What Are the Four Moments of Soccer?

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Soccer is a game of moments. There are the big moments, like scoring a goal or making a game-saving save. But there are also the smaller moments, the ones that often go unnoticed but are just as important.

We’re talking about the four moments of soccer: in possession, out of possession, offensive transition, and defensive transition.

By understanding what are the four moments of soccer, players can improve their chances of winning.

The Four Moments of Soccer: Your Key to Winning

Female soccer team huddling after winning match

We once played in game in a tournament where we were losing by a goal.

But then, we won the ball back in the offensive transition and scored a goal to tie the game. We went on to win the game in overtime. Heroes!

That taught us the importance of being patient and waiting for the right moment to attack. If you try to force the attack, you’re more likely to make a mistake.

The four moments of soccer are all interconnected. How you perform in one moment can affect how you perform in the others.

For example, if you’re good at defending in the offensive transition, you’ll be less likely to give up a goal.

Moment #1: In Possession

In possession is when your team has the ball.

This is the moment to create scoring opportunities and control the game. But it’s also the moment to be careful not to give the ball away!

Fun Fact!

Teams that have 60% or more possession of the ball win about 60% of their matches.

How to Maintain Possession

Coach training a tactic for a teenager football player
  • Pass the ball accurately and quickly. This will keep the other team guessing and make it difficult for them to win the ball back.
  • Move the ball around the field. This will create space and open up passing options.
  • Use your teammates. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Look for open teammates and make passes to them.
  • Be patient. Don’t force the ball. If you’re not in a good position to pass, hold onto the ball and wait for an opportunity to open up.

How to Create Scoring Opportunities

  • Look for open players. When you have the ball, scan the field for open teammates.
  • Make penetrating passes. These are passes that go through the defense and create scoring opportunities.
  • Take shots on goal. If you have a good shot, take it. Don’t be afraid to shoot.
  • Be creative. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Sometimes the best way to create a scoring opportunity is to be unpredictable.

How to Prevent Turnovers

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to where the other players are and what they’re doing.
  • Don’t take unnecessary risks. If you’re not sure you can make a pass, don’t force it.
  • Protect the ball. When you have the ball, use your body to shield it from the other players.
  • Be patient. Don’t rush things. If you’re patient, you’ll be less likely to make a mistake.

Moment #2: Out of Possession

Out of possession is a moment in soccer when a team does not have control of the ball.

This is the moment to defend against the opposition’s attacks and win the ball back. But it’s also the moment to be ready to launch a counter-attack.

How to Defend Against the Opposition’s Attacks

  • Stay compact. This means keeping the players close together so that the opposition cannot find space to pass the ball.
  • Mark your player. This means being responsible for one player on the opposition team and not allowing them to get the ball.
  • Communicate. Talk to your teammates and let them know where you are and what you are doing.
  • Be patient. Don’t rush into tackles. Wait for the right opportunity to win the ball back.

How to Win the Ball Back

  • Press the opposition. This means putting pressure on the opposition players when they have the ball.
  • Intercept passes. This means getting in front of the opposition players and blocking their passes.
  • Win tackles. This means taking the ball away from the opposition players by tackling them.
  • Be determined. Don’t be afraid to go after the ball.

How to Transition Into Attack

  • Win the ball back quickly. The sooner you win the ball back, the sooner you can transition into attack.
  • Pass the ball quickly. Don’t hold onto the ball for too long. Get it up the field and create scoring opportunities.
  • Be direct. Don’t try to pass the ball around the opposition defense. Look for opportunities to dribble past them or make long passes.
  • Be patient. Don’t force the attack. If you’re not in a good position to score, wait for a better opportunity.

Moment #3: Offensive Transition

Offensive transition is a moment in soccer when a team wins the ball back and quickly transitions into attack.

This is the moment to catch the other team off guard and score a goal.

Professional female soccer players in action during a match.

Did you know?

Teams that score a goal within five seconds of winning the ball back score about 1.5 times more goals than teams that score after five seconds.

How to Capitalize on Turnovers

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to where the other players are and what they’re doing. This will help you make quick decisions about where to pass the ball and where to go.
  • Be decisive. Don’t hesitate. If you see an opportunity to score, take it!
  • Be direct. Don’t try to pass the ball around the opposition defense. Look for opportunities to dribble past them or make long passes.
  • Be patient. If you don’t see an opportunity to score right away, wait for one to develop.

How to Quickly Create Scoring Opportunities

  • Pass the ball quickly. The sooner you get the ball up the field, the sooner you can create scoring opportunities.
  • Make penetrating passes. These are passes that go through the defense and create scoring opportunities.
  • Run into space. This will create passing options for your teammates and make it easier to create scoring opportunities.
  • Be creative. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Sometimes the best way to create a scoring opportunity is to be unpredictable.

Moment #4: Defensive Transition

Defensive transition is a moment in soccer when a team loses the ball and quickly transitions into defense.

This is the moment to get back into position and prevent a goal.

How to Prevent the Opposition From Scoring

  • Get back into position quickly. The sooner you get back into position, the harder it will be for the opposition to score.
  • Mark your player. This means being responsible for one player on the opposition team and not allowing them to get the ball.
  • Communicate. Talk to your teammates and let them know where you are and what you are doing.
  • Be patient. Don’t rush into tackles. Wait for the right opportunity to win the ball back.

The Final Score 

The four moments of soccer are in possession, out of possession, offensive transition, and defensive transition.

These moments are constantly happening throughout a soccer match, and how well a team performs in each moment can have a big impact on the outcome of your game.

Mastering the four moments of soccer is key to winning. But don’t worry, you don’t have to be a soccer god to do it. Just focus on being aware of the moment and making good decisions!

This article was written by

  • Mia Johnson, Fitness Expert & Soccer Coach

    Hello! I'm Mia, a high school Physical Education teacher in Orlando, Florida by day and a soccer blog contributor by night. My journey with soccer began just like any other enthusiastic player - on a local field, chasing after a ball and dreaming big. Soccer became my way to teach, inspire, and connect with others. In addition to my role in education, I've taken my passion for soccer a step further by earning a coaching qualification. This badge not only represents my commitment to the sport...