Where is the Space? Part 1: The Parallel

Updated: Aug 10, 2019

Part 1: The Parallel: The Unexpected Width


By Marcelo Antonelli




INTRODUCTION

In order to score in soccer, you obviously want to try to get the ball close to your opponents’ goal.


If you are trying to accomplish this by using a connection (a penetrating pass), it is natural to try to find space by simply playing the ball behind the defenders.

Normally, that is the solution. But, not always.


In this series of articles, we will present a broad and new perspective on how to see, create and explore spaces in order to effectively accomplish penetrating passes.


This perspective will be outlined in 3 different articles, each of them with a corresponding video, which will pair the ‘theory” presented in the article with actual images from soccer and futsal matches.


TYPES OF PASSING

Before we start presenting some types of passing, let’s make clear that there are many different ways to consider “types of passing.”


You can focus on:

  • parts of the foot (inside, outside, laces, etc.)

  • body position (facing forward, positioning of the base foot, etc.)

  • spins on the ball (to either side, backspin or lack of spin in the driven balls)

  • the distance of the pass (short, middle, long)

  • ball trajectory (on the ground, in the air, flicks, etc.)


This is not a comprehensive list. Many other factors could be considered.


We just want to make it clear that in these articles (and videos), our focus will be on the relationship between the passes and the positions of teammates and opponents.


We will present an innovative perspective inspired by the concepts of high-level Futsal applied on the soccer field.


THE NORM

Almost every player learns from early ages that a “through ball” (behind the defenders) can get their team close to the opponents’ goal.


And, this makes perfect sense. Teams often “push up,” trying to make a high line, so the opposing team has less space for creating/possessing. If you can get in behind with a through ball, it can be a great option. In other “regions” of the field, the wall pass (1-2, give and go) is normally the most sought combination, and in terms of concepts, is very similar to the through ball, with the second pass played behind at least one defender.


But, how does the strategy change against a low and tight defense? Or, in scenarios where a defender closes the pass back to the first player in the wall pass? Read on to find out.


FUTSAL

Futsal provides less space than soccer. The goal is much smaller and there are no offsides. It is really hard to score in Futsal if you are more than 12 yards away from the opponents’ goal (based on my experience as a futsal goalkeeper). As a result, when playing against organized teams, Futsal players must be very creative to find or “create” little pockets of space in order to connect and get the ball closer to the opponents’ goal.


As a result, Futsal tactics developed strategies to find spaces for penetrating passes, not only behind defenders but by using spaces “outside” or “in front” of a defender.


These strategies can be very effective on the soccer field.


PART 1: “THE PARALLEL”

Let’s begin by thinking about the Give and Go (1-2, wall pass).

This is a very effective strategy, is not hard to teach, and can be used frequently at almost any level of soccer.


For pedagogical reasons, let’s consider the Wall Pass in a 2v2 scenario with players starting almost at the same “height” (line) on the field:


Figure 1: Player (02) passes the ball to Player (01) and runs forward, aiming to receive the ball back behind Player (B).






Figure 2: Player (B) ball watches. Player (A) steps to the ball. Player (02) runs forward and is free to receive the pass back from (01). In this case, the wall pass is successfully completed.


The scenario described in Figure 2 happens all of the time at many levels of soccer (of course, there are many variations in terms of the position of the players and the number of players involved).


But, other times, the following occurs (Figure 3).


Figure 3: Player (02) wants to receive the Wall Pass back, but it won’t work because Player (A) is closing the path of the ball. Also, Player (B) did not ball watch and dropped back with Player (02).


This results in the team losing possession of the ball (Figure 4).


Figure 4: Player (A) intercepts the ball; therefore, the team in white loses possession of the ball. At the same time, Player (02) gets “stuck” behind Player B. Even if (A) did not close the pass, (B) would have intercepted it.


Sometimes, even in a 2v1, teams lose possession of the ball in similar scenarios.

It is only “natural” for Player (01) to try to play back to Player (02) with a pass towards the direction of Player (02).


But, it is also almost “natural” for Players (A) and (B) to try to close the pass back towards Player (02).


What could the team in white do differently in order to succeed in this combination?

There are many effective answers to this question.


In this article, we will talk about one of the options: The Parallel Ball


Let’s go back to Figure 3, but add a change of direction in the run for Player (02) and a little “twist” from Player (01):


Figure 5: Player (02) changes the direction of the run as shown by the white arrows. Player (01) moves the ball a little wider and plays a pass to Player (02) into space parallel to the sideline by using the space “outside” of Player (A). If Player (A) gets too close to Player (01), then Player (01) can use a “flick” to avoid allowing Player (A) to intercept the ball. The flick also may slow down the pass, which can be good in certain scenarios.


What figure 5 describes is “The Parallel” in Futsal.

It is a consistent part of Futsal strategies.


Why is this important?

Because it is one of many strategies in Futsal that teaches players to read the play, and when necessary, make a change in the direction of their run.

It also teaches the player with the ball to see spaces and make movements that they normally wouldn’t consider.


It is very important to make clear that while it is important to “learn” strategies like this, players will only be able to apply these strategies after they “master” them. There is no better way to master something in soccer than by applying it multiple times in a competitive environment.


This is what Futsal with the right strategies can provide.


Let’s look at a few more examples in different scenarios:


Figure 6: Center forward “surfs the line” towards the right forward and then changes direction in order to receive a parallel ball. The right forward plays the ball “outside” of the left back.


Figure 7: Parallel developed in the outside of the field.


Of course, the parallel can occur in many different scenarios and must be taught and practiced in perspective of alternative movements. One’s repertoire of Futsal movements is what can become a “weapon” on the field for soccer players.

In order to keep this article as simple as possible, we chose to only talk about the parallel.

In the next article, we will cover “The Opposite Movement” of the parallel: The Diagonal.


In the third segment of “Where is the Space?” we will talk about solutions for finding spaces when opposing teams close the parallel or the diagonal, and how practicing these movements can help players become more creative and efficient on the soccer field.

For now, please watch the video below for images of the parallel being used in a variety of scenarios in both professional soccer and Futsal matches:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRZ7-72jH84&t=256s



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