Teaching Soccer Players Tactics

Using Subbuteo tactics as a tool for soccer players and coaches

Free Kick Soccer knows that a lot of work goes into preparing your team for the next match. One of the most important things is teaching your soccer players tactics.

Who is your best starting eleven? What style and system of play will give you the edge? How will your opponent set up? What weaknesses and chinks in your opponent’s armor can you exploit? These are only some of the questions you may ask yourself. Now, how do you convey all of your findings to your team?

White Board Tactics

Most coaches pull out the whiteboard and magnets, pasting it full of black lines and arrows. As you can imagine, a few players may see this as a confusing algebra exercise. Each player is different. But, let’s be honest, do we give our players the opportunity for input? Are we giving our soccer players the tools to properly explain their thoughts to us? If we offer players the tools, we can help them understand what it is we are asking of them.

Throw away the whiteboard for a second. Forget drawing lines and arrows on the whiteboard. Free Kick Soccer has a little secret that may just help you. 

Soccer players are mostly creative, and very good problem solvers. I mean, isn’t that what we are doing in all of our preparation, problem solving? We have been confronted with a problem and now we are coming up with solutions. 

Think of games that include problem-solving and what you do to solve them. Let’s start with simple problems like Jigsaw puzzles. To solve the jigsaw you touch and put the pieces together using the front of the box as the guide. Similarly, there is the preschooler’s shapes and box game. This game has a box with holes in the form of shapes. You touch the box and place the shapes into the correct holes. Physically touching objects with a guide can be a useful tool, especially for players.

The Tactical Secret

Have you ever thought about introducing a tabletop game into your coaching technique? 

There is a soccer tabletop game named Subbuteo, which became wildly popular during the 1980s and ’90s. We actually have a set with a few teams at Free Kick Soccer. It comes with everything you need to simulate a proper game of soccer.

Subbuteo soccer

As you can see from the setup, Subbuteo is the perfect tool to explain the matchday tactics to your players.

To our surprise, two top-class managers have been known to use Subbuteo in their pre-match and half time team talks. England Women’s national soccer team coach Phil Neville, and Manchester City Coach Pep Guardiola have spoken highly about using this tactical secret. Phil Neville’s squad sat for hours talking about the intricacies of their system during the Women’s World Cup, while Pep Guardiola used the tabletop game during a visit to MLS Team New York City.

Subbuteo will work

Using Subbuteo for your coaching tactics would work great during a video review of a match. After you have picked out a scenario you can set up the situation on the Subbuteo table, instead of using a pointer. Players will gain a greater understanding since they can see the whole pitch. Watch as players become more engaged as they are able to physically move the pieces while you talk through a game situation. Interaction as a team becomes fluid as you eliminate the distractions caused by lines and arrows. Subbuteo will make your tactical demonstrations even more effective as you talk through your findings, giving clear positional instruction.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t going to fully replace the whiteboard, but it will enhance the way you communicate with your players. Give it a try the next time you run a cognitive training session or a half-time team talk in the dressing room. Let us know how you get along.

Soccer is meant to have the element of fun, isn’t that why we got involved with the sport in the first place? There’s one more thing you can do with your team using Subbuteo. Play it!

Hold a tournament during your team bonding sessions. We can almost guarantee that Subbuteo will be a great addition to your team’s training.