Overlapping runs in soccer/football should be taught to kids early [ages 7–8]. Kids are too smart not to introduce this type of off the ball movements. During a match there are 1v1, 2v1s and 2v2s all over the pitch, especially for older more advanced levels. If defenders, mids and forwards know how to do overlapping runs it will open up space, help with possession and create more chances [shots on goal].
Explaining what overlapping runs are
Overlapping runs are where you get open by running behind/around the player with the ball. Often times it’s a situation where a player receives the ball out wide.
When the ball is received or just before, another player can make the overlapping run from the middle to the outside of the player in possession. This causes confusion for the defenders and oftentimes a imbalance for the other team.
Once the player makes the run behind/around it forces the defender to either stay with the player who has the ball or follow the runner. If the defender follows the runner it leaves the player with the ball free to dribble.
The best way for a defense to stop this is for the defender to follow the runner. Then you’ll also need another defender to slide [move over] in front of the player with the ball. This keeps defenders from having to run more than they need to. There will be times when even the best teams can’t defend this.
Overlapping runs vs underlaps – lateral situation in the final third
Watch this video to see the difference of a overlap and underlap
The overlap is when the player runs behind the player with the ball. Underlap is when they run in front, which is more like a short cut. Both are great and needed at different times.
When to make a overlapping run
Usually you’ll see this movement in the attacking half, but it can also be done in the defensive end. Imagine the outside back passing the ball up to the outside mid. Once the ball is passed the back can make a run up and around the mid, usually getting wide.
The defending player who is marking the player with the ball has a choice to stay with their man or go with the runner. Either way if the pass is made at the right time into space it’s tough to mark.
Does the pass have to be made to the runner?
No. The runner doesn’t always get the ball passed to them. If the defense does well to cover, slide and step, the player with the ball might not be able to pass the ball to the overlapping teammate.
Sometimes players making the run are doing what’s called a dummy run. This means they are making the run only to force defenders out of position, allowing a teammate to get open.
2 places the pass can be made to
- The pass can be made into space [out in front] where the player can run onto. This is great because the runner is usually at full speed facing where the ball is played, while the defender has to turn and run.
- You can also pass the ball to feet which to be done right has to be very accurate and passed with the right amount of weight. If made to feet the pass needs to be placed in front so they don’t have to slow down or stop to get the ball.
Good warm up drill on game day
One of the best warm-up drills for games is a 2v1 going to goal. This not only gets your team warmed up, but gets their brains ready to defend. They’ll know when and where to pass, plus how to move without the ball.
Check out 3 warm up drills to run during pre-game or for a practice plan.
The most popular, yet one of the worst warm up drills is you guessed it… The 1 big line where player passes the ball to coach, who then passes the ball back and the player goes to shoot.
Any drills that have lines are a no for me. This is a waste of time and development for the players.
We need to have players engaged and moving. It’s okay to have a line with 2-3 players, but no more. To reduce this, have 2 – 4 stations that involve passing, receiving, dribbling and shooting.