The thought processes and training methods involved with transitional play all revolve around a central theme - "TEAM SHAPE" We refer to team shape when we are talking about positioning of players in relation to the ball - either in attack or on defense. It is easier to conceptualize team shape if  we begin with the very young in their attempt to play the game. One can easily recognize the shape of a 5-6 year olds - It's merely a congested "blob" of players. As players mature, ages 8-1O, the shape of players around the ball become more spread out - away from the ball - and the game begins to flow better. Finally, we begin to see the real shape of the game with players fourteen and up - where team concepts of attack and defense become the one of the major focuses in training sessions.
      Transition in the game requires a thorough understanding of the "roles" that must be filled on the field. The theory is very simple - as is the game - it is the practical implementation of that theory that separates the best teams, players, and coaches.


  Transition to Attack
  *  Look to penetrate
  *  Run to Space
  *  Run to Support

  Transition to Defense (Players off ball)
  * Immediate pressure on the ball
  *  Space behind
  *  Space between
  *  Be in position to help if pressure is beat


-  Find target player as quickly as possible
-  Quality balls to target
-  Angle of entry pass
-  Preparation of target area
-  How does target receive balls
-  Reading where to support after initial ball to target
-  Attaining attacking shape
-  Teach players from simple to complex
-  Speed of thought
-  Imprinting patterns of thought

-  Look to go straight to goal at instant ball is won
-  Play the deepest pass available
-  Find players breaking wide
-  Recognize space to carry ball forward
-  Look for support from behind

-  Look to play balls to feet of forwards centrally
-  Play to space wide behind or between backs
-  Run ball at defense
-  Play quickly to midfield breaking out
-  Maintain possession by playing back to depth


-  Speed of transition
-  Pressure on the ball
-  Recovery runs should be to compact defense (Back and to the center of field)
-  Channel options of attack by angle of approach
-  Be aware of the space behind the defense
-  Close pressure as soon as possible
-  As pressure becomes tighter close space between defenders
-  Squeeze space centrally
-  Be aware of free players and runs through and behind defense

-  Can I get the ball back - NOW!
-  Look to delay/deny penetration
-  Keep play in front of you
-  Be aware of attacking support players
-  Limit space for attack to play through

-  Win ball back immediately via tackle
-  Move to create angle to pressure
-  Give ground
-  Close space between pressuring teammate and your self
© 2005-2008. Barrie Spirit Soccer
Transitional  Play
We would like to thank Ken and for allowing us to publish this article on the  website.