There are a few tactics used by coaches and sides in soccer games. While teams may stick to a particular tactic for a number of games, other tactics can simply be introduced during a game in relation to the circumstances of the match. These are a few of the most notable soccer tactics used in the sport.


Counter attacking is a tactic used by a good number of sides. Essentially speaking, counter attacking soccer is when a team drops back a little when off the ball, as the other side goes forward. Then, when the ball is won back the team suddenly moves from defense to attack very quickly so that the other side has little time to organize a defense. Counter attacks can be either with long balls up field, or more direct passing. Used effectively, the counter-attack can catch teams out and result in goals.

Men Behind the Ball

Getting men, or players, behind the ball is not a new soccer tactic. However, it is a very traditional approach used by sides to play a more defensive game plan. Overall, getting men behind the ball involves pulling a number of players further back and defending in numbers. As such, it is associated with team formations that involve the use of 5 defenders at the back. The tactic is sometimes used by teams in away games against teams that have very good records at home. Or alternatively, if a team gets a player sent off then getting men behind the ball will at least limit the spaces of having one less player. Overall, it aims to limit their goal-scoring chances, and gives a better chance of not conceding a goal and perhaps drawing a game. However, equally it will also mean that there will be fewer chances for the team playing the tactic. As such, it is considered a negative approach by teams that do not feel they have a great chance of winning the game.

Offside Trap

The offside trap is a soccer tactic that aims to take advantage of the offside rule. When a player is caught offside, the linesman waves the flag and stops play. To take advantage of this, some defenders will quickly run up behind the forward player when, or just before, the ball is played to them. When they do this well, the forward can then be caught offside and play restarted by their own team. However, if not timed correctly then a player can still remain on-side and could potentially even score a goal. Therefore, it requires good organization and timing by the defenders


Watford introduced pressing to English soccer in the '80s, and took them as high as second in England's top division. When a team presses the other team, they aim to quickly close players down that are on the ball and then win it back. By doing this, they restrict the time that the other team has on the ball. This can be an effective against teams that play a short passing game, although it does require a good level of fitness from players to play the pressing tactic.

These are some of the most effective tactics that coaches and sides can use in their games. Some teams may play the same tactic in a number of games, while others may use such tactics sporadically in games with suitable circumstances. Good coaches make effective use of tactics in their games to their team's advantage.