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Welcome to the Goalkeeping Newsletter. Today’s subject addresses and interesting way to learn to read the game and anticipate what is going to happen next. One of the best ways to learn to read the game better is to tape a game (whether a youth game or a professional game but it’s best to shoot it from up high to see the whole field as much as possible). Then, a player (or players) watches the game with a coach and somewhat randomly the coach turns the video off and the player must draw on a board or paper where all 22 players are on the field at the time the video was turned off. By doing this, it forces the player to be constantly watching the whole field instead of just the player or players around the ball. There will also be times when the player might not be able to see all 22 players so this requires watching some tendencies and figuring out where the players on the field would most likely be. Once all 22 players are drawn, the video gets turned back on and they compare where the players really are as opposed to where the player thought they were. The more a player does this the better they will at doing this and the better they are at doing this, the more they will learn to watch the whole field and not just the ball. The next steps for a keeper is, after they have drawn where all 22 players on the field are, to then figure where the next two passes are going to make to. This can be done by determining where the open players are and also by watching the different players (and different teams) tendencies to see where they are most likely to pass the ball to next. When players (and coaches) first start doing this time of “training” they will be “wrong” more often then not but with time and practice, players and coaches will improve dramatically with this method. Each time the video is stopped, it will usually result in a somewhat lengthy discussion so don’t expect to get through an entire game in one sitting while doing this. In many ways, the key isn’t getting this right or wrong but rather it’s understanding the process and learning the importance of seeing the whole field, anticipating what is going to happen next and truly learning how to read the game. While this type of training is useful for all players, it’s even more important for keepers as they have to truly understand the spacing and positioning of players at all times throughout the game. This is why so many coaches are former (or current) keepers as it forces them to understand the game at a different level then most others. Too many coaches miss the point of training the mind as well as the body. This type of training is the type of training that separates the real keepers from those who simply believe you have to be crazy to be a keeper.
I want to thank all of the players for a really good season. We were short players, but everyone stepped up. Even playing down players, we were still winning, and keeping up. THANK YOU ALL---FOR A GREAT 2004 SEASON. Coach Jeff Stiffler. .
This is the MC United Team from Fall 02 / Spring 03.
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.