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 Home Coaching > A Brief Overview of Tactical Principles

A Brief Overview of Tactical Principles



  1. Immediate Chase:

    • Players should know that as soon as the ball is lost, the defensive responsibilities begin. The player who lost the ball and those nearby players must give an immediate chase. (DO NOT LET THE ATTACK GET SET). Meanwhile the rest of the team should be positioned to defend the attack.

  2. Fall Back and Delay:

    • After an immediate chase has taken place, the player marking (defending) the man with the ball should give ground intelligently by jockeying the attacker toward the sidelines. This will provide his/her team mates time to prepare and organize their defence.

  3. Balance:

    • The player who is applying pressure on the ball must be supported by a team mate. If the player with the ball gets by the defender, support is there to close him down immediately.

  4. Concentration:

    • The defence should be trained in an organized fashion to protect the most vital area of the field, the Goal Area. This is achieved by the defenders forming an arc of concentration in front of the goalmouth. If this is executed properly, this will force the opponents into attempting shots from undesirable angles, or into making undesirable passes.

  5. Control and Restraint:

    • Defensive players must possess control and self-discipline when challenging and opponent with the ball. The player must learn not to commit too early when tackling the ball. Rather, the player should close down the opponent first and then try to force a poor pass or a dribble before attempting to tackle.


  1. Slow Build Up:

    • In a slow build up, once the team gains the possession of the ball, the team starts to build the attack by slowly advancing towards the net. This is done by dribbling into empty space and with a combination of short passes. Total team support must be established in order to achieve this advancement. A team, which controls the mid-field space, will reign superior over its opponent.

  2. Counter Attack:

    • Principally this requires instantaneous role reversal from defensive to offensive. The more rapid the advancement of the ball into the goal area, keeps the attacking opponent off-guard. Movement back down the ball is achieved through running to open spaces, one touch passes, long passes and wall passes.


In the attacking game, it is essential for the team in possession of the ball to create time and space, in order to correctly prepare for a gainful shot on the goal. Naturally, while this is the key to the offensive team, the defence of the opponent is positions to prohibit time and space.

  1. Mobility:

    • If the offensive team is in constant motion, with and without the ball, this makes marking for the opposing defence relatively difficult. This provides an ideal situation for the offence to lure their defensive counterparts into unproductive positions. Several means of effective mobility are:

      • Diagonal Runs

      • Bending Runs

      • Blind-side Runs

      • Sideline Runs

  2. Combination Play:

    • Once again in continuous motion, two or more offensive players and mid-field players making short and long passes (mainly one touch give and go's) can throw the defence off-balance. Passes can range from short distance to long distance passes.

  3. Improvisation:

    • Dribbling can be one of the most gainful means of destroying the alignment of a defence, if it is done properly. Dribbling is best used when the offensive team is guaranteed position of the ball.

  4. Support:

    • In order to use the principles of attack, the offensive team must have depth. The mid-field players must come into the offensive picture. At the same time, the attacking players must have runs without the ball penetrating into the opponents' defence within passable distance and positions.

  5. Finish:

    • Without proper finishing, all attacking manoeuvres are wasted. To be effective, shots on goal must be accurate and under control. Much practice time should be spent on developing shot consistency and accuracy to put the finishing touches on the attack.

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