As a footballer there are several rules which I need to abide by and directly link into my position which is midfield. The first rule which is one that heavily influences the game is the offside rule. This rule involves staying behind the deepest line defender before the ball has been played. This diagram is a simple form of the offside rule. Basically the number 10 player is currently offside because he is ahead of everyone on the opposing team excluding the goal keeper.
So if number 11 passed him the ball at this time he would be offside.
The offside rule applies as soon as the pass has been played so the striker has to be onside as this is happening. To a midfielder this may not be as applicable to me as it would to a forward but midfielders often make forward runs so I still need to consider the following. The timing of the run is very important, for example if I make a run beyond the defenders when the player passing the ball takes a bad touch the likelihood that I will be offside is fairly high.
There are a few ways of combatting this.
One very important thing is to stay on your toes so that you can spring off with a good reaction time when the ball is played in comparison to someone who is flat-footed so will turn slower. It is also important to have a side on position so that you can turn quickly and effectively when the ball is played.
Using this position will make it easier to see both the ball and the defender marking whilst also being able to go from standing still into sprinting. However in football the offside rule is hard to measure from referees perspective and in a lower level of football there are less likely to be linesman or the linesman aren’t that great.
This means the rule can be manipulated by running ahead of the last defender just before the ball is played to get a head start as most of the time you’ll be given the benefit of the doubt. It is important to see at all times where the deepest line midfielder is so you know when you are onside/offside. Strikers such as Wayne Rooney are very good at playing the offside rule and have this extra instinct of when to make their run especially when they have good chemistry with the player passing the ball.
Sometimes the Rooney will be so close to being offside but because he is so aware of where the ball is and the defenders he times it to perfection. I’m not that good at this because I’m not faced with the opportunity that many times in a game. Another rule which plays a little less involvement is the fact that you have to stand 5 yards away from a free kick after conceding a foul. In the middle of the pitch if you concede a foul you are supposed to abide by this rule however referees aren’t very strict on this so you often see players stand next to the ball after conceding the foul.
After a certain amount of time the referee will tell you to go back but after just conceding the foul you can get away with it. The reason this is done is to let your team get back into position as it give them a few seconds to do so and ultimately stops them from playing out quickly when your team’s players might have been drawn out of position. This can be linked into purposely conceding fouls. A player shouldn’t be allowed to foul someone on purpose and in some cases may result in a yellow card which is usually seen in elite football.
However in local football cards are rarely given so fouls can be useful in a way. For example you have just lost the ball in an attacking position so a lot of your players have moved into attacking areas. This would be a prime time to maybe pull on the players shirt or another method of fouling to concede the foul which ultimately could have led towards the other team scoring goal. Like I said this type of thing often results in a telling off from the referee in local football whereas in elite football this would usually result in a booking.
Elite players do this all the time in professional football so it is hard to pick out one specific person. A very good example of this yet extreme is Luis Suarez in the world cup. He famously stopped the ball from going in with his hands which is against the rules so is similar to what I was talking about. This resulted in him getting sent off and a penalty to the other team which they missed and his team ended up winning the game in the end. I wouldn’t personally do something as extreme as this in a game. Another rule involves physical contact and what the limit to that is.
Obviously football is a contact sport so is going to be subject to a lot of physical play. If you are too physical against another player this can lead towards a foul however there are ways of manipulating this. For example if a player has the ball and you blatantly push them it’s going to be a foul. However if say a defender is marking you, you can push off against them in order to create distance from you and the player giving you more time the ball. The referee won’t usually see this as long as it is performed with a certain amount of subtlety.
Another example could be when you are defending from a corner or any other set piece and you are marking a player. Anywhere else on the pitch if you were grabbing hold of the player and pushing them around more often than not it would be a foul. In the penalty area however you can get away with doing this whilst marking a player as the referee doesn’t want to give a penalty for such a little thing. Doing this is vital to putting off the player you are marking making it a lot more difficult to make contact with the ball. Physical conditioning
In my specific role as a centre midfielder in football there are a few key components which affect me in a game. One of these is strength, which for a midfielder is a very important component of fitness. This is because the majority of the time in midfield you don’t have much time on the ball as there is always an opponent right behind you trying to retrieve the ball. This means strength comes into play a lot so having good strength will allow you to keep your balance on the ball whilst shielding the ball away from the defender.
