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Ruud van Nistelrooy: Time your run to perfection

“I’m always getting caught offside trying to make runs in behind the defence. Any tips?”
Ben Dolan, via email

Ruud van Nistelrooy says:
"Positioning is crucial. The three good positions to take up are in between the two centre-halves, between the right-back and the right centre-half or the left-back and the left centre-half. You then move from there.

If you hang back behind the defender, he has to look over his shoulder to see you. When he’s watching the ball he doesn’t know where you are.

Stand offside until the moment the ball is played – that’s crucial. If you’re offside, the defender is always checking where you are, which makes them drop deeper.

Tailor your run for the person on the ball – if a defender has the ball and he’s likely to play a 60-yard pass into the channel, make a run to suit that pass.

If someone like Paul Scholes has the ball, who can play a through-ball, adjust your run accordingly.

As he pulls his leg back to pull the trigger, bend your run to come back onside and then run in behind to chase the pass.”

Ruud was speaking to support the Heineken Star Player – an interactive game to enhance a match viewing experience. Go to iTunes/Facebook

For more football tips see:
Darren Bent: How to be a maestro of movement
Alan Smith: Beat the offside trap
Jermain Defoe's six-step guide to striking