5 Reasons to Mark Opponents Touch-Tight
Every player involved in the game of soccer has been instructed to mark an opponent during a match, the idea and concept of marking 1v1 in open play, during set pieces, or throw-ins is one of the most rudimentary skills that all players are asked to learn at a young age.
There are some big differences, however, in what it actually means to mark-up, so it's critical that you define this for your players.
Here are 5 reasons to teach your players to mark touch-tight.
1. Close Enough to Touch
Marking touch-tight is as simple as it sounds, you need to be in close enough proximity to the player your covering so that you can reach out and touch them.
It's as basic as you might imagine, so don't over complicate it, get tight, and let your opponent know you're there, because staying on top of your mark will equate to no missed assignments or chances that allow a player to go free during one of the most dangerous moments in a match.
2. Limit Time & Space
If you're marking-up touch-tight, then you will limit the amount of time and space your opponents have to play on the ball.
This is critical and can't be understated, because the tighter you are to your mark, the more it limits their ability to turn and face you up on the dribble, find space to shift the ball out of their feet for a shot, or get their heads up to connect a pass or a cross.
3. Force a Quality Touch
When you mark your opponents touch-tight you require them to display a high level of technicality that many will not be able to consistently produce, and they won't have the ability to get a grip on the game unless their touches are perfect.
And even then, no matter how good they are, pressure on the ball from tight marking will take it's toll over the course of the match if you stay consistent and true to the principle.
4. Contest Every Ball
Becoming a player that understands the importance of touch-tight marking means that you'll be able to contest every 50-50 ball on offer.
That's because you'll be in the right positions to get stuck in with well-timed challenges, or climb the ladder to to win the ball in the air via headers and volley's, and will help your team be better prepared for the transition from defending to attack when you win the ball.
5. Physically Impose Your Will
Learning to mark touch-tight is one of the best ways to physically, and cleanly, impose your will on a game, and will allow you to appropriately make the high-intensity challanges in the trenches that all teams must be prepared to fight for and win.
Playing aggressively within the letter of the law is not something to be discouraged or avoided, it should be nurtured, cultivated with good intentions, and done so in a way that encourages honoring the game and the opponent.