Explaining Trends and Buzzwords in Football + training examples

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Dominic Casciato

Hi! My name is Dominic Casciato. I’m a UEFA qualified coach with eight years of experience in three different countries – England, the USA, and Spain, where I’m currently working.

Each month, I’ll be writing an article to explain football trends and buzzwords that you may have heard on television without fully understanding.

Some of the terms used by pundits and presenters can make what’s a fairly simple game seem rather complicated. I’ll do my best to explain them as simply as possible, while giving you plenty of visuals using the wonderful Globall Coach technology that we all love so much!

For those of you that already understand the trend or buzzword, but are not sure how to implement them with your team, I’ll also include some sample exercises that you can adapt as you see fit to suit the needs of your own players.

Now, without any further ado – here we go. An introduction into breaking lines…

Image 1 showing 3 lines of defense in a 4-4-2.png


Showing 3 lines of defense in a 4-4-2

Image 2 showing 4 lines of defense in a 4-2-3-1.png


Showing 4 lines of defense in a 4-2-3-1

Lines are often referred to as units, such as the defensive, midfield, and forward units. They can also be referred to as the first defensive line (forward line), second defensive line (midfield line), and third defensive line (back line). For the interests of clarity in this article, we’ll refer to them using the former – lines.

You can break lines in two ways – dribbling or passing. The simplest way to illustrate how to break a line is to dribble. In the animation below, the blue CB dribbles beyond the two opposition forwards, breaking the first defensive line and temporarily eliminating two opposition players from the game.

The second way to break a line is by passing. When passing to break a line, the positioning of the receiving player is vital. If he’s too deep, like the right back in the animation below, the forward is able to get across and press him to prevent his line from being broken.

But then if he’s too high, or too narrow, like in the animation below, he has no angle to receive a pass on the ground from the CB. The CF will be blocking his passing lane, so the CB will need to pass in the air if he wants to play with the RB.

The optimal position for the right back to be in is wider than the CF, and slightly advanced or even level with him.

The speed and accuracy of the pass is also crucial if we’re going to break that first line – too slow, and the CF can get across to press; pass to the RB’s left foot instead of his right, and you slow him down, giving the CF another opportunity to restore his line.

Training Exercises

Now, we’ll look at how to introduce these principles to your players and teams. We’ll focus on breaking lines by passing, working with the right back from the above examples again.

Exercise 1

To begin, a 4v1 directional rondo is the perfect way to get your players working on the keys to breaking lines – quality passing and intelligent positioning.

Here we have a CB, LB and RB trying to get the ball into the CM at the top of the box to earn a point. The defender tries to stop this from happening, and attempts to win the ball back.

Image 3 - Rondo 4v1. Player at the top of the image is CM. RB on right, LB on left and CB at base of the box with ball.png


Rondo 4v1. Player at top of image is CM. RB on right, LB on left, and CB at base of box with ball.

Coaching Points – Speak with the RB about staying level or just advanced of the defender so he can break his line immediately upon receiving the ball. This means that as the defender presses the CB, the RB drops level with him to maintain a line breaking passing lane. If the defender chooses to sit off and allow the CB to make the first pass, the RB stays high, being level or slightly advanced of him.

Coaching Points – To create more space for the RB to break the defenders line, the LB can drop to help the CB build the game. This will attract the defender towards the LB and CB, and allow the RB to take up a more advanced position to break the line.

Remember, make sure the RB doesn’t get too high so that he eliminates himself from the game, or too deep so that he can’t break the line himself.

Exercise 2

Next, we take this into a bigger area. The CB’s start with the ball, and two red defenders start in the shaded zone. The objective is to get the ball into the CM’s in the other half, when the two full backs can then go to support them as they try to score into two small goals.

Image 4 - Training game setup, 6v3 to two small goals.png

Set up

Training game setup, 6v3 to two small goals

Conditions – FB’s must start level with the two red defenders so they can break their line. As they move to press, or drop off, the full backs must adjust their positions so they’re always available to break the line.

CB’s can play directly into the CM’s if available. This will stop red CF’s from splitting too wide unrealistically to stop the FB’s from breaking their line.

CF’s can recover once their line is broken, making the game 4v3. They can try to counter if they win the ball back.

Exercise 3

Finally, we take these principles into an 11v11 game.

Set Up – When the ball goes out of play for the blues in their defensive third, the two red CF’s must retreat behind dotted line. They can leave to press once the ball is in play..png

Set up

Set Up – When the ball goes out of play for the blues in their defensive third, the two red CF’s must retreat behind dotted line. They can leave to press once the ball is in play.

Game 11v11. CF’s press once in play. How do FB’s adjust?

Coaching Points – Check to make sure RB gets into position early to break the first line when CB’s are in possession.

Once they go to press, see how he adjusts his position to maintain a line breaking passing lane for the man on the ball.