Playing slowly allows your opponent to get organized, which often leads to turnovers and ultimately, losses. Avoiding slow play is crucial for winning games. So, what does it mean to play fast?
Watch the following video to see fast football in action:
Playing fast in football does not necessarily require long balls. Rather, it means moving the ball quickly. Nothing in football is faster than a moving ball - even the fastest player on the field cannot cover fifty meters as fast as a kicked ball. In Messi’s goal, it takes only five seconds for the ball to travel from midfield to the net.
Another beautiful goal
Messi’s incredible dribbling skills are also a great example of playing fast, but it took 19-year-old Messi up to ten seconds to carry the ball from midfield to the net in his goal. While it’s impressive, not everyone can dribble past half of the opposing team in just ten seconds and score a goal.
So, fast football doesn’t necessarily require long balls or superhuman dribbling speed. Simple touches can achieve the same outcome. One or two-touch football can result in a goal in less than ten seconds, without the big error margin that comes with dribbling or long balls. Check out the following example.
Play fast, not in a hurry
Check out this video where a team plays fast, not in a hurry. They move the ball with patience, looking for the gap in the defense.
Playing fast typically means playing at a high tempo or pace, where the player is focused on moving quickly and efficiently without sacrificing control or accuracy.
On the other hand, playing in a hurry typically implies a sense of panic or urgency, where the player is rushing their decisions or movements without proper control or strategy.
This is totally possible in Amateur and Junior Football. Watch the following goals.
It takes about five seconds from midfield to the end of the net. These players are eight years old.
Another one. Different team. Same coach.
These players are 11 years old.
Same team, two years before.
How to Play Fast and Win Games
To play fast, you must have the desire to do so. It’s a decision that needs to be made before the game starts. You need to consciously choose to play at a high tempo, limiting your touches on the ball to maintain quick play. Dribbling is a great resource, but it should be the exception, not the rule. If you want to play fast and get the job done, use one touch instead of two. If you can accomplish it in two touches, avoid taking three. The more touches you need to control and pass the ball, the slower your progress will be.
Another way to think about speed in football is through what Dan Blank calls the football speed ladder:
- The slowest way to move the ball in football is when a player dribbles while making lateral movements and feints.
- Slow play is when a player runs straight ahead with the ball at top speed.
- Faster is a player running without the ball.
- The fastest football is a moving ball.
Speed of play is more than a habit - it’s a lifestyle. You can only fully embrace it when you realize that nothing is more important than quick play. In football, fast is better than slow, and it’s ultimately what wins games.