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Transition Play Tactics

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Aim: to set the In Transition team instructions Counter, Hold Shape, Counter-Press and Regroup as appropriate for your playing style, players and personal preferences.

The fourth stage of creating your tactic is to decide upon your transition play tactics – how you want your team to play in the short phases of play, known as the transition phases, following possession turnovers.

A possession turnover is where possession switches from one team to the other. The subsequent transition phase for each team covers the period when that team is reorganising in order to transition to in possession play or out of possession play. The duration of each transition phase depends on that team’s speed of transition – how long it takes to reorganise.

The Counter and Hold Shape team instructions cover the transition phase after your team wins possession and transitions to in possession play, while the Counter-Press and Regroup team instructions cover the transition phase after your team concedes possession and transitions to out of possession play. These instructions are analysed below.

UI:

  • Tactics > Overview tab
    • In Transition panel
      • Enables you to view and set team instructions for the transition phases

Explanation of analysis:

  • Summary – a general analysis of the instruction.
    • Type of instruction – whether the instruction is higher risk or lower risk and whether the instruction relates to when your team is in possession or when it is out of possession.
  • Use – suggestions of how you can use the instruction.
    • Speed of transition – the relative speed of transition, quick or slow, that can result in the instruction being particularly effective, along with details of factors that may contribute to your team having such a relative speed of transition. Higher risk instructions can be most effective with a relatively quick speed of transition and lower risk instructions can be most effective with a relatively slow speed of transition. Player mobility, forward movement partnerships (direct and overlapping) and the risk of style methods can all affect speed of transition.
      • Relative speed of transition means your team’s speed of transition relative to the opposition team’s speed of transition in its corresponding transition phase.
    • Playing styles – how you can use the instruction with different playing styles, depending on their playing style risk. Playing style risk was explained in the Adding Team & Player Instructions guide. Higher risk instructions can be used to balance lower risk in a playing style or complement higher risk in a playing style (particularly when the risk and instruction are both in possession or both out of possession). Lower risk instructions can be used to balance higher risk in a playing style or complement lower risk in a playing style (particularly when the risk and instruction are both in possession or both out of possession).

When setting the team instructions for your transition play tactics it is also important to consider their suitability for your players. Suitable player abilities and attributes for each instruction are included in the Team Instructions guide.

Further details:

  • Tactical Organisation – tactical theory guide including tactical transition, speed of transition, phases of play and tactics in the transition phases.
  • Core Styles – tactical theory guide including the use of the transition phases in attacking football and defensive football.
  • Attacking Styles – tactical theory guide including the use of the transition phases in direct plays attacking and short plays attacking.
  • Defensive Styles – tactical theory guide including the use of the transition phases in aggressive defending and cautious defending.
  • Composite Styles – tactical theory guide including the use of the transition phases in direct attacking football, pass and move football, long ball football, possession football, high pressure football, cautious attacking football, aggressive defensive football and parking-the-bus football.

Counter

Summary

Type of instruction:

  • Higher riskCounter is a higher risk instruction so you can use it to balance lower risk in a playing style or complement higher risk in a playing style.
  • In possessionCounter is an in possession instruction so is particularly useful for balancing lower risk in possession and complementing higher risk in possession. However, your team must first be out of possession and then win possession for the instruction to become relevant.

Tactical objectives: penetrating space.

Counter instructs your team to temporarily focus more on penetrating space immediately after winning possession, if there appears to be a good opportunity to do so. This can be useful because your team tends to have good opportunities to penetrate space effectively between or behind opposition players as a result of the opposition team needing to reorganise after it concedes possession, which leaves available space.

Countering, or counter attacking, attempts to exploit this available space and create goal-scoring chances quickly before the opposition team can reorganise.

However, counter attacking can also result in the opposition team winning back possession quickly and your team failing to subsequently protect space and prevent opposition goal-scoring chances effectively, due to it attempting to penetrate space before it has reorganised.

Types of Counter

The types of counter attack that your team will generally use depend on where your team tends to win possession.

