Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Learning When & How to Steal the Ball

In soccer, any type of ball-stealing is usually called "tackling". This can be confusing to Americans because tackling in American-style football involves an attempt to knock the opponent down (which is a major foul in soccer). The mechanics of basic standing soccer tackles are covered in the Practice Plans, and will not be repeated here. We will focus here on when to use those skills - and, more importantly, when not to use them. The first thing to teach defenders is the importance of PATIENCE in the timing of any tackle. The defender will want to try to steer the attacker into the safest space, with the greatest support available, before considering a tackle (unless the attacker makes a major mistake which allows the defender to take the ball back with little risk). Usually, if the defender can delay things long enough, the attacker almost always will make a mistake and allow an opening to an alert defender to steal the ball - or support will arrive which will allow a double team.

It usually is not the time to attempt a tackle when:

  • the defender is not in a good balanced position
  • the attacker is skilled, and is in a balanced position
  • a missed tackle could result in an immediate shot attempt
  • a successful tackle or tackle attempt will not result in gaining possession (i.e., knocking the ball out of play or to another attacker)
  • a successful tackle attempt will not result in an advantage to the team
  • if teammates have not yet moved into position to provide support.

Good opportunities to make a tackle attempt are when:

  • there is a very good chance of gaining possession
  • due to field position and available support, a missed tackle attempt will not put the team in harm
  • the attacker is off-balance or unaware, and the chances of success are good
  • attacker is moving into such a dangerous situation that a failed tackle attempt would be the same as no attempt (tough decision)
  • a teammate is available for a double-team.

When any tackle attempt is made, the defender should commit totally to the ball. If the defender is able to get his support foot beside the ball on the tackle, then the defender in is an great position for making the tackle. If the defender must reach for the ball, then the chances of success are less, and the best the defender often can do is to knock the ball away. This does not necessarily mean that this is a bad choice. There are many times when a defender may wish to knock a ball over the touchline for a throw-in, as this will give time to other teammates to get back to help. And, even in 1 v 1 games, this may allow the defender some extra time to catch his breath. So, while the coach will want to teach ball-winning skills, players also need to be taught when it can be useful to simply knock the ball out. Often, coaches will cover these ideas in basic sessions in defense, with the general rule to get the ball if you can do it safely and to knock it out if you cannot.

Once the defender is in control of the attacker, forcing him in the defender's direction of preference, it is important that the defender continue to maintain a high level of pressure on the attacker. The defender often does not need to confront the attacker with a tackle attempt, until the defensive support is in place and the defender is ready. When in doubt, the best course is usually to delay; use patience; and wait for support and/or an opportunity to arise.

The feint tackle is one way to keep the attacker off-balanced. The defender feints a reach for the ball, yet maintains excellent balance and position. The defender should not actually get caught with the body weight going forward, only the feinting foot.

The attacker will have to react (if there is a reaction) in one of two ways. First, he may protect the ball by pulling it back or stepping in with a shielding motion. Or secondly, he may attempt to push the ball past the defender, assuming that the defender has dived in and is off balance. As a result, in the first case, the defender is forcing the attacker to focus totally on the ball, which cuts down on the attacker's ability to give the ball to a teammate and increases the chances that he can win the ball with heavy pressure. In the second case, the defender has tricked the attacker, and should be in good position to cut-off the attempted pass and may even be able to step between the attacker and the ball.
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Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Basic Principles of Individual Attacking

In general, attacking is much harder than defending. Why? Because attacking usually requires more advance (and advanced) thinking. In other words, a defender reacts - while an attacker has to have a plan if he is going to have a good chance of success. In addition, attacking requires better ball control than defending, because it is difficult to keep possession long enough to get within scoring range by just whacking at the ball. As a result, the coach must spend a lot of time in developing the ball control skills of his players, and in training them in the various elements of individual attacking.

Individual attacking has 3 basic phases. The first phase is what is commonly known as the First Touch phase. The quality of the First Touch, and the planning which goes into this First Touch, often will be the key difference between a successful attacker and one who constantly bombs out. The second phase is the  actions required to beat any field defenders, so that you are 1 v 1 with the keeper (called "field attacking"). The final phase is the actions required to beat the keeper and/or last field defender blocking the ability of the ball to "see" the goal so that you can put the ball in the net. This final phase will be called Finishing (although it is important to bear in mind that the other phases may be compressed into this single phase, with a ball received in a way which allows the very first touch to be a shot on goal).

