Where you play the ball, when, and how will come with experience. To gain  experience  try to get in as many games as possible.  Whether  it's  small sided games, two on two or three on three to little goals (two bags - two  feet  apart  or  two cones) that act as the goals or eleven versus eleven:  these types  of  competitive  games will improve your play and help you make quick decisions.  Of course, real eleven  versus  eleven  games  are  ideal - there's  always  a  different  feeling surrounding  an  actually  game.  You can always learn something new every time you play.  It's  important  to  play more games, whether real eleven versus eleven or a small sided pick up game at the park with friends.

Often the pace of the game will dictate where you play the ball.  If  you  play  a  good  team  and  you  are  constantly put under pressure you will be forced to play the ball quickly.  This will only make you a better player as you get older, so try to play at a game like intensity all the time.  Don't  do  things  that  you  know  you  wouldn't  get  away  with  if  you were playing a good team.

Overall, the  key  to  playing good soccer is keeping the ball moving by playing one and two touch soccer  -  passing  and moving  off  the  ball  and  being creative.  The ability to do this goes back to a good first touch, using your body to shield the ball, and knowing  what  you  want  to do with the ball before you get it.  In a way soccer is about getting the ball into the  right  person's  feet ;  the  one  who  has  the  most  time  and  space  ( faces the least pressure )  and  is  in  the  most advantageous position to score or make that goal scoring pass.

Spread out on offense and become a compact unit on defense.  On offense, use  the  entire  field  to open up the defense and create gaps and spaces to attack.  On, defense  you want to do the opposite, stay compact as a team unit and defend with numbers.  For instance, if  the  opponent is attacking down the right side, then  the far right midfielder can move into the middle and help out since the player on the far side is not as dangerous as those attacking with the ball. 
Of course, he or she must still be aware of the player they are marking, but  they  can  gamble  in a sense, and keep their eye on the ball and the wide player and help clog the middle and intercept passes.  If  the  opposition  makes a long pass to the far left winger he or she must be able to track down the player and then the whole team  will have to shift positions to the right side.  If  you  gauge  it  right, you  should  be able to arrive  before  the player has time to control the ball and attack down the line.

On offense, to open up spaces in the opposing teams defense, the  key  rule  that  you can follow is keep the ball moving. Let the ball do the work.  Play the ball into the forwards feet, then  they  lay  it  back  to  the midfielder who plays the ball wide.  The  wide  midfielder  then  tries  to  get  a  cross  in  or   switches  the  ball  back  to  the  other  side  where  there is more space.
Draw the defense out by playing the ball into the forward's feet, and if he or she is covered they can lay the ball back to a midfielder or lay the ball off to someone making a run through towards the goal.  Your intention, when  you  play the ball to the forward who is tightly marked is to draw the defense into this player, once the forward gets a touch on the ball and holds the ball up with a touch or two, you  (the midfielder)  can  get  the  ball  back  and play another player through who now becomes open, since the defense has collapsed around the forward or shifted their focus on the forward.

In terms of style of play, selfish play becomes contagious.  When  someone  is  dribbling  all the time, others will pick that up and do it themselves or not be as active in the play and stop making runs. The great thing about soccer is that this will usually  correct  itself  because  the  game  doesn't  allow  you to play that way. The team that moves the ball around and shares  the  ball  the  most, makes  things  the  easiest  for  themselves  and  will  have  the  most scoring opportunities.  If you play selfish soccer you will not be successful in the long run.

Additionally, before you play the ball, when  picking  out  a  player  for  a  longer  pass or serving the ball in from  a  long distance you should have a plan in your mind of what is going to take place next.  The player  you are making the pass to should  have  someone  to  lay  the  ball  off  to, or you  yourself should support the pass if nobody is available, as when a defender  drives  the  ball  into a forward who lays the ball back  to another  midfielder.  Picture a series of plays that are going to take place when sending a long ball or starting a play. Try to always think of where the ball should go  next. 

You  want  to  play  the  ball  to  your teammates left foot for instance if they have someone covering their right side.  You want to lead your teammate with a pass that puts them in the best  possible  scenario to make the next  successful play or pass.  If they are making a run through on goal you want to put the right pace on the ball so they don't have to break their stride.  Bend  the  ball  into  the  path  of  the  player, if  they  are  better  on  their  left  foot  then play it to that foot.  Play it to the space where your teammate can make the play but not the defender.

Again, the best  methods are to play the ball hard, to pass and move, to  play  and follow your pass or to give it and get it, to  always  want  the  ball or put yourself in a position to receive the ball and make a play.  If you are not going to get the ball then make a run to receive the ball or take a defender away with you and open up space for a teammate.
© 2005-2008. Barrie Spirit Soccer