FITC Academy Philosophy



We expect all of our players (which includes GK’s) to be confident and comfortable with the ball in their possession. Any player who isn’t will not fit into our style of play.

Expect all of our teams to play to a high tempo and to dominate and dictate possession. All individual performances must be high in energy and technically efficient. We encourage players to express themselves and play with no fear of making mistakes.

Spatial awareness within our players is an essential necessity. If there is space in front of the player we want the players to exploit it and drive with the ball. Draw people in to create an overload and/or break the line. When there is no space, we look to pass and move. We want firm passes and constant sharp movements.

Always look to play forward but in the event where we can’t we will keep possession and be happy, patient and comfortable to play back to a new option or viewpoint that may be able to then play forward. We will not force the ball forward if it is not likely to be retained, or create an attacking opportunity.

In possession we are structured and positional minded until the final third. When reaching the final third, players become free to go and do what they like. We encourage roaming and like inter changing positions.

Look to stretch teams through our movement. We want to open gaps between their units, split their screens and turn their defenders around to face their own goal.

We look to play out from the back. This doesn’t mean we always go short. This means all our players are in position to play short and that they are willing to receive (opposed or unopposed) and show the confidence to play. Sometimes a player further forward may be a better option and this may have been made possible by the defenders showing willing to receive short.

Our Goalkeepers must have a high start position and be as comfortable on the ball and in possession as the outfield players.



  • Stay on the ball, master the ball.

  • Develop a mastery of the ball and the confidence to try new things.

  • Excite with the ball and seek creative solutions.

  • Be exciting and positive in possession, playing with individuality and with elements of disguise and surprise.

  • Connect and combine creatively with others.

  • Combine creatively and intelligently with others to create and score goals.


  • All of the above, plus….

  • Look to receive the ball in all areas of the pitch and be prepared to stay in possession.

  • Seek creative solutions to game situations particularly when outnumbered or in congested areas.

  • Stay connected with the ball and your teammates to retain possession, open up compact defences and score goals.


  • All of the above, plus….

  • Retain possession with intent, both individually and as a team.

  • Open up compact defences with outstanding individuality and teamwork.

  • Use clever combinations to create and score goals.



Counter-attacking is one of the most effective methods of creating goal scoring opportunities in open play.

Dribbling, running with the ball, incisive passing and effective support play are key aspects of counter-attacking. Counter-attacking aims to exploit space, eliminate opponents and create goal scoring opportunities.

FITC Academy goalkeepers play a crucial role in initiating counter-attacks and will be challenged to exploit attacking opportunities using a variety of distribution techniques to deliver the ball effectively over varying distances. Quick free-kicks and throw-ins are other ways of creating counter-attacking opportunities.


FITC Academy teams aim to dominate possession with the aim of creating opportunities to penetrate the opposition and create goal scoring chances. Ball retention allows teams to manage the momentum of a game, requiring a patient and controlled approach. A combination of intelligent passing, dribbling, and support play all contribute to effective ball retention. Again FITC Academy goalkeepers will play a key role in this phase of play, fulfilling the role of the 11th outfield player and adopting effective positions to support the play.


FITC Academy teams aim to penetrate the opposition by moving the ball intelligently between and beyond opponents to create goal scoring opportunities. Progressive and penetrative play is an effective method for opening up compact defences and eliminating opposition players from the game. Through accurate, intelligent and creative play the ball can be moved between and beyond the opposition to create goal scoring opportunities. Accurate and deceptive forward passing, skillful dribbling and running with the ball combined with effective support play and movement are crucial to effective penetrative play.

As with everything we do, FITC Academy goalkeepers will contribute to penetrative play by using a range of effective distribution techniques.


Progressing play to the creating and scoring phase is the aim of all other aspects of the playing philosophy.

Clinical and creative individual and combination play is encouraged in the creation and execution of goal scoring opportunities. A variety of finishing skills, including unorthodox goal scoring techniques are encouraged.


During all aspects of the in-possession philosophy, defensive security should be considered. Awareness of defensive security ensures the team remains organised at all times and can react effectively when the ball is lost. All players contribute to ensuring defensive security, in particular the goalkeeper through effective positioning, organisation and communication.



We expect our players to work extremely hard out of possession and work collectively within their units, to regain possession. Once we win the ball back, the aim is to keep it to create an attack. We defend with the intent to play.

Look to make the opponents play predictable so we can press and set traps across the pitch and win the ball back. We defend narrow, compact and in numbers.

Press high and defend from the front; we take our defensive shape off the initial presser. This player is key to our defensive shape in all areas.

