Play Around the Defense: The Width created allows the possibility to attack around the outside of the defense. As the defending team look to shut down one side, they leave the other side wide open and a quick switch in play to the other side can lead to great attacking opportunities.
Stretch the Field: Remaining onside, the furthest attacking players must look to extend the field as far as possible. Midfield players in turn must look to stretch the field. They do this by having one move up to support the forwards and the other drop or remain back in order to support the ball and the defenders. Full backs move up in advance of the center backs, which in turn allow the wingers further forward up the field. This will create the possibility to play over the defense.
Penetrating Runs: Players should look to push the defense back with threatening runs looking to get in behind the defenders. This is typically done by the forward players and wingers but can also come from midfielders or full backs. Simply by performing a penetrating run, it creates uncertainty in the defenders minds and they must then make a decision about what to do. Typically the response will be to drop off and honor the threat. If they don't then the pass through might be on! Remember, look to time the run to avoid being called offside but challenge the defenders and if you run into an offside position simply come back and try again!
Penetrating Passes: In partnership with penetrating runs, the threat of passes in behind the opposition is a great way to maintain depth in the attack. If there is no threat of a pass in behind or over the top then the defence can hold a high line and condense the field. Simply by getting their head up in possession of the ball and looking to play penetrating passes, the defenders will need to think twice about stepping up and condensing the field. If they play a high line, play into the space behind and force them back. Once they drop off, then the space is created in front to move the ball through.
Create Space Between Lines of Defenders: Stretching the field length-wise will make it difficult for the defending team to keep the gaps between the lines of defense to a minimum. The gap between the defenders and the midfielders in front of them will increase and creating pockets of space for the attacking team to play through them. This makes the creation of good cover and support for the first defender more difficult as covering one space means the creation of another.
To Coach Width and Depth for Your Team:
1. Start with 4v1 and build to 4v4 games that encourage a "diamond" shape in support of the ball. The diamond shape maximizes the full width and depth of any area stretching the field length-wise and width-wise. Eventually build to 5v5 through to 8v8 and 11v11.
2. The coach should use "width and depth" as a constant presence in their vocabulary.
3. Focus on width and depth before any other team concept.
4. Use videos to show good examples of penetration, width and depth