Archive for the ‘goals’ Category

2010 Soccer MVP: Inside-of-the-Foot … Popularity Among Professionals

March 3, 2010

Author’s Note: This post is one in a series of posts that breaks down the 2010 Soccer MVP Tournament competition. Be sure to look at the final results to review how ‘Inside’ was crowned champion. What do you call this part of the foot? Please vote.

There is an old  expression that goes, ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Today people usually use this expression when asked how one should be behave when visiting a foreign country or visiting someone’s house. Basically, you won’t go wrong if you follow the lead of the locals or homeowner, respectively.

This expression holds true in soccer as well. When playing soccer, if a player emulates his/her favorite professional player or team, chances are he/she will become a pretty good soccer player.

With that said, ‘Inside’ is by far and away professional players’ most used surface and easily won the ‘Popularity Among Professionals’ discipline (see table below).

‘Inside’ won both competitions that were used to measure popularity. The first competition counted the number of touches that took place in one half of an English Premium League game. The second competition examined the number of goals that were scored over a month in professional leagues across the world.

Touches

For this competition, I broke down only the first half the Chelsea vs. Arsenal game that was played February 7, 2010. The touches were broken down by the four main disciplines already examined in this competition. They were receiving, dribbling, passing, and shooting. For each discipline I examined which foot surface was used to perform the skill. They are inside, outside (laces), outside, and bottom. The table also includes touches made with the thighs, chest, and head.

When counting touches, I followed these rules and protocols:

  • I only counted the touches that were shown on TV.
  • On 50-50 balls or when the ball ricocheted off player like a pinball , I did not count those touches.
  • It was easy to differentiate between inside touches and all other touches. It was harder to differentiate between a top (laces) and outside touches, especially when dribbling.
  • I categorized all headers under ‘receiving’ unless they were shots on goal.

The results speak for themselves.

  • For both receiving and passing categories, ‘Inside’ had more touches than all other surfaces combines (including the non-foot surfaces). Chelsea’s 55% receiving percentage is a little low because of the number of headers they had (27)
  • Of all the touches in the game, nearly two-thirds of them were made with the inside-of-the-foot (62% and 63%)
  • Even with dribbling, ‘Inside’ was the most popular surface, 41% and 44%, respectively.
  • In this game, ‘Laces’ was the most popular surface. However in the goal-scoring competition below, you will find a surprising but clear winner.

Goal Scoring

For a five-week period, I looked at all the goals shown on the major soccer highlight shows including Fox Sports Report, Gol TV, La Liga, Sky Sports, and Hallo Bundesliga. I usually looked at several shows a week. When the same goal was shown on multiple shows, the goal was only counted once. In addition, if it was not clear what surface was used to score, the goal was not counted.

In what I’m sure will surprise many, ‘Inside’ won every single week, During the week, the percentage was over 50% once and never below 44% for goals scored with the inside-of-the-foot. Those are impressive percentages. (I included headers because they accounted for a good portion of the goals.)

Conclusion

There should now be a new soccer expression that players should follow and coaches and parents should promote. It is, “When on the soccer field, do as the professionals do and use the inside-of-the-foot.”

The other disciplines evaluated in this competition were: structure, receiving, dribbling, passing, shooting, and ease of learning.

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Freddie Adu: 2-for-2

February 19, 2010

Freddie Adu has now scored twice in both games he has started in for his Greek club Aris. The latest goal came in a 3-0 victory against Skoda Xanthi. Once again, he scored the goal with the inside-of-the-foot.

Let’s see how long he can keep both streaks going … scoring in games he starts and scoring with the inside-of-the-foot.

Be sure to check out the video.

Freddie Adu Scores a Stóchos

February 16, 2010

It was nice seeing Freddie Adu score a stóchos (goal) in his first start for his new Greek club, Aris. It turned out to be the game winner as well. Freddie did not disappoint. He scored his goal with the inside-of-the-foot.

When I was coaching my son’s U10 team, the team went to watch Freddie and his D.C. United play the San Jose Earthquakes. I forget who won the game and whether or not Freddie scored a goal. But what I do remember are the boys yelling, “We want Freddie! We want Freddie!”

However, my son remembered. He said the score was 2-2 and Freddie was a very late substitute. I guess that is why all the boys’ voices were hoarse after the game.

That was a fun outing. We tailgated before the game. The boys played pickup games with other kids they met. After 5+ years, my son still remembers the evening fondly.

