What We Can Do
Change the message we give players in games
Don’t Kick The Ball Away – Keep The Ball
Action Items: Emphasize the importance of possession and decision-making during games. Encourage players to control the ball, assess their options, and make informed decisions rather than kicking it away. Reinforce this message consistently during practices, pre-game talks, and halftime discussions.
Foster a positive, supportive environment
Action Items: Create a nurturing and inclusive atmosphere where players feel encouraged to take risks, learn from mistakes, and develop their skills without fear of failure or criticism. Emphasize effort, learning, and progress over winning, and recognize individual and team improvements.
Change what we teach young players and reinforce the
importance of possessing the ball
Action Items: Focus on teaching fundamental skills like ball control, passing, and dribbling during training sessions. Create practice activities that promote maintaining possession and decision-making. Highlight the value of teamwork, communication, and strategic play, and consistently reinforce the importance of keeping the ball.
Educate parents about why we don’t want kids kicking the ball away
Action Items: Host informational meetings or distribute educational materials to parents explaining the long-term benefits of teaching players to maintain possession and make informed decisions. Clarify the club’s philosophy and coaching approach, emphasizing the importance of skill development, decision-making, and enjoyment over immediate results. Encourage parents to support this approach and reinforce these values during games and practices.
Help players develop the technical ability they need
to keep the ball (Receiving, Shielding, Dribbling)
Action Items: Design training drills that specifically target ball control, dribbling, receiving, and shielding skills. Provide individualized feedback and guidance to help players refine their techniques and build confidence in their abilities. Schedule regular skill development sessions to ensure players receive ample opportunities to practice and improve these skills.
Encourage player communication and decision making
Action Items: Teach players to communicate effectively with their teammates on and off the field. Foster an environment where players are encouraged to make their own decisions, ask questions, and offer suggestions during practice sessions and games. This empowerment can boost their confidence and increase their understanding of the game.
Have activities that include opposition and game-like conditions
for them to practice keeping the ball individually
Action Items: Incorporate small-sided games and possession-based drills into practice sessions, which require players to maintain possession under pressure and make quick decisions in game-like scenarios. Adjust the level of difficulty and complexity of these activities as players progress, ensuring they continue to be challenged and develop their skills in a variety of situations.
Develop players’ game understanding and tactical awareness
Action Items: Provide players with opportunities to analyze game situations, identify patterns of play, and make informed decisions during training sessions. Use video analysis, tactical discussions, and group exercises to help players understand the game’s nuances and the importance of maintaining possession as part of a broader team strategy.
Benefits Of Trying To Keep The Ball
- Encourages players to develop a wider range of skills: When players focus on maintaining possession and making decisions, they practice and refine various skills such as dribbling, passing, ball control, and shielding. This broader skill set makes them more versatile and valuable to their team.
- Encourages more decision-making & thinking: Choosing to keep possession requires players to continually evaluate game situations and make informed decisions. This enhances their cognitive abilities, game understanding, and tactical awareness, which are essential for success in soccer.
- More ways a player can be successful and enjoy the game: By developing a wide range of skills and focusing on possession, players can contribute more effectively to their team’s success and experience greater satisfaction and enjoyment on the field. They can take pride in their individual growth and improvement, as well as their ability to collaborate with teammates and impact the game in various ways.
- Makes the game harder for the opposing team: When a team maintains possession, it forces the opposition to work harder to regain the ball, which can be physically and mentally exhausting. This can create opportunities for the attacking team to exploit tired or disorganized defenses.
- Players can start to play as a team once they have the ball: Focusing on possession promotes teamwork, communication, and coordination among players. This allows them to execute complex plays, break down opposition defences, and create goal-scoring opportunities. A cohesive and well-functioning team is typically more successful and enjoyable to play for.
- If one team stops kicking it away, it stops the other team kicking it away too: When a team consistently maintains possession, it can disrupt the opposition’s rhythm and force them to adapt their style of play. This can lead to a more skillful, attractive, and enjoyable game for both teams and their spectators.
- Higher success rate in games: Teams that emphasize possession and decision-making are generally more successful in matches, as they can control the tempo, create scoring opportunities, and limit the opposition’s chances. This can lead to better overall performance and higher win rates.
- Improved player confidence: Players who develop a wide range of skills and focus on possession often gain confidence in their abilities, decision-making, and game understanding. This can translate to increased self-belief, assertiveness, and resilience on the field.
- Attractive playing style: Teams that prioritize possession and decision-making often play a more skillful and aesthetically pleasing style of soccer. This can be more enjoyable for players, coaches, and fans, and can contribute to a positive team identity and reputation.
- Development of future soccer stars: Fostering a focus on possession and decision-making helps young players develop the skills, understanding, and mindset needed for long-term success in the sport. By cultivating these abilities early, coaches can contribute to the development of future high-level players and the overall growth of soccer in their community.