Posts Tagged ‘goal kicks’

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!

2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Never Let the Ball Hit the Ground

September 21, 2009

As a referee, I have had the opportunity to see many age groups and different calibers of players. I am always surprised at the number of players, even high school players, who don’t have the ability or the confidence to controlĀ  the ball out of the air. This is most evident when a goalie punts the ball but it happens on corners, free kicks, goal kicks, or anytime the ball is kicked high in the air.

I equate being able to control a soccer ball out of the air to catching a pop-up in baseball. At first, catching a baseball is very intimidating. The ball is hard, the ball is hit high, and if a player miscalculates a catch, it could cause a serious injury. I know I was scared to death when I was first asked to catch a pop-up. But at least in baseball, there is a glove you can use. In soccer, there is no glove.

The problem with letting the ball hit the ground in soccer is that at that point, it is anyone’s ball. Usually it will be the faster, more aggressive player who gets to it first. If that is your player, great. If not, you will find yourself in a heap of trouble more than you would like. Also when the ball is punted by the opposing goalie, the ball is heading toward your goal. If the ball bounces several times before it is controlled, it will be dangerously close to your goal.

These particular ‘2-3 goal difference per game’ postings are not meant to get into techniques and mechanics. That will be done in other postings. However, regarding the earlier statement that there is no glove in soccer, that is not entirely correct. The fact is there are two gloves–a right and left foot. It is just a matter of learning how to catch and control the high balls. When a player feels confident controlling high balls, the goal should be, “Never Let the Ball Hit the Ground!”

Offensive Counter

As a youngster, I made my living knowing that most defenders would not be able to control the high kicks. Therefore, once a ball was punted or kicked by a teammate and I knew I was not going to be able to control it, I would simply anticipate the defenders missing the ball. When they did, I would be well on my way toward the opponent’s goal. Even after college, this strategy worked very well, although the defenders would miss these balls much lest frequently.

Headers!

It is worth mentioning about headers. I’m not a big fan of headers, especially with young players. First of all, the spot on the head that should be making contact with the ball is actually the forehead. Now imagine the thoughts that must be going through a young player’s head when the coach tells him what part of the head should be used. “But coach, the ball is going to hit me in my nose!” is a common response (and often it does). I would be scared too. So for a long time, young players will hit the ball with the top of the head which is not the part of the head they should be using.

As coaches, I would make sure to teach your players the proper heading mechanics but greatly discourage them from using their heads, especially on high punts or kicks. Tell them to use their ‘gloves’ instead.

2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Goal Kicks

August 13, 2009

Unless the defending team has a goalie or defender with a strong leg, an offensive team will have several opportunities a game to intercept a goal kick at the top of the penalty area with only the goalie and possibly one defender to beat. In these situations, the offensive team stands a very good chance of scoring a goal.

In this case, the offensive team should:

  • Camp a few forwards just outside the penalty box
  • If the player can kick the ball further, the forwards should be positioned 5 yards nearer the goal than where the ball lands. Line up the midfielders 5 to 10 yards behind the forwards. Spread the players out to cover a large area of the field.
  • Since younger players tend to telegraph where they plan to kick the ball, simply have the forwards follow the eyes of the player taking the goal kick.

The rules state that a ball is not in play until it has completely left the penalty area. Therefore, there is no reason for an offensive player to stand inside the penalty area. When the ball is touched by any player inside the penalty area, the goal kick will be re-taken. Some league or tournaments allow goal kicks to be taken from the top of the penalty area. The same strategy should be applied to these kicks as well but when they are intercepted, the offensive player is further from the goal. This is a nice way to counteract teams that employ this strategy, especially against weaker opponents or team that don’t have strong kickers.

Defensive Strategy

Conversely, if you are the defending team that is not blessed with a strong leg in the back and your goal kicks are constantly getting picked off and creating easy scoring opportunities, employ one of these tricks:

  • Have your strongest-legged player, even if it is a forward, taking all goal kicks, especially when kicking against the wind.
  • Don’t be afraid to have your goalie take the goal kicks. If their leg is not that strong, make sure to place 1 defender in goal and possibly another defender around the penalty area. Because this player is in the penalty area, they can’t have the ball passed to them. However, they will be in a position to defend immediately.
  • Take the goal kicks quickly before the offensive team has time to set up.
  • Have the kicker avoid telegraphing the kick. Have them look one way but kick the other
  • Kick to ball out the side of the penalty area. If the ball is picked off on the side, the chances of scoring are considerably less than when a ball is picked off at the top of the box. Also if the ball goes out-of-bounds for a throw-in, a throw-in is better than giving the ball up in front of the goal.
  • Toe-poke the ball. Though it is not pretty and the ball may not always go where they want it to, some younger kids get more distance on their kicks using their toe.
  • Ask the referee before the game if they will allow goal kicks to be taken from the top of the penalty spot.