Strategies for Winning in Football

Football seems like a very simple sport, but it is only so with regard to the basic game play and rules. The sport can be quite complex when it comes to professional level or the World Cup.

Planning an Offense

The team in possession of the ball gets on the offensive. It launches an attack by employing various strategies depending on the type of players and their skills. In general, the team which is on the offensive passes and moves. When you have the ball, keep moving; passing or dribbling is the means to achieve that. This rule also applies to the opposite team’s players nearest to the player with the ball – keep moving, look for opportunities and provide passing lanes for your teammate.

Pulling a Fast One: Move Fast

Another good technique is to pass the ball and move quickly towards an open space nearer to the goal. This creates a passing lane, and thus puts pressure on the opposition on the defensive; now they need to defend and counter the attack as fast as possible.

Switch-ON Your Attack

This technique involves giving a long pass to the part of the field which has less defenders; it could be towards the opposite goal or your own goal post. This gives the team a chance to re-group and switch-on another attack. Continue reading

Giving Feedback to the Players?

No matter the age most people continually look for feedback and acceptance from their peers and mentors. As players mature ,hopefully there is an intrinsic approval instead of external approval others. When this is found approval comes from an internal feeling of acceptance from what the individual wants instead of the external opinion of what others want.

Unfortunately, most kids do not think this way. One only needs to look as far as peer pressure to understand that kids look to each other and adults for approval and acceptance. That is why a quality child may be seen out doing things he or she may not normally do; they are looking for acceptance and approval. As a coach it is important to understand this and provide feedback to players.

giving feedbackMost players will not have the ability to understand if they are doing well or not without feed back. The same can be said about being successful or not and being skilled or not skilled. It is the job of the coach to inform players on how they are playing, what they are doing well with and where they are struggling. It is equally important that a coach not always dwell on the negative. The nature of coaching is one of continually trying to fix what is going wrong, so often the only message players hear is fix this or fix that. The sub text of this is that if something always needs to be fixed then something is not right. Players can internalize they are doing something wrong (and they probably are) but will forget to internalize what they are doing right (hopefully many good things), which can lead to a negative environment. Be careful to continually express not only their flaws but also their strengths.

One successful approach is expressing positives and negatives as a sandwich. First say something positive, then inform them on how to correct it and finish with what will happen when they do the positive behavior. Good, bad, good is the way to go. For instance when talking to a player about defense, one approach might be “You did a nice job of going hard to the ball. But instead of lunging and easily taking yourself out of the play, curve your run to force play and not eliminate yourself the play. By doing this you will dictate play and keep the team defense intact” At half time one approach might be, “Team, we played well in the first half and possessed for a good amount of time. We did a good job checking to the ball (the positive), but our focus must be on playing that ball quickly with two touches and receiving across the body. (the coaching point) If we do this we will finish off the scoring chances we’ve previously had (how it will be effective)”. The good is expressed about the possession, the bad is mentioned as receiving across the body, the good is mentioned in the finishing opportunities. Ending with a focus on what needs to be adjusted for the second half is a great way to keep fresh in the players minds what the improvement focus should be for the second half of play.

As the players move in and out of the game, often the only time to fix mistakes is through discussions with the player. This may mean some of the action is missed during the game, however it is the job of the coach to improve the team, not to watch the game. The coach will still see much of the game but hopefully improve player performance along the way. When players come off the field, take the time to tell them quickly what they did well and where they can improve. This will foster in them a sense that the coach really cares about what they are doing and it will help them to improve as the games and as the season progress.

No matter the age this approach will work. As the players get older, it can be helpful to be more direct and just tell the player what he needs to do better. At times it is needed and as players get to the ages of sixteen, seventeen, eighteen being blunt is often needed to get a point home. However, sandwiching negatives with positives will always be a good approach and can still be used.

The Point of Focused Training

The point of focused training is to develop players who understand the game and can play the entire game with little input from the coach. Focused training will teach the players the different aspects of the game, the subtleties of soccer, and how to succeed as the game changes around them.

Soccer is a multi faceted game; very complex with eleven components on each side continually shifting and changing as a ball moves between them. At the same time the game is very simple; use feet to put the ball in the back of the net. In this game success depends largely on the amount of training that takes place outside of the game. Soccer is a game that simply flows; there are no time outs, offenses to run, or coaches calling plays. To be successful the players must know what they are doing before the game begins. This can be accomplished thru a series of focused training sessions with competitive players focused at those training sessions. What will follow is success on the field by players who have mastered the game both technically and tactically by working with coaches in a structured environment.

This is the goal of the coach and trainer; set up a structured environment in which the players can become technical and tactical masters of the game. This structured environment must be planned before practice, written down and then executed. The game is too complex to simply show up and “run a practice”.

