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Attacking with the Long Ball

German Top Level Tactics

  • Tactical Principles

  • Analysis of Game Situations

  • Practices and How to Coach Them

Author: Steven Turek

Edited by: Peter Schreiner

Layout: Oliver Schreiner

Publisher: Institut für Jugendfußball

Pages: 56

Picture: 42


Prologue by Steven Turek

Dear Coaching-Colleagues,

with the dominant position of teams living the philosophy of flat-passes as FC Barcelona or FC Bayern Munich, the presented philosophy is to be seen as modern. More and more, even in lower leagues and the youth soccer, this way of playing enforces. Terms like Tiki Taka or Gap Passes are well known today by all kids.

But everywhere, an extreme perception exists, is a contrary point of view not far away. Therefore, in professional soccer are teams, who found their philosophy exclusively on counterattacking or the play with long balls in order to achieve maximum success. Especially the tactics of long balls were seen for a long period of time as “unattractive” or “blind”. However, the philosophy with the aim to gain the second ball is much more than only “hitting the ball long”. The aimed play on the second ball requires, as well as any other strategy, a high degree of tactical knowledge and devoted effort in training.

Steven Turek Long Ball Soccer

This eBook contains my thoughts on “attacking with the second ball”. You will quickly notice that it will be profitable to have prepared solutions of this topic. Be it to specifically apply them or else to know them if one faces this kind of play. Likewise, you will notice that the ball is exactly not just kicked away.

Enjoy reading wishes Steven Turek



Secure The Second Ball!

At all times, a long ball is played into a position, the danger exists that the ball is distracted. This could happen through a technical mistake or through the opponent. This distracted ball is the second ball. In the elaboration of a strategy, not only the first ball needs to be prepared, but also the plan B -  the second ball. Normally, the second ball is distracted into the direction of the own goal. Accordingly, the teammates should position 10 to 15 meters behind the aimed player. This creates the possibility to directly enter a duel for the second ball.

Editor’s Remark: Through the operating with the second ball, the perceived security of flat-passes is given up in order to quickly transport the ball into the dangerous zone. Since no direct control over the second ball exists, are topics like the insurance defense (in this book placed in front) and counterpressing after the second ball (game-solution: The ball is lost - counterpressing) of vital importance.

Choose The Right Formation!


The basic formation needs to be adjusted to the chosen game-strategy. With a strategy, where a long ball from the one side to the other or out of the central area to one of the wings is played (contrary to the shifting-movement, shift of the play), is a formation recommended with a doubly positioned wing (e.g. 4:4:2, 4:2:3:1, 4:3:3 and so on). The aimed player, commonly the offensive winger, occupies the wing while the wingback secures the second ball in the in-between pocket. In the case of a strategy, where the ball is vertically played into the field, it is an advantage to choose a formation, where the central area and the in-between pockets are massively occupied (e.g. 4:4:2 diamond or the later presented narrow 4:3:3 and so on).

Take Advantage of the Opposing Shifting Movement!

In the age of ball-orientated defending, the defensive compounds quickly and effectively shift towards the ball. This shifting movement of the defensive team is usable in order to play a long ball, contrary to this movement of all players. It is essential to trigger the shifting movement of the opponent first, for example through a good pass into the forerun of one of the center-backs (illustration above #5to #4). A long ball of high quality (aim player #11) results in a possible breakthrough on the wing. 

Editor’s Remark: Also single players are able to trigger the shifting movement. If the ball comes from one of the sides, even a central midfielder is able to trigger the movement through his body-position, then turn again and use the movement.

Soccer Tactics Long Ball

Drill - Attacking with the long Ball

Drill playing with the long ball soccer

Passing Grid with Long Balls

Organization: Four balls are freely passed in a passing-grid (4x4m). All players can be passed to. After the pass, the passer occupies a new position (does not run after his ball). Nevertheless, all players shall pay attention to occupy all positions. If a ball arrives at one of the corners, a long ball needs to be played to one of the other corners.

Coaching: The usual elements of passing are considered (pace of the ball, accuracy). Players without ball are supposed to perform a prior movement before receiving the ball; never offer from a standing position. After the pass, a high-speed run is performed to another position (Pass & Run). Long balls are played after a short dribbling and are supposed to be played accurately into the foot of the teammate. The receiving also takes place out of movement.

Variation: All priorities of passing remain. Now, the long ball is played with a subsequent second ball. After the ball is played, it shall be directly deposited to another teammate, who is closely located. Through this change, players who are not located at one of the corners, need to be open for flat passes as well as to be able to react in case of being overplayed. As variant, the deposition needs to skip over one position, this demands a different technical content.

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