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Coaches Blog

Sam's Blog is a bi-weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. Sam Snow is the Coaching Director for US Youth Soccer.

 

Player Development - General Tactics

Sam Snow

I encourage all coaches to take advantage of the free documents and newsletters on the US Youth Soccer website. Here then is an excerpt from the US Youth Soccer Player Development Model – Spatial Awareness.

Tactics in General

Tactics may be defined as the art of planned and rational play, adjusted to meet game situations in the best way possible. Tactical awareness, to some extent, is a matter of talent (mental and physical); it can be developed to a considerable degree by suitable activities, coaching and age appropriate training.

A player’s tactical ability and experience can be judged by the extent to which the player can use both practical and theoretical knowledge in match play. Tactical experience is relative to age, individual characteristics and the soccer environment in which a player grows.

As players grow through the zones in the player development pyramid they internalize game concepts. Understanding soccer has a lot to do with recognizing and using space on the field, whether attacking or defending. Tactical examples are given throughout the document of how players can learn to utilize space on the field. Using space on the field requires intelligent movement and positioning. It is said that 98% of the game at the top level is spent without the ball -- various ‘locomotor’ movements, etc. Off-the-ball movement is at the heart of quality soccer.

Soccer players need to learn when to run and when to not run. There are times when it is tactically correct to not run. They also need to learn at what angle to run. Far too many American players run constantly in straight lines on the field. Coaches must teach players when to make straight runs and when to make diagonal, square and bent runs. Of course these runs could be forward or backward on offense or defense.

Players must also learn about the timing of runs, when to start and when to stop. With a novice player most off-the-ball runs start too early so the player is marked up once he or she arrives in the space where he or she hopes to meet the ball. Directly incorporated to the timing of runs is the pace of the run. Recovery runs on defense are probably going to be all out. Tracking runs on defense will have to match the pace of the opponent being marked. Many, but not all, attacking runs without the ball will start off slow or at a moderate pace and then accelerate at the last moment darting past an opponent to meet the pass.

Two factors must evolve for youth players to intentionally use off-the-ball runs. Psychosocially they must grow out of the ego-centric phase. Additionally, they must mature in their ability to estimate distance and angle. Over time, these factors improve with players thus leading to the possibility of meaningful off-the-ball runs.

You can download the full document here: http://www.usyouthsoccer.org/us_youth_soccer_releases_spatial_awareness_coaching_guide/

 

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