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Think, Run & Play Vertically

German Training Concepts

  • Taktische Grundsätze

  • 7 Variationen im Y

  • 16 Spielformen in der Raute, dem Schlauch und der Sanduhr

Autor: Steven Turek

Redaktion: Peter Schreiner

Layout: Oliver Schreiner

Herausgeber: Institut für Jugendfußball

Seiten: 41

Abbildungen: 32

Prologue by Steven Turek


Dear Coaching-Colleagues,


there are many different strategies and philosophies in soccer to reach success. A playing philosophy, which includes almost every top team’s repertory, is an effective and fast vertical play! Thereby, two basic situations exist, where a vertical play into the depth could be of great success. For one, it always offers the occasion if gaps in the opposing defensive compound emerge. Especially teams like FC Bayern Munich and Real Madrid understand these situations and know how to make use of them very quickly. For the other, a vertical play is of high advantage if a counterattack is possible after gaining possession of the ball. Usually, the opponent is unorganized. This results in a short timeframe, in which it is possible to quickly attack into the direction of the opposing goal in order to create goal-scoring chances.

In this practical concept, I want to reveal ideas on how the vertical play can be variably and competitive-like be mediated in the training. Therefore, you will first find basic tactical principles (in own ball possession, but also in the transition-play), as well as basic skills for a successfully implemented vertical play. Following this, you will find concrete coaching tips and the explanation of certain elements to control a practical training routine. Along with this go ideas as a varied size of the field and provocation rules which contribute to the natural provocation of a vertical play. Conclusively, over 20 exercises and training drills are presented.

And don’t forget: The direct path towards the goal is always the fastest!

Enjoy reading and trying out in your own training way wishes

Steven Turek

Vertical Play

Position Staggered When Attacking Vertically - Vertical/Deposit!

In order to offer a player in a closed position the opportunity to safely forward the ball, other players need to consider their staggered position to each other. Players shall position so that they are able to immediately offer when being over played - the “Vertical - Deposit - Principle”.

An advantage of the vertical stagger is the beneficial position in case of a lost ball. The short distances towards the ball allow a successful counterpressing!

Example: In the lower illustration, #5 is in ball possession. #8 is positioned between #3, #4, #8 and #10 and ready to receive a ball. #6 is situated staggered to him and is able to drop behind #8 with the vertical pass to serve as an additional passing option. However, from an open position, he is able to specifically play into the depth (A and B).

Vertical Play Principle

"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." - Michael Jordan

Vertical Play in The Y-Pattern

Organization: A starts an initial dribbling. B releases into the back of the dummy into a half open position and is passed to. B forwards with his second touch to C. C performs an one-two combination with D, which D receives into the gap between both dummies located on the right side.

Position Changes: A changes his position to B. B to C, C to D and D dribbles back to the starting point. The next combination is performed over the other side.

Coaching Points: With the dribbling, the releasing movement of B is triggered. B possibly plays with two touches; all other players possibly pass one touch. The last pass is specifically played into the gap between both dummies.

vertical play drill in the Y
Score-Challenge - Zone Play in The Tube

Organization: 4 lines are drawn between penalty box and base line. The last line equals the offside-line. It is played 8 v 8 and the coach introduces new balls. One point is scored for each line the attacking team crosses. A goal counts three additional points. The play is over after the ball is lost. Both teams attack 10 times. Which team scores the most?

Coaching Points: All elements of the vertical play.

Variation: It is played with transitional situations. The coach serves as aim for the team gaining ball possession. Each line overplayed also scores one point. The pass to the coach counts threefold.

Drill vrtical play
Zone Play in Competition


Organization: It is played in two parallel vertical set up fields. In the respectively first zone is an offensive player located, his opponent positions on the first line. All further players are situated in the center zone. Both goalkeeper simultaneously open the play to the respective offensive player. It is played on the regular goals with goalkeeper and the appropriate offside-line. A goal only counts if it is faster scored than by the parallel group.

Coaching Points: The players not only need to specifically play vertical, but also quick and successful.

Variation: Vary number of players - Increase size of fields and groups.

2 Teams Challange