Indeed, any time that an attacker realizes that the ball is going to come to him, his first decision should be "do I have a decent chance at scoring a goal with my first touch?" If the answer is "yes", then he must always make the attempt to score. As noted later, a player misses 100% of the shots which he does not take, and it is critical to educate young players early in the notion of thinking about a shot first.

If no shot is "on" with the first touch, then the player must get the ball under control and take another look to see if a shot is now available (because defenders move around - so a momentary opening may have arisen). If a shot is still not "on", then he must figure out the best route to take to get into a good scoring position, then look once more for the chance for a shot. In other words, he needs to remember that his ultimate objective is to score goals.

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Tuesday, 9 April 2013

How to Take a Penalty Kick

The penalty kick…the ultimate in pressure situations. Often the penalty kick comes at a critical juncture in the game where there is nothing between the two teams but 12 yards from the spot. Many World Cup, Champion’s League and MLS Cup game has come down to converting from the penalty spot after teams remain tied after extra time.
A solid, well struck penalty kick is almost impossible for the goalkeeper to stop, yet we often see misses and amazing saves. A well directed, firmly struck penalty in soccer is almost impossible for the goalkeeper to save, and yet penalties are frequently missed.

To be successful at converting from the spot, there are two key components that must be mastered…the technique and the mentality.

You can pretty much split up penalty takers into two categories. There are those that go for a well placed inside of the foot shot, and those that go for an all out blast that shakes the net. Both are effective, but each one has it’s strengths and weaknesses.

“A well-placed ball, high to the corner, will not be stopped by the goalkeeper even if he anticipates it” says Professor Tom Riley, Liverpool John Moores University.

“There is not enough time to react, so a kick placed in this area would have a 100% strike rate.”

“Some players blast the ball straight down the middle, assuming that the goalkeeper will move, but it’s not always successful.”
Upper 90 penalty zones
The upper 90 top corners may be a sure thing if you hit them, but that shot is tough and there is a lot that can go wrong. However, it has been shown that putting it in this spot makes it just about impossible for the keeper to save.
Lower 90 penalty zones
Conventional wisdom says to go for the the side netting (lower 90), low and just down inside the post. While this is an easier strike, a keeper that guesses correctly can get to the spot and make the save as Lehmann does in the photo above.

One key to perfect penalty kicks is having perfect form. If you have the correct form with your soccer kicks, you never have to worry about accuracy. 

Mentally, it’s important to stay calm and ignore the goalkeeper. The keeper will most likely be jumping around trying to distract you. It is a good idea to make a quick check of the keeper’s position just to make sure he isn’t lined up properly, but other wise don’t look at him.

To enter a state of flow or ‘being in the zone’ when taking a penalty shot you need to stop thought. Sure you can have a pre-decided idea as to where you are going to blast the ball. But thought or any self consciousness about what you are doing will just block your success.

In order to be able to reach this state consistently, you have to practice under pressure. As a coach, you should place your players in mini games where there are consequences for losing. Split your players up into teams and have them take penalty kicks with the loser running extra sprints or something of that nature. The pressure side of penalty kicks is almost as tough as the execution side so put your players under pressure in practice and they will deliver in game time situations.
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Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Offside’s Trap During Your Opponent’s Free Kick

Free kicks sometimes become dangerous for your defense as they are the most probable chances to score during a tough match. They are taken by the best players to create the best chances to score goals. To make them gone wasted, you should be able to create a space so that the best free kick can be wasted or declared an offside ball.... 
When the other team has a free kick that will land around your defensive third line, the defense should position its last line of defense where the ball will land. (Figure 1) To catch the opposing team off-sides, just before the kick the defense should sprint out of their end of the field and leave their offensive opponents alone behind them(Figure 2)

    The off-sides rule states, there needs to be two defensive players between the receiver and the goal at the time of the kick. The goalie is considered one of the two defensive players. If the defense pushes forward before the kick, then the offensive receiver remaining will be called off-sides at the time of the kick (Figure 2) and the defense will earn a free kick from the point where the receiver was called off-sides. 

A team leader like the sweeper in the last line of defense will need to call this play. Everyone back on defense will need to sprint forward on his call. If one defensive player hangs back during the play, the offensive receiver will not be called off-sides because there will be two defenders (this defensive player and the goalie) between the receiver and the goal at the time of the kick. Here the strength of your defense will be out of position sprinting forward rather than remaining back defending against your receiving opponents.

