Women's college formation/tactics discussion.

Discussion in 'Women's College' started by themaestro, Mar 21, 2012.

  1. ZoroTheSlacker

    ZoroTheSlacker A Sophomore Dad

    Feb 12, 2012
    I said I wouldn't, but here is another video with some fair weather examples. It works the same as with snow. In the 1st game against the ECNL finalist 2 months earlier - keep had 35 touches 1st half and using this push up method we were ahead 1:0 so coach moved to less risky (traditional stack the defense) and they scored twice on us the 2nd half. They were/are a better team.

    There has not been a breakdown (goal) from playing outside the area that has resulted in a goal yet. Its no more strange than a 2-4-4 is it? Keeper started outside the PA on most these attacks. 2:38 http://youtu.be/AxtWDJWC4xc?hd=1
    (and yes of course I'm a proud papa - and have video - but this is a different formation, don't you think?)
  2. CVAL

    CVAL Member

    Dec 8, 2004
    In this video I don't see a keeper playing high I see a keeper player properly in a flat back four system.
  3. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator
    Staff Member

    May 12, 2010
    Arsenal FC
    I haven't been to this part of BigSoccer before. Looks like you guys talk about some neat stuff. Good ideas.

    What you guys are talking about is essentially stuff about Positional Play. Winning the ball as high up the field as possible. Basically your backs become sweepers in effect for the "front 8". It's not a bad idea at all.

    I've always said that the formations that are in vogue address problems in the adult, mens, professional game. Sure they have applications down the line but we have to solve what's in front of us.
  4. ZoroTheSlacker

    ZoroTheSlacker A Sophomore Dad

    Feb 12, 2012
    I've been reviewing WAY too much video. I have over 200 games of youth women playing - about 10 DI and the rest top G14-G17. I'm cleaning house before my kid goes to college. Anyway - on topic:

    Here is what I see....(formation aside).

    The top youth and middle DI - just feel about the same. The top youth are more skilled and the middle DI more mass and meaner.

    The refs are better in college - or so I think.

    -Very very rarely do girls take it from the back to the front through the mids.
    -Girls do not play as wide (as guys). They is almost always a 10 yard lane by the touch lines.
    -Girls play closer and pass closer.
    -Attacking defenders can make it from the back to the front and croos it using the touchlines
    -Few attacks / shots on goal come straight on
    -And as seen in the clips of my GK - it is very rare for a shot to be taken from the defensive half.
    -GK distribution to the backs works better than a punt. Normally the ball will get to the attacking third.
    -Goal kicks are a waste of time.
    -Speed rules for forwards - esp on those through balls
    -Players that can keep the ball near their feet are harder for the keeper to read vs those that set up the shot
    -Ground shots work better
    -Keepers spend too much time on their lines (biased keeper dad)
  5. cpthomas

    cpthomas Member+

    Portland Thorns
    United States
    Jan 10, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    United States
    While the first comment may be true for some teams, I do not believe it is true for the best D1 teams.

    Having watched Christine Sinclair play college soccer for four years, I think the second comment is true. Christine almost always shot on the ground to the far corner. It was only late in her college career that she shot higher if and as necessary.
  6. midwestfan

    midwestfan Member

    Dec 31, 2011
    Tottenham Hotspur FC
    I agree with about half of what is said here.
    -While I agree that a lot of girls teams don't play through the mids, I do see it and have noticed the trend to do so more in the last few years at the club level.
    -My daughters team play with their heels on the touchline. In fact I think they tend to get stuck out there and don't switch the field enough.
    -Not sure what you mean by this, but I've noticed our team get a lot of service/crosses from the backs pushing up. A lot of times from wingers who are dropping the ball to them out wide in the attcking third.
    -Lot's of shots from between the arc!
    -Who and at what level does anyone shoot it from the defensive half?
    -I agree not enough working the ball out of the back from the goalie. Too many punts, and unfortunately some teams depend on a strong footed goalie to put pressure on defenses with big punts.
    -Saw several goalies this weekend with goal kicks to the half way line or just short. I saw one goalie consistently kicking it past the half way line! That is tricky to play the short pass out from goal kicks.
    -Agree. No substitute for speed. And if you can couple that with skill and techinque sign her up.
    -Agree, but most have to set up the shot, so a little confused by the statement.
    -My general thought is that at distance you're going to get the ball in the air, but from inside the box keep it on the ground.