Another key component is cardiovascular endurance which is hugely important for any footballer but especially for me in my position as most of the time it is where most of the work is done as the ball is played through the middle. The main point is to not only ensure I can last for 90 minutes of football but to also be able to perform at a maximum level for the whole duration of the game. The higher your CV endurance is the easier this will become. There is also a lot of short burst of speed involved so your anaerobic fitness needs to be good as well as aerobic fitness.
Another key component is co-ordination; you need good co-ordination in order to keep good control of the ball so that it stays close to your feet. This may also tie in with heading the ball as you need to judge the flight of the ball in order to make good connection, which is what you have to do most of the time when controlling the ball. Agility is also a key one however it is not as applicable to my position as I don’t need to take on players as much as a forward would do. Nonetheless I still need to be able to change direction and speed at a fast pace in order to lose a marker to receive the ball.
My main strength is definitely my co-ordination, I believe this combined with good balance helps me to keep good control of the ball, providing the best possible technique I can. Having good ball control is vital for me as sometimes you may only get two touches before you have to pass the ball so having a good first touch is very important. My strength also lies in beating players at certain times with good dribbling and I am also a good header of the ball which ties in with the co-ordination. I would also say I have good strength which I can use to power up with my legs to head the ball.
Most of the time I don’t get muscled off the ball which is a good quality to have when in tight areas. A lot of this is to do with the fact that I am a fairly tall player which for me seems to be good as a midfielder role. My main weaknesses are my speed and flexibility. I say speed because sometimes my acceleration may not be good enough in order to beat a layer. Also my flat out speed isn’t as quick as I would like it to be. For my position however speed isn’t as dependant as it may be for a striking role as most of the play is based around the distribution of the ball and quick football.
However I wouldn’t say I am particularly slow, this is just one of my weaknesses. The other weakness is my flexibility which can be a major part of football. For example sometimes I may strain a muscle when reaching for the ball because they are not flexible enough, which can hinder the performance of a game. Other times a ball may be played at an awkward height for me to control which I may have been able to control if I was more flexible. Strategies and Tactics The team that I play for Peterborough United plays a variety of formations; the two main formations which we play are 4-4-1-1 and 4-4-2 diamond.
Our main formation is 4-4-2 diamond formation; this effectively creates a 4-1-2-1-2 formation with 4 midfielders in a diamond shape. The main reason we play this formation is because it imitates the first team’s shape as they like us to play like the first team does. This formation requires a lot of rotation within the midfield as this is where the ball is to be played through. It is also a formation which requires a lot of short passing, a lot like how Barcelona play but obviously not to the same level.
Playing in the midfield of this formation is a very versatile position as you can cover a lot of different areas. When defending they must become compact in the middle making it harder to break down and when attacking the left and right midfielders can move further wide. A move that we work on with this formation requires the wide midfielders to drift inside leaving space in behind for the full back to get out however the full backs have to recognise that the space is there or this will not work. The strikers play a different role to the midfield but also require a certain amount of rotation.
A form of this is simply rotating with each other in order to create space for themselves to receive the ball. They can also rotate with the attacking midfielder to draw their man away from the ball leaving space to receive it. Using this formation or most formations with a back four requires the central defenders the spread wide in order to receive the ball. During a goal kick this gives space for any of the first three midfielders to get on the ball. However if the defenders are not quick enough to do this it won’t work and will be easy to defend against.
Whilst this is happening the full-backs must get wide and high in order to make the pitch as big as possible. However this formation for me is not always the best formation because it requires a lot of technical ability in the midfielder which I don’t think we quite have as well as a certain cleverness with the movement. This leads to play often breaking down in midfield as people try to over complicate things instead of playing simple passes. I don’t think we are good enough as a team to play this formation. The other formation that we use is the 4-4-1-1 formation.
I think that this formation is a more simple way of playing to the 4-4-2 diamond formation and is one which is more direct because it requires less rotation within the midfield. Using this formation the midfield is more rigid however it doesn’t necessarily mean that there can be no rotation. For example sometimes the right or left midfielder may move inside which would be the trigger for either the centre midfielder o take this place up or the full back. Usually the full back would take up this position making it more compact in the midfield.
