Playing Style Balance

A team’s playing style balance refers to the tactical balance in the team’s playing style.

It is important for a team to achieve a good playing style balance in order for it to effectively achieve each of its tactical objectives. A team should therefore take on appropriate levels of tactical risk in its overall use of each playing method and its overall use of playing methods as a whole.

In particular, the overall use of attacking width and defensive width playing methods should be well balanced in order for a team to retain horizontal compactness effectively. However, a team should be careful not to achieve too much horizontal compactness at the expense of achieving sufficient spatial compactness.

An appropriate overall tactical risk level for a team to take on in its playing style depends on the relative importance of the two primary tactical objectives to the team. For example, if a team has high relative overall player ability or is attempting to quickly score an equalising or winning goal then scoring a goal may be its main primary tactical objective and, therefore, it may use a playing style with a higher overall tactical risk level. Similarly, if a team has low relative overall player ability or is attempting to hold on to the current scoreline then preventing the opposition team scoring a goal may be its main primary tactical objective and, therefore, it may use a playing style with a lower overall tactical risk level.

The overall tactical risk level of a playing style can be assessed from the tactical risk levels of its style methods, as detailed in the Playing Methods guide.

Playing Style Balance & Attacking Risk

Off the Ball Directness

In order for a team to keep possession, retain solidity and retain compactness effectively in the attacking phases it is important that it does not use higher risk off the ball directness attacking methods to too great an extent in its playing style. However, in order for a team to penetrate space effectively, it is also important that it does not use lower risk off the ball directness attacking methods to too great an extent.

Therefore, typically, off the ball directness attacking methods are not included in a team’s style methods. Instead, their overall use is determined indirectly through the use of a high risk mentality or a low risk mentality (or neither) as a style method.

Breaks & Consolidating Possession

A team can vary the attacking risk levels in its playing style by initiating breaks and consolidating possession when appropriate. This includes counter attacking (initiating breaks in the attacking transition phase) and holding shape (consolidating possession in the attacking transition phase).

A break temporarily increases the overall attacking risk level of a team’s playing style, while consolidating possession temporarily decreases the overall attacking risk level.

Initiating breaks can therefore be particularly useful for a team that uses a playing style with a low overall attacking risk level. Such a team is typically more reliant on initiating breaks to penetrate space effectively.

Similarly, consolidating possession can be particularly useful for a team that uses a playing style with a high overall attacking risk level. The greater use of higher risk attacking methods requires more frequent reorganisation in the attacking phases.

Playing Style Balance & Defensive Risk

Marking Coverage

In order for a team to protect space effectively in the defensive phases it is important that it does not use higher risk marking coverage defensive methods to too great an extent.

Therefore, typically, man-marking is not included in a team’s style methods.

Counter Pressing and Regrouping

A team can vary the defensive risk levels in its playing style by counter pressing and regrouping in the defensive transition phase.

Counter pressing temporarily increases the overall defensive risk level of a team’s playing style, while regrouping temporarily decreases the overall defensive risk level.

Counter pressing can therefore be particularly useful for a team that uses a playing style with a low overall defensive risk level.

Similarly, regrouping can be particularly useful for a team that uses a playing style with a high overall defensive risk level.