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General Rules

There are several easy rules that can prevent many common mistakes made by the average player. There are not only ingame things but also psychological things I'm going to mention here.


Not only really good players can become arrogant. While a worldclass player could say he is “allowed” to be arrogant since he has the skill (it still sucks), there are also average or even bad players who just think they are worldclass players although they're not.

Nobody likes you when you are/become arrogant. No matter how good you are, you should never act arrogantly and put yourself above others. This means talking bad about others behind their backs or even publicly in the chat. You can express your views, ofcourse, as long as you don't act like someone who thinks he is the best and most intelligent person on earth.

This might sound pretty obvious or not really important, but I have encountered many really fucked up people that thought they were god. Also, some players really improved because they followed the philosophy which made them arrogant and unlikeable.

Never stop improving, always look at what you are doing wrong first and not at what you are doing well. A common trick coaches and managers use to prevent players to stop improving and becoming arrogant is the following:

  • criticize players after victories
  • praise players after losses

You don't always need a manager for that. You can do it by yourself, too: Try becoming a perfectionist when it's about yourself, but be kind to everyone else. Criticize yourself and not others.

When you can't say anything nice to your teammates, don't say anything.


Never mistake taking risks with relying on pure chance. If you know how the game mechanics work you barely have to take risks anyway, because you can know which actions lead to success and which do not.

Still, we have to put some things out of the way: It occurs that beginners in Positional Play think that they always have to get as close to 100% passing accuracy as possible and never play a pass forward to achieve a high success rate. Always consider the following:

High passing accuracy is a result and not a goal of Positional Play.

We do not play just for the sakes of high possession or passing rates. The high numbers just happen to be a result of our dominant playstyle.

Do not just play a random (long) through ball just because you think “I'm gonna take a risk now!”. Play through balls when they make sense and not just randomly

Positional (Passing) Play for Dummies

Usually, Positional Play is divided in 6 horizontal and 5 vertical lines. For simplification, we will only use the three horizontal thirds of the field.

  • In the first third: patient and 100% secure passing; passes forward only from CDM and CB
  • In the second third: secure, direct, fast passing to quickly get into the last third
  • In the last third: secure, controlled passing outside the box; creative freedom around and inside the box

One thing always applies:

If you doubt - just in the slightest - that a pass is not going to work: 
Do Not Risk It! 

In good Positional Play there will always be one player open for a pass diagonally behind you (the CDM should almost always be open for a pass). Keep in mind that every mistake can lead to a counter attack goal for the opponent.

Not every attack has to end in a goal and it never will. Goals happen just in seconds of a game while everything else - build-up, control, pressing - take up by far the most time of every match. To acknowledge that is one of the first steps to success.

Also, some other simple passing rules:

  • Only pass to the direction you face, don't pass on the turn (especially in FIFA 16!!)
  • Only pass with X to a player who faces you and stands still; not to a player who's running (away)
  • No through balls to a player who stands still and faces you

Decision Making for Dummies

Don't Think: See!

A common excuse after bad passes (especially through balls) is: “I thought you were running!” or: “There was so much space, why didn't you run?”

Ofcourse, it occurs that players start running somewhere and then suddenly stop their runs. This should never happen and is a mistake.

Also, it occurs that there is alot of space strikers should run into but they don't for whatever reason. This is also a mistake.

Passing a through ball to either of them is also a mistake.

You know what's worse than one mistake? Two mistakes. Don't make a bad pass and use the mistakes of other players as an excuse. Try to ignore them and stay in control. Just pass the ball back. Use your eyes first before you make a pass!

Think Defensively

What does that mean? It basically means that you should always know what will happen when you lose the ball.

For example, you are LCM and in final third. You are about to run into the box for whatever reason. The ball is on the right side and you probably think it's a good idea to run into the box. Unfortunately, the ball gets lost on the right side before it could get to you. The opponents start a counter attack and you are too far up front to help defending it.

Before you make such run you have to think about: “What if I run there and the ball gets lost? Is there someone to cover me?” Also: Only three players inside the box please!

  • You must always consider what happens after you lose the ball.
  • Don't take unnecessary risks when there is an immediate counter attack threat.
  • Don't lose the ball when there is a way completely open for a counter attack

This thinking especially applies to CB/CDM because they are usually the last defender in their respective line of Positional Play.

When they lose the ball it's most likely a goal. Ask Alonso and Dante about their game in Porto 2015.

Attackers usually have at least one player to cover them up but behind CB/CDM there is only one defender left, namely the goalkeeper.

Better Passing Options

Sometimes, after receiving a pass, there is no other choice than losing it because you are completely isolated and have already been attacked by a defender before receiving it.

That's why it's not enough just to pass to the next best player you see, you have to think one step further: “Does he have enough space to do something with the ball? Can he pass the ball somewhere after receiving it?”

If there are two players open for a pass you should most likely decide according to two things:

  • where is more space?
  • where are more teammates?

Also, one rule is almost always right: Keep the ball in the middle in the first two thirds. Therefore the right desicion is always passing to the following: CDM/CM/CAM/F9 - in just that order. They should be the most technically gifted players who know how to keep the ball in most situations.

Furthermore, if you have no idea where to pass to, try keeping the ball until the CDM comes to help - because that's one of his jobs.

Another thing: When we get stuck on one side and you run out of options: Try passing to the CB/CDM and he will switch the play. For that, our players have to stay wide, ofcourse - the wingers especially.

en/tactics/genrul.txt · Last modified: 2017/04/22 10:51 by jneeskens