Once the ball leaves the kicker’s foot, the on-sided offense can make runs behind the defense to retrieve the ball. This is why it is important the defense push forward early before the kick is taken to catch the offense off-sides. The defense needs to be alert to the team leader’s play calling, but also the team leader doesn’t want to advertise the play to his opponents so they attempt to stay on-sides.
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Saturday, 30 March 2013

Harassment Drill in Soccer

Drill Purpose
Many beginning players are afraid of making contact with a player from another team. Often a beginner will avoid a ball if it means running into an opposing player. Harassment is a drill that teaches players to concentrate on the ball when being hassled by players from other teams. It’s also a drill that develops familiarity with handling a ball in crowded areas.

1. Four players compose each drill group. Defensive players are about 5 yards apart. Offensive players line up outside the 18-yard line.

2. A throws a ball between the 2 defensive players. At the same time B runs towards the defensive players.

3. B attempts to shoot the ball at the goal. The defensive player runs in front of the ball or does anything possible to impede player B’s attempts to shoot at the goal.

4. Defensive players are not allowed to touch player B or the ball.

Points of Emphasis
Harassment is a simple offensive finishing drill. Players will learn to go after a ball despite being under high pressure. During Harassment, instruct players to
  • (defensive) use attacking “body language” to add pressure to the offensive player.
  • (offensive) become fearless when going after the ball.
  • (offensive) learn to take an accurate shot and ignore the pressure.
As players gain an understanding of the game, further variations include:
  1. Using a larger playing area and adding another defender.
  2. Allowing defenders to use their bodies, but in a way that won’t undermine the essence of the drill.
  3. Requiring offensive players to use both feet when taking shots, if possible.
Motivation / Teaching Tips

Tip #1 – Reward offensive players that score a goal.
Tip #2 – Reiterate to offensive players to be aggressive in congested areas near the goal mouth.
Tip #3 – Encourage all players to play aggressively but also play within the rules.

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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Learn to Shoot a Knuckleball in Soccer

Shoot Like Cristiano Ronaldo
We’ve all watched Cristiano Ronaldo fire his trademark free kick rockets into the back of the net, leaving soccer fanatics all over the world scraping their jaws off the floor, not to mention the poor goalie.

He and other free kick specialists generate these powerful and unpredictable shots using a technique known as the knuckle shot or instep drive. This method of striking a football is especially potent in long range free kick scenarios.

Here’s how you do it:

1. The Run-Up:

Place your foot underneath the ball where you will strike it later. Take six steps back and one and a half or two to the left. Make sure you’re not approaching the ball from too much of an angle as it will cause you to miss the right spot (area shown on picture one).

2. Standing Foot Placement:
Try to place it as close as you comfortably can, slightly behind and to the side of the ball.

3. The Strike:

Hit the ball as hard as you can with your foot perpendicular to the ground. Make sure you make contact with the laces and inside part of your foot (as shown on picture two). To force the ball over the defensive wall and make it dip back down you will need to create topspin. This is achieved by lifting your striking foot upward when the ball is compressed upon impact.

4. The Follow-through:
Slightly lift your standing foot off the ground and rapidly swing your shooting leg to the left while leaning forward. This results in a short follow-through and therefore a more powerful shot.

5. Practice is King:
The knuckle shot is easily one of the most difficult shots to pull off and you will need to put in a lot of hours on the pitch to master it.

Are you left footed??
Run up to the ball from the right, follow the rest of the instructions and swing your kicking leg to the right after the strike.

Things to consider when practicing
Due to the powerful and erratic nature of the shot, it is very difficult to control and if you're looking to use this technique in a live match make sure you have practiced it to perfection. To save time from retrieving the ball after every attempt I would suggest buying a few more balls or shooting against a wall.

When you first start practicing this free kick technique it is also recommended to use less power on your attempts and then increment in force as you get better at it. This will not only help improve your skill, but will also help prevent ankle injury.

Good luck!

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Monday, 25 March 2013

Proper Shooting in Soccer

Shooting the ball is one of the fundamental elements that round out the model of a complete soccer player. Shooting is not restricted to any one position, and it is a skill that every accomplished player should strive to master. Although most shots are taken by forwards, it is essential that midfielders, defenders and even goalkeepers learn shooting techniques just in case an opportunity to score arises. Below are the basic skills and technical aspects that you should take under consideration when trying to master the art of the shot.