    Thanks for this little respit from work.
  7. ZoroTheSlacker

    ZoroTheSlacker A Sophomore Dad

    Feb 12, 2012
    A year has gone by. A few spring games against some strong opponents - DI now. Still the same. Got scored on a lot and team scored more (so won the games). This puts more players in the opponents half - and seems to also allow more breakaway goals.

    Still very interesting to me.
  8. bigsoccerdad

    bigsoccerdad Member

    Dec 30, 2010
    Manchester United FC
    Check out the positions that the coach themselves played and it often drives the formation. Big Ten and what we see around midwest is typically a 4 - 4 - 2 and it is as boring as could be with a heck of a lot of crowd in the defensive midfield areas....especially if the coach pulls back their midfielders and often their forwards. The goalie can't come off the line (or don't need to come off the line) or they'd be knocking heads and tangling arms with their own players giving the number of players on the defense. This formation usually means defenders are relied on to move forward on the outside, and then midfielders have to squeeze in. One team is hoping for one breakout moment to get out of their defensive zone. Prefer a 3 - 4- 3 for a more exciting game, but no team will chance that unless the other team is using same strategy. If they don't use this more offensive strategy, then in a 4-4-2 formation they should be using their central midfields to move up top more often (eg. VD on Illinois team has a strong scoring record as a midfielder because she is used almost like a forward and it works for the Illini). Coach was a standout offensive player herself and this seems to come through in her coaching. But for many other programs, we tend to see all the midfielders on the defense which shifts the game to "all about the defense".
  9. ZoroTheSlacker

    ZoroTheSlacker A Sophomore Dad

    Feb 12, 2012
    In high school the coach so loaded the defense players could barely move. There was just a difficult path to the goal. I prefer fewer defenders if the teams are matched.
    With the keeper playing high and 3 in the back I saw us get scored on more and score even more. We got the Ws. However I think coaches would prefer the clean sheet 1-0 wins over a multiple goals for both sides wins. Just a hunch. I counted 22 touches by the keeper playing high and she recorded no saves. I think the whole stat keeping is on criteria that has come to be expected. It like the W stat only...
  10. Steve#26

    Steve#26 New Member

    Apr 25, 2013
    Borussia Dortmund
    My girl started playing 433 a few years ago after a few years of 442 with a centre diamond. At first I was overly impressed with 433 as it became predictable. As the years progressed and more experienced coaches came along its turned into an art that is very interesting to watch with players have multiple roles and the structural morphs depending on whether attacking or defending. A good centre forward can direct compressed or open play without saying a word by her actions.
    I'm assuming your 433 is staggered in a way that looks like 4 2 1 3 in attack and the wide forwards drop back to 4 2 3 1 in defence. Centre forward plays between the centre backs and often offside to mess with backs heads until a few seconds before the midfield play starts, then steps back onside.

    Its the tactical use of formation that's fun to watch. These are only HS kids.
  11. ZoroTheSlacker

    ZoroTheSlacker A Sophomore Dad

    Feb 12, 2012
    It was very frustrating to watch HS. We had 4-5 clubs and their style mixed in with the HS coach's style and some bad officiating and it was just a smack down.
  12. jimhalpert

    jimhalpert Member

    Jan 9, 2011
    Arsenal FC
    United States
    Or in the case of our center forward, forgets to step back and is offside 5 or 6 times a game.
  13. Steve#26

    Steve#26 New Member

    Apr 25, 2013
    Borussia Dortmund
    Haha! Yes it does require some discipline but you can uncompressed their defence with some practice.
    Should never stand still in that role so both CB's are looking over their shoulder.
  14. Steve#26

    Steve#26 New Member

    Apr 25, 2013
    Borussia Dortmund
    How many coaches play their girls against boys teams?
    And what age group.

    At U16 mines playing against U14 and U15 boys a couple of non comp games per month.
    To develop speed of play and physical strength.
  15. ZoroTheSlacker

    ZoroTheSlacker A Sophomore Dad

    Feb 12, 2012
    My kid's team didn't. I do see a number of problems with this. In college, the men's teams are on a different level. Playing rec teams could cause injury. They could play younger club teams.
    At young ages girls and guys are near the same. Not when they are older. Women do not play like men and the speed/timing/formation is different.

