How to Become an Assisting Pass Master
Yesterday saw the powerful team of Arsenal defeat Wigan and send them tumbling down into the basement of English soccer’s second league, the Championship. During the 4-1 victory for the London club, a player by the name of Santi Cazorla orchestrated all 4 goals and earned an assist on each occasion. Such a player is instrumental to any team’s success and has been a vital addition to the London club this year. For youth players who want to improve their ability to set up goals, Cazorla is a fascinating player to watch and can provide great insight into how to generate an assist.
One of the most important things for any player who aspires to assist on goals is to maintain strong ball control and keep your head up. You will never find your teammate that is running towards the goal if your eyes are always at your feet. Therefore, learn to control the ball as best you can so that you can be comfortable not always focusing your attention on the ball.
Also, you will want to analyze the defense and read where open pockets of space are. If your teammate is smart, they too will be looking for the open space and making a solid run into it. To set up the pass, you must predict where the player is headed and put the ball ahead of their stride so they can find that open space and hopefully score a goal.
A tricky part of this is that you need to analyze the risk of each pass you make. Although the central plan of any playmaker is to set up goal-scoring opportunities, these passes are quite difficult to make as the defenders will have superior numbers and space in front of the goal is limited.
Therefore, exercise patience and only send in a ball if there is a strong possibility that your player will be able to connect with it on the other end. Don’t be afraid to pass sideways or backwards because changing the movement of the ball could enable another opening to spring up, especially if the players are crowding around you. However, do keep in mind that you will have to press the issue at some point in order to score goals.
For a great assist maker, you want to act quickly. Many goals in soccer occur when teams break away on a counter-attack, and the defense has few players back to properly defend. In these situations speed is an absolute necessity, and you will need to make the final pass quite fast as defenders will be sprinting back to break down your attack.
By reading and analyzing the space at a rapid pace, you will need to know where the ball should go by looking up for your teammates, then sending the ball into that area so they can pounce upon it, and all at the high speed of a full sprint down the field. Of course this is a challenging prospect for anyone, but as Santi Cazorla showed for Arsenal yesterday, such playmaking capabilities can pay off with great rewards.