Create Space for Yourself
You may have the best shot in the world, but if you can't get yourself into a position where an open strike presents itself, your skill will go wholly untested. That's why before you consider taking a shot, you need to create the space on the field where the opportunity to take a shot will materialize. This is done by dribbling with your head up, and being aware of the opposing players and teammates around you. Despite your natural desire to rip the ball into the net, a shot may not be available to you. Always remember that taking bad shots is your best way to earn a one way ticket from the pitch to the bench. Be smart, be aware, and when the shot opens up, don't hesitate … take it.

Balance Your Body
Before you even think about shooting the ball, make sure that your center of gravity is as balanced as possible. This is done by squaring your shoulders and ensuring that your weight is not dramatically favored on either leg. The placement of your non-shooting foot is also essential to your ability to strike the ball. When taking a free kick, players often count out their steps to ensure that their non-shooting foot is optimally placed. While there is no set position for your non-shooting foot, there is an optimal position for you. By practicing and finding out what works best for you, you can prepare yourself to mimic the foot placement you'll need to perform in the blink of an eye during a match.

Lean Over the Ball

When taking a shot, it is important to lean over the ball. There are two primary reasons for this:
  1. Leaning over the ball will narrow your point of gravity allowing you to deliver more force on the ball.
  2. Leaning over the ball will keep your shot from lofting high in the air above the goal. Often times, defenders will do the opposite and lean back so that they can get elevation on their clearance, but in the case of shooting it is almost always advisable to lean over the ball.
Fully Extend your Leg
When taking a shot, it is important to fully extend your leg to maximize the amount of power you deliver. It will also give you better accuracy by maintaining proper form.

Strike the Ball with your Laces
When taking a shot, it is important that you strike the ball with the proper part of your foot. With the exception of other advanced shooting techniques (chips, ball spin etc.), you almost always want to strike the ball with the laces of the cleat.

Some new cleats have flaps that cover the laces and others have no laces at all. However, if you imagine the shoes had laces, that is the spot where you would want to strike the ball. By doing this you will maximize your accuracy and power, as you will get the full force of your foot behind the ball.

Lock your Ankle
When shooting, you also want to ensure that you lock your ankle when you strike the ball. If you fail to do this you will find that your accuracy will suffer tremendously, and you will also fail to maintain the power and force of an optimal strike.

Be Aware of Opposing Defenders
You can't shoot unless you have the ball, and if you aren't aware of opposing defenders you surely won't have it for long. The reason scores are usually on the low end is because it is infinitely more difficult to get a ball past an entire defense and a goalkeeper into the net than it is to prevent this from happening. For this reason you need to be aware of where the defenders are, and take your shot only when the defense opens up. If this is not the case, it is probably best to make a pass to a teammate, keep your head in the game and wait for an opportunity to present itself.

Be Aware of the Opposing Keeper's Position
Often times, a shot is successful because of when it is taken, rather than how it is taken. The beauty of soccer is that it doesn't matter how the ball gets in the net - a goal is a goal. If the goalkeeper is far off the goal line, it's worth taking a chance shot from midfield in the hope that he can't back in time. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but you must always remember the mantra of the goal scorer: "You can't score if you don't shoot."

Shooting from midfield when the keeper is off the goal line is not the only instance where you can use the goalie's positioning to your advantage. If you see that he/she is resting on the balls of his feet rather than his toes, it means he/she is "flat-footed" and will have a difficult time move laterally towards an incoming shot. In this instance, you might want to strike a ball to one of the corners, where it will be difficult for the goalie to reach. Similarly, if the goalie is short, go high. If the goalie is tall, go low. The possibilities are endless. Just remember to use your head and think before you use that foot to shoot.

Shoot to Open Space

The reason goalkeepers typically wear bright-colored apparel is because it immediately draws the attention of the opposing attackers. You need to train yourself not to look where the keeper is, but where the keeper is not. By focusing on the keeper, you will, in all likelihood, shoot directly at him. It just so happens, that is exactly what the keeper wants. Try to look at the goal as a whole, as if the keeper were a part of it. The spot on the net that looks like the biggest opening … that is where you want to place your shot.

Faking a Shot
Getting the opposing defenders to think you are going to take a shot is half the battle. Often times, if the defender anticipates that you are going to shoot, he/she will leave their mark in order to quell a more immediate threat (you). This provides you with the perfect opportunity to pass the ball off to one of your better-situated teammates. Just be sure that you have enough time to make the pass, and that your teammate is onside and aware of your generous intentions.

