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Movement & Change of Pace

Soccer players are constantly working on new moves to add to their personal bag of tricks that will help them perform while under pressure. The ability of a player to create space between them and their opponent gives them more options with the ball….dribble, pass or shoot. Players should continue to maximize their touches at training in order to develop more self-confidence and a better touch with the ball.

During the course of a game, only one player possesses the ball. What happens to the other 19 field players without the ball? Very little training is put into this situation of a player without the ball. Movement and Change of pace are two elements that separate and define an average player from the top players on the field. The top players are the ones that end up making a significant difference during a soccer game.

A player without the ball needs to find space to receive the ball and move to leave space for teammates to take over. A player that is constantly moving will create difficulties for the opposition. Communication between defenders becomes more difficult and the concentration level of the defender is challenged. A player that does not move is predictable and easily marked. This player will also have to perform under pressure all the time. So, how do we train for this situation? How can we develop good fundamentals without the ball?

One of the first steps to moving without the ball is to be totally fit, so that you can be constantly moving. The more fit a player is, the more determined he or she will be to move during the game. This physical conditioning will develop a players' mental attitude towards movement. And movement creates space. Every time the ball moves, you need to remind yourself to move and get into a better space on the field. Often players will tell themselves "move, move, move," so that it becomes second nature.

Movement is very important for success on the field however, change of pace is a necessary element in order to play at the higher levels. Players need to develop different speeds of play. Too many players play at the same speed. Unfortunately these one tempo players are easily marked and find difficulties finding space to make quality decisions on the field with the ball.

Well planned changes of tempo and rhythm are the mark of top individual players and top teams. The ability to condition a defender to slow down and then quickly surprise them with a faster pace is imperative to becoming a better soccer player. Change of pace creates more options for you and your teammates. This is the trade mark of Thierry Henry of Arsenal, one of the most dangerous strikers in the world. So, if you want to become a better player, get yourself physically and mentally fit. Next, practice with "move, move, move" in your head, until it becomes part of your game. With time, you will become one of those players that is difficult to mark and a menace to the defense.


Stingrays Soccer • 501 Waterman Ave. • East Providence, RI • 401-289-2240