This is our seventh post in the Possession Series here. This is a follow on from our Movement off Ball installment.

In our previous post we defined some ground rules for what constituted acceptable off-ball movement. As your players get very good at the keep away style drills and you move into more realistic game scenarios, you’ll want to build on their knowledge and help implement a bit of tactics to your coaching.

When your opponent has the ball, your players will instinctively be drawn toward the ball. Up to a point this is what you what. You want to make their field of play very small. You want your team to recognize that when they have the ball, the opponent will naturally make their field of play smaller. So it becomes very important that your players understand that when they have the ball, they need to create the width necessary so that the player with the ball can advance beyond the first line of pressure.

You want the other team to have to cover the most distance to chase you down (like we covered in Playing from the Spot). This is the corollary instruction for the players off ball. When trying to create the most width and spacing possible, feet and inches matter. So add these coaching points to your keep away style drills and small-sided games:

  • Don’t stand inside the touchline when you can stand outside the touchline, use that extra yard or two to make the space bigger
  • Don’t check to the ball when the pressure is that way. If the pass split the defense, take the ball further away to make the defense chase further
  • Start teaching the players to recognize situations which require close support vs those where the player can and should play further away. If the ball carrier is not under heavy pressure and looking up, have them space further out to receive a longer pass. But under heavy pressure when the ball carrier’s head is down, they need to move closer to support

The next post in the series covers Passing Angles.