Archive for February, 2010

Inside-of-the-Foot Soccer Fan Club

February 5, 2010

Cristiano Renaldo and David Beckham have one. So too does Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga. Not to be outdone, Coca Cola, pizza, ice cream, and sour gummy worms have one as well. Even ‘The Weekend’ can be counted in this group. What do all these people and things have in common? They all have very popular Facebook pages.

After winning soccer’s inaugural 2010 MVP (most valuable part) Tournament, I felt that the inside-of-the-foot (aka ‘Inside’) was also deserving of a Facebook page. Check out Inside’s Facebook fan page called, “Inside-of-the-Foot Soccer Fan Club“.

I have always known the important role that the inside-of-the-foot has in soccer. But even the final results of the 2010 MVP Tournament surprised me. Sadly, many young players and their coaches don’t understand its significance. My hope is that if I can get enough soccer players, trainers, coaches, fans, and soccer aficionados to join this club, we will be able to generate a groundswell of support for ‘Inside’ which will result in players and coaches having no choice but to recognize and accept the importance of the inside-of-the-foot. In doing so and then getting these young players more proficient with the inside-of-the-foot, we will be one step closer to achieving my goal of improving soccer in the United States.

To achieve this goal, I am asking for your help.

  • If you understand and agree with the importance of the inside-of-the-foot, please become a fan.
  • If you are unsure, read the many posts in this blog about this part of the foot. If I am able to convince you, please become a fan.
  • Whether or not you have joined the club, please forward this post and the Inside-of-the-Foot Soccer Fan Club link to all your soccer friends and acquaintances.
  • If you disagree with my belief, I would love to hear from you and learn the reasons why.

At the time of this posting, Renaldo’s Facebook page had 3,253,043 fans. Beckham’s page had 2,538,905 fans. My goal for ‘Inside-of-the-Foot’ is less ambitious … for now. My initial goal is to sign up 1,000 fans. Once this figure is reached, I’ll add a zero to the goal total and go from there.

Join the Club and tell your friends! Thank you!

2010 Soccer MVP: Inside-of-the-Foot

February 3, 2010

In the first annual Soccer MVP (most valuable part) Tournament, I am pleased to announce that the winner is … (drum roll please) … the INSIDE-OF-THE-FOOT (cheers and confetti please). The contest was not even close. ‘Inside’ won in a landslide.

The contestants for the inaugural tournament were:

  • Head
  • Chest
  • Thighs
  • The six surfaces of the foot

The head, chest, and thighs failed to make the finals. Many argued that ‘Head’, and more specifically the brain, should remain in the tournament because of its overall important function. However, when analyzing the head from a purely soccer standpoint, it along with ‘Chest’ and ‘Thighs’ were determined to play only a limited role in soccer. The same fate befell ‘Toe’ and ‘Heel’. While those parts of the foot are used on occasion, they are not used enough to be considered a potential MVP.

That left the following parts to battle it out for top prize:

  • Inside-of-the-foot (Inside)
  • Top-of-the-foot (Laces)
  • Outside-of-the-foot (Outside)
  • Bottom-of-the-foot (Bottom)

These parts were judged on the following 13 main and secondary disciplines:

Of these disciplines, ‘Inside’ was the clear winner with nine 1st-place finishes (see yellow cells in the table below). ‘Laces’ was declared the runner with its two 1st-place finishes even though ‘Bottom’ finished with three 1st-place finishes. In fact, ‘Bottom’ was relegated to last place because of its tournament-leading eight last-place finishes.

Follow-up posts will go into more detail in terms of how each discipline was played out. But based on the results, there are two points I would like to make now.

  • ‘Inside’ won all but two of the disciplines. Yet in many youth practices that I have observed and the many training DVDs I have watched, not enough emphasis is placed on this part of the foot. If soccer is to improve in the United States, our young players need to learn the importance of and be taught how to properly use the inside-of-the-foot.
  • Unless a player is abnormally bow-legged, learning to use the inside-of-the-foot is not easy or natural. It takes a tremendous amount of time, effort, and energy for a player just to feel comfortable using this part of the foot. The longer a youth player goes without learning how to use the inside-of-the-foot, the less likely he/she will be able to reach his/her full soccer-playing potential. Loopball is a great way to introduce and teach the importance of the inside-of-the-foot.

This will be the first of what I hope will be many MVP tournaments. In order to make next year’s event even better, I welcome all comments and feedback.

Author’s note: What do you call this part of the foot? Please vote.

Playing Out-of-Position is Good

February 1, 2010

A friend reminded me the other day of an old soccer saying. It goes something like, “Good forwards make the best defenders and good defenders make the best forwards”. There is a lot of truth to this saying.

Any good forward is always trying to figure out how to get the upper-hand on the defense. Over time, forwards have learned plenty of tricks to help them beat defenders. Now imagine that same forward playing defense. He/she, knowing many of the offensive strategies and tricks, will instinctively know how to deal with them. For example, he/she is unlikely to get caught directly behind a forward where an accidental bump or a dreaded phantom touch will send the forward crashing to the ground, resulting in a free kick, penalty, and possible expulsion.

The same is true of defenders. Deficiencies a defensive player may have are most likely shared by other defenders. In addition, a good defender should know how certain defensive formations can be exploited. Equipped with this knowledge will give a defender playing forward a tremendous advantage over the other team. Who is best equipped to beat an offside trap than a player who has been employing the trap for years?

Players, you should view ‘playing out-of-position’ as a great opportunity. First of all, you will surprise yourself at how well you do, I promise. Secondly, by playing other positions, you will become a better, more well-rounded soccer player. Also, you will develop an appreciation for other positions, especially when you have to play keeper. If your coach has not offered you this opportunity, ask. At some point in your career, perhaps during a tryout with another team, you are going to be asked to play other positions. That I can also promise.

Coaches, how often have you surprised yourself when a player exceeds all expectations at a position you knew he/she would not and could not play? It happens all the time. As a youth coach, I strongly encourage you to play your kids in all positions. The worst thing a coach can do to a young player is pigeon-hole him/her to one position. With older players who may be labeled as a good forward, defender, or goalkeeper, or who have stated that they only play one position, switch them around. Although you are likely to hear plenty of complaints and even receive a few parent phone calls, give it a shot. It will make those players and your team better.