While there are a countless ways to fake a shot, you can start by simply winding up your leg to give the impression you are going to strike. As your leg comes down on the ball, ease up and gently shift it with the outside of your shooting foot. In all likelihood, the defender in front of you will have jumped or lunged, and given you a clear shooting lane. This is assuming, of course, that you haven't already been swarmed by additional opposing defenders.

The Balance of Power and Accuracy
There are players who can blast a ball as hard as they can and still hit the tip of a matchstick from 30 yards away. Surely, though, those players will have little need for an instructional guide such as this. For the rest of the mortal world, there is a constant battle to find the optimal level of power to ensure accuracy. Generally speaking, the harder a ball is struck, the more difficult it will be to control. For this reason, it is not always advisable to shoot as hard as humanly possible. A better rule of thumb is to gauge each situation circumstantially. Ask yourself these questions:
  • How far are you from the net?
  • How well is the goalkeeper positioned?
  • Is there a lot of headwind blowing directly at you or behind you?
If you secure a rebound three yards from the goal line with no defenders around you, you might just want to tap it in. If you are shooting from 30 yards away, you might want to kick it as hard you can. Start by finding out what your range is in practice. That should give you the ability to determine how much force is needed when shooting during a game.

Follow Up Your Shot
Generally speaking, the odds that your shot will end up in the net are not in your favor, because there are so many factors and elements working against you. Because of this, it is essential that you follow your shot towards the goal after you have struck the ball. Tons of goals are "hawked" by opportunistic players who hover in front of the net looking for a rebound. As the shooter, you are not absolved of this responsibility. Follow your shot, look for rebounds, and you may just get lucky on a second-shot opportunity.

Goal Celebration
While you will be elated after you score a goal, think twice before you follow it with an elaborate celebration. Sure it's fun to have a teammate shine your cleat or do a back flip after your wonder strike, but gauge the referee before you elect to do so. If at any time the referee deems your celebration to be excessive, or a deliberate taunt of the opposing team, he/she can and will give you a caution (yellow card). Goals are great, but you can't help your team if you get sent off the field.

Take your Shot
Hopefully this guide has provided you with the necessary tools to perfect the basic elements of your shot. Once you have mastered these tactics, feel free to continue to the Advanced Shooting Guide for further instruction.
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Friday, 22 March 2013

Understanding the Offside Rule in Soccer

Offside is without question the most controversial rule in soccer, and one that remains a great mystery to unfamiliar players and fans. However, its ability to confuse has been grossly overstated, and the principle is quite easy to und erstand for even the casual viewer.

The basic premise is that when an attacking player receives the ball while on his opponents’ half of the field, he must be level or behind the second to last defender (with the last typically being the goalkeeper). However, this rule only applies if the player receiving the ball is involved in the play.

The Meaning of “Second to Last Defender”
The term “second to last defender” can be somewhat confusing because the goalkeeper is not traditionally referred to as a defender, but when determining whether an offensive player is in an offside position, the goalkeeper falls into the equation. As a result, the “second to last defender” is typically the field player who is positioned closest to his own goal.

The best way to fully understand the offside rule is to see it in action. However, the images and descriptions below will hopefully clarify the rule, and give you a clearer picture of what an offside penalty looks like. The yellow line in the images depicts the imaginary threshold which the referee uses to determine offside.

Onside Pass

In this play the referee will not call the play offside because the player receiving the ball is in front of the second to last defender.

In this play the referee will call the play offside because the player receiving the ball is behind the second to last defender.

In this play the referee will only call offside if the offensive player on the far side of the field involves himself in the play. As long has he remains “inactive,” the attacking player in possession of the ball is free to continue the play.

The best way to avoid an offside play is by playing the ball “into space.” This means that you anticipate where a player is going to move to, make the pass, and then allow them to make a following run. In the above image, notice that the player receiving the pass starts out in an onside position when the ball is kicked, and then runs past the defender to receive it.

The referee will also refrain from calling a pass offside if the ball is played backwards (away from the opponents’ goal). For instance, if the offensive player receiving the ball is behind the second to last defender, but is also in front of the teammate passing the ball, they are still onside.

The Responsibility of the Passer
As the passer of the ball, you are responsible for recognizing when your teammate is in an offside position. If this is the case, do not pass them the ball, as it will only result in a penalty and loss of possession. If your teammate is repeatedly in an offside position throughout the course of a match, speak to them and let them know why they have not been receiving your passes. In most cases your teammate will adjust their positioning accordingly to accommodate the needs of the team.

