Soccer Skills:

To Attack Through the Middle, or Down the Sides?

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The Middle Gets Congested - (Photo: Dailyyouthsoccer.com)

When orchestrating a well-working offense in your youth soccer team, one has to think about what part of the field to attack from.  Do you want your team to ram it down their throats with movement straight down the center of the field, or would you prefer to attack the fullbacks and the flanks so your players can send in crosses to score headers from.  These decisions are very important for a coach and can go a long way to defining how your season shapes up.  So which is the correct way to attack?

It depends; not only on the skills and attributes of your players, but also the way your opponent looks.  Both methods have their benefits and their faults, so you need to weigh and balance what style works best in the current game.

Attacking down the middle is best if your soccer team has players with great ball control.  The middle of the park can get congested when you figure there is likely to be two central defenders and possibly two center midfielders blocking your path.  Often times your attack will only feature two or three players, so it will be difficult to progress.  However, if your team has control, and can pass efficiently, the center of the field is the best way to attack and surely will lead to the most shots on goal.

Organizing your offensive players to attack the wings can be beneficial too, especially if you have a tall player with great heading abilities and wingers who can cross the ball in well.  The sides of the field offer your team a lot of space, as there is usually just a single fullback there to defend.  Thus it is easier to push up the field, and if your winger can float in a decent cross goal-scoring chances will come about.  The difficulties reside in that crossing can be especially difficult in youth soccer.  Likewise, your striker is likely to face at least two or three defenders and a goalie, so they are heavily outnumbered, lessening the likelihood of a goal.

Therefore, I recommend that if your team has a couple skilled midfielders and forwards that you should push them to attack down the middle of the field.  This will test the heart of their defense and will ultimately lead to more shots on target from good angles.  It does totally depend on the team, however, so I would recommend as a coach, that your team should try both methods during the first half, see which way works better, and use the second half to focus your attack in either the middle or the sides.  Being able to adapt to the game can pay huge dividends when your team takes charge in the second half.

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Nicholas Spiller resides in LA where he dreams of musical super-stardom on his bass guitar. He also writes for Sportspiller.com and is an avid Arsenal fan!

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