It may sound like an easy question and depending on who you ask you will get a different reply. But think this for a minute; If you like to be told what to do all the time you will never grow and develop in anything that you attempt. If you are spoon fed information and decisions all the time your brain will never learn to think on its own, become lazy and actually become counterproductive regressing in its learning and developing.
Well, at any given day on any given youth soccer field that is what’s going on. Every game has 16 or 22 players on the field, (depending if you are playing small or large side), and tens or hundreds coaches/parents around the field screaming directions and what to do at every moment of the game to the players. I realize that everyone wants the best for the players and truly want to help them but in actuality they are doing just harm to them. There are coaches on the sidelines that give instructions to the players and it’s the players’ job to execute them. Furthermore often the directions that come from all the parent/coaches are inaccurate. The team coach has given certain directions that apply to a strategy, plan, development that the team is using and the parent/coach is yelling something totally different. The player gets confused, does not want to make either coach upset, does not learn how to make his own decisions, his play ability slowly declines while his frustration increases. A player just kicks the ball to nowhere and the parent/coach cheers: “Great kick awesome job”. Maybe the situation didn’t not warrant a kick to nowhere at that particular moment of the game. Maybe the player needed to maintain control of the ball and keep possession instead of just kicking it away. Knowing how to cheer and when to cheer is another way of supporting the players and it comes from properly learning and understanding the game.
The best part about the game of soccer is that it is a “PLAYER’S GAME”. It is a game where the best players make up their own minds by reading the game and constantly adjusting to situations. The fastest a player can read the game, think, prepare and adjust to situations the better he will be. The players learn from making both good and bad choices.
“SILENT PLAY/” is a way that SoccerSkillz Training helps the players accomplish their development. After an instructional training session players will be asked to play in small sided games, varying from 3v3, 5v5 or 8v8, where they will have to make up their own team shape, line up and substitutions. They run the teams as if they are in the school playground with no adult supervision. You will be amazed at how much more they communicate, help and create situations.
As coaches, parents and spectators, we can help the players more by giving them a chance to play on their own and make their own decisions. There is a right time for teaching a better way and a right time to enjoy watching them play.
Most parents and coaches think players come to the pitch simply because they want to win. In reality, this is the furthest thing in a player’s mind. Players want to play more often regardless of the result. For less able players, if this means playing in a losing
side, then many would rather do that than not play at all. Players play, coaches coach fans cheer! Simple isn’t it?
As a coach my philosophy is to give all players in the development years as close to equal playing time as possible. Off course there may be situations or instances that may not be possible but overall the playing time should be divided equally. Think about it; would you just show up in every game knowing you will be sitting on the bench? And please do not tell me that some players know their role and have accepted that they are support role players or are on a team for development purposes. At the youth development level there is also a social element to being part of a team. Players build bonds and relationships and feel like they are part of a group.
Research shows the focus should not be on whether you lose or win, but on positives.
Introducing a procedure that reduces the emphasis on losing or winning and focuses on activities to create more developmental fun activities while creating a learning environment for the players is essential and the positive results will follow.
I had a parent recently tell me after a training session that he liked the fact that I trained, build and developed for the future rather than the now. He meant that he liked the fact that the training sessions were designed for developing the player/goalkeeper skill set, awareness of game, solving situations and most of all having fun. He said that his son always looks forward to coming to training because number one he is always curious to see what the coach has planned for the training session, (keeping a session always fresh by doing different things keeps the player’s retention and focus), and likes the fact that the players play.
That is what the “street games” philosophy is all about that SoccerSkillz Training and Just4Keepers are implementing in their indoor training sessions. Players/keepers come together and after a topic specific warm up and technical period the players play 3v3 and build to 5v5. However the players make their own line ups, substitutions and run their teams as they see fit, without the coaches’ input. Coaches make coaching points during brakes. As coaches we like to watch players/keepers find their own solutions in the game. Just like kids do on the school playground without any grown-ups around. It is beautiful to watch games start at a chaotic state and eventually settle down with a well organized group helping each other and working together.
To have a goalkeeper confident with his feet when you have play against high pressure teams is extremely important and a big advantage to your defense.
Keeping possession has become the way to play football. Long ball football or Hollywood ball football, as otherwise known, has become extremely unpopular and broadly unsuccessful. Every side wants to have possession of the ball for the majority of the game, and a key way to impose this on a side is by getting the goalkeeper to play short. Barcelona’s Victor Valdes is a master of it.
This is why improving footwork and agility in a goalkeeper has become as essential as having a GREAT touch with one's hands.
Watch How Victor Valdes' footwork skills help the team play from the back and develop play without giving up possession HERE
Swansea actually bought Michel Vorm to play in goal because he is so comfortable with the ball at his feet. ”For us it was then the case of looking to get in the right type of goalkeeper,” said Rodgers. “We needed one that was going to suit our style and Michel was one that was on our list. After looking at his style and his game I think his attributes suit us perfectly. He makes saves, which is important for a keeper. But for how we play, we like to build the game from behind, it is vital that the goalkeeper is comfortable with his feet…he is a player that not only does that but he controls the game well from behind and will help us construct the game from the back. He is very quick and very agile so he is similar to Victor Valdes at Barcelona.” Watch a GREAT video about improving goalkeeping footwork HERE