Understanding the Importance of Possession
Every well-oiled soccer team works on possession because the coaches know that it greatly increases their chances of winning games. Not only is it a more attractive brand of soccer, it is also the best way to break down defenses and score goals.
If you take a look at the top teams in each of the world’s top soccer leagues, you will notice something about how the possession numbers correlate to each team’s position in their respective tables. For example, during the 2014/2015 Premier League season, the top six clubs in the standings also happened to be in the top six in team possession.
You’ve probably noticed that great possession teams generally have the best team chemistry. This is because practicing being a good possession team often leads to better chemistry between teammates. Players know when their teammates are going to make runs, and it also helps to form an understanding of when the team needs to reset the possession or get back on defense.
Ball possession in soccer is so much more than just keeping the ball away from the other team. It also teaches players that shooting is not always the best choice since it will lower the amount of time that the team has the ball. Great possession teams work the ball around the pitch and have plenty of off-ball movement.
Teams that focus on high possession numbers have to be creative. There is a big difference between simply kicking the ball around and doing it with purpose. Even if a possession lasts seven straight minutes, it should be leading to something. Forwards should keep looking for openings behind the defense, midfielders should look for those runs, and defenders should be available for a pass if the team needs to reset.
Look at some of the best long passers in the world and you will see that they don’t always pass it long. In fact, the majority of their passes are short. They work their long passes into the team’s philosophy of holding on to the ball until the time comes when the defense can be broken down with a long pass.
Keeping possession of the ball can keep your team fresh while fatiguing the opponents quickly. The more the ball moves from one side of the field to the other, the opposing team will wear down as they attempt to chase it down. Just watch how much slower a team gets in the second half of a soccer game after they had to chase the ball around the pitch during the first half. No matter how much you work on your stamina, it is tiring chasing the other team for that long.
One of the best things about having good possession numbers is how much it can frustrate the opposing team. Not only do teams get frustrated with the fact that they can’t get the ball, they will often make multiple mistakes in an attempt to regain possession.
When you are known as a great possession team, other teams will usually have to have a great counter-attack to have a chance against you. Forcing an opponent to change their game plan because they know you play a high possession game gives you an advantage before the game even begins!
The last point that has to be made is that there is more than one type of high-possession strategy. Some teams focus too much on keeping the ball rather than taking a more aggressive approach to possession. While high possession numbers are important, the main goal of this strategy has to be to keep the opposing defense on its heels. This means that teams need to develop a strategy to get (and keep) the ball in the opponents side of the field for the majority of each possession.
As you can see, playing a good possession game is an excellent way to play the game of soccer. Teams all around the world have started to implement the high-possession strategy since it is clear in the statistics that it is the future of the sport.
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