    My kid about U12 would be in goal while the guys were finishing. The shots were way harder. She went from catching the ball to blocking. She would commit earlier. She got good at stopping guys shots. That affected - negatively her girls game. Back from college now she does block more, I expect because college women's shots are harder and/or that is how she was coached. But what applied for youth club and college are different. It takes time to unlearn/learn.

    I saw the U20 (or 23) WNT scrimmage a top boys club team. The boys punts were such that the women receiving them would normally not have that situation in a women's game. The women's back 4 were setup in a way that I think might have stopped female forwards, but the guys ran through and put two quick goals in. So...the women adjusted, to a way that really didn't apply to their game.

    So because a girl/women can play with guys, doesn't mean they should. It teaches habits that do not apply to the women's game.
  16. ZoroTheSlacker

    ZoroTheSlacker A Sophomore Dad

    Feb 12, 2012
    Tactics was in the OP title. So to that. We have a girl on our summer team that does a real nice chip into the goal area from near the corner or a free kick.

    A forward parent commented that those shots are so hard to read and so hard to kick or head by a teammate.
    My GK comment was that those shots are so hard to read and so hard to judge who might get it or if she should. She hates them....

    So as a tactic for the offense ...
    Drill it/ or chip it (into the goal area or thereabouts)?
  17. hykos1045

    hykos1045 Member

    May 10, 2010
    Philadelphia Independence
    United States

    In women's game I like to see them chip it. The chip can go in where no one except a very adept keeper will get to it. Seen many games end on a chip in that fools the goalie. Especially if the goalie is out of position or you're 1 on 1, a chip is all you need.

    Seen many wide open shot attempts "drilled" wide or high, including a PK attempt which really should have been a chip in from that distance. Only a very good player should put that much speed on the ball.
  18. Crazy4socr

    Crazy4socr Member

    Oct 26, 2009
    Manchester United FC
    I personally am a fan of either the 4-3-3 or a transitional 4-5-1. I use a number of formations depending on the strengths of the side I am coaching. I feel that in the women's game a 4-3-3 allows for more creativity and allows them to cover the attacking 1/3 more fully. It also allows the outside backs to become involved in the attack. In many case a 4-4-3 and a 4-5-1( 4-2-3-1) works in the same manner.The women's game tends to be slow, I often refer to it as "underwater soccer" no offense meant; my girls find humor in it.i coach my players to play faster,but to play under control. I can't stand " direct" soccer and train my players to poke and prod and to move the ball forward at a means that is dictated by us. If a team plays compact then I use direct play to draw them out. My preferred style is to make a lot of overlapping, diagonal runs , spread the field as much as possible and try to create space. The more light the better. Now a comment to the different styles played in the SEC. The majority of the schools play a variation of the 4-3-3, Vandy, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Georgia... They all tend to play very direct and out wide, bypassing the Mids. College soccer is frustrating to watch at times, and for the individual that stated that the refereeing in college seemed better. They are the same people riffing your "club" games. Cheers in Soccer
  19. Forgedias

    Forgedias Member

    Mar 5, 2012
    There are probably only 3 clubs in college that really play the style that I want football to be played. Florida, Notre Dame and Portland. All three play possession football, they try to retain possession and then build up with small passes to move the ball up whether it is the triangle passing, getting the outside backs involved on the side lines or using the midfield to dominate the middle of the pitch. This style demands more technical play from the players, demands they keep their head up and focused on the play in front of them.

    Most women's soccer teams in college and I would put that to 90% or more play a direct approach to football. By this, they move the ball up quickly, then have the player go direct by either going to the sidelines and trying to get crosses in, or move up towards the box and initiate an attack. Quick transitions from defense to offense tends to be the name of the game. UNC is probably the very best that does this. Attacking football that if you have the right players can make this style exciting.

    Where both styles differ is how they approach to build up. Tactically both styles demand that they play in the attacking third of the opponent. Depending on whether they put high pressure on a defender to force turn overs or play more back from them and then cover the middle of the pitch and intercept and force turn overs in the middle of the pitch. The idea is to turn over the ball and initiate a counter and get the ball up quickly to set up an attack. For the direct team, getting wide or pushing forwards into the opponents backline and create break downs on defense which leads to scoring chances. Fast, physical players are a real plus for this style.

