Peter Schreiner is the author and producer of many books, articles and DVDs on soccer as well as the creator of the software 'Easy Sports-Graphics' which is especially designed for coaches. He is the chairman of the German Institute of Youth soccer and Co-Founder of the German Soccer Academy. He coached the youth team of Schalke 04 and is now an official coach of the German Football Federation. Norbert Elgert started his career as a professional Bundesliga player for Schalke 04. After his career, he pursued a way of active coaching and won the German youth championship with Schalke's team. He is an official coach for the German Football Federation.
I Counter attack
In today's soccer, the amount of space around the ball is becoming increasingly smaller, but the pressure on the player in possession of the ball from opponent and pressure of time continue to increase. In addition, modern, ball-oriented approaches to defense and strategies make successful actions in the orderly, safe structure of the possession attack more difficult. This fact warrants the development of offensive counter strategies.
This makes the quick counter move after winning the ball all the more important. Many of the goals scored during a game come after a quick touch directly after the ball is won. It is no coincidence that most of the goals in a game are scored after fewer than five passes.
Successful teams switch from defense to offense at lightning speed. In fact, the entire team should mentally prepare for their possible counter attack during the defensive phase. Immediately after gaining possession, the players purposefully utilize the opponent's brief disorganization (ideally as a majority). They don't waste time looking for the quickest, most direct path to the opposing goal.
Successful counter attacks require meticulous and thorough preparation and development during training. There is an important and crucial difference between counter attack and attacking play, or rather attack tactic. Pure attacking play as a team tactic is characterized by the entire team retreating completely into their half when the opponent has possession of the ball and, after regaining possession, starting quick, targeted counter attacks against the opponent, who has moved well up the field and whose defense is thus open.
After gaining possession of the ball, the counter attack produces a quick gain of space and a majority with few passes or high-speed dribbling. Ideally, the first or second pass reaches a teammate in front of the ball.
1.1 Counter attack mentality
During the game, all players closely watch the opponent's defense so they can offer a coordinated and appropriate reaction. They read the opponent's game independently but also view it through the same eyes.
A counter attack is always preceded by a mistake by the opponent. The idea is to provoke this mistake. Teams with a counter attack mentality always anticipate the possibility of a counter attack and are prepared to quickly switch to attack mode after gaining possession of the ball. All players keep constant track of the game and know the exact location of ball, opponent, and teammates.
1.2 Three counter attack phases
before gaining possession of the ball (preparation).
after gaining possession of the ball (execution).
after the counter attack (switch to attack or counter attack by the opponent).
1.2.1 Phase prior to gaining possession of the ball
The defending team directs the opponent's attack into a specific zone on the field. The sideline is very helpful for this purpose. Where the opponent's attack is directed depends upon:
- a team's tactics and its own game plan
- the particular game situation
- the opponent's strengths and weaknesses.
The defending team seeks to have a majority at the place where it plans to take possession. The players in front of the ball, usually the forwards, narrow their push toward the ball and, thinking ahead, already stagger themselves smartly toward the depth of the field for a possible counter attack.