.

21 of 22 players were in your half and you all kept passing the ball short to feet, ignoring the open space in their half of the field.

Part of being able to play it out of the back is to know how to create the space to do that, increasing your margin of error so that a bad first touch, bad pass or miscommunication isn’t as costly.

To increase that margin of error, you need to attack the space they are giving you to force them to cover it.

In this case, they left their half wide open.

When they do that, clear it long from defense, or look for through balls from midfielders, to get the ball into that space.

On the turf field, with an especially bouncy ball, and the speed mismatches we had on our wings (our wingers were faster than their outside backs), I’d aim those long balls to their corners.

Do this a few times, set up some legit scoring chances, maybe even get a couple of goals, and their back line will drop back to keep that from happening, opening more space on your side of the field to attack, increasing your margin of error and improving your chances with building out of the back.

Sometimes the space will be right in front of you, in that case attack it by carrying into it. This will draw coverage and open space elsewhere.

Sometimes it will be on the other side. In that case, attack it by learning how to switch to that space quickly.

The point is, be aware of where the space is and attacking it will be to your advantage.

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