Turning Back to Goal (Part 1)

By Bruce Brownlee

Youth soccer players often receive a ball with their back to goal, usually with pressure from an opposing defender raging on their back to push them away from the goal. Here we describe a selection of back to goal turning moves, as well as a few facing-goal attacking moves that can be used after the turn. 

Back to Goal Turning Moves

All moves start with ball centered just ahead on line of play with defender pressuring on back. All moves end with attacker facing goal to attack.

  • Step Over with Inside Cut - Step over ball with left foot, bringing body off line of play to right of ball (ball does not move). Plant left foot, swivel smartly to left on left foot to change direction 180 degrees, play ball forward with inside of right foot.
  • Body Swerve with Outside Cut - Lunge to right, planting weight on right foot, bringing body off line of play to right (ball does not move), lifting left foot off ground slightly. Turn ball with outside of left foot.
  • Zero Space Turn - step past ball (away from defender) with right foot diagonally across line of play to left of ball. Plant and swivel on right foot to turn and face opponent. At the same time as the swivel with the right foot, drag and turn the ball with the inside of the left foot caressing the outside equator of ball, drawing a smiley face parallel to the ground across side of the ball as the ball is collected in front of the attacker. Zero space ends with the ball on the line of play in front of the attacker, attacker facing opponent. Requires no space between opponent and attacker with ball at start of move, as stepping away and dragging ball takes attacker away from opponent. Many skillful midfielders use the turn to receive the ball with half-way open body shape in midfield because the ball can be received and turned in one move.

Attacking Moves Facing Goal

  • Body Swerve - lunge to right bringing body across line of play to right, play ball away sharply to left with outside of left foot.
  • Swivel - One of the best high speed moves. As ball moves forward, swing left leg toward ball from left to right, ending up point to right across line of play. At same time, swivel hips to right, altogether giving appearance of playing ball away to right. Play ball away to left with inside of left foot and accelerate away.
  • Scissors - step around front of ball with right foot, recovering right foot to position behind but wide of ball, on ground (ball does not move). Play ball away with outside of left foot, accelerate away. At speed, scissors movement tends to be done more over the ball and even behind the ball, depending on how fast the attacker is moving.
  • Cap - reach around the front of the ball, touching the 12 o' clock part of the ball with the inside of the left foot, turning to the right and partially shielding the ball. In the same motion, pull and slide the ball back toward the right leg, standing.  In a smooth motion, play the ball forward with the inside of the right foot. This gives the appearance of a change of direction back toward own goal followed by a quick burst forward.
  • Step over - Step over ball with left foot, taking body to right of line of play. Play ball away to left with outside of left foot, accelerate away.
  • Change of pace - Dribble towards opponent, lift knee and foot over ball as if to step on ball to change direction. Hop on other foot once and play away with leg on lifted knee side, in that direction, accelerate away.

Bruce Brownlee coached boys soccer from 1978 to 1988 in Marietta, Georgia.  Coached girls teams from 1988 to 2003 for Tophat Soccer Club in Atlanta and AFC Lightning Soccer Club in Fayetteville, Georgia.  Served as a staff ODP recruiter and coach in 2002-2003.  Returned in 2010-2011 to help coach his granddaughter’s U11 team.  Won 4 state cup championships at Tophat.  Proud of his four children who played top-level club soccer and amateur and college soccer later. His site Soccer Coaching is a terrific resource for club and amateur soccer coaches.

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