Analyzing Attacking Play
When evaluating a team’s attacking style there’s a few different questions we’re trying to answer. First and foremost, we want to know how the opposition is likely to cause us problems. To do this we need to assess their strengths going forward, and how to best explain them in our report.
Most Coaches find it useful to see diagrams of the tactical concepts we’re trying to describe. This helps to identify individual player positions in certain phases of the game, team shape, team depth (how high or low up the pitch they were) and generally avoid confusion.
Please read the following paragraph. Can you foresee any issues that may arise for a Coach reading this?
“When they have the ball the wingers like to tuck inside. The #7 right winger is left footed and looks to slip through balls for the forward as he receives it on his stronger foot. The #11 is less comfortable with the ball and tends to play short simple passes, usually with his back to goal.”
You may notice there’s no reference to how high or low the movement from the wingers is occurring. If a Head Coach is preparing a session based on the report, will they be preparing the team for this movement in the final third as they look to play in tight spaces around the edge of the box? Or should they be looking to combat these movements in the build up phase in the middle third?
This is why context behind our descriptions is crucial.
In these two scenarios, a diagram would quickly and clearly illustrate this for a Coach reading the report.
For the first task in this module we’re going to look at the New York Red Bulls in possession of the ball. Just like the example mentioned above, New York’s wingers are both tucking inside off the wing.
The task is to create two tactical diagrams to show these movements and where they occur on the field. Please view the videos below and create a tactical diagram for each.
Here’s our example.
When it comes to what specific tactical moments to include in a report, this is where we need to make some crucial decisions. Should we include a pattern of play if it only happens once in a game or the selection of games we’ve watched?
Remember, the opposition report is meant to offer the reader an insight into what’s likely to happen when their team faces the opponent.
We’re looking for repeatable patterns and tendencies.
Here’s what Oliver Gage, Sam Lawson and Mark Krikorian explained to us about the opposition’s attack:
As a good general rule, if something rare is so dangerous it would cause a major problem, it might be included. Otherwise it can be left out or added to a general comments section if for some reason we feel it must be mentioned.
Now we’ve considered and practiced drawing a basic tactical diagram, it’s time to look at how to demonstrate ball movement.
In the previous scenario, one simple diagram was enough to accurately show the situation. However, there may be times when we want to show a few different phases of play. For this we’ll need to use progression diagrams. Take a look at this clip.
For this module’s second task, we’re going to draw some ball movements. These can be used in a report alongside some writing that describes the situation to help the reader better understand.
Some people prefer not to draw the opposition players on such diagrams to avoid clutter and help the reader focus on the team being scouted.
Here’s our example.
If we feel the opposition players are needed, that’s understandable. It comes down to personal preference, or who the report is being prepared for and what they prefer.
Here’s how it might look if we wanted to add opposition players. Feel free to practice this and add them if needed.
To go one step further, we can add ‘vision lines’ to show which way players are facing. In this example, the lines show how the defensive players are focused on the ball, allowing the yellow attacker to drift inside into a dangerous area.
For the final task in the attacking module we’re going to analyze some attacking patterns in 3 MLS teams. The videos below contain clips of attacking play by the Seattle Sounders, Columbus Crew and Vancouver Whitecaps.
Alongside the diagrams in a scouting report, we’ll probably want to include some text to describe it. Watch the videos on each team and write a description of the attacking tendency they’re displaying in as much detail you feel is necessary for your report.
Once you’ve written these descriptions please add them to the comments section below, before moving move on to the next module.