The Spanish National Team + The Tiki-Taka Playing Style

Spain was not always such a dominant force in international soccer, believe it or not! But in 2006, the team adopted the Tiki-Taka playing style after being unsuccessful on the National level and, since then, have been a dominating team for the most part. From World Cup success all the way down to their players dominating in domestic leagues around the planet, the Spanish have changed soccer forever.

So, if this style of play is so effective, then why doesn’t every team use it?

Tiki-Taka is incredibly difficult and very few teams have the players to properly implement it. It’s explained as a “nonsensical phrase that has come to mean short passing, patience, and possession above all else.” Even if youth soccer and high school programs can’t employ Tiki-Taka, there are still many lessons that can be taken from the style of the Spanish national soccer team. CoachUp has put together a list of helpful tips if you and your team want to become one with the beautiful game — check them out!


Possession is the most notable aspect of the Spanish playing style. It is unusual for the team to have any less than 70% of ball possession. To have such a high possession, the team focuses on short passing. Long balls are much riskier because they are harder to control. Players constantly move to form triangles of passing lanes. By making smart, easy passes, they keep the ball for long periods of time. This control is much easier said than done and is only possible because of the tacticians on the Spanish side. Simply put, Spanish soccer players are smart– they all know exactly where they should be and are often three steps ahead.

For Spain to control the ball for long periods of time, every player is focused on supporting the ball. The support and style of their possession has actually caused them some criticism for a long time because didn’t play any *real* strikers. However, every player is part of the offense because they’re constantly working the ball through the defense, midfield, and offense with short passes. Ultimately, the distinction between positions becomes blurred. The undeniable versatility of the Spanish players is what allows them to control the play with such ease.


When analyzing Spain, people often mention that the keepers rarely see shots and this is no accident. The Spanish team defends by maintaining possession, they know that if they have the ball, the other team can’t score. To do this, they are incredibly patient. When watching a Spain game you will quickly notice how often the ball moves backwards, resetting play. The low score is a result of their offensive mentality. Spanish players do not shoot when they have mediocre opportunities. The team will only shoot if there is a perfect chance and that often means virtually dribbling the ball into the net.

(Related: Read about the importance of team organization here.)

Huddle Up

The Tiki-Taka playing style has truly revolutionized the game of soccer and so much can be learned from this new strategy. Since Spain and Barcelona’s success with the strategy, teams all over the world have embraced the style– from England and Arsenal to as far down as the collegiate level. And while Spain may have suffered fatigue during 2014’s World Cup, the style isn’t dead by any means.

If you’re still struggling with the concepts and ideas behind the Tiki-Taka, or just want an expert to help you out along the way, then consider booking one of CoachUp’s private trainers to fast-track the process. Our coaches love using their knowledge and expertise to help young athletes succeed just like they did. They’ll have you playing like Cesc Fabregas and that potent Spanish midfield in no time! What are you waiting for?

Be prepared for the biggest moments by mastering the small ones off the field. 

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