Friday, July 20, 2012

U13 - FIRST win of the season

We finally won our first season game tonight.  It was a good moment for the boys.  And a relief for me.

We had a few games that we could/should have won but let things slip away.  We've won games in tournaments, but season games are the true tests.

I could pick the game apart and mention that I was still not happy with our reluctance to challenge, but I will not.  I could mention that our restarts took a little step backwards.  But I will refrain.

We did a lot of good things with the ball and had 4 aggressive goals from four different players.  Our GK was sharp and he did have action.  We've scored 6 goals in our last 2 games and that's big for us.  Our wide defenders were very involve din the attack tonight.  Activity on the flanks encourages the boys to keep their shape.

We have been doing some fun things with the ball in training and they actually used some of it tonight, with confidence.  All involved playing the ball in the air to each other (wall passes, penetrating passes, etc). 

At U13, winning is not important in terms of standings etc.  But it is VERY helpful in terms of keeping the guys in tune with your message and trusting you as a coach.

We also told the boys that the more you lose, the more difficult the first win is.  Every game becomes increasingly tense and everybody worries about making mistakes. 

We had a few players who took serious leaps in the confidence tonight through their play. 

We'll see what the next game brings in terms of confidence and expectations.

We play again Saturday then train Monday.  We will continue the message of 1v1 defending through different activities, work on restarts and more finishing.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

U17 - Commitment to smarter soccer

The U17 boys have demonstrated a commitment to being smarter players and a smarter team.

 This team has been a good experience so far.

Every game the boys are meshing into a more cohesive unit.  Every player has shown their own creativity, individually and in small groups and that is something you never want to program out of them.

Our shape is always getting better and everybody has a better understanding of how they fit into the situation regardless of where the ball is.  My personal little indicators of improving shape are:
  • Wide defenders being used as options on the attack
  • Wide defenders always being immediate options for the keeper
  • Wide midfielders available, wide, at all times
  • Strikers supporting each other when pressuring high
  • Central midfielders always supporting, on angles, to each other
  • Players sliding into positions to cover players who make attacking runs
  • Player with ball always having a forward, lateral and backward option.
  • Our shape opening holes in the defending team's shape
On the defensive side of the ball, they are showing a lot of patience in the right parts of the field.  This was a problem earlier in the season.  We now concede very few crosses from poor 1v1 defending out wide.  Our opponents rarely get a successful, first time direct pass out of their end because our strikers are goal side of the ball, one supporting the other.

More importantly, defensively, I hear the boys talking themselves into their shape.  When our strikers are flat and beside each other or a player is being challenged in different parts of the field teammates are giving the right information to help make things work.

Our intention was never to make the kids robots. Here's the thing ... if the players are systematically organized and understand what they are doing, they put themselves in a better position when it comes time to take that gamble and be creative.

We have some creative players who have great ideas and those ideas break games open.  We just want to make sure we are ready to defend or relaunch if those ideas don't work. 

If the boys continue to buy into the message, we will continue adding on to what we've built to this point.