Tactical skills – the basics

Football can be seen as one of the easiest sport. You only need a ball and some sticks to make goals. But this makes football difficult too, how to play, how to pass accurately and how to score more goals than your opponent. You can make football simpler in two ways: play ‘Kick and rush’ or tutor your players to understand the game better-the latter is much more difficult but the horizon is wider too.

Tactical skills vs. technical skills

An average player owns the ball less than 90 seconds throughout the match, this means that the players’ movements and actions without the ball are more important, having greater impact on the team’s performance. These decisions are about when to run and where to run. He has to understand his role and his duty, and he must make a decision in every particular moment, how to act in attack or in defend. Decisions are the most essential parts of the game, it is required to be good at evaluating situations and decision-making.

Football requires several technical (passing, nevtelen1dribbling, tackling) and tactical (anticipation, off the ball movement, positioning) skills. There are many different situation that must be perceived, and interpreted, if this process is accurate and fast enough the player can gain advantage and give solid performances. The solutions, for the occurring problems, firstly we have to recognise, practice, and finally execute if it’s possible. When the player easily  and skilfully perceives and interprets the situations throughout the match, then comes the technical skill.

The required good game-intelligence skill can be improved with small-sided drills, such as the fundamental game actions, the ‘one-twos’.

One-twos appear during the whole match, three times a minute at least, this means three hundred times in ninety minutes. Most of the players can’t notice these chances, these situations. This is the field where we can make edge, because if we slightly improve this skill, the difference is going to be huge. This is the basic tactical element of football, 60% of ball dispossession caused by misunderstanding of the game, and bad decisions, I think we can improve in this indicator.


  • Trying to choose the best possible action in accurate and quick fashion.
  • Using high concentration abilities, balancing the risk while aiming the best outcome.
  • Choosing between playing directly with higher pace, or lowering the tempo to keep possession.
  • Being composed, and ‘know what to do’ by surveying the whole pitch, using space and the teammates movement.
  • To know when and where to pass, or is it better to keep possession.
  • Playing simple. The most difficult part of the game.


Anticipation is one of the mature ways of dealing with real stress…. You reduce the stress of some difficult challenge by anticipating what it will be like and preparing for how you are going to deal with it. There is evidence that the use of mature defenses (sublimation, anticipation) tended to increase with age.

Robin Skynner/John Cleese

This skill enables to the player to react more quickly to events throughout the match, can predict his teammates’ or the opponents’ actions or movements.3543309219_ae053086bc_b

For example, in case of a successful finishing the extra time given with a successful anticipation for a striker is not only advantageous, but may also be essential in circumstances where the time taken to process and react to an event exceeds the time available. Anticipating the movement of an opponent crucial in sport, one of the main recognizance of star players is that they never appear hurried when executing skills. The ability to anticipate is a fundamental predictor of good results, and has to be systematically trained. Improving anticipatory abilities takes years of training. Anticipation skill drills should be built into the training within early age developmental programs.

In reality, football is difficult. You have to deal with a lot of variable, complex schemes, and unpredictability. You have to choose the team’s formation, philosophy, and the concept behind. You can play in 4-2-3-1 with counter-pressing, or with attacking fullbacks, or you can park the bus. Nothing is infallible on the pitch, you have to adapt and decide in every minutes.

(The video about Lampard game intelligence and decision-making was shared by @Keepitonthedeck on twitter)


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