You must also be aware of what is commonly referred to as the "offside trap." This is when the opposing defenders try to bait you into making a through pass to a teammate, only to jump forward on the pitch, catching your targeted teammate offside.

Play Intelligently
Hopefully this guide has cleared up the confusion of the offside rule, and prepared you to enjoy a competitive game of soccer. Now you not only know how to make sure you and your teammates avoid an offside penalty, but you also know how to trap and frustrate your opponents, who may not be as familiar with the rule as you are.

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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Deep Free Kick (Central)

Set Piece Objective(s)
  1. Exploit the second phase ball from a deep free kick.

  • 8,9 are the attacking targets for a flick on for a striker to finish.
  • 5 (Centre back) takes the aerial kick to the edge of the 18yrd box.
  • 11, 10, 7 are preferably small quick players who can exploit the second phase ball.
  • 2,4 hang deep for the second phase headed out by the defending team.
Ball should be a high hanging delivery. Ensure you have the best headers of the ball placed under the initial kick.

Key Coaching Points:
  1. Encourage strong challenges on the edge of the penalty area
  2. Ensure the strikers are on their toes and ready to react to any knock down.
  3. Ensure the holding players are on their toes and ready to follow up and shoot or help rebuild.

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Thursday, 14 March 2013

Dribble Frenzy

Create a rectangular grid area for ball handlers to dribble in. Select three of your best ball handlers to stand on the side without a ball. Blow the whistle for the players in the area to start dribbling. Yell “Go!” for the people without a ball to run in and try to win a ball. If you have a ball, try to keep it and if you don’t have a ball, try to steal it from a person with a ball. As a person without a ball, if you pressure a person with the ball and they dribble out of bounds, they must give their ball up to you.

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Monday, 11 March 2013

Arm PullBacks Tactic in Soccer

Arm pullback is when the lead player has position to reach and win the ball first and the trailing opponent reaches forward and grabs the lead player’s bicep and pulls him back. (FIGURE 1) 

This pullback stops the lead player’s forward movement and propels the trailing player around in front to win the ball. (FIGURE 2 – 4) One may ask why this cheating player isn’t called by the referee.

When the lead player is moving to the ball, he is leaning forward and when the trailing player pulls the lead player back, he only pulls him to an upright position which is just enough to stop the lead player in his tracks and pull the trailing player around into the lead. The trailing player lets go before the lead player falls backwards. This move happens so fast and there’s no jerk to indicate a foul that it is easily missed by referees. Plus the trailing player‘s body when he goes around the lead player can shield the referee or linesman from seeing this grab. (FIGURE 2) The lead player’s body can also shield the referee and linesman from seeing this grab depending on what angle they are observing the play.

The Germans Men’s World Cup team of 2005 was notorious for using this move, and they advanced far in the tournament with the help of this move. This move frustrated many opponents who had position to win the ball.

This technique is a perfect example of Newton law where you cannot destroy energy or force but merely redirect it. The force of the lead player’s forward movement is redirected into the trailing player when he pulls.

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Saturday, 9 March 2013

How Goalie Defends Against a Fast Break on the Ball

As a goalie confronted with a fast break, your actions will ultimately determine the outcome. An opponent dribbling the ball to the goal on a one on one fast break will have only the goalie to beat to score. A goalie's actions will either deter or aid the ball handler’s chances of scoring.
    There are two ways for the goalie to prevent a goal. The first way is to block the ball handler's shot and the second way is to attack the ball handler and take the ball away.
    During a fast break, the goalie is most vulnerable to being scored on if he remains standing on the goal line. In this position, the goalie doesn't challenge the ball handler, and he allows the ball handler time to aim and shoot uncontested at a large area of the goal. The instant there is a fast break the goalie must come off his line and cut down the shooter's angle. As the goalie approaches the ball handler, the open goal area becomes smaller and smaller to the shooter. (Refer to the article Goalie’s Positioning to Reduce a Shooter’s Angle.)
    As a goalie, when you come off your line, crouch down for balance and spread your arms wide to cover a lot of area. Stay on the balls of your feet and lean your upper body forward so you are agile to dive in either direction should there be a shot.
    To take the ball from the ball-handler you will need to advance forward to a position that allows you to pounce on the ball when the opportunity arises. Approach the ball by walking forward cautiously to position yourself. When you are in striking distance, sprint forward and pounce on the ball the moment the ball handler pushes the ball forward ahead off his foot
    You never want to sprint to an offender located a considerably distance away from you because he will notice your movements and kick it by you before you are close enough to cut down his angle or even challenge him for the ball. Also if you sprint too far from the goal, the ball handler will notice your position and chip it over your head.