If your team tends to win possession in:

  • More advanced areas – then your team will tend to counter attack from more advanced areas, most typically by penetrating space that occurs between opposition players closer to the opposition goal as a result of forcing opposition attacking mistakes with a higher level of defensive pressure.
    • Higher risk playing styles out of possession tend to focus more on restricting space and therefore tend to win possession in more advanced areas.
      • In particular, your team is more likely to win possession in more advanced areas if you use an increased team line of engagement and an increased team defensive line.
  • Deeper areas – then your team will tend to counter attack from deeper areas, most typically by penetrating space that occurs behind opposition players further from the opposition goal as a result of the opposition team moving forward as your team invites opposition attacking pressure.
    • Lower risk playing styles out of possession tend to focus more on protecting space and therefore tend to win possession in deeper areas.
      • In particular, your team is more likely to win possession in deeper areas if you use a decreased team line of engagement and a decreased team defensive line.
    • Winning possession in deeper areas can result in more available space for counter attacking. This is particularly useful if your team focuses more on keeping possession and retain solidity than creating space and penetrating space due to using few or no higher risk style methods in possession, making counter attacking one of your main methods of penetrating space.

Frequency of Counters

The frequency with which your team can counter attack depends on how quickly your team concedes possession and wins possession, as this affects the frequency of possession turnovers.

Your team is likely to be able to counter attack more frequently if it:

  • Wins possession more quickly when out of possession.
    • Higher risk playing styles out of possession tend to focus more on restricting space and can therefore enable your team to win possession more quickly, depending on its relative ability.
      • In particular, your team is more likely to win possession more quickly if you use increased team pressing intensity, such as with the aggressive defending, high pressure football and aggressive defensive football playing styles.
    • The higher the defensive ability of your team, relative to the attacking ability of the opposition team, the more effectively your team is able to restrict space and so the more quickly it is likely to be able to win possession.
  • Concedes possession more quickly when in possession (i.e. keeps possession for less time), as this gives it more opportunities to attempt to win possession.
    • Higher risk playing styles in possession tend to focus less on keeping possession, and can therefore result in your team conceding possession more quickly, depending on its relative ability.
      • In particular, your team is more likely to concede possession more quickly if you use increased team passing directness, such as with the direct plays attacking, direct attacking football and long ball football playing styles.
    • The lower the attacking ability of your team, relative to the defensive ability of the opposition team, the less effectively your team is able to keep possession and so the more quickly it is likely to concede possession.

Use

Speed of Transition

Counter can be particularly effective if your team has a relatively quick transition after winning possession. This is more likely to be the case if you use:

  • Players with good mobility (Acceleration, Agility, Balance, Pace).
  • More direct partnerships and fewer overlapping partnerships.

Playing Styles

With higher risk playing styles in possession (typically attacking football, direct attacking football and, to a lesser extent, direct plays attacking and pass and move football):

  • Counter can be used to complement higher risk in possession by enabling your team to focus more on penetrating space immediately after winning possession, rather than focusing initially on keeping possession and reorganising which can waste opportunities to create goal-scoring chances quickly before the opposition team has reorganised.
  • Your team can Counter more frequently if its greater focus on penetrating space results in it conceding possession more quickly (and so having more opportunities to attempt to win possession), which depends on whether its relative ability is not so high that it keeps possession effectively regardless.

With higher risk playing styles out of possession (typically attacking football, aggressive defending and, to a greater extent, high pressure football):

  • Counter can be used to complement higher risk out of possession by enabling your team to focus more on penetrating space immediately after winning possession, rather than focusing initially on keeping possession and reorganising which can waste opportunities to create goal-scoring chances quickly before the opposition team has reorganised, using the available space that exists as a result of forcing opposition attacking mistakes.
  • Your team will tend to Counter from more advanced areas (as this is where possession will tend to be won) by penetrating space between opposition players closer to the opposition goal.
  • Your team can Counter more frequently if its greater focus on restricting space results in it winning possession more quickly, which depends on whether its relative ability is high enough to restrict space effectively.

With lower risk playing styles in possession (typically defensive football, possession football and, to a lesser extent, short plays attacking and long ball football):

  • Counter can be used to balance lower risk in possession by enabling your team to temporarily focus more on penetrating space after winning possession, compensating for the reduced opportunities it has to create goal-scoring chances, due to using lower risk play in possession, by attempting to create goal-scoring chances quickly before the opposition team has reorganised.

With lower risk playing styles out of possession (typically defensive football, cautious defending and, to a greater extent, parking-the-bus football):

  • Counter can be used to balance lower risk out of possession by enabling your team to temporarily focus more on penetrating space after winning possession, compensating for the reduced opportunities it has to create goal-scoring chances, due to spending time using lower risk play out of possession, by attempting to create goal-scoring chances quickly before the opposition team has reorganised.
  • Your team will tend to Counter from deeper areas (as this is where possession will tend to be won) by penetrating space behind opposition players further from the opposition goal. This can result in more available space for counter attacking.
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