Exclusive Coach Interview - Build-Up Play to Finish

Exclusive Coach Interview...

with Tag Lamche, we ask him about "Build-Up Play to Finish":

Best way to Play? Can Any Coach at any Level have Success? How Long Does it Take? Repetitions / Patterns of Play to Develop Tactical Awareness and Decision Making? + More...

Hi Coach,

As many of your already know, Tag Lamche a UEFA 'A' Licence, Coach at a Professional Academy in the UK.

He is also the Author of one of the bestselling books in 2016/17:

Coaching Combination Play - From Build Up to Finish

The book has received 5* glowing reviews which is most certainly deserved, the coaching detail is outstanding, presented in a way that makes it super easy to understand and apply.

I'm sure you'll find the Interview Interesting and beneficial!

Tag Lamche
Tag Lamche
UEFA 'A' Coach and Author

Kick off the New Season with: 15% off Books / eBooks | DVDs / Videos | Software / Apps

Use Coupon Code: NS15  Hurry, ends: 11:59pm Thu 31 Aug 2017.

Is building up play from the keeper, through defence, midfield and attack the best way to play the game?

I think so yes. There’s no one single way to build-up play of course, but when coaching at foundation and youth development level, I believe it’s vital as a coach you take responsibility and help enlighten your players on at least a few different and effective ways to “build out” from the keeper.

And in your opinion, can any coach have success with this?

I believe any coach can have success with this approach, including at grassroots level. It just takes a bit of study and a bit of patience applying simple tactics with your players.

Ask yourself as a coach, if all you’re seeing is your goalkeeper lump it high up the pitch every goal kick, is that good enough? Do you want to set higher standards and help nurture a group of players to play with more control and possession? If so, it always starts with your keeper and what happens from there.

Is building up play from the back the best way to create goal scoring opportunities?

Yes, I believe so. Once you’ve successfully built up from the back and have the ball under good control in midfield areas with good supporting shape and movement, your team are in a different world!

Spend time on coaching different ways of playing out and you’re well on your way. In doing this, you’ll be covering many of the essential principles necessary for good attacking play, e.g. how to create depth and width, and good mobility in terms of off-ball supporting runs, rotating positions, third man and dummy runs, switching play etc.

Coaching good build-up play in your own half also delivers a pay-off when your players are trying to break opponent lines in the attacking phase.

You often hear at all levels of the game, even about Premier League teams, that 'We don't have the players to build-up play from the back' - What are your thoughts on this?

Frankly, at elite level it’s either laughable or like a pointless excuse - it points to weaknesses in the technical and tactical knowledge of the coach. Some coaches/managers may simply prefer a more counter-attacking and physical style of football, based on letting opponents have the ball and then waiting for a mistake or a perceived tactical weakness. I believe you’re unlikely to achieve sustained success with this approach (with exceptions of course).

And what about at youth level?

At the foundation and youth development phase, if I heard a coach saying his players aren’t good enough to play out from the back, I’d want to have a conversation. Why aren’t they good enough, when all it takes is a bit of focused practice improving 5, 10, 15 yard passing when under pressure from opponents. Once they can do that you’re good to go.

With good basic tactical knowledge and understanding, any supportive coach with patience will get success with any group of players and help them learn to successfully build-up play from the back.

As the coach, it’s up to you to learn the most effective tools that you can use and you will achieve good results. This is perhaps the main emphasis in the book and where it’s got excellent feedback from coaches who want to learn and equip themselves.

When first coaching players to build-up play from the back, mistakes will be made and goals conceded. What is your advice for resisting fear/pressure (parents, other coaches, results) to play a safer, more direct game?

For players and coaches who want more than “let the game be the teacher”, and have the opportunity to train, then it’s time to introduce a bit of shape and a few effective plans for various phases of play. That way, you’ll likely all get a lot more fun and satisfaction out of the experience.

If you’re at a good club with good organisation and a code of conduct, then players and parents will need to sign up to the club philosophy and agreed codes of behavior. If there are any problems, just remind them they’ve signed up and if they don’t like it to go elsewhere. Good communication and discipline is important.

What must you do as the coach?

As for the coach, you’ll want to do your homework, be prepared for training, know your stuff etc. This means having a few different ways of solving every problem, showing patience, allowing for mistakes and providing players with good tips so they learn to eliminate them. The main thing for you the coach, is that you’re armed with good and effective knowledge so you can flexibly apply tactics in any given situation. That way you build trust and from there success and satisfaction for the players, spectators and for yourself as the coach.

