What does Support look like
Support is a key attacking principle in soccer. It refers to the positioning and movement of players without the ball to assist the ball carrier. Support players offer options for passing, help maintain possession, create spaces, and facilitate combination play.
Support is about making oneself available and usable, and it requires understanding of the game, anticipation, and effective communication.
Now, let’s consider some specific scenarios that illustrate successful execution of the attacking principle of support:
Supporting the Ball Carrier
Imagine Team A’s central midfielder has the ball. A fellow midfielder positions themselves close to provide a safe passing option, while a winger moves into a wider position to provide a forward passing option. This demonstrates good support, giving the ball carrier multiple options and making it harder for Team B to defend.
Team A’s forward receives the ball with their back to the goal and is closely marked by a defender. The forward passes the ball back to a supporting midfielder and then quickly spins around the defender to receive a return pass in a more advanced position. This combination play, often referred to as a ‘one-two’ or a ‘wall pass’, shows how effective support can break through a defensive line.
Creating Space for Others
In this scenario, Team A’s striker drops deep to receive the ball, dragging a defender with them and creating a gap in Team B’s defensive line. Another attacker from Team A makes a forward run into this space. Here, the striker is providing support not by offering a passing option, but by creating space for a teammate to exploit.
Providing Width and Depth
While Team A is attacking, their wingers stay wide and full-backs push forward, while their defensive midfielder stays back. This provides width and depth to the attack, offering various passing options and making it harder for Team B to press effectively.
Overlapping and Underlapping Runs
Suppose Team A’s winger has the ball and is faced with a defender. The full-back makes an overlapping run, providing a forward passing option and potentially drawing the defender away. Alternatively, the full-back could make an underlapping run inside, which might pull the defender inside and leave space for the winger to attack.
To apply Support effectively, players must develop a strong understanding of the following tactical concepts:
Positioning: Players should know when and where to position themselves to offer optimal support to their teammates.
Reading the game: The ability to read the opposition’s defensive movements and adapt support accordingly is crucial for successful Support.
Decision-making: Players must make quick decisions, such as when to offer support or when to make a forward run, based on the dynamic nature of the game.
Anticipation: The ability to read the game and anticipate teammates’ and opponents’ movements is essential for providing timely and effective support.
Effective communication and teamwork are essential for successfully implementing Support. Players should:
Use verbal cues: Players must communicate their intentions and positions to teammates to ensure that support is provided when needed.
Employ non-verbal communication: Body language, such as pointing or signalling, can help convey information and synchronize movements on the field.
Be aware of teammates’ positions: Players should have a clear understanding of where their teammates are on the field to make effective decisions and provide support.
Develop chemistry: Building a strong rapport and understanding among teammates will improve the fluidity and effectiveness of Support implementation.
Technical skills players will need
To effectively implement Support, players must possess the following technical skills:
Passing: Players should be proficient in short and medium-range passing, including ground passes and lofted passes, to maintain possession and build attacks.
Receiving: The ability to control the ball under pressure, shield it from opponents, and maintain possession is crucial.
Vision: Recognizing when and where to offer support requires players to have good spatial awareness and understanding of their teammates’ positions.
Off-the-ball movement: Players must be able to move off the ball effectively, creating space for themselves and their teammates.
Communication: Verbal and non-verbal communication is essential for coordinating movements and ensuring that support is provided when needed.