    What Florida, Notre Dame and Portland do differently is quite frequently instead of pushing the ball up quickly, they will move the ball back to their backline and have them initiate the attack. By building from the back, they can bring their outside backs into play, and then decide from there whether they move wide or connect through to their forwards through the midfield. For these 3 clubs, creating more options, having players always open for passes to keep moving the ball forward, and even if they can't, then its quite fine to move the ball back and reset. For them, holding onto the ball is more important, then trying to get up the pitch quickly. Technical, players able to hold onto the ball and bring their team into the play to create pressure and scoring chances are very important in this system.

    Florida had Erika Tymrak who is now a star in the NWSL, Notre Dame has Mandy Laddish and Portland has Amanda Frisbie, though she is classified as a forward. But her style and the way she plays as a conduit for the Portland offense is a playmaking midfielder. I don't think a lot of people give this girl enough credit for what she has done for Portland, but hopefully there will be a team in the NWSL that will see what a gem Frisbie is.
  20. Soccerhunter

    Soccerhunter Member

    Sep 12, 2009
    Forgedias, I appreciate the manner in which you opened your take on this subject. You state that the possession style is what you want to see in soccer games. Personal preferences are just fine and I suspect that we each have our own styles that we enjoy most. I personally like seeing all styles of soccer played with skill and and creativity. Mixing them up is very exciting for me as a fan if it is done with creative decision-making and skill. Any thinking/action that is creative and delightfully surprises is rewarding to watch and enjoy.

    My heartburn is that usually when this subject is introduced it is often couched in terms of one style is better or the True Style that God Intended for soccer. In particular, there is often much denigration of playing direct as if that was somehow an inferior way of playing soccer.

    I think that one has to be clear as to the purpose of playing before one declares one system better than another. If recreation is your goal, then a possession game wold probably be the better choice. If practice and improvement is your goal, then a mix of tactical and technical styles would be called for with perhaps a weighting of possession. However, if winning the match is the primary goal (as indeed it is in top level competitive D-I college soccer) then we have to realize that the coach will train her or his team to creatively do what ever is required to get the job done. If one watches the best professional teams, there will be probing build-up, but if the defense shows a weakness, then, ZAP, the direct long pass appears and direct play happens right now! As many times as I have seen Messi do his creative and incredibly skillful thing, he is often on the pointed end of direct play to exploit a situation.

    The best college teams do the same. They exploit what ever the defense presents. One of my favorite examples in the finals of the 2009 NCAA, UNC vs Stanford. As you may recall, Stanford was the undefeated #1 ranked team whose stock in trade was a very pretty possession soccer. Their game plan was to shut down UNC's direct game -and they did. So UNC settled into a possession game and absolutely dominated the mid field. (Check out the stats.) For the last 15 minutes of the game it was Stanford desperately playing direct with Christian Press bombing long shots trying to get an equalizer.

    The point here is that each team does what it has to to win games. Direct vs possession must be seen in context. One is not necessarily better than the other. But you are absolutely on target when you say that viewer preferences are important for the enjoyment of us fans. Possession soccer is, indeed, very satisfying.
  21. Forgedias

    Forgedias Member

    Mar 5, 2012
    Indeed, I am not saying this style is more better then the other, just what my preference is. UNC is a very good example of how a direct attack based style of football can be exciting to watch. Watching players be able to handle the ball and take on defenders and create their own scoring chances can be beautiful to watch.

    I just prefer a more team based approach where midfielders and outside backs get activated into the attack. I really enjoy that free moving football where attacks can come from any side of the pitch.
  22. Eddie K

