The ability of players to create space on the field is key to effective attacking play. Coaches play an important role in helping young players understand how to look for and create space. In this tutorial we will teach you 4 keys to creating space, and then give you some tips and drills to use to teach this important skill to your players.
Four Keys to Creating space with the ball
Good ball control with a clean first touch is a key ingredient in creating space. The first touch allows the game to move on to the next play, whether it's a shot, dribble or pass. This means controlling the ball, keeping it alive and moving in enough space to make a decision and execute a play. Awareness before receiving will give the receiver the knowledge of where the defender is and where the space is. The first touch should move the player into the space and allow the ball to remain in the team's possession.
When in possession of the ball, attackers will be closed down by defenders, thus leaving space for supporting attackers. As the defender closes them down, the attacker must be aware of the space and position of their teammates within it and share the ball before the possibility to pass is closed down. This is particularly important in attacking overload situations where defenders can't cover all the attackers at once.
When running with the ball, space is left behind. Players who run with the ball should do so with the knowledge that when pressure comes and they can no longer progress, they can stop, turn around and use the space behind. Awareness of this can be made easier by doing a quick shoulder check to make sure the space is there.
Dribbling past defenders is an exciting part of the game but for the attacking team it is also means to create space. When an attacker beats a defender or two with a dribble, it unlocks the defensive strategy of the defending team by throwing them out of balance. This enables the attacking team to play in more time and space, often with overloads. The rewards for dribbling therefore are quite high.
How to coach players to create space:
1. Play lots of games in small, congested spaces, putting space at a premium.
2. Encourage players to check away and then toward the ball in all your passing exercises.
3. Encourage players to have their "head on a swivel."
4. Use overloaded attacking games such as "Drop the Goalie, "4 v 2 Transition Finishing" or rondos to encourage the recognition of space as well as encourage teammates to create space for each other.
5. Play numerous small sides games, from 2 versus 2 to 5 versus 5 and condition games so players must interchange positions.
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