Soccer Tactics: Overlapping

Principles and video tutorials for learning overlaps

Overlaps are one of the most well-known moves and are seen in every game, especially professional games. At the end of this article you'll find four video tutorials that will help you get started with overlaps.

In theory, it's quite simple. The most commonly encountered form is shown in the picture:

Soccer overlapping

Player B overlaps player A. Player A can now pass to player B or move with the ball towards the inside, although a pass is shown in the picture. The defender, player C, will have a hard time adjusting to the situation. Often you can see the overlap by watching the player that passed the ball to the leading player. This situation can really move the players around on the field because with each pass comes the question, can I overlap or not?

The players standing downfield must be ready to run at any moment. This happens quite often, although they might not even get the ball, so some hard work is required on their part. The danger to their own defense is often underestimated; if they fail to secure the rear, their team might lose control of the ball.

Overlapping is a group tactic and is used often by the wing positions. The overlapping player moves outside and around the player in control of the ball, ideally as quickly as possible and as close as possible to the player with the ball in order to make a shorter and quicker overall route.

The player with the ball has two choices: either adapt to the overlapping players, or move quickly with the ball towards the inside. The defender must decide which defensive action they will perform, and it's hard to follow the pace of the other players. If the defender tries to go towards the inside, they will suddenly find them self in a very tight spot.

We have four videos that will illustrate the overlapping exercises. Cones are used for orientation and the defenders will behave passively at first. You'll recognize quickly that there are several different ways to run and pass the ball in these exercises. Whether done in groups of two or three, overlapping offers endless possibilities.


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Soccer Tactics – Overlapping Training Video I

One thing should be avoided as a general rule when introducing training exercises to develop tactics: a soccer coach may not reveal his full knowledge to the players and must not prove all of what they are capable of, they should instead whet the players' appetites to learn the tactics for themselves.

Otherwise, there is a risk that the players will have mental blocks and won't adopt the tactics. Sell the tactics to the players with their simplicity and their advantages. Do not try to teach all four overlapping exercises in a single practice, take your time and teach the next exercise only once the players have fully understood the previous one. There are two variations for the introductory exercise, introduce them one at a time and then let the players choose which one they will attempt. The defender should only behave passively. Later, they will begin to defend aggressively.

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Soccer Tactics - Overlapping Training Video II

Now the overlap training becomes complete and we'll start to explain different types of tactics.

To begin, we need groups of three. This time, the side that the overlap is performed on will alternate between the left and right side. Take extra care that you vary the distances between the players. They should all be fairly close together. When practicing with greater distances, the skill required increases with distance so it encourages communication between the players. The players will recognize their mistakes by themselves, the coach is not needed for that in this exercise. Ideally, this exercise is finished when the players make only successful direct passes, that's why the distances should not be too great. Don't forget to be patient with your players during this exercise.


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Soccer Tactics – Overlapping Training Video III

With this continual training drill, we will begin to slowly make the overlapping tactic an automatic response. This exercise is possible to be done in both clockwise and counter-clockwise directions.

We'll post player in each corner of a square and the exercise can begin. The dribbler passes, overlaps, and then receives the return pass, which they then forward again. After the action, the player takes the position previously held by the player to which they just passed.

Pay attention to the notes in the video if you cannot do this exercise with groups of five. The more groups you can make, the faster the players will be able to learn and perform the motions. After allowing a little time to practice, continually increase the speed. As a variation, have the players change direction at the coach's command, then things start to get really interesting.


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Soccer Tactics - Overlapping Training Video IV

Before we go on our last video tutorial on overlapping, here's a little tip: exercises II through IV are designed to develop a good shot on goal. Divide up the players into groups, each group will carry out either running, dribbling, or passing motions in the direction of the goal.

In this tutorial, we will show you what is possible with overlaps. Three players are involved in this action and will perform a combination move that is quite difficult. Having the players perform this exercise in order increases the pressure on each and every player, because if a mistake is made, the exercise must be started over from the beginning.

Now it's time to add an additional rule to really drive the players to practice overlaps during the endgame. For example, goals may only count if they were overlapped earlier somewhere back down the field, or goals may even count double. Force your players to make use of overlaps now and remind them to do so again and again throughout practice. We recommend that you repeat these exercises from time to time.


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