Involves a series of thought processes that players on a team must execute in order to kick goals. All steps in the process must be executed in their defined order sequentially.
I outline these thought processes and series of steps for“attacking on the ball” and “attacking off the ball”.
The player "in possession of" the ball and all the players "moving off the ball" must work together, in a group effort, executing each step simultaneously and collaboratively.
I try to "de-mystify" and "simplify" the process of Attacking "On" and "Off" the ball. The aim is to promote a level of collaborative understanding in a team so that the "attack" occurs in an automated way, much like an adult’s ability to give way at a round-about and understand instantly what needs to be done to keep the traffic flowing.
Players cannot duplicate roles, and they must act quickly and in a timely manner. Sometimes the decisions made by players will be instantaneous upon receiving the ball, other times players may have a few seconds to act.
Either way, players do not have time to ponder on the park; they need to be well versed with the thought processes involved in attacking on and off the ball. Team awareness and understanding each other’s role is crucial here; in addition, the team players must learn to “speak one language”.
Players will learn and understand:-
- When to dribble and when not to dribble?
- How to “Read” the attacking play while also keeping possession of the ball?
- What the team “Game Plan” is in terms of attacking?
- What the coach means when they say “Concentrate”?
- Long Vision (The ability to see all options available) versus Short Vision (Not being able to see the greater options)
The steps outlined walk you through the “Thinking Process – Attacking on the Ball”
Every step in the flowchart, except the final 6th step, commences with a question. If the answer is “yes” the player executes the decision taken and then must reset "his/her" mind to think about what needs to be done next.
The Thinking Process flowchart is presented diagrammatically in the figure and a written description of each step in this process follows.
The Logical Decision Making Process - Football (Soccer) - Attacking "On" and "Off" the ball can also be used as an analysis tool to either praise appropriate efforts or work through phases of the game by focusing on an individual’s or the groups’ efforts.
Video replay is a great way to review a match. Sitting down with the players and pausing the video to provide instruction is an excellent way to consolidate the thinking (theory) behind this attacking game plan.
Learning to attack on and off the ball involves learning that each of the steps described above need to be understood and automatically executed during play.
It is important that players know their strengths and weaknesses and work at their
weaknesses at training until they get them right. If a player has had no luck
executing a step in the “thinking process” and confidence is low, then they should
move to another step and practice that one.
It is important that players always play the next best option.
An example, if a player attempted to loft the keeper using a chip pass and the ball cannot get height or misses the target constantly, then common sense is to play the ball to another person who can score.
Sometimes players stray away from the “thinking process” due to intimidation, social
pressure or the yearning to be accepted by their peers. This commonly happens to new
players coming into the team.
Players hesitating, taking too long to make a decision or trying to play it safe to hold a position in the team may actually be contributing to the lack of success. It is important that all players feel part of the team and feel confident that decisions made that accord with the “Logical Thinking Making Process” will be accepted and rewarded by all other team members and the coach.
If a player shoots for goal, rather than penetrating, because there was a genuine belief that he/she can do so, then that action needs to be accepted by other team mates and encouraged.
No player on the team should feel that he/she is the goal scorer or the main defender etc. All players should learn to play with one another and to support one another with a common goal – to play at their best ability and win the match.
All players need to speak the same language and anticipate the play and circumstances in the same way.
Players should never feel intimidated by their fellow team members; on the contrary, they should feel united and feel that are all contributing equally to achieve a common goal (literarily!).