First Episode: Anticipate Transitions
The first episode is in the attacking phase. For example, when your team is attacking and has the ball in the zone between the midfielders, your team must already know how they must react if they lose the ball to the opponent. Therefore, in a collective manner, your team must be able to anticipate the next phases and actions of the game in order to recover the ball in a smart and efficient way. In this specific scenario, the next phase of the game would be a negative transition to the counter-attack of the opponent team.
Here, your players – those in defense and midfield – should primarily be focusing on keeping your defensive structure organized, while also quickly scanning and understanding which of the opponent’s players are in more dangerous positions for a counter-attack. Your players must also be attentive of them in order to know their location on the pitch along with their running behavior and possible sprinting patterns. By doing this, your team will be in a strong positive position to defend in case of losing the ball in the mentioned zone. It is often seen among games that when losing the ball in the middle of the pitch, the first thoughts are to perform a high pressing because we want to recover the ball as soon as possible. That is why the players must know what is happening and what types of movements are occurring around them before they start pressing on the ball holder and try to intercept any type of pass. That is why this concept is crucial for all players to understand properly.
At Ekkono we believe this concept is important for all kinds of players, starting from those in academies and lower divisions, all the way up to those playing professionally in the best leagues of the world. We have worked with several professional midfielders and one of the main areas they needed to improve on was their defensive look on perception to become more complete.
Many of these professional offensive midfielders had problems when the game situations presented a rapid change of speed, making them somewhat unpredictable. In these situations, the teams faced a negative transition and vile counter-attacks. Nevertheless, by training and understanding the importance of having a defensive look on perception, they were able significantly improve upon their defensive actions during transitions, usually by recognizing better their surrounding and efficiently cutting lines of passes.