Soccer Tactics

Your players may have mastered some of the skills of the game but without effective soccer tactics, they will struggle to win matches. The articles in this section look at how to develop tactical awareness in your team and how to get the best out of your players in particular situations. These soccer drills will help give your players a deeper understanding of soccer tactics, and will help them realise their own potential.

  • Soccer coaching tips to boost player throw ins - Everyone in your team must be able to throw the ball in. Forget designated throwers and use the following soccer coaching tips to help your players improve their throw-in skills.


  • Soccer coaching tips and drills for defending corners -

    Giving players specialist positions during matches can be effective and if you're conceding a lot of goals from corners, you need a player to stand BIG at the front of your penalty area to block the corner taker. With the help of the following soccer coaching tips and drills, you need never concede from a corner again.



  • How to take a free kick -

    Learning how to take a free kick can be pivotal to a team's chances of success, and there is nothing more satisfying than bending the ball over the wall into the back of the net. Get yourself down to the soccer pitch, so that at the next training session you can show your free kick takers how it's done.



  • Soccer coaching tips for short corners - Having problems with corners? A good tip is to take them short, it’s an easy way to goal.


  • How to change your tactics to benefit your game - Changing tactics is something every soccer coach has to consider when he can't find a winning combination. Young players need to begin their soccer careers with a sound understanding that tactics matter.


  • Soccer coaching tips and drills for quick free kicks - Free-kicks are given so you have an advantage over your opponents - make sure your players are prepared to make the most of them. One way to do this is by catching the opposition off their guard, says David Clarke.


  • Strategy tips for corners -

    Build a defensive strategy for your team by drilling your players so they know just what they're doing at set plays, such as defending corners at 11-a-side.

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  • Soccer drill tips for taking winning free kicks - Get your players to practise tactical free-kicks on the edge of the penalty area and you can pull a defence apart, says David Clarke.


  • Free kick soccer drill - Lots of practice is the secret to taking a successful free kick and to make this fun for your young players, try the following soccer drill using either a portable wall or cones to shield the goal.


  • Free kick soccer drill using dummy trick - Free-kicks are often wasted in youth soccer. You need to put some thought into how to set up your team to make best use of a free kick and drill the skills in coaching sessions.


  • Soccer drill to help players take corners - A corner taker must be able to take corners - that means you have to coach him. This is the soccer drill session I use to coach these vital skills. Try it and see what a huge difference it makes to the way your players kick the ball.


  • Soccer coaching tips for penalties - What is the best tactic to coach players to try when taking a penalty? Should players wait for the goalkeeper to move or hit it low and hard into the bottom corner without looking at the goalkeeper?


  • Small sided soccer game to boost quick thinking skills - If you have been working on getting your soccer (football) players to practise quick throw-ins during training, why not round the session off with a quick 4v4 game to put their quick-thinking throw-in skills to the test.


  • Coach clever corner positions - Help your soccer players make the most of the situation when they're taking corners by coaching one or two players - depending on whether it's 7 or 11-a-side - so that they lurk just outside the penalty area on the corner nearest the corner-taker.


  • Corner tactics for windy days - Coach your soccer (football) players so that they know how to take corner kicks on match days when the weather is windy.


  • Soccer coaching kick off tips - Get your team to make the most of having the ball at kick-off. The best way to do this is to put pressure on with a clever pass. Use this soccer (football) drill to coach your young players to use tactics at kick off.


  • Soccer coaching tips for zonal defending on corners - Why leave defending corners to chance when, with a bit of organisation, you can improve your team’s chances of keeping the ball out of the back of the net? Use these zonal defending soccer coaching tips to help.


  • Man to man defending corners tactic - Zonal marking is one way of defending corners, but another soccer tactic to coach is man-to-man, which involves your defenders selecting an attacking player and following them closely.


  • Free kick soccer drill with a nutmeg - Coach your soccer (football) players to dummy the ball and fool the opposition at a free-kick.


  • Corner trickery soccer drill - Young soccer players love trickery in matches and they enjoy practising these skills during soccer (football) coaching sessions. This corner trick is clever, fun and very effective. 


  • Counter attack soccer coaching tips - Coaching your soccer (football) players to stand forward of the near post at corners is an excellent way of winning the ball and starting a quick counter-attack. The opposition will have only one or two players back and if your players react quickly they can charge out of defence and overlap to outnumber the opposition. Use these soccer drill tips to show your players how this works.


  • Coach throw in skills to help players keep possession - This soccer coaching session is all about keeping possession from throw-ins. Teams should benefit when they get a throw-in and be positive in their distribution of the ball. Learning how to become effective at keeping possession could provide your team with another route to goal.


  • Formation option for seven a side soccer teams - Formations are the blueprint for your football (soccer) team's tactics. Within those formations your players need to exploit their positions to be successful. Here I look at the pros and cons of a 2-2-2 formation at 7-a-side and how it works.


  • Risky soccer tactics when your players are defending corners - It was during a match I was refereeing last season that I first came up with the idea of leaving defenders outside the penalty area when defending corners. One of the teams I was refereeing managed to give away a goal at every corner they faced in the first half.


