Before each athletic competition most people will wish the athletes “good luck”. I ask why?
Is it really about luck? Are there variables that are beyond the athlete’s control and left to luck?
When you buy a lottery ticket you have no control of the outcome. There is no preparation that will be able to change your odds at winning. That is my definition of luck. Not being able to prepare to change or influence the chances of altering an outcome. So how is luck going to change an athletic competition? Is it a lucky bounce of the ball? A lucky shot? A lucky rebound? All these things mentioned can be actually prevented. If a player watches the ball has proper body shape and is actively engaged in the game, not just being in the game, he will be prepared to handle a crazy bounce of the ball therefore not making it a “lucky bounce of the ball”. If he marks properly, hustles and defends with vigor a shot will not be allowed. If a shot is not allowed there will be no chance of a rebound. Does this make sense? A player takes a toe shot or just miss kicks the ball from 25 yards out of the goal, no one is expecting that shot, the wind takes it and before you know it is in the back of the net. Coach yells “unlucky”, let’s get it back”. Was it really unlucky? Let’s examine the situation. First of all if the player who miskicked the ball was actively tracked and marked in a reasonable amount of time and had not been given the time to just kick the ball the miss kicked shot would have never happened. Secondly if all the players including the goalkeeper were always ready to expect the unexpected by utilizing their agility and reaction skills the ball would have never sailed into the goal. Do you see the point here?
So when does all this preparation start? Is it after the warm up as soon as the referee blows the whistle for the game to begin? I think not. Preparation starts at training, at home, in the back yard, every time a player has a ball, every time a player watches a game every time a player thinks about the sport. Now we cannot expect most youth players to feel like this about the game in the early years with the few exceptions but we can teach them about it. We can teach them about effort, working hard and not just going through the motions. But first we have to get them to fall in love with the game. Human nature dictates that most people will give it their all if they love something. It is no different here, if they love it they will try harder.
“Hard Work Beats Talent When Talent Is Not Working Hard”
By the way most people’s definition of talent is a player’s skill ability. My definition of talent is a player’s total outlook of the game. Does he love the game, is he able to read the game, does he always give 100% effort, always puts himself in a situation to make the best possible play as well as make the players around him better, and lastly how are his skills? Yes skills are last in my book. I have met and played against some great skilled players. But that’s all they were; great with the ball at their feet. They only performed when the ball was given to them at their feet. They never worked to get to the ball or put themselves in a good situation to receive the ball. They never looked to share the ball or make the players around them better, it was always about them. They had no team vision and could not read the game. But they had great ball skills. That is every knowledgeable coach’s nightmare “a selfish player”. Those players never worked hard and always lost to hard work from their opponents, those players never prepared themselves in training or elsewhere. They only depended on their ball skills.
Some players are great athletes, they have great speed, size and mental ability. They have been given some great tools to begin with, but it’s what they do with those tools that is important. It is not luck that will make them better but the love for the game, hard work and determination.
Please do not misunderstand me here; Fundamentals are the basis of all, no matter what you do, in sport and in life. One must have sound fundamentals and always work on those fundamentals, but the key here is the word “work” not luck. They have to put in the effort and commitment to get better at it and then maintain it.
Hard Work Beats Talent When Talent Is Not Working Hard, not Luck.
Learning to prepare yourself for any situation, being willing to commit to work hard and will give the best chance at being successful. One does not have to love the hard work but he must crave the end result of success.
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