Personally I feel that this formation is easier to defend with because of its more basic shape, especially if we are playing against someone with a basic formation. When defending with this formation the second striker is require to step back into the midfield four making it five. This is what sets apart this formation and the 4-4-2 formation. Because the second striker has more defensive responsibilities it means that player has more of a free role position so can venture anywhere in attacking positions. This is why I feel this formation is a better formation.
Although there may not be as much of a direct threat attacking it helps overload the midfield as the second striker comes in to get the ball. This gives the other team a lot of problems because sometimes the central defender doesn’t know whether to follow that player or whether to tell one of the midfielders to mark him. Having a striker in this position is helpful as if the opposition is playing three in midfield he can pick up the deepest line midfielder. Using this formation leaves a lot space in wide areas for the left and right midfielder to attack as well as the full back if the midfielder comes inside.
This means that when using this formation you find that there are a lot of crosses into the box. This is sometimes considered as an ugly way of playing football can be very effective. The two central midfielders play a very important role in this formation as they need to provide the stability. As one moves into attacking positions the other must sit in deeper because if play breaks down and both midfielders are too far forward it leaves a big gap in the centre of midfield which can be penetrated on the counter.
It is important that when balls are being crossed into the box one of these players is progressing forward to give as much chance to score a goal as possible. The main centre forward plays a lonely role at times but one which is very important. When he receives the ball he must try to hold the ball up as much as he possibly can because there isn’t always going to be players with him. When defending his role is to simply show the defenders when way, encouraging them to play forward into midfield where we can intercept the ball. This formation works better for our team defensively as it covers all areas of the pitch.
However this formation isn’t perfect and I find it especially vulnerable to teams with a packed midfield. This is because the formation is quite rigid in its shape meaning if players are coming in between positions it makes it very hard to defend. This formation can be compared to how Manchester united play suggesting it can be a very effective formation based on the success that they have. Tactics When corners are being taken my tactics vary on the strategy of my football team. For example sometimes I may be asked to stand in front of the player who is marking the goal keeper.
The reason for doing this is to put myself in between the player and my keeper in order to prevent any distractions on the keeper in case he has to make a save. Other times I may simply be asked to be one of the runners in which case I will try and arc my run in a quick motion in order to lose the defender. If I just jog around it makes it a lot easier to defend me. Sometimes as a personal tactic I might run towards the corner taker in order to receive a short pass so the distance to goal is decreased making it easier to cross it or even shoot.
When defending corners I like to make sure I am tight to my player when marking him. This may even involve physical contact with the player which is enough to put him off without conceding a foul. Elite defenders such as Rio Ferdinand will always try to do this as they would want to unnerve the strikers. When free kicks are being taken there are several tactics which I like to implement during a game, depending on whereabouts the free kick is. If the free kick is in the middle of the field I like to play it quick to whoever is closest to get the game flowing and catch the opposition out of position.
The same would be done in a situation where my team is losing as you would want to give your team as much time on the ball as possible. If the free kick is near the edge of the penalty area then I would usually shoot especially if the goal keeper is small as gives a larger area to score. Other times I might try to cross the ball instead, usually if the free kick is in middle distance range. If for example there was a player close to me on my team who was unmarked then most of the time I would give it to them unless I felt the opportunity to score from the set piece was greater.
Another factor of free kicks is time wasting. This is something used when you are winning and would like to drain the time a bit. If we are winning and we gain any kind of set piece I like to get the ball slowly and take it slowly without conceding a yellow card for being too slow. The similar sort of thing happens when we concede a free kick I like to stand on the ball to prevent them from taking it early giving my team a chance to get back into position. Free kicks are something which many elite players practice in training so they like to implement their own tactics.
Some of these involve several players getting involved by dummying, setting the ball off or acting as an extra man in the wall to put the other players off. During goal kicks from the opposition I like to space myself away from the person I am marking. This means that when the kick is taken I can run onto the ball meaning I will get a higher jump making it easier for me to win the ball. I would usually do this when I notice that the keepers kicks aren’t all that great because then the ball is likely to come into the midfield area.
When defending in the midfield area I like to keep tight to my players when marking them. This allows me to apply enough pressure on that player if the ball is played to them. However there are times in a game when I wouldn’t be so tight. For example if the other team is on the counter attack and a lot of my team is out of position I like to distance myself away a little bit, far enough so that he doesn’t get passed me are close enough so that he can’t pass the ball to anyone else.
