So, We Play Soccer…..

The weeks have been rolling by and everyone is getting into the groove of training and playing. Both teams just got back from playing in a tournament, where both teams were playing a touch above the bar. We had a decent showing especially when you take into account the teams we faced off with. The positive from our experience is that we had the mirror held up for us to take a long hard look at our game and see what we are doing well and just what we need to work on.

One of the things I do after each match is to sit down and write about the match(es). It helps to see the events committed to paper and has been a good tool to notice trends and areas we struggle with. In my notes this go round, there is a re-occurring theme with our play in that on both teams, the defense comes out feeling wrung out and frustrated with the mid line and up. From my unique advantage, it is clear that we fail to organize ourselves such that we can hold possession against better sides. We try to play a bit outside of ourselves and force the game when in execution, we should relax a touch and just hold onto the ball. We get excited and want to play at an elevated tempo so that we do not give ourselves time to be in positions of support.

Most people who have been in the game for a while have heard of the 4 pillars of soccer- technical, tactical, physical and psychological, all of which have great relevance to our performance. There is one aspect that I feel is often overlooked: intelligence. We speak of knowing what you are going to do with the ball before you receive it, or see the field before you, and look for how we get out or behind but how often do we try to develop our game intellect and sharpen our perception of play? Can we recreate the game such that players can tune their intuition in play? Can we give them training that will help give them a 3D picture of events that should be united to take their game to the next level? I don’t know and it is something I struggle with daily.

We have a player that is very, I mean very athletic in her game and she is an impact each time she steps on the pitch. This weekend I could tell she was beginning to shut down some and it was mainly due to her trying to solve different problems in play with only 1 solution in execution. I pulled her aside and asked her if she felt she was being successful in her role and she said she couldn’t do it and was failing miserably. I then asked to just try doing something different, that maybe it was as simple as her answer to the problems she was facing. The next time the play cycled to her, she tried something entirely new and was immediately out of pressure and away towards goal. At this point, she found herself in new territory and really didn’t know what to do next so she played the ball away into no one’s space. I feel that she became the victim of her own success but she did gain a higher degree of soccer intelligence and will be able to draw on it in the future.

In order to play the game at its best, we must be able to have vision, control and patience. Too often, teams play at too fast a pace to “see” the field of play, they are dissconnected from the events happening around them, from each other and from the game itself. This often leads to a sense of frustration because we did not give ourselves a chance to develop the play and possess the ball to our advantage, instead we forced the game and were unsuccessful in our attempt. The results is usually that we look to blame others when we become frustrated.  The cycle continues till we look in the mirror and ask ourselves what could we do to effect change.

So we play soccer because it is the beautiful game, it has the potential to let one soar and bask in the radiant joy of a game well played, and while in theory, it is a very simple game, it is the most difficult of games to play simply.

till I see you on the pitch

j

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