Basic Football Principles in Both Attack & Defence

No matter what level or age group it is that you are coaching at, there are a small number of basic principles that can be used in order to get the best out of your players in both attack and defence. This article will teach coaches about such principles, which can be implemented during each and every training session.

Basic Football Principles – In Possession/Attacking


  • Are players able to move the ball quickly in all directions, making the pitch as big as possible in the process?


  • Aim to play positively when possible, penetrating the oppositions defence with attacking intent, whether this be through playing out from the back or a more direct approach. 


  • Instruct players to take advantage of winning the ball back in a threatening area, with the counter attack being a hugely effective method of getting the better of an opponent.


Basic Football Principles – Out of Possession/Defending


  • Getting players behind the ball as soon as it is lost, as well as setting up in an organised manner. This will ensure that the attacking team is unable to easily move forward and penetrate the backline.


  • Try to ensure that the play stays in front of defenders by forcing opponents to pass the ball sideways and even backwards. Making it difficult for attackers to play the ball forward means that you are more likely to frustrate them and win it back quickly. 


  • Defend from the front, which will often start with strikers closing down the first point of attack, whether it be the goalkeeper or defenders. Putting opponents under pressure is another surefire method of winning back possession.


  • Try to set your team up so that they are in with a good chance of counter attacking when they do win the ball back in a threatening position on the pitch.
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