Long ball soccer is often looked
down on, and it’s not my own favorite style. Still, it has its uses. In
particular, it may be necessary to go to longer passes when
the field is too poor for possession soccer
weather conditions make possession soccer too difficult (e.g.
high winds or a very bumpy field)
team technique is too weak to sustain possession passing
Long ball soccer is simple to
describe, but requires a tremendous effort from the attackers to be
Essentially, at every opportunity
the defenders and midfielders fire long balls toward the edge of the box.
Attackers take turns competing for the ball, and moving into space to pick
up the resulting second ball, whether from the attacker winning the ball or
simply a loose ball near the edge of the box.
Because midfielders are hardly
involved in the attack, they basically become extra defenders playing in the
middle of the field, which makes these teams hard to score against.
The forwards just keep working. The
long ball attack fails almost all the time, because it makes no effort to
get “numbers up,” or to support the strikers. They are always outnumbered.
Usually strikers try to find seams
in the defense or areas where there are fewer defenders, and the long ball
is aimed at these less strongly defended spaces. See Figure 36 below.
Working the long ball
In the figure
above, D1 has the ball and is planning an immediate long ball. D6 is
showing for the ball in front of the defense.
midfielders D4 and D5 are essentially playing as extra defenders.
strikers keep trying to confuse the defense and find a small
strikers must compete for every long ball
target area is usually (but not always) toward the sideline
where defense is weakest
midfielders mostly play defense
defenders make no effort to maintain possession. When they win
the ball they send it long as soon as possible.
Defenders try if possible to put the ball over the defense
No pressing in attacking third because midfield is primarily
defensive, and attackers must save energy to challenge for long balls
Long ball soccer is not the
“beautiful game.” And against teams that are highly skilled, long ball
soccer usually loses. Still, at the right time and place, it can be highly
effective. It may be necessary on really bad fields, or in very poor weather
Every team needs to know
how to play long ball when they find themselves in an emergency situation
where only long ball soccer will work.