This is the first of these types of posts. These are short discussions I would like to have with players, inspired by watching them play.
What parts of the body do we use in soccer?
Yes. Feet. What else?
Yep, chest, thighs, head.
Uh…what else is there, Coach?
There are a few more.
Neck. You have to turn it from side to side. “Head on a swivel” so you know what’s around you.
Eyes. As your neck turns, you need to take in info so that you are always thinking about you or teammate’s next options. You need to scan for defenders, teammates, space and patterns.
Mouths. These are just as critical as your feet. We need to remember “AT”. That stands for Always Talking. If we aren’t talking, we aren’t playing. I know some of you don’t think some teammates aren’t good enough to ‘tell you what to do,’ or you don’t think it’s worth talking because nobody listens.
But, you all need to get over that. Talking is just as important of a skill as dribbling or passing and the only way you get better is by practicing.
We want to use our mouths to communicate options to teammates as the ball is coming to them, so they can be making their decision before they get it. That is what we mean by “play quick”.
So with talking, timing is important. So is, efficiency. Learn to use as few words as possible. So much can be communicated and coordinated with these simple words: Time, on, on hard, turn, drop, square, through, line, switch, left, right, big switch, leave, one more, keeper, shot, tackle, talk.
As you get better with talking, you can also use it to decieve your opponents.
Ears. We must listen to what our teammates. Every time the ball is coming your way, you should hope to hear at least 2-3 options, if not 4-5. If your teammates aren’t talking, then your aren’t playing as a team and let them know. Talk.
Brains. Of course we have to use these. The goal is to start thinking 1, 2 or 3 plays ahead. We can’t do that if our ball technique is so beginner that we can’t think about what’s next as we’re getting the ball under control. We can’t do that if your teammates aren’t saying your options as the ball is coming to you. We can’t do that if you aren’t using your neck and eyes to scan the field. We can’t do that if you wait until you get the ball to start evaluating your options.
Hands & arms. Just because you can’t touch the ball with these, you use these more than you think for balance, to help with your speed, shielding, checking and they can even be used to deceive the opponent. Point your pass, then pass another way.
As you get better at all of these, you will get better at thinking 1-3 steps ahead and thinking about the next things that help us get there: patterns and space.