The importance of players who are far from the ball in soccer.


Not too long ago I had the opportunity to hear the term supra-superiority in the world of football, referring to the importance it has gained in modern times for a team to be "11".

This that can seem very simple, becomes fundamental when what we want to express is that the 11 players who are on the field must not only do so in person, but that they must all have an active participation in the game. Said active participation must take the form of both the offensive phase and the defensive phase.

How many times during a match, whether amateur or professional, have we been able to hear phrases and expressions such as: "so-and-so is not involved in the match", "little guy is not here and is not expected" or "he is not plugged in today". There are not a few times that we have been able to hear them or even say them ourselves, and that completely breaks with the concept of a team that is worked so hard by the coaching staff of any senior team and also in teams of formative stages.

The active participation of all players corresponds to the role that each of them has within the game cycle and how to participate in each of its phases. In this way, from the tactical intentions that are carried out individually, the group will obtain benefits in the form of advantages over the rival. There are different ways to take advantage of these advantages: it can be with the occupation of free spaces, detecting favorable situations before the rival, and compensating for imbalances that are occurring and that the rival team can take advantage of to hurt us. In short, so that all of the above can be given, taken advantage of or corrected, all players must maintain a relationship with the game. Everyone must be connected to what is happening. From this situation arises the importance of the distant.

Remote players, to feel part of the game, must identify and recognize their role with respect to the active zone. Francisco Seirul-lo (responsible for the methodology of FC Barcelona) in his dimensioned dynamic spaces divides the field into 3 spaces with respect to the ball. The first zone is called the intervention zone. In this area we recognize the figure of the ball holder and the first defender (player with the intention of stealing or dissuading). The contiguous zone is classified as a mutual aid zone and where we find the players close to the ball who become fixers, immediate receivers or second defenders. And lastly, the cooperation zone appears, in which there are players with indirect intervention in the game, such as second and third defenders or intermediate receivers. Their participation is related to the medium and long term.

These spaces that Seirul-lo defines are dynamic, constantly changing depending on the owner and their location, orientation, and tactical intent. It is the task of the players to identify these aspects in order to transform their role at all times.

We are going to focus on the importance of the players who do not have direct intervention in the game, but rather their role is to allow and facilitate things to happen during the phases and sub-phases of the game. With their location they are influencing behaviors that generate advantages in the active zone.

With this we chain the maxim with which we started: All players not only play, but all players participate.

We grow up footballing with the idea that if we don't touch the ball during the game we have played a bad game. Most footballers think that influencing the game is only done through the ball and that if they are not in the active zone or very close to it, they cannot be in a position to perform any function.

It is a mistake to think that way, and it is a job for coaches to convince that sometimes it is more important to facilitate situations in order to take advantage of certain advantages, than moving with the intention of approaching the intervention zone and canceling beneficial situations that occurred with the first location.

All win-win situations have a shelf life. We must be able to detect them to take advantage of them, if it is not possible for the opposing team to notice them and correct the situation.

A teacher I had in coaching school used to say that if someone wasn't ready to attack, they should be ready to defend. I would add that only one team has the ball and that they must know what to do with it to progress and what to do if they lose it. This process must be known by those near and far. In fact, there are coaches whose working method is based on the behavior of the block in transitions: defense-attack, attack-defense.

The importance of the distant player is knowing how to differentiate when he should prioritize his behavior as a compensator, when as a long-term receiver and when as a fixer of a player, players or an interval.

If the players are able to identify what role they have at each moment, the intervention will always be appropriate.

This role is not always the same. They must recognize what their role is and see how the game is developing in order to be able to modify their functions and assume that there may be simultaneous roles at the same time and that, depending on the cycle of the game, they have to adopt one. or another.

All this must lead us to a very specific goal: the player is always playing. He doesn't always do it from possession, but sometimes he does it from help, from cooperation, from detection.

Therefore, as coaches, we must provide them with the necessary tools so that they are able to recognize themselves in the game, so that they can detect threats and opportunities and be able to take advantage of or correct them. There are situations that only those far away can detect.

When coaches set up a structure, we start from the basis that it is not fixed, it is a variable and dynamic formation, prepared to try to respond to all the contexts that occur during a football match. Within this system there are certain roles that the players must know in order to later know how to recognize themselves in them.

In the intervention zone, as we have said, are the possessor and the first defender. In the mutual help one there are short-term fixers and receivers in the offensive plane and second defenders who are the ones who carry out help, coverage or adjustments in the defensive plane.

The first figure within the plane of the distant is the figure of the mediate receiver or long-term receiver. We understand the meaning of this role as that player who is likely to receive the ball and become a possessor after a sequence of passes. The intended recipient must

prepare based on who will be your passer, the number of opponents you have and the space you are going to attack. The important thing about this process is to recognize who will be the player who is going to give him the pass, try to foresee how the circulation is going to go to adapt his orientation, his trajectory, his moment of receiving and the space where he is going to get it. The advantage may originate from receiving the pass to the foot or space, seeking to eliminate opponents from the equation.

It is of vital importance that the long-term receiver is capable of detecting signs that occur in the movement of the ball itself that make him interpret who will be the protagonists and the possible interveners of that cycle of the game to know from which player he could receive the pass. . Also, it is necessary to convince the distant player to be patient because it is through his location that the team can build different advantages. Bringing forward or delaying your intervention can destroy the possible advantage to turn it into a threat, so it is necessary to know how to wait for the moment (timing).

As we are talking about players far from the active zone of the ball, we understand that the process to become a player is long. It is during this phase that the player or players furthest from the possessor become compensators for the structure. With this, what we mean is that we must not only have the ability to intuit how many passes he can be to receive the ball, but he must also prepare himself to be able to balance the team in the face of a possible loss in this phase. This situation places him as the player who provides balance to the system. In the ambivalence of being able to become a threat to the rival, in the offensive phase, or in becoming a mismatch detector in order to help, in the defensive phase, lies our success as players far from the intervention zone.

We must work with what trajectory to return to the defensive structure after a loss: diagonal, perpendicular, return to the same axis, change of axis, occupy intermediate...

The compensating player, as we have said before, must be able to recognize imbalances that occur within the cycle of the game and that may pose a threat to the structure. If, for example, in a 1-4-2-3-1 system, the farthest pivot identifies that a side is in second or third height and there is a quantitative imbalance, he must correct his position and merge with the defensive line, or be prepared to jump to intermediate zones to become the first harasser and slow down the offensive transition of the opposing team, with the aim that the left behind and outmatched of our team can return. With all this, those who are far away have the ability to correct unfavorable situations.

The distant ones can also be fixers. We define a fixer as that player who tries to capture the attention of an opponent with the intention of nullifying or delaying his intervention. It can be fixed with or without a balloon; in this case, being in the far zone, we can only be fixers without the ball and allow other players to benefit from their position, generating new contexts from the elimination of rivals.

We can be fixators from the width, which allows spaces to appear inside, or we can fixate in height, which will generate spaces to open up in intermediate zones, likely to be conquered by colleagues or even by oneself, chaining a situation advantageous from fixation.

Thanks to being fixers, the distant players continue to facilitate and allow favorable situations in the intervention zones and mutual aid. We continue to generate advantages from remote areas.

The ball has a hypnotic power. Coaches must convince their players that not everything happens in the areas closest to the ball, but that they must be able to see beyond

to be possessor We have to make them believe in the importance of always playing, always intuiting, because only then will the players believe in their value, wherever they are located.

By David López, @euskadifutbolsessions

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