I firmly believe that young soccer players can significantly improve their game by focusing on improving their off-the-ball movement.


In my search for helpful resources, I stumbled upon a great video that outlines the 7 Rules of Off-the-Ball Movement.

Soccer matches last for 90 minutes, but players have possession of the ball for less than a minute on average.

Hence, mastering the art of movement without the ball is crucial for success on the field.



Rule 1. Stay in the defender’s blind zone.

To gain an advantage over defenders, make sure you position yourself where they cannot simultaneously see you and your teammate.


This simple rule alone can provide significant benefits to young soccer players.



Rule 2. Confuse defenders by positioning yourself between them.

Defenders naturally aim to mark you. By constantly positioning yourself strategically between defenders, you create confusion and make it difficult for them to determine their guarding responsibilities.


This split-second of indecision grants you the space needed to receive the ball and launch effective attacks.




Rule 3. Maintain distance from your teammate with the ball.

As a reformed parent, I don’t coach my sons from the sidelines, but if I did, this would be the one thing I emphasized the most.


It’s a skill that develops over time, as players must strike a balance between creating space from the player with the ball and staying close enough to be involved in the play.


Rule 4. Arrive at the ball as late as possible to hinder the defender’s reaction.

Timing is crucial. If you reach your intended position and receive the ball too early, the defender has more time to anticipate your next move. Aim to arrive just as the ball is being played to make it harder for the defender to locate you and react accordingly.


Rule 5. Continuously scan for open space behind you.

One of the most essential rules, especially for youth soccer players, is to constantly check your surroundings for available space.


Check your shoulders at least twice: before initiating your movement and when preparing to receive the ball. This practice enhances awareness and improves decision-making on the field.



Rule 6. Observe your opponent’s face and move in the opposite direction.

Keep a close eye on the defender’s gaze. If you notice them looking in one direction, swiftly move in the opposite direction. Additionally, you can deceive the defender by faking a movement in their line of sight and then quickly changing direction to exploit the open space.


Rule 7. Pay attention to the opponent’s body position and use it to your advantage.

Take advantage of any advantage. If you notice a defender standing flat-footed, seize the opportunity to execute a quick first step and accelerate past them before they have a chance to react.


In conclusion, mastering off-the-ball movement is a vital aspect of soccer development. By understanding and implementing these 7 Rules of Off-the-Ball Movement, young soccer players can elevate their game to new heights.


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