    The key is walking forward instead of running forward into a position which allows you to challenge the ball handler. (FIGURE 1) This slow forward walking advancement does not alarm or allow him to detect your forward movement. If you run forward, the ball handler will notice you approaching and feel threatened. He will shoot the ball early before you can even reach him and cut down his angle, and as a result he will have more time to prepare for a shot. But by walking forward, your slow but steady progression will not be perceived by him. He will only be aware of his own blazing speed heading towards the goal. With the both of you advancing, he will still only take into account his number of steps it takes to reach you. He isn’t aware that you also are advancing and cutting down the number of steps. When he sees six steps between you two, he isn’t aware that by the time he takes two steps along with your two steps that you are in position to attack the ball. By the time the ball handler becomes aware of your advancement, it is too late and you are in position to attack the ball. At this point the moment he pushes the ball ahead off his foot to dribble, spring forward and pounce on the ball grabbing it with your hands. (Refer to the article Goalie with information on how to protect your trunk and face with your hands, arms, and legs when going down to grab a ball.) Wait before pouncing on the ball until the ball handler pushes it forward off his foot. Dribbling is no more than pushing the ball ahead off your foot and catching up to it. So spring forward the moment he pushes the ball ahead off his foot. Never rush forward and alert the ball-handler of your approach when the ball is on his foot. This will give him the opportunity to kick or slip the ball under you as you go down to the ground to grab the ball off his foot.

    To pounce on the ball your feet must shade to one side of the ball. (FIGURE 2) Then you will need to drop down on your closest buttocks to the ball while your upper body leans over sideways in the path of the ball. Your hands, arms, stomach, and chest should block the ball from getting past you.

    Position your hands around face height to your body while you are falling sideways to grab the ball. (FIGURE 3) As you are falling, reach and position your bottom hand and forearm to lie across the ground to keep the ball from rolling forward while the top hand and arm smothers over top of the ball. Both hands should be on the ball.

    Note the hands are positioned to protect your face, the forearms are positioned to protect the middle and upper part of your trunk and the top leg is bent and lifted so the knee and shin can protect the bottom part of your trunk. (FIGURE 4) These hands, arms, and leg position aid to protect you especially when the ball handler is rushing uncontrollably at you while you are lying helplessly on the ground.

    As the goalie, when you start to drop down to the ground on your buttocks, be aware that the ball handler can slip the ball under you at this time. This is why you want to time your attack so that the ball is pushed out ahead of your opponent and not controlled on his foot. Remember, the ball-handler can't shoot or fake the ball by you unless it is on his foot.

   Note, every offensive player dribbling the ball at full speed to the goal will experience a rush of adrenaline and push the ball a step or two too far ahead of him. As the goalie you are looking for this opportunity to rush forward and pounce on an easy ball. (FIGURE 2) When this opportunity becomes available, move fast and sprint forward furiously to take advantage of the situation because the ball handler will quickly catch up to the ball and control it again.

    Many ball handlers during the start of their fast break become overly confident because of the enormous distance between themselves and the goalie. Without any immediate threat the ball handlers will increase their speed to reach the goal quicker. As a result they will begin to push the ball too far ahead of themselves and become vulnerable to your undetected advancement.

    Remember, as a goalie advancing towards the ball handler, immediately begin assessing the ball handler's forward progression by timing his touches on the ball, and how far ahead the ball rolls off of his foot.
    Many times an opposing team will kick the ball way ahead of the field to a lone teammate up front for a one on one fast break with you on your goal. If you can reach the ball first, run out of your eighteen yard box and boot is up field preferably to a teammate or out of bounds so your teammates have time to get back and form a defense in front of the ball. You never want a one on one with you and the ball handler challenging your goal. It is better to run out of your goal and kick the ball up or out and let your teammates get back and help you on defense than for you to remain in your goal and allow the opposing player to reach the ball first and come attack your goal. Never sprint way out and leave your goal unprotected unless you can reach the ball first and kick the ball for safety. Make sure your kick allows you time to get back in the goal as well as your teammates to get back on defense. You don’t want to make a kick where the other team wins back the ball while you are away from your undefended goal. Here they can just loft the ball into the back of your unprotected net.
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Thursday, 7 March 2013

A Ball Handler Senses A Defender Out Of Position

With the intense action and frantic movement of players competing near the ball, a ball handler doesn't always notice the instant an opportunity becomes available to beat his defender. When a defender is close to you and in hot pursuit of your ball, sense his movements so that the instant he strays slightly to one side of you or leans off balanced (Fig. 1), with one quick push of the ball and step forward you are beside him.

