The Seven Deadly Sins of Soccer

Since we previously looked at the 10 Commandments of Soccer I thought it might do us well to consider the Seven Deadly Sins Of Soccer today. Whereas the commandments focused on possession and attacking play the sins will take a look at defensive mistakes that lead to goals.

Why Goals are Scored
The Seven Deadly Sins of Soccer

The vast majority of goals scored come from an area defined by imaginary lines extending from the goal post through the corner of the six yard box to the corner of the 18 yard box – the area directly in front of the goal. Keep the defense tight and compact with immediate and intense containing pressure combined with double teams when the ball is in this area of the field.

1) Lack of pressure on the man with the ball. Think of the forward that breaks through for an uncontested shot. Or the midfielder with enough space to play the ball forward to the striker or to strike from distance himself. Any player that can play the ball forward uninhibited by strong containing pressure from a defender poses problems for the defense.

2) Lack of support for the player applying pressure to the ball. Attackers look for 1v1 opportunities in the attacking third. Here the return is worth the risk. Defenders try to limit these situations. They try to keep enough players behind the ball so that when the first defender is beaten another is close enough to control the damage. We must maintain arrow and hockey stick support for the pressure defender.

3) Giving the ball away. The careless square pass in midfield that puts an opponent in a 1 v 1 situation with a defender. A weak attempted clearance. Or a lost throw-in in the defending third. Taking one extra touch on the ball in the defending third allowing an opponent to apply enough pressure to force a mistake. Possession of the ball is to be valued. We must care for it carefully always but especially in our defending third.

4) Restarts. This is an opportunity for the attackers to use a rehearsed play. It is also impossible for the defenders to put pressure directly on the player with the ball. We must form a wall quickly and efficiently. Hold the restraining line as high as possible. Keep the six yard box clear to provide the keeper with a good line of sight to the ball.

5) Failure to track players down. When opponent's run at the defense late and from deep positions the defenders are faced with a significant soccer problem. The backs focus on the immediate threat – the ball and the opposing players closest to goal. The midfielders focus on the secondary threats – the opposing player one short pass from a goal scoring opportunity. The danger comes from opposing defensive mids and opposing backs coming into the attack unaccounted for. This scenario may also include a late arriving wing or offensive center mid.

6) Running at your own goal. We want to play with our backs to our own goal because bad, bad things happen when we are caught running at or facing our own goal. We need to work exceptionally hard and as intelligently as possible to keep from running at or being caught facing our own goal.

7) Allowing the ball carrier to go end line. The easiest goal to score in soccer is the most difficult for a GK to defend against. Allowing the ball carrier to attack down the end line setting up a slot back pass to the penalty mark or the 18 cannot be allowed to happen.  The GK must respect the ball carrier and deny the near post first. Recovering to the face of the goal on a short slot cross to the penalty mark or the 18 is nearly impossible to do, especially if the strike on goal is well placed.

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