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Advanced Team Fundamentals II – System 🆚 System

A Defensive Look on Perception

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Rodri is playing for Manchester City

At Ekkono we recognize the importance of perception taken from a defensive lens. We believe that perception is more than just looking for open spaces and seeking free teammates and direct opponents. From a very young age, it is important to teach players what they should be looking for and thinking throughout the game, depending on the episode and place they are playing in. Moreover, when being in a defensive phase, the defending team must already know what will happen and how they should react once they recover the ball. Hence, the players should already know what to look for in order to participate in a positive team transition. For example, strikers playing up front should look for open spaces in order to run and perform an efficient counter-attack.

In this article we will review the two specific episodes of a game where players usually have more difficulties when dealing with perception, mostly because they are wrongfully focused more on the ball rather than certain movements of the game itself. As coaches, we should help the players by telling them on what they should focus on and look for within these rapid episodes.

Listen to our audio article below:

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.

“IT IS IMPORTANT TO WORK ON PERCEPTION WITHIN SPECIFIC SITUATIONS OF THE GAME SO THAT PLAYERS CAN UNDERSTAND THESE DIFFICULT SITUATIONS BETTER AND KNOW HOW TO EFFICIENTLY REACT TO THEM.

AS COACHES, WE ENCOURAGE TO TRAIN WITH MORE DETAIL AND REPETITION THESE SITUATIONS WHERE YOUR PLAYERS HAVE MORE DIFFICULTY IN ORDER TO IMPROVE THE OVERALL QUALITY AND COMPREHENSION OF YOUR TEAM.”

Second Episode: Defending in Block

The second episode is in the defensive phase, where your team is defending with a medium or low block. When the offensive team wants to take advantage of your defensive block, they will try to switch the ball orientation in order to create a shift within your transitioning block. Here, your team must be even more attentive to their defensive structure and shouldn’t be completely focused on the movement of the ball, but rather pay more attention to their blindside to avoid any passes and runs behind their backs. Therefore, your team must retain a solid block while using their perception skills to understand their environment and any type of dangerous action taken towards them.

It is important to work on perception within specific situations of the game so that players can understand these difficult situations better and know how to efficiently react to them. As coaches, we encourage to train with more detail and repetition in these situations where your players have more difficulty in order to improve the overall quality and comprehension of your team.

As recalled in the two mentioned episodes, perception is crucial when defending, and for teams and its players, it is crucial to understand how to react on different situations of games. For players, it is a great skill to master, and it will mark a significant impact on how the games develop. And as coaches, we want our players to learn this importance so that they can further comprehend the context and speed of games.

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