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The 7 Fundamental Football Coaching Principles

The Key Principles to Football Coaching

By Lewis HumphriesPublished 4 months ago 3 min read
Football coaching is built on a number of universal principles

Regardless of which level you operate at, football coaching can be a challenging and incredibly time-consuming pastime.

Not only will you have to work with players that have variable levels of aptitude and different mindsets, for example, but there are also several fundamental principles that you must impart as a coach.

But what are the seven fundamental principles of football coaching? Here’s a breakdown across all phases of the game!

Exploring the 7 Fundamental Coaching Principles

These principles are all related loosely to one or more of the four phases of play: namely in possession, out of possession, defensive transitions and attacking transitions.

It’s key that players understand these phases in detail, while you should also explain how the following principles apply to each one.

#1. Supporting Free Spaces: Free spaces play a key role during attacking and defensive phases of the game. However, they tend to favour offensive gameplay, as players who are able to recognise free spaces between the opposition’s defensive lines and receive possession here can help to sustain and execute attacks. When defending, players and collectives should look to compress and restrict free spaces, especially in designated areas where the opponents are particularly dangerous.

#2. Players Without the Ball Should Always Move: While strikers can occasionally eek out chances by standing still in the penalty area, players without possessional of the ball should generally look to move constantly in the pursuit of space. This enables them to create forward passing options and support their teammates in possession, while also generating space for others with decoy darts forward. Of course, movements will have to be refined to suit the player in possession, their passing ability and preferred style of play.

#3. Thinking Ahead: This principle applies across all phases of the game, as players must always have a clear picture in their head and be ready to react quickly to transitions. When attacking, for example, players should look to move the ball quickly and be prepared to either press or fall back if possession is turned over. Teams should also anticipate winning the ball back during defensive phases or transitions, in order to spring fast, coordinated and structured counterattacks.

#4. Retaining Possession: In the modern game, teams that are able to dominate possession tend to control matches (especially if they’re able to do so high up the pitch and successfully compress space). So, your players should ideally be able to maintain structured possession and coordinated attacks, as this increases their team’s chances of scoring, improves defensive efficiency and tires out the opposition over the course of the game. Effective possession generally involves quick ball movement and frequent switches of play, while passing forward and between the opposition's lines is also highly rewarding.

#5. Finishing and Decision Making: Decision making is another key principle of coaching, while this is based on a solid foundation of football intelligence and awareness. This can be particularly important in the final third, as players must be able to finish attacks and decide when to successfully assist a teammate, commit a defender or take a shot at goal. This requires a combination of instinct, timing and excellent coaching, while teamwork can ensure that the player in possession has the right options in possession too and is able to make the correct decision.

#6. Defensive Movement in Support of Teammates: While players should always move to support teammates when in possession, they must also look to provide cover during defensive phases and transitions. This generally requires good positional awareness and sharp movement, whether you want to lead or support a collective press, track a runner from midfield or simply mark free space. In wide areas, wingers should also look to support their fullbacks and prevent significant overloads during defensive phases and transitions.

#7. Recovery of the Ball: When in defensive transition, most modern teams will initially press and look to recover the ball high for a short period of time before dropping back into their defensive shape. Regardless of your precise strategy and pressing triggers, these must be communicated clearly and players will have to operate collectively to compress space and prevent counter attacks at all times. Once again, players must anticipate losing the ball if they’re to recover it quickly, while also understanding the role that they need to play during a counter pressing sequence.

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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  • Usama Naeem3 months ago

    Well strategy and formation in football field has great impact on overall performance of the team

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