A defender doesn't realize that if you step beside him, he's as good as beaten. (fig. 2) So when a defender is close to you, look for the opportunity to step forward and be even with him.
A defender standing close to you can only contain you if he stays goal side out in front of you, not slightly to one side or the other.

If he becomes shaded to one side, step quickly forward because he will notice immediately that he's out of position. He will try to move back in front of you so step forward beside him before he can move back over in front of you. One more step and you’re ahead of him dribbling uncontested down the field. (Fig. 3)

The key to taking one step forward and beating your defender is if he's "close" to you. If you try to move forward to take advantage of a player who's slightly out of position but also a couple of steps out ahead of you, he can quickly recover over in front of you before you can get beside him.

Remember once you are even with your defender you have him beaten for the moment but you still need to dribble forward to leave him behind you. When you get ahead of him, step over in front of him to keep him behind you. (Fig. 3) Here you can shield the ball with your body and prevent him from coming up beside you and re-challenging you for the ball.

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Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Positions to Play in Soccer

Generally, when you start playing soccer you will want to play a variety of positions in order to find out where you are most likely to be successful on the field. At the lower youth age levels, players almost never have fixed positions because it hinders their development. Below is an explanation of each position on the field so that you can get a better idea of what your responsibilities will be, and also so you can determine what position may be best for your particular skill set.


The goalkeeper is the net minder. They are the only players on the field allowed to use their hands, and are also routinely the orchestrators of the defense. A goalkeeper should be very vocal and have strong leadership qualities, as well as tremendous mental fortitude.

The sweeper, or libero as they are known in Italy, is the last line of defense, with the exception of the goalkeeper. The sweeper should have exceptional speed, and maintain the ability to track multiple attackers simultaneously. Very often the sweeper isn’t responsible for marking any one opposing player, but rather defends any attacker who gets past the other defenders.

Center Back
The defender who plays along the back line between the right and left defenders is called the center back. The center back should have excellent marking skills, be accustomed to physical play, and have the ability to clear aerial balls with his head. The center back is also responsible for tracking opposing players that drift into the middle of the field.

Left Back
The left back is traditionally responsible for marking the opposing team’s right winger.

Right Back
The right back is traditionally responsible for marking the opposing team’s left winger.

Center Midfielder

The center midfielder is the maestro on the field. It is the most important position on the team because the center midfielder will usually touch the ball more than any other player. The center midfielder’s job is not only to facilitate the attack, but also to track back on defense. He should have an unmatched level of fitness on the field, as well as the ability to run great distances for a long period of time. The most important quality in a center midfielder is the ability to make exceptional passes that feed the attack.

Attacking Midfielder
A midfield player who has an attacking mindset, routinely distributes the ball to the forwards, and takes shots. An attacking midfielder has the freedom to drift into the opposing team’s third of the field.

Defensive Midfielder
Defensive midfielders tends to hang back to stop opposing players from scoring. Although their job is still to feed balls forward to the attackers, they tend to play with a defensive mindset.


The winger plays up top, either on the left or right side of the field. The winger’s primary job is to use his speed to make runs down the side of the field, stretch the defense, and then serve the ball to the middle of the field in front of the opposing goal.

Center Forward
The center forward is traditionally played in a formation in which there are three attackers up top. Since he is not the lone attacker, he has the freedom to spread balls to the wings or attack the goal, depending on where the best opportunities present themselves.

Roaming Striker
The roaming striker is generally used when a team has a gifted attacker with exceptional speed. The player must have the ability to beat the opposing defenders. Teams rarely play a formation with a lone roaming striker unless they have a player who is capable of taking on the responsibility of being the primary goal scorer.

The Best Roaming Strikers?

Wayne Rooney of Manchester United vs Everton. ...

At the highest level of play in the world, teams rarely play a formation with a roaming striker. The reason for this is the roaming striker must be a world class-caliber player. Examples of professional players who are skilled enough to play the position include:
  • Liverpool’s Fernando Torres
  • Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney
  • Inter Milan’s Samuel Eto’o
Choosing your Position
Once you have familiarized yourself with the responsibilities of each position, consider which one optimally represents your skill set and playing mentality. If you think you are being played out of position, tell your coach why you think you are the best option for the spot of your choice.

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