You step on to the 5-a-side pitch with your team mates. The opposition are already there and they’re talking amongst themselves. They seem anxious, almost a little nervous. Are they arguing with each other?
You get the game under way and very quickly they make a mistake and gift you possession. One touch, two touches, a decoy run and you’re through on their goal. You slide a neat finish low and hard past their keeper and you’re one-up in the first few seconds.
The opposition are furious with themselves. They’re arguing again and the quiet guy seems to be taking the heat for losing his marker.
The match is as good as won. This is going to be easy.
A fantasy? Maybe.
But what if you could take your team of average, fairly competent players and turn them into an elite group of 5-a-side demigods? What if you could strike terror into your rivals and make fools out of your opposition every time they step on to the pitch?
This is possible – the secret is effective movement.
But I’m not talking about the same fluffy advice you get everywhere else. I’m not going to tell you to just ‘keep moving’, ‘work the channels’ and ‘make dummy runs’. I’m not going to say that it’s all just instinct and that if you keep moving then eventually you’ll find some space.
What I am talking about is deliberate, coordinated movement. Working together as a team to create space for each other. Playing within a defined shape and system.
And it’s so easy.
But before we get to talking about shape and movement, let’s go back to basics a little.
Attackers are successful when they’re creating space. And how do you create space? You move.
Players that are standing still are completely useless. Players that are a moving target are harder for the opposition to keep up with.
You should be looking to throw off your marker and move into space constantly. You can do this with one or all of the following techniques –
- Checking your runs
- Directing the ball into space
- Performing decoy runs
If you haven’t already read my previous post ‘3 Devious Ways to Find and Create Space to Attack Your Opposition‘ then check it now, then come back here.
At an individual player’s level, this seems straightforward and you’re probably already doing this in some form (if not, then you need to read ‘18 Mistakes You’re Making When Playing Five-A-Side‘).
The problem arises when all 4 outfield players are doing the same thing, but aren’t working together to coordinate their movement. Then it descends into absolute chaos and you have mis-placed passes all over the place.
Choose A Shape
The first step in coordinating your efforts is to decide how you are going to set yourselves up in your positioning. That is, choosing a formation.
A basic rule of thumb for when you are attacking is to divide the pitch up into 3 vertical ‘channels’ – left, right and centre. You need at least one player in every channel at all times to spread the play.
Let’s take the basic diamond formation into consideration. Here you’ll have a player out on the left, one on the right and two in the centre channel – one sitting deeper in a defensive role and the other up top in an attacking role. Depending on your strategy (defensive, all out attack etc.) you can decide how far up and down each channel these players will play.
It’s vital that you remember that these are only starting positions though. They do not dictate which player will play where and they will not be static. Players will have to move between positions constantly.
The absolute key message here is that the movement between these positions must be coordinated and deliberate, and this is where we seek to manipulate this shape to our advantage.
Flipping the Diamond
So, next time you have the ball at your feet during a game, try taking the diamond shape and flipping it length ways through the movement of your two players on the flanks.
- Player A is on the left and has the ball at his feet.
- He plays a pass to Player B, who sits deep and central.
- Immediately, player A makes a dart across the pitch, looking to receive a give-and-go pass from player B in the central area, where he can do some damage.
- If this pass does not come, player A continues his run to the opposite (right) flank.
- When player C, already on the right flank, sees player A coming towards him he makes the cross-field run, seeking a pass from player B as he moves through the centre of the pitch.
Player D could also be utilised in this move for the give-and-go, as an alternative to player B.
The point here is that both flank players are looking to pick up the ball in a central area (player C acts as a back-up to player A). If this doesn’t come off then by swapping positions they can take advantage of the space left behind by their counterpart on the opposite flank.
Performed quickly and efficiently this move can be very effective for creating space for your team in which to receive the ball.
Inverting the Diamond
This time around, you’re going to try flipping the diamond shape horizontally, using the movement of your two central players.
- Player 2 now has the ball in a deep central area.
- He plays a pass to player 3 out on the left.
- Immediately, player 2 makes a run from deep through the central channel.
- As player 5 sees him come towards him, he must make a move back towards his own half to take up the space left behind by player 2.
- Player 2 looks for the give-and-go pass from player 3.
To maximise the effectiveness of this move, the run from deep must be quick and purposeful. Your aim is to get past the last defender to receive the return pass, taking advantage of the lack of offsides in 5-a-side.
Rotating the Diamond
For this final move, all players will be involved, so it means that everyone will have to be laser focused.
- Player 3 has the ball again on the left.
- This time, he dribbles back towards player 2 (maybe he’s under pressure from an aggressive defence).
- When player 2 sees him approaching, he pushes out wide towards player 4.
- Player 4 moves towards player 5.
- Player 5 takes up the space left behind by player 3.
The key here is that players are continually moving to cover all of the channels, dragging defenders out of position and taking advantage of space left behind by their team mates.
The moves outlined above need to be practiced. Don’t worry about recreating them exactly – the key is to understand the importance of movement and fluidity on the pitch. With coordinated efforts, the opposition players will be dragged all over the place, exhausting them and creating pockets of space that your team mates can take advantage of.
Do you want everyone to want to play on your team rather than against you?
Then this is the secret ingredient your team NEEDS to take it from being a group of fairly good players, to a fluid and creative goal-scoring machine.
Get this right and not only will you start scoring more goals and winning more games, you’ll strike terror into the hearts of your opposition.