The sound of a soccer game is busy! The sound of the ref’s whistle blowing and everyone yelling “Pass, shoot, get open”. Getting open doesn’t seem hard, but for players ALL AGES, there is so much to learn. The best ways to get open for a pass in soccer is by moving at the right times. Sometimes moving fast and sometimes just shuffling over into the space. It all depends on how fast you read the game. If you can anticipate when the ball is coming, then you can get open more often. At least compared to if you didn’t anticipate the play, and then having to sprint to get open.
2 unique things Leo Messi does to get open
It is said that Leo Messi (A football great) walks more than any other player prior to receiving the ball. The trick is he also scans the field every 2 seconds. Meaning he is ALWAYS looking behind him to see where the other players are. The first 5 minutes he is studying the defenders movements and tendencies. Seeing how fast they are to react and which ones are aware or not as good on the ball. Messi makes them think he isn’t into the game and then he’ll surprise them by darting into open space to receive the ball.
5 different ways to get open in soccer
There are many ways to get open, but starting with these 5 will help you understand “how to get open“! Being put in the situation is what will help improve, so constant reminders from coaches and teammates. Being told over and over is usually what helps us to remember. Get used to all the different terms and start to use them. Just remember there are times when you need to open up and then other times where you need to go to your teammate to help. Being able to get into position on time could be the difference in losing or keeping possession.
1) ‘Get wide’ to receive the soccer ball
This is going to be the #1 in 2 ways! For younger players or any player, getting wide for your teammate is vital for soccer success. If everyone always stays in the middle it will look like “bumble bee soccer” forever. In soccer/football/futbol we need to learn to get players wide and get the ball wide. This spreads the defense out, which gives your players space in the middle to create. If you can get players in 1v1 or 3v3 situations it’s a lot easier to score goals. At the same time of course it gets harder to defend.
© efks / Depositphotos.com
2) Score more goals in soccer with ‘overlapping runs’
As a youth soccer player, I still remember learning the overlap. Young players who play select/travel soccer usually know what this means. Ages 11 or so is when I see players who are very well taught on the tactics and organization of the game. Though you might know what an overlap is, but do you see them in games? If you watch pro soccer on TV you will see this a few times at least. Let’s remember to make your overlapping runs.
This is one of the best ways to get open for a pass in soccer, because it confuses defenders. If the defense is good enough to communicate or shift over to mark the runner, then maybe it opens someone else up on the other side of the pitch.
See video below ‘2v2 runs across back line’ where players are making both overlapping runs and underlapping runs.
3) The short cut ‘Underlap’ to score more goals in soccer
The underlap is what most players don’t know, even if they know the overlap. If you ever watch Barcelona or big time clubs, they will do underlaps in and outside of the 18 yard box. This is so much the same as the overlap, but instead of going around or behind your teammate, you go in front of and across.
Both the overlap and underlap cause the defenders to either switch/trade their mark or all shift over. It often times confuses the defenders to lose their mark which results in goals for you.
4) Using the ‘Give and go’ soccer pass
Similar to basketball there are give and goes or some call them 1, 2’s or wall passes. Pass and move. This can be done in different ways. A give and go is really where you pass and move to receive the next pass or move defenders. There are times in soccer and basketball where it makes sense to do either the give and go. Defenders have a hard time keeping their mark when there are quick give and go passes.
Younger soccer players ages 9-10 years old who are highly trained will still lack the habits of passing and then moving right away. Coaches and players need to remind their teammates to move right away. This way the defense never has time to react or recover.
5) Checking away from the soccer ball creates goals
Checking away from the ball is more advanced. It’s when an offensive player without the ball goes away (checks away) from the teammate with the ball. It could be a short as taking 1 step or going 5-10 steps away. You see basketball players (guards) who will check away from their man to then create space to receive the ball. Sometimes it needs to be quick and other times can be patient, taking your time. Another thing this does is makes it hard for the defender who’s marking you to be able to see both the ball and you.
- Get out of sight from the defender who’s marking you.
- Create space that you may want to go back into receive.
- Create space for your teammate who has the ball.
‘Hand Soccer’ is a great game to teach [Moving to get open]
Hand soccer is a game where older players ages 11+ can play to have fun and reinforce good habits. Kids up to adult pro players use this game. Using mostly your hands to pass and receive, you can only score from a teammates pass using your head, foot, chest or thigh. You can only take up to 3 steps once you receive the ball. If you drop a pass or the ball hits the ground it’s a turnover no matter what.
The energy comes alive when you let the players play hand soccer. The teaching/coaching points are using communication and movement skills to get open. Sometimes all it takes is 2 or 3 steps to get open. Find the space, support your teammates by communicating, getting in their site and passing range.
Are you getting open? Check and see for yourself
Just remember when watching soccer there is always someone who could have moved sooner to get open. So try recording your child or friend playing and then later go back to look at it together. See if you guys together can identify a time where they could have moved better or sooner and talk about the ways to get open for a pass in soccer. This is a great way to hang out with people who care about you. Not only building soccer knowledge, but also building relationships.
Practicing soccer skills on your own [solo]
Practicing on your own is vital if you want to improve your technique. Learning other parts of the game like how to get open takes time, but when you are clean on the ball you start to think of better ways to get open for the pass. Before practice and games remind yourself to do these things. Yes, coaches and parents will tell you but you have to help yourself too! Put yourself in the game before it starts, by thinking of ways to get open. This will help you set good habits to keep improving and doing your best. Players don’t improve at team practice near as fast as practicing on your own. You should be improving in the driveway or in the back yard! For players new to the game here are the basic skills needed.
Let the [soccer] game be your teacher
The best way we can continue to grow is to want to learn. If we are getting good teaching from coaches and we are listening then we are going to make more of a difference on the field. Another great teacher is the players we play with and against. Take note of the players you are playing with and learn from them just by watching. I remember learning certain skills or movements by just watching a good player I played against. This is more like the game being the teacher. Don’t just wait for your coach to teach you find other ways to learn and improve.