After a dominating 5-0 win by Man City vs Crystal Palace, Pep Guardiola goes on to explain why he felt his team did not have a complete game of possession and ball movement. Most coaches would be happy with such dominating victory. Few, like Pep, can understand a quality win based on their style of play from just a regular win. The point that Pep makes and as a coach that shares the same style of play I personally indorse, is that ball movement in a possession style of play is key. Players can touch the ball 4, 5 or 6 times before passing it or can put themselves in situations, with body shape, and field awareness to touch the ball only once or twice before they pass the ball. Being able to move the ball faster with a sense of purpose will not allow the defence to react to the movement, adapt and set up to defend. The less time the players have the ball at their feet the more adjustments the other team has to make, causing defensive breakdowns which allows the possessing team to penetrate and create scoring opportunities. This is something that American youth soccer coaches must understand. Having a player constantly dribble the ball because he or she is the best ball handler on the team does not promote quality. Yes, at a young age the team will most like be able to win a bunch of games because that certain player will be able to outmaneuver or outrun the rest but in the long run the rest of the team is not learning anything but watching that player win games for them, always relying on that player to do all the work.
This is another element that futsal may help the coach and team with. The space is much smaller so the player that dribbles a lot will ultimately need to pass the ball more often since the other team will be able to close him down as space is limited. The rest of the team will learn to play with the ball and move to receive the pass. The speed of play is also much faster therefore helping decision making. Yes, Pep's style of play of possession with a purpose can be taught in the courts of futsal and make the outdoor play of a team much better to a point where a team can dominate and out play a physical kick and run team. But first youth coaches MUST understand and embrace why this style of play takes time to develop and STOP seeking kick and run quick result solutions which in the long run DO NOT aid player development.
Please understand that although a possession style of play is based on quality passing and ball movement a player must still be confident on his ability to maintain the ball at his feet and being able to confidently take on other players on 1v1 situations. Their dribbling skills must be at a high level and never shy away from taking on a player when needed. The key here is dribbling when needed to find space or buy time, not to just showcase ones dribbling skills or just take unnecessary touches on the ball. Learning how to differentiate between the two is HUGE.
A great FREE futsal development program is offered by soccerskillz. Please view video below of Pep's explanation on why quick ball movement. PS" watch entire interview.
So this edition of the SOCCERSKILLZ blog is just to show you how life comes in full circle. As an 18 year old high school student I was presented with an opportunity to follow my dreams. Architecture and soccer. I was approached by a number of colleges to play for their soccer team with an athletic scholarship. In the early 80"s, oops now you know how old I am... LOL, getting recruited for a college athletic scholarship was much different than nowadays. If you are interested in how to get recruited for an athletic scholarship please fill form below the video to get invited to one of the webinars that we discuss this. Yes yours truly, Niko Alexopoulos, got the opportunity to be announced and walk on a soccer field as a collegiate soccer player. At that point that was the highlight of my soccer career. What an amazing feeling to represent one's college and knowing that one was selected from many other players to represent that University. All the hard work put forth during pre season had finally paid off when I walked on that field. Well, after many years later, in fact over 30 years filled with many soccer experiences both as a player and a coach, last night September 1st 2017 I was introduced and walked on the field of the Widener University's Stadium as a collegiate coach. Somehow this moment was just as special as me playing in Europe as a professional. In fact more special because I had never embarked on a journey of a coaching career. My life changed when I became a coach after a successful mortgage banker career. Maybe because I had a hand in training and getting ready players that experienced for the first time that feeling that I had experienced long time ago when I became a collegiate player. Maybe because this team, mostly made up from freshmen, had worked so hard to prepare for the season home opener, maybe because young players are looking to the coaching staff for new ways and knowledge to widen their soccer experience as well as pick up new life lessons. Either way I am excited and humbled to be a collegiate coach.