Individual tactical principles

Basic tactics begin to take shape as soon as a child is able to understand how to take up a position in open space. In the child’s mind, the game is all-important and all of his/her decisions will be based on attacking play to score goals.

At grassroots level, the importance of this part of the game cannot be over-estimated as young children often cannot visualise what happens next in a given situation. Playing the game helps a child to get used to imaginary situations and develop boundless creativity, which of course includes creating spaces.

The type of game played enables the child to develop his/ her capacities of perception, which will enhance his/her psychomotor skills. Consequently, movement with and without the ball creates the idea of tactics. This culture begins to develop as soon as a child learns how to read a game, which leads him/her to team play solutions. The movement of players creates fl uid, attacking play with the objective of a team demonstrating its superiority by scoring goals.

Therefore, if a player has any shortcomings in his/her perception skills, some of his/her stimulations will be incorrect and this will be the difference between an average player and a very good player.

How to teach tactics

  • Allow the children to play (small-sided games etc.)
  • Provide content (tactical culture)
  • Set up relevant situations (themed games)
  • Set up situations/problems (attack/defence with instructions to opponents) 
  • Free or directed play with review and dialogue with the players

Behaviour in matches

There are two situations in a match that require different behaviour:

Team in possession of the ball

  • Move forward
  • Lose markers
  • Support/backup
  • Passes, dribbling, shots

Team does not have possession of the ball

  • Fall back while facing the ball
  • Covering (slow down the opponents’ progress)
  • Marking
  • Interceptions
  • Duels 

General principles

  1. All players must help their team-mates.
  2. Everyone participates in attack.
  3. Everyone participates in defence.
  4. Defence starts as soon as the ball is lost.

The main individual tactics are simple principles that a player learns in order to make the best decisions during a particular passage of play. 

Main individual tactics for attacking

  • Play the ball immediately, don’t let your team-mates lose their markers for nothing. Lose your marker immediately after passing the ball.
  • Always try to be in an unmarked position.
  • Pass and get into position to:
    • help a team-mate,
    • call for the ball,
    • support a team-mate.
  • Avoid unnecessary confrontations. It is better to eliminate an opponent quickly than take the longer option of dribbling around them.

When faced by an opponent

  • take the ball to the opposite side of your opponent;
  • get away from your opponent by using quick bursts, feints and sudden changes of direction;
  • take the ball to the left and then pass to the right and vice versa;
  • do not carry the ball too far, progress should be made by short touches with the ball close to the body;
  • use cross-pitch balls to a team-mate in a good position;
  • avoid playing down the centre in your own half, if the ball is lost it could be dangerous;
  • don’t pass the ball into crowded areas, play it to a teammate who is in free space;
  • play the ball between two opponents to a team-mate who calls for it;
  • always support a team-mate who has the ball;
  • run to meet the ball, don’t wait for it to come to you;
  • don’t let the ball go past without controlling it, otherwise an opponent may get there first;
  • be encouraged to dribble against an opponent (depending on the situation);
  • play in a sensible, simple, useful manner. This is the most difficult thing to achieve. This is how a good player can be recognised  

Main individual tactics for defending

  1. Always keep yourself between your opponent and your own goal.
  2. Always watch your opponent and the ball.
  3. Try to counter the opponents’ attacking build-up as soon as possible by marking.
  4. Don’t give your opponent space, slow your opponent down when he/she runs with the ball (shutting down).
  5. Slow an attack down (shutting down).
  6. Try to get to the ball before your opponent, or otherwise hinder him/her when he/she receives the ball.
  7. Contest all balls.
  8. Mark your opponent on the side of the ball, in other words the side where he/she will make the pass.
  9. When a high ball comes in, jump a moment earlier than your opponent.
  10. Do not dribble in your own penalty area.
  11. Avoid cross-pitch passes from the outside to the inside.
  12. Play on the outside along the touchline.
  13. Don’t hit the ball randomly, build an attack from the back.
  14. If you lose the ball, strive to recover it.
  15. Avoid ineffective tackles, don’t throw yourself at an opponent who has the ball. Wait until your opponent changes the weight on his/her feet before challenging him/her.
  16. Never turn your back on an attacker.
  17. Push your opponents towards the touchline.
  18. Carefully follow play, even if the ball is far away.
  19. A good defender never gives up.
  20. The goalkeeper must command his/her area.