Within the structured environment there should be plenty of fun, however to train a competitive team it must be competitive fun, not goof around fun. Additionally, with in the structure of the sessions creativity should be encouraged as to keep play from being predictable, however the creativity should come within the structured focus of the session as to keep the focus on the skills that are to be developed within that practice session.

Player development: What is it and at what is to be the focus at different ages?

Player development can best be defined as the growth of a player both in their playing abilities but it is deeper than that. After all, though the game is taken quite seriously and studied with great detail, it is still a game. Therefore whatever is learned from the game should be transitioned to life outside of the game.

With this in mind the development of the player takes on four main qualities; technical, tactical physical and psychological. When looking at player development, these four areas should always be considered, however it must be understood they vary greatly based on age.

Therefore, in order for expectations to be realistic for players of all ages, it must be understood that at different ages, different focuses of development are needed.

U-12 and under

Through the age of eleven it is important to focus on technical development. The muscles are learning how to work and they will retain muscle memory as the player advances in age. The focus at this age should be on ball skill and creativity with most or all of the physical training taking place with a ball. In regards to winning, it should be secondary to skill development. As the player approaches the u12 age more tactical insight is brought into training, however the focus is still technique. For more ideas on development look at the curriculum for each age group.

u-13 through u-19

From the ages of twelve through around nineteen the focus begins to shift towards tactical training. Technique learned at younger ages improves through tactical training, teaching the players how the game is played. At this point physical training can become an area in and of itself in areas with a focus on such areas as speed training, strength training and endurance training. This is the age the player learns the “way the game is played”, so focus on tactics while teaching technique. For more ideas on development look at the curriculum for each age group.

U-19 and above

From nineteen on if a player is playing competitively his job on the field is fairly well definded and his skill is fairly developed, as is his knowledge of the game, therefore it is important to work on higher level tactical training specific to his role on the team. Functional training is also important focusing on technical or tactical skills specific to the players role on the team.

Finally it is important to realize that at whatever age the development is taking place, whatever is learned in regards to competitiveness, fair play, work ethic and so forth should be transitioned from the field to the “real world”. If this can be accomplished not only will successful players begin to succeed on the field, they will also do well off the field and true development will have taken place.

Characteristics of a good coach

Three key components of a Coach

1. Charisma – Be passionate and excitable; show them you love the game
2. Passion – Show your players you are committed to this game and their development
3. Humor – Have fun with the game, let them see that you enjoy the games and training.

Four Values of a leader

These are the core values of any leader. As a coach, you must lead. Incorporate these into your life.

Courage – mental, psychological
Intelligence – good judgment, common sense, experience
Inspiration, Enthusiasm – charisma, humor
Communication – eloquent, well spoken, understand how to relate to the person whom they are speaking with.

Keys to Growing as a Coach.

To grow – you must be humble – admit weakness, know where to grow.
Leadership comes from the having the freedom to not do it, but doing it anyway. (i.e. hard work)
Pressure is a privilege: it is a privilege to be a coach; don’t take it for granted
Team Concept: Each player must be responsible. This is important in all aspects of the game, especially important in comebacks.

Key concepts of a successful team

Fitness is number one: it is the biggest difference between the good and great teams. Get fit and maintain it. It’s hard to get fit, its easy to stay there.
Understand the rhythm of the game; it changes. Your game must change with it.
Go all out: Take a player on, don’t be afraid of contact.
Have physical courage.
Being liked is not as important as being respected.
You choose to be unbeatable: don’t let anyone dominate you; it starts with a winning mentality.
The first touch is in your head;.it’s all technical skill. Know where you are going before you receive, then do it.
Create the desire to win; play relentlessly.
Improvement only comes with a constant continual drive for greatness.
Coaching must be demanding of their players. Players must be demanding of their coaches. When these expectation coexist greatness will happen.
You play like you practice, so compete fiercely in practice

The will to win is overrated, it is the will to prepare to win that makes a difference
-Bobby Knight-

Key attributes of a successful coach

Make everything competitive. Develop a desire to win in your players. Make winning and losing matter.
Don’t be intense all the time. As the season changes bring out your calmer side. Start hard and intense, then lighten up.
One v one is not natural, especially for women; girls need encouragement to take players on. Teach them it is o.k. to beat another player.
Teach them defense and to be dominant at it.. “Don’t be a hummingbird, be a hawk. A hummingbird just hangs around the ball, a hawk dives in. “get stuck in!”-Anson Dorrance.
Be a positive motivator; whenever possible put the positive spin on the game.
Make game criticism separate from player criticisms. Separate game mistakes from personal mistakes. Make sure they know you still like them even if they make mistakes on the field.
Teach them to be artists and warriors. Be creative and be dangerous . Be artistic and deceptive.