How often during a soccer game does one hear the desperate call “make that pass!”?
However, often there is a good reason why it does not happen, why it cannot be done. The requester stands in the shadow of a defender and cannot be played to at all or only at a high risk. At times he is not even seen by the player controlling the ball. We wish to more closely investigate this fact, in which the theoretical fundamentals are often disregarded. What does “in the shadow of a defender” actually mean?
To this effect, look at illustration (A). The ball player is situated directly in front of the defender. We have created the shadow of the defender in graphic form. In this shadow, the attacker can pass the ball only with high risk, because the defender blocks the path into the shadow area. This imaginary shadow is called “cover shadow” in many types of sports.
In the next animation (B) it can be clearly recognized that the cover shadow changed in size if the ball carrier is in proximity of the defender. The closer the ball carrier to the defender, the larger the cover shadow gets.
What do we learn from this?
What can the pass recipient do be able to receive the ball?
If I am in control of the ball I need to pass it before the defender is too close and the cover shadow too large. The defender has to be constantly close to the opponent; only then will the cover shadow be large enough to prevent passes. The often-heard saying: “We are too far away from the opponents” fits here.
Look closely at animation (C). The defender moves to develop an optimal cover shadow. Only attackers outside of that cover shadow are at all able to receive the ball from the teammate in possession of the ball. In this animation, it happens to be the direct neighbour.
As attacker pay attention: The defender will almost always try to cover the goal with the cover shadow (D+E). If you offer yourself to receive the pass think about how the cover shadow will shift within the next seconds and then be ready to receive the ball outside of that shadow.
As defender pay attention: Approach as closely as possible to the opponent in possession of the ball, so that the cover shadow is large enough. If the defence is under pressure it is essential that the spaces close to the goal be secured without cover shadow, in order to obstruct or forestall dangerous passes close to the goal.
Make your team aware of the theory of the „Cover Shadow“. It will be of help in the game, in defence as well as in attack.