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Clearing the Soccer Ball

Believe it or not, even Barcelona clears the soccer ball away sometimes when they're under pressure. So just how do you go about clearing the soccer ball when you have to? If you're clearing the ball high and wide is usually the rule to follow, but here are some other things to consider.

If you’re defending and have to clear the soccer ball away, don’t kick it over the end line. Instead, clear it over the sideline to avoid giving the other team a corner - give up a throw-in rather than a corner. This might seem pretty obvious, you're saying to yourself, but during an intense soccer game sometimes you might forget the obvious.

So, if you’re chasing down a ball and an attacking player is on your back, save your team from a dangerous corner by clearing the ball to the sideline rather than let the ball go over the endline. Race to the ball before it goes over the line and kick it to the side.

I noticed this when watching the English Premier League versus the Major League Soccer, players in the EPL would make a huge effort to avoid giving up a corner kick, sprinting or sliding to clear the ball towards the side rather than let it go over the end line. As though a ball over the endline was like letting in a goal. It’s just smart soccer though. I didn't see this so much in the MLS, and there was less of an intensity at times over all. In the EPL ever single ball was nearlya life or death type of situation.

In general, it’s seems like a simple and easy thing to do - clearing the soccer ball, but clearing the ball is something many teams and players need to pay closer attention to. Take some time at practice to define how and where you want to clear the ball in various situations.

 

For one, clear the ball up and out, not towards the center of the pitch. Secondly, think about where you are on the pitch before you receive the ball. Are you in your attacking defensive third? If so, it makes more sense to clear the ball rather than try to settle the ball and take the chance of having an opposing player steal the ball.

When clearing the ball with your head, make sure to clear it up into the air and out. Remember in the World Cup in Germany when Oguchi Onyewu cleared the ball right to Rosicky? Rosicky’s response was to smash the ball into the back of the net. Sure, Claudio Reyna didn’t close Rosicky down that fast either, but Onyewu could have headed the ball higher into the air rather than directly up the middle.

Watch Sol Cambell in this video and how he heads the ball away on defense.

Of course clearing the ball is difficult at times, just as connecting to a volley is hard on offense, the cross was coming in at a fast pace for Oguchi, there wasn't much time to react, but clearing the ball higher is better than downwards when you’re in your own defense third. Hitting the ball in the air gives your teammates more time to regroup.

Again, try to clear the ball to the wide areas and not down the middle. There’s nothing wrong with smashing the ball high in the air and away from your own defensive third so your team can regroup, but not up the middle. There’s also nothing wrong with smashing the ball out of bounds if you have to, just try to avoid conceding a corner kick and clearing the ball right into the middle of the field.

Plus, a decisive clearance, whether done with the head or the foot is often a crucial part of the game at some point in time. It’s much like how a goalkeeper has to make at least one key save in every game.

However, one thing that is frustrating is when a player boots the ball away when they have plenty of time and space. Whether they're close to their own goal or not. This isn't the fault of the player necessarily, but those around him or her, teammates who didn't tell him or her they had time.

Know where you are on the field and if you’re under pressure get the ball out. Again, there’s nothing wrong with clearing the ball to give your team a chance to regroup. If that’s your intention, then the higher and farther away from goal the better – usually the best spots are wide and down the line. David Villa might just be making a run and can latch on to the clearance and turn it into a game winner.

David Villa Game Winner Versus Sweden in Euro 2008

 


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