Pablo Toledo is Rush Soccer’s Sporting Project Director.
This question sounds so obvious that it seems like it wouldn’t deserve a full post, but we frequently notice a set of misunderstandings and misconceptions around it.
Have you not ever been in an informal gathering and somebody responded to the question of what the style of play of a certain team was by saying something like “they’re not a good team, they just drop back and then play direct, they play the counter” or “they’re very total football, playing two touches and moving” ?
We know what they mean by saying that but if we dig deeper, there are actually some misunderstandings in those two sentences.
The first one is that counterattacking is not really a style of play but a tactic. The second is that direct play and counterattacking are not necessarily the same thing. To exemplify, Liverpool FC plays direct, so does every team from Marcelo Bielsa, but they don’t drop back to a low block on purpose just to counter later, they just play direct because they don’t have a particular interest in long indirect, possession based passages. You can play direct and not have the counterattack as part of your strategy, and vice versa. For example, Barcelona won the Champions League in 2015 with Luis Enrique, and it was a very possession oriented team, indirect, that used to counterattack quickly because they had fast forwards. It was just part of the team’s usual strategy. Proof below.
Total Football, on the other hand, was a tactical novelty about switching positions on the field while sustaining a certain shape or structure. The constant rotation was the distinctive factor, so you can play direct or indirect and be total football, or very defensive and counter and be total football. Moreover, nobody said that total football implies lots of passing or playing two touches.
Now, can these be a part of your style of play? Of course, they can be features or characteristics of it.
Then what is a style of play?
A style of play is a subjective concept related to how a team plays, and is defined by the playing characteristics, strategies, and tactics that such team focuses on in each phase of the game. There are unlimited styles of play as these are defined by the characteristics of the players and the ideas of the coach, and how these reflect on the field.
There’s a passage from Cesar Luis Menotti in which he expresses the subjectivity of the playing style:
“I maintain that a team is above all an idea, and more than an idea it is a commitment, and more than a commitment it is the clear convictions that a coach must transmit to his players to defend that idea. So my concern is that we coaches don’t arrogate to ourselves the right to remove from the spectacle the synonym of festival, in favor of a philosophical reading that cannot be sustained, which is to avoid taking risks. And in football there are risks because the only way you can avoid taking risks in any game is by not playing.” – César Luis Menotti
I think a lot of the misunderstandings come from confusing the ideas of style of play, formation, system of play, strategy, and tactics.
A Formation is purely a starting point, an initial disposition of your team, then soccer is dynamic, so a formation doesn’t really tell much about the way your team plays, apart from some historical references and traditions. It really depends. Alfio ‘Coco’ Basile, who coached the Argentinian National Team twice (1991 to 1994 and 2006 to 2009), used to respond sarcastically to questions about formations by saying “I told the team that we were playing 1-4-4-2 diamond, I put every player in the right place, the problem is that they move when the ball is rolling”.
Moreover, you can play with a 1-4-4-2 flat as the base, that is a formation typically associated with a defensive approach, and be very offensive. Vice versa with a 1-4-3-3, which is frequently perceived as a more offensive formation. It is very relative because it depends on many factors, among which the most impactful might be the players’ characteristics and the coach’s ideas. Think about it like like this, a 1-4-3-3 with Gattuso, Kante, and Casemiro as the three midfielders would probably play very different from one that has Pirlo, Riquelme, and Zidane.
A System Of Play is a concept typically associated with the shape of your team in different moments of the game and areas of the field. For example, it is frequently seen teams with a base formation of 1-4-3-3 that when they lose possession and defend on their halves they try to adopt a 1-4-1-4-1, asking their wings to drop. Others don’t and make an emphasis on having a line of 4 defenders and 3 midfielders behind the ball line and purposely leave 3 forwards up front to have more options to play forward upon recovery of the ball. Again, all of this is very relative to the coach’s idea.
Strategy is your overall plan. Let’s imagine that we observe a rival and we discover or conclude that the left back is their weak link defensively. Our strategy (that should/could include ideas for all 4 phases of the game) for the attacking phase could be to try to create 1v1 situations on the right flank.
Tactics are the specific means to accomplish the strategy. In this example, we could choose to move our left wing to the right side (let’s imagine that this is our fastest player and best dribbler), so that he goes 1v1 against that left back.
And what is Rush’s Style Of Play?
The Rush Way to Play is based upon movement and activity by both player and ball. Possession-oriented does not fully describe how we play; attack-oriented does. Whether in possession or in defense, we are attacking. Rush Players play with freedom yet understand the importance of responsibility and the balance between the two. We are possession oriented but we are not stubborn, we want a purpose in our possession, the purpose of hurting the rival’s defense and keep scoring. Rush teams are flexible and adapt to varying circumstances. The Rush Way to Play represents both passion and purpose.
Therefore, the Rush Style Of Play is attack oriented, celebrates possession but with a purpose, demands lots of mobility, is pragmatic, aggressive, and intense.
This drill is designed to help you improve your ball control. This is a great drill to help you develop the ball control that will enable you to cut and change direction quickly. Goal: When you reach the point of being able to do whatever you want with the ball; you will have more fun playing the game.
Speed on your feet is something really important for a soccer player on and off the ball. In this work out we will challenge your speed. 7 exercises to perform as fast as you can. Are you the fastest FITTER player? Let us know! Have fun!
Rush Soccer has 11 core values. These core values are more than great words, are behaviors that we commit to and that we expect others to show as well. These are Respect, Unity, Safety, Humility, Tenacity, Empathy, Advice, Leadership, Enjoyment, Accountability, and my favorite Passion! Learn about Passion with this video and find them all in the word puzzle below!
And here we are! Last week of our program. Now is time to check how much you improved after working hard and consistently through these weeks. Go through the work out early in the week and finish strong by doing the fitness test. Let us know your results! We are looking forward to knowing how you did!
Are you ready? We are going to need your full attention! Concentrate, pay attention to the details and find the seven differences! Send us a screenshot and show us where they were! But hey! Shhhh… Don’t let the others know!