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Know Your Playing Style

What is a playing style?

The choice and implementation of a playing style depends largely on the quality of the players, their level of footballing knowledge, their level of technique and their ability to adapt.

A playing style derives from a playing system and from specific team organization; in other words, the movements of the players depend on the playing style adopted. A style of play and the tactical movement may vary from one game to another, or even during the same match. Below are some simple principles to determine and refine your playing style:

Definitions that will make up your playing style

Playing system

  • For example, 1-4-4-2 (two central defenders, not a reinforced line [sweeper])

Team organization

  • This refers to the allocation of defensive and attacking duties by individual positions and by lines, and the relationships between these positions and lines.


Forwards, In Defense - 1st, win the ball; 2nd, force/channel.

Forwards, In Attack - 1st and 2nd movement: 1st, check to receive, 2nd runs, lateral runs, post-up.

Game plan

  • This is the strategy adopted for a specific match (with collective and individual instructions issued).


Where are your confrontation and restraining lines? How do we press? Possession vs. penetration.

Game strategies

  • These refer to tactical elements that are specific to the game. They determine the playing system and the organization of the team in attacking and defensive phases of the game. The instructions issued are implemented both individually and collectively, depending on the position of the team unit on the pitch and, of course, the game situation.


Attacking strategies — Go forward as soon as possible and exploit the channels; get in behind them with the fullbacks pushing forward.

Defensive strategies — Stop balls being played in to their forwards’ feet centrally, PCB needs to be adapted quickly and with focus.


  • This refers to the movement of the team as a whole and the coordinated switching of positions of the players on the pitch.


Attack with purpose in a 1-3-4-3 formation. Have dynamic movements individually and as collective units and interchange positions and responsibilities as the game dictates.

Examples of Team Training Sessions - Defending

1) Game with 10v9

Unrestricted play; with or without specific instructions for the (Yellow) team. The (Blue) team plays with a 1-4-4-1 formation; The (Yellow) team plays 1-3-3-3.


  • Observe the play and the individual and collective defensive behavior of the (Blue) team.
  • Question the defense of the (Blue) team about any problems they have encountered.
    • Who goes out to stop the ball carrier?
    • What are the other players doing?
    • Who is making themselves available in space after the ball has been won?

2) Session for the defense (9v6)

The players of the (Yellow) team pass the ball to each other slowly — sideways, diagonally and upfield. The (Blue) players move around according to where the ball goes.


  • Encourage the movements of the defense.
  • Get the defense to apply defensive strategies and principles.
  • Correct the position and attitude of the players and the communication between them.
  • Introduce new situations; increase the tempo of the passing.
  • How do they deal with the ball breaking the midfield line into the forwards?

3) Practice routine 9v9

  • The (Yellow) team, in a 3-3-3 formation, tries to score a goal.
  • The (Blue) team, in a 1-4-4 formation, defends in two lines; if it gains possession, it can score in either of the two small counter goals.
  • The action always starts from the middle of the pitch with a throw-in/kick-in from the coach.


  • Direct the play and encourage the (Blue) team, give instructions on tactical approach.
  • Correct mistakes in the flow or at natural stoppages, or stop the session if necessary.
  • Make the players speak to each other.
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