Finding your Tactical edge

Training with NIKE Football

Words by Ari Charilaou | Images by Aleks Jason

As discovered in this month’s Nike Academy Most Wanted trials, too often players with great talent, strength and mentality, fall short simply because they’re unable to execute their role within the team.

Most Wanted scouts have highlighted that a player’s ability to effectively understand tactical instructions and their ability to effectively keep to that specific ‘game-plan’ is of infinite value within the team environment. A strong, clear tactical plan, along with a dedication to fulfilling these set strategies reduces the room for error and increases the possibility for success.

Consider last season’s Premier League champions, Leicester City. A team with no real outstanding star power on paper, yet a ruthless and methodical game plan allowed them not only to match, but exceed more experienced and skilled rivals. Through Claudio Ranieri’s ‘defence-first’ philosophy, a total commitment to attack when in possession and the implementation of offensive traps; Leicester City relied upon a clear and thorough tactical approach which allowed them to effectively exploit their opponent’s weaknesses.

“Within the club and the national team we focus a lot on tactical side of training for matches and getting prepared for specific things in a match,” said Nike Most Wanted Winner and Socceroo Tom Rogic, told THE TURF.

“I find that when you’re going out on the pitch and have a structure that the team is set to follow, it gives you a chance to show what you can do individually and more importantly as a team.”

As football continues to develop into a faster and more technical game, players spend more time training for specific in-game situations. Although, as suggested by Nike Academy Most Wanted Australia coach, Jas Virdee, knowing how to play off the ball, can be as crucial as playing when in possession.

“On average, players are in possession of the ball for only around 2 minutes of each match,” Virdee told THE TURF.

“What is important is what you do off the ball to ensure you are supporting your team in the right way; making the right runs, being aware of an opposition player and being in the right place at the right time.”

This month, Australia’s best young footballing talent is preparing to compete for a place in the NIKE Academy. Scouts at the Nike Academy Most Wanted Pacific Finals are on the look-out for the ‘complete player’, a player who is both tactically smart and can perform under intense pressure.

Virdee continued to recommend that players focus especially on standing out in one-v-one situations.

“When attacking, your priority is to first isolate the defender. Using trickery and movement, try to create a yard or so of space to either a pass or shoot, or look to beat the defender with a turn of pace. Defensively, look to place the attacker on their weaker foot; match your pace with theirs and look to either cleanly challenge the ball or delay the attacker until defensive support can arrive.”

“Training videos such as Recovery Runs on the Nike Football app will show you step by step how to react in certain situations on the pitch.”

Like the world’s best, you too can now improve your tactical side of your game by watching the training videos the NIKE Football App. In the ‘Training Section’ of the app, videos will cover drills and different in-game situations for all positions.

Download the NIKE Football App on iPhone and Android.

This post is sponsored by Nike.