Principles of Attacking Play
The following principles are used to accomplish the primary objective in soccer – to create goal-scoring opportunities.
(1) Penetration – the most important objective of any attack is to penetrate the opponents defense. Penetration can be accomplished in a variety of ways:
- Dribbling through or past the opposing players.
- Passing the ball through or past the opposing team.
(2) Support – refers to the arrangement of teammates in front of, behind and to the side of the player in possession. These players offer immediate passing options that allow the team to maintain possession of the ball whilst trying to develop a successful attack.
(3) Width – refers to the spreading out across the field to disrupt the concentration (see defensive principles) of the defensive team. The idea is to try to force the opponent to spread out thus creating gaps that can be exploited and penetrated.
(4) Depth – refers to the positioning of teammates in advance of and behind the player in possession. Similar to support but includes teammates not offering immediate passing options.
(5) Mobility – refers to the ability of the attacking team to make runs off the ball to unbalance and disrupt the defensive team. Allows attackers to find and create space and forces defenders to make decisions. The aim is to create gaps to penetrate effectively.
(6) Improvisation – refers to a players ability to break down a defense out of nothing. A piece of skill, a trick, a creative pass or a piece of “magic” that is unexpected and catches the defensive team by surprise can lead to goal-scoring opportunities.