While I am not yet sure if I will be back to coach Fairlawn next season, I have nevertheless begun planning and preparing as if I will be. A major focus of this effort will be teaching the game, as it always is. My self-evaluation of this past season tells me I assumed there existed a certain level of understanding the game that was not necessarily actually in evidence. My mistake and all I could do in-season was to say "Next Play!" and adjust on the fly. Going into next season I have a better understanding of where we are and the approach we need to take to achieve better results across the board. Teaching the game will be a primary focus and our starting point will be a bit more elementary than I have become accustomed to these past few years. What follows is an attempt to break things down to as simple a form as possible as it concerns what we will call attacking runs. There's no attempt to reinvent the wheel here. The goal is to make it all as understandable as possible.
I began this adventure by trying to paint a basic picture of the tempo involved in making attacking runs. More appropriately, the change of pace necessary to make an attacking run effective.
Slow pace - increasing to a moderate pace before - exploding to full pace.
A significant portion of our conditioning leading into next season will focus on training these accelerations through the paces described here. Making them distinctive in order to make them as effective as possible.
Next I set about defining specific types of runs. Again, the idea is not to reinvent the wheel. We only seek to draw a clear picture in the minds of our athletes to better their understanding. We will also use these specific types of runs in our conditioning and training of changing paces through them.
It is probably best to begin with planting the idea that any run has an ending. A run therefore is essentially a path to a target. That target could be the ball or space or perhaps even an opponent. Beyond those basics a run might be to the ball or onto a passed ball. Or, a run might be into open space for the purpose of receiving a ball or drawing opponents away from other space. A run also might be at or across the face of an opponent to draw that opponents attention and create opportunity for a teammate. I'm going to work on my presentation of these ideas in hopes of clarifying the idea of making runs for teammates as a primary consideration. A majority of runs made are for others. Selflessness in making runs. You get the idea and I hope our players will as well.
As far as defining runs I think it best to begin simple and that would be with a straight run. Of course, this isn't quite as simple as it would seem.
Straight Line 1 - this run is made in a single channel straight down the pitch. A vertical run. This can be used to push opposing defenders back. In channel soccer a straight pass is often attempted to a straight run and these can be devastatingly effective. However, I have always thought in the youth game and most high school soccer a diagonal pass onto a straight run is easiest to execute.
Straight Line 2 - This run is often referred to as being a square run. It is made horizontally across channels. In my mind this is the least effect run in youth or high school soccer unless it is being executed with intent to move defenders / open space or is made as part of a combination run which we will get to below.
Diagonal - this run is made vertically and diagonally across channels. It might be a run towards a touch line or a run towards a corner. In this case, a straight in-channel pass is usually easiest to execute. However, a diagonal pass that crosses channels to a diagonal run can be very effective, only a bit harder to execute for a majority of high school players, imo.
Combination Run 1 - If a player begins a square run and then breaks it off into a diagonal straight run he is both changing channel and crossing lines with his run giving opposing defenders at least two different spatial problems to deal with. The change of direction is accompanied by change of pace. And when this type of run is made by cutting across the face of a defender it can force a defender to also make a decision of whether to concentrate on the ball or the runner. This type of run is commonly referred to as bent or bending run.
Combination Run 2 - The companion run to the one described directly above is to make a vertical straight run and bend it off into a diagonal run, a square run or a curl into a target. Again, the effectiveness of such runs are found in combining change of direction with change of pace and forcing the defender into making choices between watching the ball and watching players making the runs.
Combination Run 3- this is a more advanced concept that I am hopeful we can get to and implement next season. This involves 2 players combining runs. The first opening space for the second to play in. We'll see. And I will write more on these ideas at a later time.
We have not addressed "V" cuts or checking away to check to. Only briefly have we touched on runs to support a teammate. And in describing vertical or penetrating runs we have only alluded to whether to play the ball and runner through the same hole or different holes in the defense. These are all different types of runs made with a specific purpose behind them. Let's take a quick look at some other runs with specific intent to place the runs described above in context.
An unbalancing run is typically made away from the ball across the face of defenders and to their blind side. A clearing run is made to open space for a teammate. An overlapping run comes from behind a teammate in possession of the ball in order to receive a forward pass from that teammate. A withdrawing run - is made by a player moving laterally into a heels to touch positioning in an outside channel. And if we have an unbalancing run we must also have a balancing run which is movement to a position on the pitch behind the ball. This can be made to provide the teammate with the ball relief from pressure via a drop pass or if executed off-the-ball can be made to position a player to act as a pivot in changing the ball from one side of the pitch to the other - changing channels.
Okay, so this remains a work in progress and I have time to get it right. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please feel free to share them in the comments sections below and as always, Thanks for reading the CBA Blog!