Our Goalkeepers to organise the position of the defenders and dictate the angles of the defenders block.  Our GK’s must be leaders and give constant and accurate communication.



  • Positive and enthusiastic defending

  • Enjoy winning the ball back, be difficult to beat 1v1 and look to start attacks when you get the ball.

  • Intelligent defending.

  • Be positive and confident in your positioning and ability to win the ball. Be alert when the opposition have possession.

  • Master a variety of defensive techniques and roles.

  • Enjoy defending in a variety of roles and develop a range of techniques to regain possession.


  • Be prepared to defend 1v1 and be confident without cover or support.

  • Outwit your opponent with excellent patience, timing and intercepting skills.

  • Win the ball cleanly, regaining and retaining possession in the same action to start attacks.


  • Dominate individual defending scenarios to regain quickly and cleanly in order to start attacks.

  • Defend in an appropriate manner in relation to the state of the game.

  • Work individually and collectively to dominate defending scenarios and nullify opposition attacks.



Pressing involves pressurising the opposition in a strategic and controlled manner with the aim of regaining possession. Quickly pressing the opposition after losing possession prevents the opposition initiating their own attacks and is the preferred method of regaining the ball if there are opportunities to do so.

Pressing is triggered by the nearest defending player attempting to regain possession. Support from surrounding teammates is necessary to ensure attempts to press are not done in isolation. Maintaining a compact team shape behind the ball is crucial to effective pressing.

There are three main strategies for pressing the ball: high press (pressing the ball as high up the pitch as possible), mid-press (from the attacking mid-third area) and low-press (from half-way line).

The goalkeeper supports pressing by adopting an appropriate start position and communicating effectively with individuals, units and the team.


If effective pressure cannot be applied, FITC Academy teams will attempt to delay, deny and dictate opposition attacks. This involves denying space, dictating the direction and speed of play and preventing the opposition from using their preferred attacking method. By delaying, denying and dictating the movement of the opposition, a compact defensive shape can be achieved and attacking opportunities reduced.

Channeling the direction of opposition attacks into areas of defensive strength helps to control the momentum and speed of attacks and helps lead to the regaining of possession. All effective defending techniques (1v1 defending, zonal marking, man-to-man marking, screening, blocking, tracking and recovering, intercepting) contribute to success in this phase of defending.


Emergency defending is a method of protecting the goal when it is at its most vulnerable and when all other defensive options have failed. Goalkeeping is the main method of goal protection with FITC Academy goalkeepers expected to demonstrate a wide range of effective goalkeeping skills and desire to defend the goal. Emergency defending skills for outfield players include blocking and intercepting shots, crosses and forward passes, defending one versus one, reacting to rebounds and making clearances.
Emergency defending also includes aspects of the other areas of effective defending including: recovering to an organised defensive shape, dictating the direction of opposition attacks and pressing, marking and tracking opponents.



Recognising the state of the game and responding with instinctive, intelligent and positive decisions is the start point for effective transitional play. Once the player in possession (or the player closest to the ball in defensive transition) makes a decision, the supporting units and the rest of the team must support the initial movement for transition to be effective. The goalkeeper plays a key role in transition by exploiting opportunities to begin attacking moves as well as positioning, organising and communicating effectively during defensive transition.



  • Instinctive decision-making.

  • React quickly and positively when the ball is won or lost and have a range of individual options and actions.

  • Positive and intelligent attacking reactions.

  • Have a positive attitude when possession is regained, travelling quickly with and without the ball. Take every opportunity to attack, create and score goals.

  • Positive and intelligent defensive reactions.

  • Try to win the ball back quickly and prevent opponents from starting attacks. Be proactive when the ball is lost and have confidence in your ability to defend.


  • Dominate transition: react quickly and positively to the first individual action when both attacking and defending.

  • React instinctively and intelligently when possession is regained, recognising opportunities to disorganise the opposition. Manage the state of the game when opportunities to attack are limited.

  • Prevent progression by disrupting or destroying momentum, forcing errors and protecting the goal.


  • React instinctively to transitions – both individually and as a team – based on the state of the game and pre-determined team tactics and strategies.

  • Recognise opportunities to penetrate the opposition quickly, whilst also understanding when to retain and build possession, control the tempo and change the speed of play.

  • Recognise, understand and react to potential danger.

The below diagram is taken from the FA’s philosophy and is NOT a design made by FITC. However we have added it to our philosophy as we think it’s clear to understand and uses the same methodology that we use at FITC Academy.

FITC Academy's Philosophy

The fluid nature of the game means each aspect of possession is closely linked. Possession may be lost or won at any stage prompting transition.