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Getting back defensively When a defender is marking a player with the ball and that player passes the ball, there is a tendency to do one of two things. Either the defender decides to chase the ball to wherever it was passed OR they stop playing and relaxes with the idea that their job is done. Generally speaking, both of the above decisions are the wrong ones. The reason players shouldn’t automatically chase after the ball is that the ball can travel much faster than the player so it turns into a useless chase PLUS it frequently results in the defender getting caught so far out of position that not only can’t they put pressure on the player with the ball, but they also can’t help mark the player they just left. There are a few occasions when following the pass defensively is the right decision and those are usually when the pass is an EXTREMELY short one and there is defensive support behind but this situation is much less frequent than defenders think. The problem with the defender relaxing after his player passes the ball is that it allows the player he is marking to make a run to get behind him and at that point, he is beat (for example, a wall pass will beat this type of defender every time). As a general rule, the proper thing to do when a player you are marking passes the ball is to get back quickly. By doing this, it eliminates the chances for success of a wall pass plus allows the defender to provide support by becoming the second or third defender. Getting back defensively after a pass is hit is an easy thing to do IF you remember to do it! This is where communication becomes vital since players behind the defender (keeper, sweeper or other defenders) should be directing the defender what to do as much as possible. .
Today’s topic deals with keeping your head up while dribbling. One of the hardest things to do when dribbling is to see the ball and also to see what is happening around you. If you watch really good players it looks like they don’t have to look at the ball when they dribble and when you look at lower level players it looks like they have to stare at the ball when dribbling. The reality is that even top players have to see the ball when dribbling but the difference is they know they can see the ball and also see the field at the same time. The good news is that this is a “skill” that can be worked on and improved. Start with a soccer ball on the ground right in front of your feet. Look straight ahead and see if you see the ball at your feet. If you can, that means you can dribble the ball while looking straight ahead and still see the ball. If you can’t see the ball while looking straight ahead, then slowly lower your head (the key here is to do so lower) until you can see the ball with your peripheral vision. This is the point where you will be able to look forward and also see the ball. Once you determine how far ahead you can see while watching the ball at your feet, the next step is to practice dribbling while keeping your head up to the level where you can still see the ball. This can be done by dribbling randomly in an area, or dribbling around cones or really by doing any type of dribbling you want. The more you practice dribbling with your head up, the more you realize how much you can see while also watching the ball Learning to see many things at the same time will help you become a much better soccer player.
Marking on Opponent Players! I went with a coach friend of mine (Mark Ryan) on Saturday evening after the Rapids game on 2/14/04. Mark is a teacher, and has a student that plays soccer. The student had been trying to get Mr. Ryan to watch one of his games. Mark had called me and asked if I would like to go. Of course I said why would I want to go watch a soccer game! I guess it’s because I love the game. As I watched, I noticed something that I have seen in our teams lately. They had a very young team, and were challenging a team that had some great skills. The kids never looked upset, maybe a bit disappointed. It is very hard being a coach that is just a spectator, because you want to start yelling and helping. The problem I saw is a problem that the London Teams are having. We let our guard off of the opponent. There is the same amount of players from both teams out on the field. We must mark up on each player on the field. The keeper may be an exception and perhaps not if they are open and available to receive a back pass with no opposition. We need to make sure that we keep ourselves close enough to the opposite team, so that they cannot receive the ball very easily. We must oppose them and not allow them to gain possession of the ball. A good team that can make and receive passes, only needs 3 to 4 feet to work in. If we stay close, and not allow them to receive the ball, we are doing great. The team with the possession will usually win. REMEMBER THIS: The player with the ball is the MOST DANGEROUS PLAYER ON THE FIELD. THE PLAYER THEY CAN PASS TO IS THE NEXT MOST DANGEROUS PLAYER ON THE FIELD. If we do not mark them close, the end result will be a GOAL for the other team. The Team played very well for being a younger team. They played a team that was very well trained, and organized. It will make them better players, and a better Team, to challenge teams like this, but we all have to remember not to let the other TEAMS PLAYERS OUT OF OUR SITE. Great Job SWSA. Coach Jeff Stiffler. London Soccer. *********************************************************************
By: Coach Jeff Stiffler “Remember that POSSESSION is Everything” in the Game of Soccer. Soccer is truly a TEAM sport. A team’s success depends on its players working together in combination. The need to develop solid passing and receiving skills are very important. The essential skills compliment one another because each passed ball should be received and then controlled by a teammate. Set your sights high, and strive towards your “GOAL” Accuracy. Pacing, and the timing of release are critical steps for passing and receiving to be successful. You must be able to receive and control a ball skillfully as it arrives from a teammate. Poor passing and receiving skills will result in loss of possession, and the lost chance for a scoring opportunity. A rolling ball on the ground is easier to pass and receive than a ball in the air. The team will benefit more when you make passes on the ground. The three most common and basic techniques for passing the ball on the ground: inside of the foot, outside of the foot, and instep. The most basic passing skill that should be mastered by any soccer player is the “Inside of the foot pass”. Pushing the ball with the inside of the foot is used when passing the ball over distances of 5 to 15 yards. This pass is very easy, and the pass has a lot more control. Keep one thing in mind: your placement foot (nonkicking foot) should be beside the ball and pointed toward your target. This will help keep your shoulders and hips squared with the ball. Practice this pass with both of your feet. There is a time for dribbling, and a time to make the pass. The longer a player retains the ball, the more time they allow the opponent to group together and shut that player down. Excessive dribbling can destroy the teamwork needed to create goal-scoring opportunities. When a ball is in your defensive third of the field, is where you want to clear the ball out and have minimal dribbling. Ideally you want to clear the ball as efficiently and effectively as you can. You want to increase the dribbling the middle third of the field, and take all the advantages you can in the opponents third of the field with dribbling. Remember that if you have too much excessive dribbling on your third (in front of your goal) of the field, the opponent has a very good chance for a goal if they steal the ball from you and shoot at your goal. Shielding is another way to maintain possession. Make sure that you keep your body positioned between the ball and the opponent trying to steal the ball from you. As you shield the ball, please keep these things in mind: A)Change directions and speed. Sudden changes will throw the defender off. B)Use body feints. Use deceptive foot movements, and body movements to fake out your opponent. C)Dribble the ball with very close control. Use your lower peripheral vision as a distance. D)Don’t get fancy, or try to do too much body movements. Use the skills that you have learned. E)Keep your head up as much as possible. Good field vision, and knowing where your teammates are at is important. F)Keep your balance. Do not over commit yourself while challenging the opponent for the ball, or you start playing “Chase the ball”. Keep your legs bent and position them at a diagonal stance. Stay on your toes. Sometimes you may want to dribble towards an opponent, so that you can make them commit to you on their end of the field. If your opponent makes a mistake, take advantage of the mistake and you could be in with in a scoring opportunity. (DO NOT do this in you third of the field, or you may end up getting scored on). As you receive the ball from a teammate, remember that in order to maintain possession, you must attack with numbers up. Attack with as much help as you can. If you loose possession, all players should close the space down against the opponents. Once you have regained possession, keep you space. Attack and Defend as a Unit, a TEAM. Remember: That in order to receive, you must see the ball. Good Luck Team! Coach Jeff Stiffler. ******************************************************************