Attacking tactics are all concerned with creation and exploitation of space by individuals and by the team. They are as follows:

Creating Space by spreading out side-to-side

A crucial fact in trying to create space both in between and behind defenders, if stretching the opposition is done quickly then they will have problems man marking and covering for each other. If possible, as soon as the ball is won, a team should stretch out side-to-side as quickly as possible, making sure the players can see everything that is happening on the field by their body position, and should try to go forward as quickly as possible having stretched the opposition.

  Spreading out end-to-end

This means that furthest player away from the ball should come towards it, thus creating space behind him to be exploited by other players running off the ball.
Overlapping runs create space, both end-to-end and side-to-side. They can take place on the flanks and in central positions. 

Every "play" in soccer has a "cue" - the cue in an overlap for a player to go in advance of the ball is (1) is there space to run into? and (2) Can the man on the ball play  forward into that space. The same one occurs in central positions, the player on the ball also has the possibility of using the overlapping run as a "dummy" and goes in the opposite direction.

  One Touch Play

One touch play is an extremely important attacking tactic as the opposition cannot pressurize you if this occurs. If one touch play is to be effective then an excellent understanding of support on and off the ball is needed. Defenders react to movement of players and quick one touch play which obviously requires good movement unhinges them in their positions, both in zone defense and obviously in man-for-man marking.

  Changing the direction of play

Can be achieved with long diagonal passes from flank-to-flank, with crossover runs which have the purpose of drawing defenders together to create space down either flank. Reverse passing - a skill that involves running with the ball in one direction, and passing it the opposite direction should also be used.


Dribbling is the most exciting attacking tactic. When a crowd sees a good dribbler it excites them. A player who can take on and beat others or draw defenders to him creates space if the ball is delivered at the right time for his teammates to exploit. 
It also creates an advantage to his team in terms of numbers once he beats and passes a defender.

  Wall Pass

Giving the ball to a teammate who plays it back to you one-touch to enable you to go forward.  The "cue" to tell the receiver that the pass is "on" is a fast ball played in which tells the receiver there is space behind him which can be exploited.

  Third Man Running

Third man running is a tactic which best describes pass and move football. As the description of the tactic implies, it involves three players - a passer, a receiver and a runner.  Again, to be effective, there must be space for the runner to move in to.
The ball is played up to a receiver, laid off at an angle to the passer and played one touch into the path of the runner.
© 2005-2008. Barrie Spirit Soccer
Attacking  Principles