Against The Wall

Both the u15s and the u17s took to the pitch this weekend. The 15s went for their 5 W and the 17s split with 1 W and 1 L. We got to see good things and not so good things in all the matches but that is soccer on any given day. At best, you hope that teams take lessons from training and from games forward to improve the quality of their games.

The 15s match was against a weaker side so we took an opportunity for players to get a taste of each others roles on the pitch. By putting them in new positions of play, they had the opportunity to see how those roles are connected to their usual roles and how important it is to know just what is needed from each position in the game. All the players said that it helped them understand the how’s and the why’s of those roles and positions. It made the game have much more relevance to our development.

The 17s first game was against the top team in our division and, honestly, we were the better side in all ways but 1- committment to the game itself. We just did not play to our potential nor did we seem to want to put the effort into working together for the common good of the team. Our lack of drive cost us in the end and we were on the wrong side of a 2-1 game.

The last game for the 17s was against a struggling side that showed a good deal of heart and purpose in play. The other side played with a tremendous amount of heart and purpose but we kept them off our side of the pitch to shut them out 5-0. Our 1st half was just enough to stay ahead but we really lacked focus or purpose and as we told them at halftime, the way we were playing would allow the other team enough hope that they could come back and possibly push ahead. The things that needed to be addressed during our half time was our lack of committment to the games and always allowing the other team to step to the ball first. Unfortunately, what did finally get through to the players was the threat of having to run during training this week, that seemed to get their attention and motivated them to return to the pitch for the 2nd half with some sort of purpose.

All teams seem to hit a wall at the midway point of a season but how they go forward is often the difference between having a successful season and one that is best forgotten. Finding that purpose in play and remembering¬†just why we are playing in the first place is one of the hardest things for teams that are struggling to do. For teams that are doing well, it becomes a huge wall to get over as they often feel that they are doing well, isn’t that good enough? How do we motivate those players that are ok with just “good enough”? Do we drive them when they are not willing to self analyze? Or do we allow them to play to their own expectations?

So how does one go about setting those expectations in a manner that is consistant for all the members of a team? Everybody wants to win but do we all realize that winning is not just a measure of that days performance. Do we realize that winning is the measure of the work we do, the time we are willing to commit to being better in our chosen path. We give good lip service to the buzz words but at the end of the match, can we truly say that we have done everything we possibly could have done to be at our best? Getting players to buy into the idea that the game is a chance to test themselves and their team and to see if, or how much we have improved since the last chance we had to take our measure.

The “wall” comes at different times and at different degrees for teams. Of course, as a coach, I would much rather we just avoid it but the fact remains, that sooner or later, we all hit that wall and we can either climb it or remain firmly rooted in front of it, the choice is ours. The challenge for me as a coach is to help my team not only conquer the wall but to knock it down so that we won’t have to face it again. Just as players struggle with differing aspects of their game, I face challenges everyday to help these players find the relevance and drive in their game. I feel it is my duty to help them discover the joy of meeting a challenge head on and coming out successful on the other side of whatever that challenge was. Games are just one of the ways we can measure that challenge.

My hope is that we blast the wall to pieces this coming week!

till I see you on the pitch, find your passion, live your dream!

j

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