This is effectively jockeying the player and it is used usually to hold up play. It allows the rest of my team to get back into position. Holding midfield players such as Scott Parker do this very effectively and it may sometimes be the difference between conceding a goal and not. When on the offence I like to change my movement up in midfield in order to either get the ball or to create space with other midfielders. Depending on what the formation is I like to rotate with the strikers and the midfielders in order to create space.
I do this to confuse the opposition because sometimes they don’t know whether to follow their man or whether to zonally mark and allow him to drift off into another area. Most of the time the player won’t follow you especially if you are moving quite a bit out of position meaning I am likely to get the ball. Barcelona as a whole does this very effectively so as one person moves so does another so that there are always options for people to pass to. When I receive the ball one of my tactics is to try to switch the ball with a long pass.
This is very effective because it directs the play one way where there is usually space. If the ball is hit hard enough then it is becomes a real problem for the defence because they all have to shuffle over which takes time. Techniques My technical strengths are passing, dribbling, heading and first touch. I believe that my technique for passing is at a high level meaning I have a wide range of passing for different situations. This means I can pick the right pass for the right situation. For example I can identify when to use a long driven pass to effectively get the ball to the player.
This may be adapted when playing in different conditions, so if it is windy a long ball will need to be driven otherwise it will get caught in the wind and is more likely to have more air time giving opportunity for the ball to be intercepted. When passing the ball I need to make sure that the technique that I’m using is right. For example a short pass will require a side footed pass is this is more accurate whereas a long pass may require the use of the laces in order to get more power into it.
However elite players such as Steven Gerrard will be able to put as much accuracy onto a long as they would with a short pass. My heading is also a good part of my game for both attacking and defending. I can apply the right header for the right situation taking into account the flight of the ball. For example if the ball is dropping from quite a height it is important that I can adjust my feet to where the ball is going to land. More elite players, especially defenders such as Nemanja Vidic will be able to do this effectively in order to get enough power and accuracy into their heading.
I can also jump quite high which makes me effective when for example a goal kick is being taken so I can be there to either flick it on or to defensively head the ball away. My dribbling is also at a high level meaning I can keep the ball tight to my feet whilst running with the ball. Along with good ball control means that I am comfortable in my own ability when faced against an opponent. For my position, centre midfield, I feel that having a good first touch is vital which is what I believe I have. A good first touch is the first step towards distributing the ball well which is why it is so important.
My technical weaknesses are my shooting, tackling and weak foot passing. When it comes to shooting I think my technique could be a lot better. The reason for this is mostly based on confidence in striking the ball as some of the time a shot can be seen as a firm pass into a directed are which is no different to how you’d pass to someone in a game. However most of the time I don’t make a clear connection as I panic or it just doesn’t go on target. Elite strikers such as Wayne Rooney are very composed on the ball meaning when they shoot they are very relaxed and usually get it on target.
I know when to use the right techniques for the right situations I just don’t execute it that well. For example if you are one on one with the keeper the best thing to do is try to place it either side of the keeper is this is more accurate. The problem is definitely the accuracy as I have no problem with getting enough power on the shot. When tackling I think my weakest area of this technique is knowing when to tackle and when not to. My sliding tackle is quite good as usually I go into a challenge with the intention to win the ball and most of the time I do.
However sometimes I may close down a player and move in to tackle too early and they might just take it round me. I think sometimes I may be too eager to win the ball rather than being patient and waiting for the right opportunity to do so. Vincent Kompany is a great elite example of a player who knows exactly when to put a tackle in as a mistake for him will cost his team a goal which he rarely concedes. Most things with my weak foot aren’t great but my weak foot passing is quite a big area for improvement.
Partly the reason for this is that I had quite a bad injury which affected my technique a little by the way I kick the ball. However it is still something that can be improved. My weakest part of passing is definitely the drilled pass. I find it difficult to execute a drilled pass effectively with enough accuracy whilst doing it with my weak foot, especially in comparison to my stronger foot which I am very comfortable in doing. Because of this it may mean that in a game I may have to use my stronger foot when it is easier to use my weaker foot in order to pass the ball.
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