Are there situations/moments when you would not build-up play from the back? If so, when are they?

The key to success is to have lots of variations to your build-up play. This includes occasionally “going long”, where your keeper aims for a long targeted pass/throw to a more advanced striker etc. This, of course, is vital when the opportunity for a quick counter attack is on as your opponents are out of shape.

The long targeted ball also works especially well after you’ve played it short a number of times and your opponents are pressing high up the pitch. If, every so often your keeper plays a long targeted pass, this can relieve pressure and eliminate many opponents with one kick.

Another benefit here is your opponents will likely drop back at the next goal kick, wary of the same thing happening again and being caught too high up the pitch. This is what you want, to confuse your opponents and outwit them.

How important is it not to over-use the long ball?

In my opinion, the long ball shouldn’t be over-used, otherwise it gets predictable and too easy for opponents to quickly recover possession. The key challenge for the coach is to help equip your team with lots of variations for playing out from the back, so the players learn to comfortably “play through pressure”. This is the main focus of my book as I believe it’s perhaps the most vital attribute of any quality side, from youth level up to elite senior level.

How long does it take to coach a team (new or existing) to become accomplished at building up play from the back?

At academy level, you can have your team enjoying success with the methods outlined within a few weeks. After two or three months, the team should be well on their way to “playing through pressure”. By the end of one season you should have a very competent group, able to break through even the most organised opponent pressure.

And at youth level?

At youth level, a well prepared coach can introduce the methods as outlined in the book in a step-by-step manner. If you’re just training once a week I would recommend the following: exploring midfield rotations to lose markers for two weeks, then movements of the full backs and centre backs to create space to receive and also one-to-one work with your keeper. After a few sessions you’ll see improvements and a positive impact in games that you can build on over the coming months.

You divide the 'Build-Up to Finish' into 4 phases (Build-Up, Consolidation, Incision and Finishing phases) - can you please describe each phase?

The Build-Up Phase starts from the keeper or at any point where a player in the back line receives the ball, looking to play out.

The Consolidation Phase is centered on midfield areas as rotating midfielders arrive in space to receive the ball and advance the play.

The Incision Phase typically involves combination play to break through the opponent’s lines and penetrate the “final third” of the pitch.

Finally, the Finishing Phase is exactly as it sounds, with the many variations of play a team can use to break open an opponent’s back-line to create scoring opportunities.

How important is it to train specific combination/movement patterns to build-up play from the back?

Very important. If you only have one way, for example your holding midfielder dropping in to receive, that’s easy to stop. If I’m coaching the opponents, I’ll simply man-mark your holding midfielder until your keeper decides “it’s not on” and he goes long. You won’t get consistent control of a game if you restrict yourself to only 1 or 2 ways of playing out from the back.

I recommend coaches to explore 10 or more ways to build out from the back, be it from the keeper or in open play. That’s what I cover in the book and try to clearly outline as a lot of this information isn’t out there. Good coaches tend to keep it to themselves.

Is this equally as important for attacking play?

Variations of coordinated movement patterns are also vital to successful attacking play, especially in the Incision and Finishing phases.

My book outlines some very effective practices you can easily explore with your players to improve their combination play. For example, ‘The X’ movement which involves a diagonal forward pass into a striker who “sets it back”, allowing for a diagonal pass into the anticipated run of a “third man”.

How important is it to provide players with repetitions of different patterns of play to develop their tactical awareness and decision making?

Repetition with variation is vital to reinforcing learning. Start with shape and movement work (unopposed or with passive opposition). This allows the players to recognise how they can effectively coordinate their runs etc. Then slowly ratchet up the opponent pressure as learning progresses in order to “stress test” decision-making.

Finally, after the players have developed a degree of competence, encourage them to explore the patterns of play in full competitive play. As positional awareness and a shared understanding of movement takes hold within the team, this sets the stage for individual creativity and self-expression.

Which modern coaches/teams impress you the most with their build-up play tactics?

With regard to coaches who “walk the talk” when it comes to looking to dominate games through possession, it’s the usual suspects starting with Marcelo Bielsa (now at Lille), Pep Guardiola (Man City), Pochettino (Spurs) and Jorge Sampaoli (Argentina) to name just a few.

Recently, I’ve been very impressed with Napoli’s style of play under Maurizzio Sarri, who play a beautifully fluent and attacking game based on excellent combination play.

