By Rob Smith
Offensive skills that you’ll teach your players are dribbling, passing, receiving, heading, shooting, continuous moving, and spreading out the attack. Improving these areas of the game will enable players to execute your desired offensive scheme during a match. These basic skills are the foundation for playing good soccer at any level.
Players need to be able to use both sides of their feet to dribble, while keeping the ball near the body and close to the feet. Players should first practice dribbling at slower paces, even while walking. The more comfortable they feel the faster they can pick up the pace. As the players improve they can dribble against opponents which will help them to learn to change speeds, direction, and shield the ball. To help young players, who have limited eye and foot coordination, to control the ball, teach them to keep the ball near their body.
Passes should be accurate and players should release them with the right timing. Passing is what ties teammates together during a game. Short passes are used most often because they are easy to control. Long passes can be either on the ground or in the air. To make a short pass, players should plant the nonkicking foot alongside the ball, square the hips and shoulders to the receiver, swing the kicking foot straight at the center of the ball, and follow through. To make a long pass, simply kick underneath the ball with the top of the foot.
A ball is usually received with the foot although it can be done with just about any part of the body. Receiving a ball that’s on the ground with the inside of the foot provides the most surface are and is the best method for younger players. Basically, receiving is about knowing how to cushion the ball as it comes in or it will bounce away. Have players learn to cushion the impact of the ball by relaxing the foot as the ball contacts it.
Heading is usually performed incorrectly because coaches often don’t’ know the exact technique themselves. Use an underinflated ball to practice juggling with the forehead. Have players thrust the body forward to meet the ball and clench the neck muscles, keeping the neck firm while driving forward.
A good shot is similar to a good pass in that it’s accurate and has the correct timing. Shots can come from the inside or outside of the foot. Players should approach the ball from behind and at a slight angle with shoulders and hips square to the target. The eyes should be focused on the ball. Extend the kicking foot, keeping the knee of the kicking leg directly over the ball. Then, whip the kicking leg straight and contact the center of the ball with the instep. Finally, follow through by keeping the kicking leg pointing towards the goal.
Offensive players are easy to defend if they’re standing still, so encourage players to move continuously to an open area at all times to receive passes from teammates.
Spread the Attack
Players should keep a good amount of distance, if they can, between each other on the field. By spreading out, the team can open up space for passing and scoring possibilities.