    Eddie K Member

    May 5, 2007
    I prefer skill and combination play over what looks like tennis too! Classic effective vs attractive argument.
    UNC = Often NOT attractive thoughtful soccer. 3-4-3 high pressure defense and fast attacking offense. UNC players hunt the ball relentlessly and when they win it they play the longest most dangerous pass behind a defender that they can and all the players off the ball look to run onto that pass. If they don't get it, they just pressure higher up the field and try to force mistakes. It's sometimes like a football/field position game. Pretty straightforward. It kills teams not prepared for it and wears teams out even if they are.
    There is no methodical use of width in attack or killer combination play. You'll never see any "tiki-taka" wearing Carolina blue. This is a big reason Stanford has been beating UNC in recruiting and many others have clearly caught up - ND, Duke, etc. AD admits this publicly (the losing recruits to Stanford part, as if we should pity him now). Coaches sell the 4-3-3 as a more patient skill oriented possession style and use that against UNC in recruiting. The ND 4-3-3 was a way to force UNC to adapt their 3-back/2 center mid system as it forces 3 1v1s in their back line and a 2v3 in the middle of the field and that's dangerous if you don't actually have superior players (starting to happen).
    So, UNC has begun to use a hybrid of a 4-5-1 calling it the 4-2-3-1 which just makes it sound better but there are 4 backs and 3 CM's in that system. Interesting chess match at the top of college soccer that is overall, good for the game.
  23. Soccerhunter

    Soccerhunter Member

    Sep 12, 2009
    True, Eddie, True.

    I'll throw in some other things the Anson is experimenting with. Not only is he currently training the team in the 4-2-3-1 as the primary alternate to his traditional 3-4-3 but we also occasionally see a 4-3-3 appear too. My observation is that he usually first sees how the 3-4-3 is working and if (as in the national championship game last December) the other team has it solved, he switches to the 4-2-3-1 or the 4-3-3.

    Then there was also some bizarre experimentation two years ago with an unbalanced formation, where for about 15 minutes when ever UNC got the ball, with the exception of the right mid and the backs, all the other players (midfielders and forwards) went to the left third of the field where they worked tight short passes with a numbers-up situation down the left touchline to the end line and then tried for a bangu. Two goals resulted almost immediately as I recall. (The defenders just couldn't bring themselves to so drastically alter their shape so that their left backs and left mid pretty much stayed on their side well isolated from the play with essentially the three of them covering the decoy right mid.) I first thought that it was some kind of a mis-communication, but when it went on for as long as it did with pauses after the goals where formation could have been discussed I realized that it had to be intentional. (I haven't seen it since.) So the creative juices are still flowing. (Or your "chess match" thinking.)

    And, yes, the (as you say) "classic effective vs attractive argument" will undoubtedly continue well into the future. Wasn't it Taylor Uhl in a recent interview regarding her prospective goal scoring role at Stanford that said: " The goals may not always be pretty, but that doesn’t really matter.” Now there's one side of the argument! ...and coming from a new member of a team that has worn it's "pretty soccer" identity on its sleeve. Oh boy! :)
  24. Soccerhunter

    Soccerhunter Member

    Sep 12, 2009
    I understand entirely and I actually think that you and I see it very much the same way. I too enjoy and am excited watching the technical skills necessary to precisely control a ball coming in over one's head while running full tilt, or taking on defenders to create scoring chances. (Hey, why are the great superstars such as Messi, etc so popular?) But, like you, I also much enjoy sublime creative teamwork involving not only great technical skill, but even more enjoy the quick mental work --the creative unexpected tactical changes involved in engaging more team members in a varied approach.
  25. babranski

    babranski Member+

    Dec 15, 2012
    Raleigh, NC
    Arsenal FC
    United States
    It's interesting this thread got started up again. Reading how you guys think, watch, and enjoy the game has put my own fandom in perspective. The last few years soccer has become more and more available to watch, both on TV & online, and I noticed an evolution in how I watched and appreciate the game.

    It was mentioned above that sometimes coaches will apply a style based on what position they played, and for a long time the same could be said about how I watched the game, as a possessive midfielder. How quickly did the ball move from player to player? Do players seem aware of where their teammates were on the field? When on the attack, was the right pass made to the best option?

    Lately, and in no small part to my rising interest in the women's game, I'm starting to look at positioning off the ball, an individuals ability to hold a formation (especially on the back line with the offsides trap) and the timing of their runs on the attack. It seems more consequential in the women's game. The ball is the same size, the field is the same size. I'm not trying to call the ladies slow, but in comparison to the mens game . . . being in or out of position just makes a huge difference. How a team utilizes space is also something I've noticed a little more recently watching FCKC in particular.

    The last few seasons I've gone to as many UNC games as possible, this year I plan to travel to the UVa and in state games. I'm wondering how I am going to watch the game now after dissecting a season of Vlato's KC style. Just another reason to be excited the season starts just next week.

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