Posts Tagged ‘dribble’

Simple Tips that will Significantly Impact Games

May 3, 2010

As I approach my one-hundredth post, I have learned the following:

  • Gore sells. Besides the home page, my most popular post was the one about Aaron Ramsey’s broken leg.
  • Initially, I thought I only had ideas for 25 or 30 posts. I now know I have what seems like an endless supply of material to write about.
  • My content must be OK as Soccer America has reprinted five articles to date and Potomac Soccer Wire reprints one of my posts weekly.
  • I have learned that most soccer blogs cover professional games, leagues, and players. Very few blogs are dedicated to improving youth soccer for an audience of youth coaches, players, and parents.

The other day I was looking at the page hits and noticed that a set of very valuable articles I wrote early on has not gotten the love or attention I feel they deserve. I have written 20 articles that start with the title, “2-3 Goal Difference per Game”. These were written primarily for coaches who tend to over-coach, place too much importance on the X’s and O’s, and don’t let their players go out and have fun and make mistakes.

Soccer, especially at the youth level, should be about free play and only a few coaches’ instructions during games. These articles include simple coaching tips that should be easy for players to understand and learn quickly. These tips will dramatically affect the outcome of a game. While player development, and not winning, should be a youth coach’s ultimate goal, increasing a team’s chances of winning without compromising development and fun is not a bad thing either.

You will find the subject matter and respective links to the 20 articles below. Enjoy!

Size Does Not Matter

April 6, 2010
What do Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona and Brazil’s Pele have in common besides being international superstars and most likely in the Top 10 list of all-time soccer greats? They are all short.
  • Messi is 5′ 6.5″
  • Maradona is 5′ 5″
  • Pele is 5′ 8″

I hate it when I hear coaches place so much emphasis on size and height. Emphasis on speed I can understand. I also think height is important for a goalie. But to dismiss or overlook a player because of his/her physical stature is a huge mistake. Size does not matter!

Over the years, I have found many reasons why size is not important:

  • Shorter players have a lower center of gravity, making it much easier to dribble, make fakes and feints, and change direction.
  • Never underestimate the toughness of a short player. These players are usually tougher and more physical than taller players.
  • Before the age of 14 or 15, headers play a very insignificant part in a soccer game. Being able to out-jump someone for a header is of little value.

Regarding headers; height does help; no doubt about it. But so, too, do timing and jumping ability. Check out these amazing headers by the aforementioned superstars.

  • Messi’s 2009 UEFA Championship goal against Manchester City. Look how Messi reached back to head the ball.
  • Maradona’s ‘Hand-of-God’ goal in the 1986 World Cup against England. Though Maradona used his hand to score the goal (see images below), I’m still amazed when I look at the video. In real-time, it still looks like a legitimate header. Though it should not have counted, Maradona still had to get off the ground a good distance (the second picture shows how short Maradona is).

  • Pele’s goal in the 1970 World Cup Final against Italy. Look how high he got.

Remember coaches, just because soccer is called football throughout the world except in the United States, don’t place the same importance on size and height that American football coaches do. Otherwise, you may be overlooking the next Messi, or in my case, the next me.

Photo of the 1975 or 1976  Odd Grenland Ballklubb youth team. I was 9 or 10 at the time. Would I (red arrow) have been overlooked by many coaches today?

2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Role of the Goalie

August 27, 2009

The easiest way to save at least 2 or 3 goals a game is to have your goalie play out of the goal as far as possible. How far you ask? How about when the ball is in the other team’s offensive third, have the goalie at the edge of the center circle. That’s right, the edge of the center circle. At the youth level, many goals are scored on breakaways. By having the goalie play out, she will prevent these breakaways from materializing by getting to the ball first and thereby save countless goal-scoring opportunities. Follow these additional tips and tricks:

