There is nothing more frustrating in soccer than looking to play a pass forward but nobody is open to receive the pass so you have to pass backward or sideways. The same can be said when you are in space and not receiving the ball. This post will go over the easiest ways how to create space in soccer for yourself and your teammates to receive the ball.
The 4 most straightforward ways to create space in soccer
To quickly summarise the post the 4 best ways to create space are:
- Making multiple movements to receive the ball
- Moving into spaces that a teammate has just left
- Encourage the team to use the whole width and height of the pitch when attacking
- Use overlapping runs
I go into further detail about each of the methods below.
Make multiple movements to receive the ball
One of the best ways and simplest ways to create space in soccer is to make a first movement to drag the defender away from the space you want to receive the ball (decoy run).
With your second movement move into the space you want to receive the ball.
The shaper changes of direction are between the movements the more effective it will be.
Sometimes as an attacker, you will have to make more than one movement to create space for yourself.
Players who have higher levels of agility will find this a lot easier.
If you’re looking to improve your agility here are 10 agility soccer drills
The 4 ways to create space for yourself using movement
Checking in short to receive the ball long
This is where the attacker will move to the space in front of them with their first movement to drag a defender away from the space behind.
With their second movement, the attacker will then look to spin in behind to receive the ball.
This is a common movement that strikers and wingers like to use.
Checking out to receive the ball long
With their first movement, the striker will make it look like they are running behind the defender, dragging the defender away from the space.
The attacker will then check back into the space to receive the ball short.
This is a great movement that fullbacks can use to create space in soccer.
Checking in centrally to receive the ball wide
With their first movement, the attacker will drag the defender inside to create space in the wide area.
The attacker’s second movement will then be back toward the wide area to receive the ball.
This is a great way to create space in soccer if you are a player in central or wide areas.
Checking out wide to receive the ball centrally
The first movement the attacker will make will be towards a wide area of the pitch pulling the defender with them.
This will create space for the second movement back into central areas to receive the ball
Players who play in central areas and between defensive lines will benefit most from this type of movement.
Moving into an area that a teammate has just left
Creating space in this manner requires a lot more awareness from the players involved and can involve 2 or more players.
Not only is this a great way to create space in soccer during open play, but when executed properly it can also provide great goal-scoring opportunities from attacking set pieces.
Player 1 will make a decoy run and drag the defender with them.
This will allow player 2 to move into the space that player 1 has left.
The example above is of a wide player dropping into a more central position that would create space behind for the full-back to exploit
Here are some examples of how you can create space on attacking corner kicks in soccer.
Spread out as much as possible your team is in possession of the ball
This seems like a basic tip on how to create space in soccer but you’ll be supposed at how many youth soccer teams fail to do this.
When in possession of the ball it is essential that teams use the entire width and height (providing they are not offside) of the pitch.
If you encourage your teams to do this you will notice that your players will have more time on the ball, players in the middle will have great space to receive the ball, and opposition teams will become stretched which allows bigger gaps to exploit by dribbling or passing.
Above, is an example of the huge difference spreading out can make in possession of the ball.
Look how much more space has been created by using the full width and height of the pitch!
Now compare this to a team not utilizing the entire width and height of the pitch.
Make overlapping runs to support teammates
An overlapping run is where a teammate will run from behind and around the outside of the player on the ball.
An overlapping run can create a temporary 2v1 providing it is used properly.
The overlapping run will put the opposition defender in a difficult situation.
If they choose to close down the player on the ball, then the player making the run will have more space to receive the ball.
However, if they choose to track the movement of the player making the run then this creates more space for the player on the ball to exploit.
Here is a full session plan for working on overlapping runs in soccer.
Creating space | Final thoughts
Learning how to create space in soccer whether it be individually or as a team is incredibly important and will separate a great team from an average team.
It is not only the responsibility of an individual to create space for themselves but also the players who are not in possession of the ball.
By spreading out they are stretching out the opposition that allows bigger spaces to exploit when attacking.
Like any skill in soccer, learning how to create space is something that will take time and something you must be consistent with.
These are some great soccer spacing drills that you can use alongside these space-creating tactics.
Thank you for reading and make sure to share this post with other coaches and players.