Principles of play are the foundations from which a lot of curricula are built as coaches seek to teach players the broader aspects of the game. Players are set up with the information and ideas needed to make good decision's within the game. Here we take a look at the Principles of Attacking and the ways in which they can be applied to small sided games.

Penetration

This is option number one. If a player can penetrate by taking players on or finding a defense splitting pass that gets us closer to goal - this is what we're looking for. Can we find ways to get through the opposition either by dribbling, passing or shooting.

 
 The attacker takes the defender on 1 v. 1 in order to penetrate and go to goal.

The attacker takes the defender on 1 v. 1 in order to penetrate and go to goal.

 

Support

The next principle looks at the players that don't have the ball and the way in which they are supporting the player on the ball. This could be a player checking away from their man to show for the ball, a midfielder finding a passing lane to receive the ball or perhaps a defender being in position to receive the ball back if they turn. Supporting players should consider the degree to which they've separated themselves (from the ball, teammates and the opposition) in order to find space. Furthermore, good supporting positions may depend on the distance and angle of their position too.

 
 Player 1 offers support to the attackers left to receive the ball or complete a give and go.

Player 1 offers support to the attackers left to receive the ball or complete a give and go.

 

Mobility

This is effectively a players movement and is often confusing terminology for a young player to hear. In order to offer support, mobility is often required in order to separate from the opposition and find the correct distance/angle or lose a defender. This movement can also be used to make penetrating runs off the ball or to vacate spaces for teammates to use or creating passing lanes that the ball can travel through. A lot of mobility is dependent on timing and the cue of when, where and why to move.

 
 Player 2 makes a run in behind to receive the ball. If the defender tracks the run, this opens up the space for player 1 to penetrate.

Player 2 makes a run in behind to receive the ball. If the defender tracks the run, this opens up the space for player 1 to penetrate.

 

Width

Using the entirety of the field is useful for creating space and spreading defenders out. This can lead to greater support for the player on the ball and more room for mobility. If there is a lack of width (and length) then the defenders will gravitate towards the opposition and ball, closing down what little space remains.

 
 The midfielders split wide and the striker stays high, giving the player on the ball three options or the space to dribble and penetrate.

The midfielders split wide and the striker stays high, giving the player on the ball three options or the space to dribble and penetrate.

 

Improvisation

Creativity in young players is possibly my favorite principle of attacking and one of the hardest to coach. My belief is that creative players are ones that have a vast library of moves, tricks, flicks and abilities with all different surfaces of their body. They are also players that have been afforded the opportunity to try things in their own time or training environment. That being said, players need to be shown things, either to replicate or riff off of as they try their own moves. Showing players examples of what they might try (or even demonstrating/playing in games) can help showcase creative ways to solve a problem they may not have seen before.

 

Something as simple as sharing a video of professional players trying moves can be enough to inspire your players to do the same.

 

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