  • Consider putting one of your better field players in goal. A goalie who plays out will need good ball control. In addition, they will need to be able to read the game well so they know which balls to attack and when to retreat. If you allow your goalie to play this way, you should have plenty of volunteers.
  • I guarantee your goalie will be hesitant to come too far out. I have bet my goalie (in this case, it was my son) that if an opposing player scored on him when we he as was far from the goal he would get $100. He played in goal up through U13. Not once did he come close to getting the $100. However, he would only have received the money if he was least 25 or 30 yards out of the goal. It would not apply inside this distance because balls are kicked routinely over the goalie’s head in the youth games from closer range. Still this last fact should not dissuade you from playing your goalie out.
  • Assuming your goalie comfortable coming out to the edge of the center circle, make sure that she is not too slow to retreat. It is still the duty of the defenders to prevent the offensive players and ball from penetrating close to the goal. The goalie should always be the last defender. Your goalie should never find herself playing ahead of a field player.
  • By playing the goalie out, you will force your defenders to play further up as well. This, in turn, will result in more players playing closer to the opponent’s goal which will lead to more scoring opportunities.
  • I always liked rewarding my goalie by having them take all goal kicks and free kicks in the defensive half of the field. This made the goalie feel more involved. By taking the free kicks, the goalie played further out from goal.
  • Make sure your goalie never dribbles around an offensive player. If she does and loses the ball, a goal will most likely be scored. Her main role when playing outside the penalty box is to stop breakaways. If she receives a ball with little or no pressure, have her control it first and then make a nice pass. No dribbling!
  • When clearing a breakaway, make sure the she kicks the ball out toward the touch line. You would rather give up a throw-in than risk the clearance hitting off the offensive player and ricocheting toward your own goal.

Offensive Strategy

Playing against a good goalie that plays far out from goal puts an offensive team at a huge disadvantage. However, there are several ways to counteract this play:

  • Since the goalie will usually get to any through balls first, limit those types of passes. Instead have the offensive team dribble more or make shorter passes. By keeping the ball closer to the offensive players’ feet, the goalie will be forced to retreat.
  • Any long balls should be passed down the wings and not up the middle. Passing the ball down the wings will put the goalie in a quandary. If the goalie decides to go after this pass, she will end up much further from goal than a ball passed up in the middle. Make the goalie think twice about going after balls kicked to the wings.
  • Instead of your center forward playing near to the last defender, play him close to the goalie. Naturally the forward will be in an offside position if the ball is kicked to him, but see how the other team counters this strategy. You may get lucky and get the defenders to retreat which will force the goalie closer to her goal. At the expense of a few offside calls, try to get the other team to change their strategy.

2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Dribble On Goal

August 26, 2009

In a typically youth game, each team will have several breakaways per game. While the offensive player simply has to beat the goalie, more often than not, a goal is not scored. The main reason for this does not happen is the offensive player ends up taking a shot from long distance and thus negating the advantage of the breakaway. The further the shot is taken from goal, the less likely it will go in. This is easily solved and will definitely results in more goals.

  • In this situation, the offensive player’s goal is to get as close to the goal as possible before shooting. Youth goalies typically either remain on the goal line or if they are good distance off the goal line, will tend to retreat instead of charge the ball. Since the goalie is usually not aggressive, the offensive player should take full advantage and get as close to the goal as possible.
  • During a practice, set up a game where the only way a breakaway goal can be scored is if the player dribbles past the goalie before shooting. This drill will condition players to get closer to the goal (it will also help your goalie become more aggressive).
  • The most common command I hear from the sidelines is, “Shoooooot!” Naturally, if a young player hears her parents and sidelines yelling ‘shooooot’, she will most likely shoot. In this and in many other cases, she is being given bad advice.
  • Oftentimes, a player will say they shot the ball because a defender was closing in on her. While that may be true, treat the comment as an excuse. The solution is to always make sure that the offensive player places himself between the ball and defender. This is easier said than done and normally takes many years for a player to understand and feel comfortable employing this tactic. Nevertheless, if an offensive player positions himself properly, the defender won’t be able to get the ball and if they try, they will likely go through the offensive player, resulting in a penalty kick.

Defensive Strategy

I have a long post that discusses tricks a goalie can use to make a huge difference in a game. For now, the best way to negate a breakaway is to teach the goalie not to retreat and instead be aggressive and move toward the on-coming ball. It is interesting to see how often a forward will panic when a goalie charges him.