Regardless of what level of soccer is being played, throw-ins are a major part of set pieces. Using throw-ins efficiently will give your team an advantage over their opponents by utilizing available space and setting up goal scoring chances.
By paying close attention during games, you’ll see that once a throw-in is conceded, all the players switch off and unwind due to the interruption in play. Once the level of concentration is broken and players are taking it easy, your team need to take advantage and punish their opponents.
Five key points are involved when coaching soccer throw-ins.
- The throw-in should be taken as quickly as possible, preferably by the player nearest the ball. As soon as he gets hold of the ball, he should be searching for an outlet.
- Train your players to first seek out the player who is furthest forward and preferably unmarked. Players should be reminded they cannot be considered offside if they take delivery of the ball straight from a throw-in, therefore spread out the play.
- If the furthest forward player is too hard to reach, then instruct the players to look for the nearest player who is unmarked. He should have some space, enabling him to take control of the ball, begin an attack or return the ball to the thrower.
- Train your team how to take a throw-in. It’s all too common that throw-ins are taken and the player receiving it doesn’t stand a chance to do anything with it because it bounces too much, is too high in the air or is thrown with far too much speed.
- Once the player has taken the throw-in, it’s vital he resumes his position on the field as quickly as possible.
Your team can’t go too far wrong if you coach them on the five points listed above. However, do these principles apply no matter where the throw-in is taking place – the attacking third, the defensive third or the midfield? The answer to that is yes and here’s why.
The Defensive Third
Safety is the first and foremost consideration here. The throw-in should be directed toward an unmarked player, with him passing to the opposite side of the pitch or starting up a rapid attack without intervention from the opposing team.
If the player taking the throw-in wants the ball returned to him, he should direct the ball toward the receiving player at foot or head height and using a speed at which the receiver can easily return the ball.
If neither of the first two options are available, lob the ball up the pitch as far as you possibly can. This is especially applicable in games of mini football. Usually you will get several players arguing over who takes the throw-in; by the time they have decided any advantage they may have achieved has gone, therefore the first player to reach the ball takes on the throw-in.
There are a few more options in the midfield area. Your side are not as near the goal therefore more risks and chancier throw-ins should be taken.
Two throw-ins suited to the midfield are:
1. Direct the throw-in toward an unmarked player able to control the ball, keep possession and create chances.
2. Make a long throw-in into space with the ball directed at a player who initially ran short but spun off, to run down the line on the attack.
In the second instance, usually if the marker is touch tight, he will position himself ball side and goal side of your player. This should mean there is sufficient room for him down the line to turn around to attack the space.
The Attacking Third
In this section of the pitch, the faster the throw-in is taken the better. Prompt action and a fast throw-in means the opposition will not have time to organise and compose themselves.
To gain an even better advantage from this, instruct your team to take short runs and ensure lots of movement as this will make marking almost impossible.
When a throw-in is won, your players must be alert and ready for immediate action in the hope of catching the opposition unawares.