Attending a soccer match, whether it is a professional, college, or even a high school game, is a great and memorable experience for young players. It is a terrific way for them to bond outside of the regular practice or game setting. Hopefully they get an opportunity to meet some of the players after the game and get some autographs.

As a coach, your players are bound to pick up a few pointers by watching the game. Throughout the year, make sure to refer to certain plays you and the players saw at this match to help reinforce what you are teaching in practice. Seeing and repeating what good players do is a great way for young players to get better.

Thanks Freddie and continued good fortune. Hope to see you playing in World Cup 2010 this summer in South Africa.

Reward the Soccer Assist

October 3, 2009

We Americans are obsessed with statistics. Baseball is all about statistics. Football is heading in the same direction. Can soccer be far behind? Most professional televised games now share with its audience shots on goal, saves, corners, fouls committed, yellow cards, red cards , and time of possession at half time and at the end of the game. I understand the importance of these stats especially if you are the coach. However, as a fan, I think you can sometimes go overboard. In my book, the most important stat is the final score.

Fortunately as the youth level, I have only seen a few coaches who are overly concerned about stats. But some stats are good to track. I have no problems keeping track of who has scored the most goals on a team. While it may single out several players from the rest of the team, it is usually the parents that have the tougher time with this especially if their son or daughter is not among the leaders. On the other hand, players know and readily acknowledge who are the better players.

There is one stat, however, that if it were tracked and emphasized more, could make a team much, much better. It is the assist. Here’s my reasoning.

The better players are already scoring a lot of goals. They know it wins games. Perhaps they are getting compensated each time they score. Quite simply, next to winning and losing, it is the glamour stat. But it could come at a price. These players may hold onto the ball more than necessary resulting in the rest becoming mere spectators. However, if the assist is now the most important or glamour stat, the better players will now focus on the assist. By doing so, these players will hopefully look to get teammates involved in the game since only when someone else scores will they received the primary reward. Just think how much better a team will become. And think how much better and more well-rounded the better players will become.

I like the way professional hockey (the NHL) tracks assists and goals. They acknowledge the goal and both the primary (first) and secondary assists. Each is worth one point. I would make one change. I would award 2 points for the primary assists and 1 point each for the secondary assist and goal.

If you are a coach, try it for a few games and let everyone know if emphasizing the assist has made your team better. As parents, ask your child how many assist points they collected in the game.

2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Shots On Goal

September 4, 2009
Ever wonder why it seems that so many shots on goal are shot directly at the goalie? Sure it could be that the goalie is in a good position. But I am of a different opinion. I believe the main reason is due to which part of the foot is used to strike the ball.

Oftentimes, the instep (also known as the top-of-the-foot or laces) is used to shoot on goal. The main reason to use the instep is to produce a more powerful shot. A strong shot is great but if it is shot directly at the goalie, what is the point? Players will often get frustrated at themselves when kick after kick goes directly to the goalkeeper; yet this keeps happening. What is going on?

Different Technique
I consider myself an expert when it comes to using and understanding the importance of the inside-of-the-foot. I invented a soccer training device called Loopball which teaches players to use the inside-of-the-foot. You will see many more posts in this blog about Loopball and the importance of the inside-of-the-foot. For the purposes of this post, I believe the problem lies in the fact that shots with the instep require much less thought than shots with the inside-of-the-foot. Instep shots require brute strength. Inside-of-the-foot shots require forethought and placement.

The direction a ball travels can normally be traced back to the position of the plant-foot toe. For shots on goal, this toe is usually pointed at the middle of the goal. When an instep kick is well struck, it will travel in the direction that this toe is pointing which is where the goalkeeper is likely to be standing. It is usually the poorly-struck instep kicks that stand a better chance of going in. The same logic can be applied to shots with the inside-of-the-foot, but because more forethought is given with this type of shot, the kicks don’t always head for the middle of the goal. Using the inside-of-the-foot requires the player to think which side of the goal to aim for and whether or not to curve the shot around the defenders or goalkeeper.

From long distance, I definitely recommend using an instep kick. But when the ball is closer to the goal, have your players use the inside-of-the-foot and have them think about the kick. You’ll also be surprised how much force this type of kick can generate when struck well. The top players in the world usually use the inside-of-the-foot to score goals, especially with free kicks. David ‘Bend-It-Like’ Beckham certainly does and he is quite successful.