Posts Tagged ‘wings’

Improving Throw-ins: 180 Choices (part 2 of 4)

January 2, 2010

In the first post on improving throw-ins, I wrote about the importance of field players ‘checking-in’ to the thrower. In this post, I write about the 180 choices the thrower should consider when throwing in the ball.

Why 180? That is the number of degrees in a semi-circle and normally the number of choices available to the thrower. However, what I see a lot of teams do on throw-ins is simply throw the ball down the wings. This type of throw only represents about 30 degrees of a semi-circle (Area ‘A’ on the field below), leaving 150 choices unused (Area ‘B’).

There may be several reasons why a team chooses to simply throw it down the wing but I believe the number one reason for this is poor ball control. For example, if a ball is thrown to the center of the field or back to a defender and it is misplayed, a scoring opportunity is likely to develop for the other team. Therefore, it is much safer to throw it down the wing. If the ball is lost, it is lost in a safe part of the field.

Despite the possibility of losing the ball, I strongly believe that much more of the field should be utilized on throw-ins. However, the spot of the throw-in should always be taken into account before the throw.

  • If the throw-in is takes place anywhere between penalty boxes (Line ‘C’), a team should feel comfortable throwing in the ball anywhere on the field.
  • Inside a team’s own defensive area, the ball should be thrown down the wing as far as possible. While the ball can be thrown to the goalie, he/she is not allowed to handle the ball with his/her hands. If it is handled, such an infraction will result in an indirect free kick at the spot of the foul. And if the ball is lost in this area of the field, a team is asking for a lot of problems (Area ‘D’).
  • When a throw-in is to take place inside the opposing team’s penalty area, I’m a very strong proponent of having the best throw-in player throw the ball as far into the penalty as possible. More often than not, this will result in a very good scoring opportunity. If the best thrower is playing on the other side of the field, it is still a good strategy to have him/her take the throw-in (Area ‘E’).

As I stated in the ‘check-in’ post, the best way to teach and condition a player to see all options on a throw-in is to teach him/her with fundamental soccer drills and small sided games. The more the player plays with his/her head up, the more field he/she will see, the more aware he/she will be of teammates, and the more aware he/she will be of the available options. This visibility and awareness will then easily transfer over to the throw-in.

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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.