Posts Tagged ‘goal’

When a Goal is not a Good Goal

May 16, 2010

There is something special and exciting about kicking the ball into the back of the net. A goal feels more meaningful. It is just not the same when a goal is scored with no net or when cones are used instead of goals. A goal without a net is the same as draining a three-pointer without a basketball net or hitting a home run without the ball flying over a fence. It is simply not the same.

However, players should realize that hitting the back of the net is often not good enough. What is more important is what part of the net the ball hits. In real estate, the three most important words are, “location, location, location”. The same is true of goals.

Take a look at the diagram below. If a goalkeeper knows how to dive properly, the yellow area represents the goal area that he/she can easily save. A goalkeeper’s height and how far a goalkeeper plays off the goal line will also impact how much area a goalkeeper can cover.

There are four areas off the goal that are difficult for a goalkeeper to reach: the two top triangles (red) and the bottom two triangles (green). As I wrote in the article entitled, “2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Penalty Kicks“, a player should always attempt to shoot the ball in the two lower corners. The reasons are:

  • It is very hard for a goalkeeper to get to the ground quickly to save the kick.
  • If a player shoots low, the ball will never go over the goal. When shooting for the upper corners, there is a good chance the ball will go over the goal.

To help emphasize the bottom corners and reinforce effective shots, a coach should augment a regular goal with either small pop-up goals or cones/discs. My suggestion is to use discs since a series of well-placed, hard shots will quickly destroy the pop-up goals. With the cones in place (see same diagram), instruct the players to aim their shots between the cone and the post. Even the best goalkeepers in the world will have a tough time reaching these well-placed shots.

I have several tips for coaches to help give their players an incentive to shoot for the lower corners:

  • Award points for well-placed shots (and deduct points for poor shots):
    • 5 points for a goal shot between the cone and post with the weaker foot (4 points with the dominant foot).
    • 2 points for a goal not between the cone and post with the weaker foot (1 point with the dominant foot).
    • 1 point for a missed goal shot lower than the goalkeeper’s hips with the weaker foot (0 points with the dominant foot).
    • 0 points for a missed goal shot higher than a goalkeeper’s hips but lower than the crossbar with the weaker foot (-1 points with the dominant foot).
    • -2 points for a missed goal is shot higher than the crossbar with the weaker foot (-3 points with the dominant foot).
  • Shagging
    • When a shot misses a goal, players should always shag (or retrieve) their ball. When the player returns, he/she should go to the back of the line and not the earlier position in line.
    • If a player has kicked the ball over the crossbar twice, you now have a player to help clean up after practice.

I strongly suggest that coaches add cones to shooting exercises. The better the shots are placed in practice, the more goals your players will score in games.

Want to Get Noticed at a Tryout? Try a Bicycle Kick

May 13, 2010

I’ve written several articles on tryouts: one for coaches entitled, “The Worst Part of Coaching” and one for players entitled, “Be More Vocal at Tryouts”. The most important thing a player has to do at a tryout is to get noticed, preferably for a positive action. Being a good player certainly helps and being vocal will draw attention to yourself. The other way to get noticed is to attempt a bicycle kick.

I say bicycle kick because it is one of the most recognizable, beautiful and yet most difficult moves in soccer. Any time I see a player attempt a bicycle kick, it tells me the players is:

  • Knowledgeable about the game of soccer
  • Creative
  • Confident

In addition to a bicycle kick, these actions will also get a player the attention he/she needs to stand out from other players:

  • Communication
  • An excellent and unselfish assist
  • A beautiful goal
  • Great dribbling moves
  • Crisp, well-positioned passes on the ground.
  • Comfortable with both feet
  • Long throw-ins

Conversely, attempting a bicycle kick or any other move when it is not necessary (for example, a defender performs a bicycle kick in his/her defensive third just to be cute) can have the opposite effect. It can get a player noticed for the wrong reason.

Before a tryout, ask yourself (and ask the advice of other coaches and parents) and write down your strengths (initiative should be a strength since you are taking the time to think about your strengths). With your list in hand, try to apply and demonstrate these strengths at every opportunity you have during the tryout. But don’t force these strengths–strengths should come naturally.

Actually, I lied. The most important thing a player has to do at a tryout is to enjoy the experience and have fun! Good luck!

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.

2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Quick Kicks

August 25, 2009

The quick-kick is seldom used. Yet executed at the right time, you are almost guaranteed a goal. However, use them sparingly and only in offensive third when you know you can catch the defensive team napping.

The free kick law states that the only time a free kick needs to start on a whistle is for ceremonial kicks which is when an offensive player asks the referee for the defensive team to be moved back 10 yards from the kick. The ball must also be stationary when the kick is taken. If there any movement on the ball, the referee will ask for a re-take and any advantage now and in the future will be lost. Follow this tips when accessing the possibility of taking a quick kick.

  • As soon as you know the foul has been called for you, access the situation. If an advantage can be gained by playing the ball quickly, do so. Make sure a player is not hurt and the ball is not moving.
  • If the player who is fouled falls on the ball with her hands, the referee be forced to call a foul. If the foul is for the attacking team, a player will already have the ball in their possession and a quick start can occur quicker. However, make sure to bring the ball back to the spot of the infraction before the kick so the referee will not have you re-take the kick because of an unfair advantage having been gained (a free kick needs to be kick very close to where the infraction occurred). However, if a player falls on the ball with her hands and the foul goes against that player, the referee may be onto her and at a minimum, present a yellow card to that player.
  • Don’t telegraph the quick kick. Be very calm, quiet, and appear to be indifferent.

Defensive Strategy

It is always better to be safe than sorry. Always assume the other team may take a quick kick. Therefore,

  • As soon as the foul is committed, have the nearest defending player stand in front of the ball–not over the ball but close to it. Don’t make it too obvious. A referee could issue a yellow card immediately for delay of game or if in the opinion of the referee, the player does not retreat immediately when asked. Normally a 1-2 to second delay is all it takes to discouraged a team from trying the quick kick.
  • If the foul occurs in the offensive third, make sure the goalie and defenders alert everyone to the possibility of a quick kick. By alerting everyone, the opposing team is less likely to try it.
  • Don’t get caught napping
  • Never have your goalie set up the wall until she knows that the referee has signaled for a ceremonial re-start (this is indicated by the referee pointing to his whistle). To avoid that problem entirely, keep the goalie in the center of the goal and have the center forward set-up the wall. The goalie has enough to worry about and the center forward can do the job just as easily. Plus the players in the wall are facing the forward and won’t have to turn their head to look at the goalie.