How to react to goals in soccer

by Ivan Bobanovic | Last updated

Goals change games.  Tactically reacting to goals as a coach is very difficult.  Do you change your formation or do you stick with your same formation?  Do you make a substitution?  There are an abundance of factors to consider.

The context of the goal plays a large part in the way you react as a coach and as a team.  Are you in a tournament or a league game?  Are you playing in regular time or extra time?  Is the game for the championship or a spot in the playoffs?  Often times you need to take a step back from the situation and think about what needs to happen in order for the right outcome to materialize.  If you’re in a tournament and a tie will suffice, take action accordingly and take your time with the ball and hold possession.  If you absolutely need a goal to move on in a tournament, you will have to make tactical changes and increase the mount of offensive players making attempts at net.

Ultimately, it all depends on the state of the game.  Have you had majority of the possession the whole game?  Is the momentum in your favor?  Have you scored a goal to tie the game or go ahead in the game?  Is it halftime or closer to the end of the game?

The answer, in my mind, whether you have scored to go ahead, tie or are still behind, is to get possession of the ball and hold it.  By that I mean obtaining possession and playing it back into your end of the field.  Why you ask?  Typically what happens is right after a goal has been scored, both teams are excited.  You’re either excited to be back in the game, or excited because you’re leading.  So when you play the ball back into your end to have possession, the opposing team will come running forward trying to make a play.  It’s a combination of excitement, adrenaline and lack of focus.  In this moment, the perfect opportunity to counter attack exists.  Holes in the opposing teams formation are inevitable…find them.

Conceding a Goal

Regardless of the circumstances at hand, the team needs to re-focus.  Remember, after a goal is scored on you, you get the ball.  As a coach, and as the players on the field, it’s absolutely crucial that you take your time setting up before you put the ball back into play.  Have a word with a few players and assure that everyone is on the same page.  Often times the instinctual reaction is to be sporadic and fight back.   This isn’t to be confused with a well planned attack to quickly score a goal in return.  The former results in players playing on adrenaline, the latter is a result of players coming together to work towards a common goal.

Scoring a Goal

Here, also, it’s important you get possession of the ball and take your time.  The state of the game again takes front row.  If you’ve scored to take the lead, then it’s very important to get possession and hold it as long as possible.  The longer you are able to keep possession the more frustrated the opposing team will be and the more holes that will open up in the opposing teams formation.  Even if you’ve scored a goal to tie the game, the same approach is to be taken.  In having possession of the ball you can have a direct impact on how you will make attempts to attacks.

When you’ve scored and are still behind a goal, the biggest mistake players make is they get the ball and try to launch a ball all the way up the field towards the forwards trying to force something to happen.  Sometimes this works, but it’s just that, forcing.  Forcing the issue, nine times out of ten, results in your team losing the ball ad finding yourself back-tracking towards your end defending.

To conclude, make sure you understand the state of the game and the pending result.  Regardless of the situation, gain control of the ball nd work towards the opponent’s goal with patience.  Don’t force the issue as this will ony force mistakes.

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