An overload refers to a team having a numerical advantage in a particular area of the pitch. An example may be that the ball is on the right side of the pitch, but when the ball is played into the opposite side of the pitch quickly the team is able to create a numerical advantage on the opposite side. Overloads are commonly utilised by team in possession of the ball to create opportunities to score but also can be used to help teams exploit spaces that may be left by the defending team. In order for the offensive team to take advantage of an overload effectively, they should look to move the ball quickly to help them to prevent the defending team from being able to regain shape.

Overloads can occur all over the pitch, whether that is when the team is trying to build from the back or finish an attack. In this tactical analysis piece, we are going to explore some of the main principles that can support you when helping your team about how they can exploit overloads.

In order for the team to exploit overloads it’s important that there is an emphasis individuals and the team in maintaining possession to shift and off-balance the opposition. Maintaining possession is important as it will allow for your team to control the game and give time for them to identify solutions for the situations that they’re in. Maintaining possession will allow time for players without the ball to move to exploit spaces as well as create overloads in any situation. Likewise, individuals that are able to maintain possession of the ball will be able to shift and off-balance opponents to exploit overloads. A team that is able to maintain possession of the ball will be able to drag opponents out of position to create space in other areas of the pitch which they can exploit. Therefore, individuals will need to be able to retain possession in not only overloaded situations, but also when in an underload as they look to draw the opponents to exploit space in a different area of the pitch.

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A team that is able to maintain possession, will be in a better place to overload to isolate. Overloading to isolate tends to take place when the opposition is in a low-block; maintaining compactness and being difficult to off-balance and break the opponents block. An overload to isolate takes place when a team looks to maintain possession with a numerical advantage one side of the pitch to drag the defending team to isolate on another side of the pitch. As the overload may not always be effective due to the high volume of players, this will create opportunities for the play(ers) on the opposite side of the pitch to exploit the opponents where they may be potentially weak.

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Whether the team is either maintaining possession or attacking quickly; movement to create overloads by the players without the ball will help the team to exploit spaces that have been left by their opponents. Players that are able to identify how they can make a numerical advantage will help support the team as they progress through the pitch or look to create goal scoring opportunities. Players should look to make horizontal and diagonal movements to help them to drag opponents out of position, but also to look to off-balance their opponents.

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Players should also look to make exchanging movements with their team mates, with players simply moving into a space that has been vacated. The benefit of this will be it will enable the team to be able to drag defenders out of a space for another player to fill. This will need players to be fluid in how they move and willing to leave their position and exchange with their team mates.

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When building from the back, using the the goalkeeper to make a numerical advantage is another way of exploiting an overload allowing for the team to be able to build from the back and progress up the pitch. The goalkeeper can often support behind the ball to help provide a numerical advantage as well as being in a position where they’re able to see the full pitch. Introducing your goalkeeper into play, can help drag opponents higher up the pitch to isolate space higher up the pitch which allows your team to play over or through.

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