I can confidently say that every youth soccer player in the world will benefit from learning to move off the ball more. That is why I found the above video on the 7 Rules – Off the Ball Movement so helpful. Remember, the game is 90 minutes- during that time, players are on the ball for less than one minute.
Great players move frequently off the ball, exploit open space and have the ability to capitalize on the few chances given each game.
1. Always stay in the ‘blind zone’ of the defender.
Make sure the defender cannot see you and your teammate at the same time. Following this rule alone would result in a massive benefit to most youth soccer players.
2. Stay between defenders causing confusion.
Naturally, defenders what to cover you. When you are constantly staying between the defenders, it causes confusion – they don’t know which person is guarding you. This split second of indecision gives you all the space you need to receive the ball and attack.
3. Stay as far as possible from your teammate with the ball.
As a parent, I don’t coach from the sidelines, but if I did this would be the one thing I tell my boys! It’s a balancing act that’s learned over time. The player needs to create space from the player with the ball, but can’t be too far away as to never get the ball.
4. Arrive as late as possible making it harder for the defender to react.
If you get to the spot and receive the ball too soon, the defender has more time to react to your next move. If you arrive just as the ball is coming, it’s harder for the defender to locate you and react to your next move.
5. Always check your shoulder for free space.
This is one of the most popular rules on the list. It’s one of the most popular because it’s an absolutely essential skill for youth soccer players to develop. Players should check their shoulders a minimum of two times. First, just before they start their movement, and secondly at the place where they will receive the ball. Notice my son (#5) check his shoulder multiple times during this short sequence. I am happy that the coaching staff emphasizes this during training sessions.
6. Watch your opponent’s face and move in the opposite direction.
Simply put, if you notice the defender is looking one way, quickly move the other way. Also, fake in the direction the defender is looking and then move to the open space.
7. Watch the opponent’s body position and use it against them.
When you notice the player standing flat-footed try to get off a quick first step and blow past them before they have time to react.
Let me know if you have any tips or tricks. Comment below.