Download the PDF Version of this Interview + Tactics & Practices
Combination Play From Build-Up to Finish Tactics and Practices:
Coaching Combination Play Coaching Combination Play
Coaching Combination Play Coaching Combination Play
  • 160 Pages
  • 40 Game Situations
  • 66 Practices
  • U12-18+ Level

Get your copy
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Matt Whitehouse - Elite Performance & UEFA A Licence coach
The best book I've read on the coaching & development of build up play through the thirds. Great detail! Fantastic!

Kevin McGreskin - UEFA A Licence / Coach Educator ( Irish FA)
"Excellent book! Superb in the detail for coaching a team to build up play from the goalkeeper, through the thirds and into finishing situations..

Not many people manage to offer a book that is such a useful resource for coaches working across all levels of the game. Highly recommended!"

Eddie Munnelly - Lead Youth Dev. Coach - Queens Park Rangers FC
A very well put together book for any level of coach to understand. I would recommend to coaches looking to gain an introduction and insight into a possession-based progressive football

Hamza Serrar - U-18's Academy Coach: Charlton Athletic
This book will be of interest for all coaches from Level 1 right up to Pro-Licence. All the practices are clearly linked in with real game scenarios.. I've already used a number of the practices and will continue to do so with my players. Recommended !

David Powderly - Charlton Athletic FC U-14's Academy Coach
With so many coaching books available it can be difficult to find one that really provides clear information on how you can develop your sessions. This book is not something you will buy, read then put away - you'll keep referring to it for ideas... you wont regret this purchase!

Michal Pujdak - Hull City FC Academy Coach
Great for different ways of playing out from the back and building play through the thirds. This book is for everyone teaching their players to keep possession of the ball. There's a lot of very useful detail.

Neil Harding - FA Coach Educator - Wolverhampton Uni. Mens Coach
Very well laid out. The detailed coaching points will help any coach progress their players. One of the best coaching resources I have read and I will definitely be using it with my teams.

Sean Dineen - Oxford United Academy Coach U-13's
A thought-provoking book. Coaching points are very clear and helpful. Gives lots of different practices to build up possession play from the back and through the thirds. Very useful for high level coaches but juice in there for youth coaches too. Recommend this book!

Read all Reviews
Learn to "Coach Combination Play" with Practical Examples of How to Play from the Keeper, through Defence, Midfield and Attack
Coaching Combination Play
  • 160 Pages
  • 40 Game Situations
  • 66 Practices
  • U12-18+ Level

Get your copy

eBook also Available:

Tag Lamche, a UEFA A Licence (part 1) coach and a specialist in vision and awareness (perceptual and cognitive skills) shows you how to play ‘’From Build Up to Finish’’, providing numerous practical examples of combination play from the keeper, through defence, midfield and attack to create goal scoring opportunities.

As well as being structured, it is important to present players with a rich variety of options or tactical tools they can explore. In this way you empower players to make their own decisions - individually and collectively - as well as encouraging them to use their own creativity and natural attributes to best apply these methods into practice.

There are detailed chapters to outline the 4 phases of play and additional chapters for Supplementary Technical Training and Set Pieces.

40 Game Situations analysed including:

  • Midfield Rotation: Coordinated Movement Patterns
  • Playing Out from the Back
  • Creating Space to Play Through Pressure
  • Creating Scoring Opportunities
  • Key Attacking Runs to Finish

66 Practices including:

  • Exploring “Opening Up” to Receive & One-Touch Passing
  • Rotation of the Midfield 3 in a Pass & Move Practice
  • Exploring the Third Man Run & the Classic One-Two Combination
  • Playing Through the Thirds with Two-Way Pressure in a Zonal Possession Game
  • Switching Play to Create Goal Chances in a Small Sided Game
Meet the Coach
Tag Lamche

Tag Lamche

5 years coaching experience at a professional Football academy in the UK (Oxford United), Specialist visual skills Football coach, Specialist coach and Consultant to the British Olympic Association (2007-2010), Head of Sensory-Motor Skills BOA Elite Performance Programme and Playmaker workshop leader/perceptual skills coach.

  • UEFA A Coaching Licence (part 1)
  • UEFA B Coaching Licence
  • M.PHIL DEGREE IN SPORTS COACHING (EDUCATION) Master of Philosophy Post-Graduate Research Degree from Birmingham University (UK). The research focused on visual and cognitive skills in football.
Coaching Combination Play - From Build Up to Finish

Learn to "Coach Combination Play" with Practical Examples of How to Play from the Keeper, through Defence, Midfield and Attack

Level U12-U18+       40 Tactics      66 Practices

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  • eBook: PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
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  • Get your copy
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