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Nov, 2017

Disguise in Soccer

Disguise in soccer is used to create space in and behind defenders that the attackers can use to create goal-scoring opportunities.  Understanding disguise can be daunting task for youth players and coaches alike, but it’s important to reiterate during training and emphasize the need for players to experiment in match play.  Disguise can be broken down in to three key areas for players.  Disguise in a player’s dribbling, passing and runs off the ball.

Disguise in Dribbling
Deceptiveness in a player’s dribbling is the first area of emphasis for a youth player.  They need only track the ball, the pressure from the first defender and the space they are attacking.  To deceive the defender they will use a fake or feint to unbalance the defender and create space they can then attack on the dribble. But what is the difference between and fake and a feint?

A fake is done with the ball; actually moving the ball in one direction, then quickly changing direction to put the defender off balance.  The key to successfully fooling a defender and executing a fake, is a low center of gravity until they explode into the space created using their next touch.

A feint is done with a movement of the body, before contacting the ball and can be done with any part of the body.  A head feint, drop in the center of gravity to one side or movement of the foot to one side can be enough to get the defender to shift their body weight in the wrong direction.

The key to either fakes or feints is the speed of execution.  It shouldn’t slow the dribble.  Emphasis will need to remain on keeping the ball moving and maintaining speed or accelerating.

Disguise in Passing
To disguise a pass, you simply need to make your opponents think that you will pass the ball in one direction, but actually target a teammate in another direction. To do this a player can use physical or verbal cues, unexpected surfaces of their foot or body to play the ball or an unexpectedly quick release of the ball.

Physical and verbal cues are what defenders look for to track the attackers and defend effectively.  If those cues actually unbalance a defense, it can create quite the headache!  A simple example of this is for a player to call out to a teammate and then target a teammate in a different area.  The defender may anticipate the ball to be played to one area and that can create space and time for the actual target.   A physical cue would be angling your body in the direction of a teammate, but then quickly turning and releasing a pass to another area before the defense has time to adjust.

Another method of disguise is to use an unexpected surface of the foot to distribute the ball.  Either the outside or heel of the foot can be used to quickly flick or chip the ball on to a teammate that is running past or behind the player. This is especially effective with many opponents around you because you will be playing the ball in the opposite direction that you are currently facing.

The simplest method is to quickly release the ball before the defense has time to adjust and get their shape in behind the ball.  Keeping the defense unbalanced is always the best way to attack.  The key here is to track your teammates and know your targets before you even have the ball.  Sometimes easier said than done!

Disguise in Runs
Ultimately, movement off the ball should drag defenders and create pockets of space in and behind the defense that the attackers can exploit.  It doesn’t take much, just a yard or two of space could be all your team needs to find the net.  Decidedly the most difficult concept for youth players, movement off the ball is difficult for a defense to track and plan for.

The youngest players can not be expected to drag defenders out of shape on the weak side of the field, in order to create pockets that the ball can be played in to, but immediate width and depth can provide space for the attack.  Simple overlapping runs, give & go/wall passes and angled runs behind the defense should be emphasized at the younger age groups. The key is introducing these concepts in their simplest form and then building on them over time.

More experienced players should always be making quick runs in and then pulling out to create space between themselves and the defenders or quick bursts away from the player on the ball to create space that they can dribble in to.  Timing of runs and reading your teammates movement is crucial.

Use what you’ve learned
If we want to player’s benefit from the methods above, we must encourage them to try them in training and match play.  They will not always be successful, they will often take themselves out of shape or even lose the ball, but if they don’t try it they will never find the success they need to master the game!

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