  • Soccer coaching tips to help players create space with throw ins - Creating space is something coaches talk about all the time because if your team has space to work in, it is easier for them to keep possession of the ball. One of the ways to create space that I work on with my players is from the throw-in. Try the following soccer coaching tips to help your players achieve this.


  • Soccer coaching tips to build a defensive wall - Every so often a team will score a great goal from a free kick that is almost impossible for any defence or goalkeeper to keep out. When this happens it gives you a great coaching point to talk to your players about – always try to take something from conceding a goal.


  • Free kick soccer coaching drill with homage to Barcelona - Those soccer (football) coaches who don't get their players to practise free kicks should take some time to watch Barcelona. The Barcelona players have developed fast, creative, defence-splitting set-piece situations, which they use alongside the curling shot into the top corner.


  • Combining pace and aggression on the football pitch - Combining pace and aggression going forward with the ability to track is a style inspired by one of the best in the game, Chelsea's Frank Lampard.


  • Soccer coaching tip for the swerve shot - One good technique to teach your players is the swerve shot because it is easier than a lot of the other and is very useful for your players because they can run and practise shooting – if it goes straight they should try again and again until they are making a good attempt at it.


  • Support play in soccer - the progressive defender - Youth coaches will often spend a lot of time working on how attackers can move into shooting positions, but they spend less time on how a defensive player can help during attacks.


  • Soccer coaching session to achieve a competitive edge - When you want to start coaching your players to have a competitive edge, I find it best to work them in 1v1s where they are concentrating only on their opponent and the ball.


  • Soccer coaching session forcing the shape and direction of play - This session is about reacting to different situations in a mini tournament-style exercise. It helps players to force the shape and direction of play.


  • Soccer coaching tips on adapting Total Football - The legacy of Total Football: Ajax manager Jack Reynolds was an English footballer who moved to The Netherlands during the outbreak of the First World War.

    His innovative football formation was the basis for Ajax's first eight league title successes. Rinus Michels further developed the concept for the Dutch national team during the 1970s.


  • Soccer coaching session to make actions easier to remember - Repeating an action helps players memorise what they have to do and recognise when that action can be most effective during a match. The repetition of the action makes it easier for your players to remember it – the easier the action is, the easier it is to remember. This simple session called "Action replay" can give your players the ability to pick up the ball near the penalty area and make creative runs into the area opening it up for a shot or killer pass.


  • Develop your soccer team's all-round game - The theory goes that getting teams to construct moves from deep helps them develop their all-round game in the right way. And it's a good theory – one that will benefit most teams – but it does take practice.


  • Soccer tactics for the throw-in - Throw-ins are a big part of soccer matches. It's the only time outfield players can use their hands to put the ball where they want. So players need to make the most every opportunity they get to throw the ball.


  • Soccer coaching session making the most of your wingers - Flying wingers are the attacking darlings of any team, spreading play wide and exploiting the space behind a retreating defence.


  • Soccer coaching session on attacking - Using unopposed exercises for build-up and combination play in attack is a good way of coaching your players to move the ball and it encourages movement to support the ball as play moves around the pitch.


  • Soccer coaching session for strikers to shoot from angles - One of the best goals I have seen recently is the one by Ramires in Chelsea's Champions League semi-final against Barcelona. He scored from an angle, chipping the goalkeeper with a classy finish.


  • Creating space to receive a soccer pass - By creating space before receiving a pass, a player will avoid immediate pressure, giving himself time to make good decisions with the ball and a chance to execute them.


  • Soccer coaching game to win the ball back - A good defence will be able to pressure its opponent into making a mistake. The rule of this session is that the nearest player to the ball must go to pressure the player in possession.


  • Long throws made easy - From being an almost forgotten tactic, the merits and appreciation of the throw-in have really now filtered back into the consciousness of coaches throughout the game.


  • Practise passing to create more goal scoring opportunities - If every team got its players to use passes with purpose they would be much more successful in creating goalscoring opportunities. And by the same token, nothing will destroy a team more than inaccurate passing.


  • All players, all positions - a Mourinho session - When Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho oversees the development of his youth teams, one of the main points he gets across is that players need to be all-rounders - able to play in any position.


  • 20 seconds' possession to score - I invented this game, in which the team in possession has 20 seconds to score or the ball is given back to the opposition. This creates a fast game with players shooting at every opportunity.


  • Passing and communicating with team mates - This session is all about learning to communicate with your team mates so they know what each other is doing.


  • Test your players' technique with this circuit - This is a good warm-up for your training sessions - a circuit that tests your players' basic technique. It's a really good circuit because it involves everyone, moves quickly and it's great fun.


  • The importance of communication in soccer games - Communication is the buzzword here, and you may well discover your next club captain through this simple game!


  • Successful corners - the drifter - You know the routine, we practise it every week!" – why do most teams have one idea for a corner and stick with it? Corners are a great opportunity to create scoring opportunities because you are taking an unopposed kick close to goal.


  • Throw-in frenzy - Use this game to encourage and improve the use of quick throw-ins to gain an advantage.


  • Six steps to using demonstrations to coach young players - Demonstrations are a very powerful way of giving information to young players. Here are six steps to ensure your demonstrations have the effect you want.




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