Stop late goals ruining your day

At the start of this season in a match my team was 3-0 down after 10 minutes! It was a disaster but by half time they had pulled it back to 3-3. In a tight second half they scored with 3 minutes to go to make it 4-3 much to their delight. What a comeback!

But with the seconds counting down their opponents struck with a great attack that my team was powerless to stop… it ended 4-4. It was a credit to them that after being 3-0 down so early on we felt disappointed that the match had ended in a draw.

It is something that all teams find difficult to cope with… hanging on to a lead in the final few minutes.The opposition have nothing to lose so they go into all out attack mode, and the team with the slender lead forget how they got the lead in the first place and enter panic mode.

So how do you and I prevent that happening to our teams? You need players to practice the situation so that they have something in their locker when they need to stand up to the pressure of holding on to a slender lead.

These are the sessions I use with my players to give them the tactics and the confidence to keep the game in their favour:

One of the best ways to do this is to create a scenario that your players have to act out. This one is my favourite… Your team is 1-0 up but your opponents have a two-man advantage. One nil up two men down is a game to teach each team the importance of setting out the tactics to hold on to a lead – give your players ownership of the game and watch them work out their own tactics.

Tactics are a vital part of game management whether you are hanging onto a lead or need to score because you are losing. Half time is usually a great moment to get across your thoughts and to give the team the confidence to hang onto a lead, read my advice on How half time tactics can make all the difference.

Taking control of the game means making sure all your players are committed for the full match and don’t take their foot off the gas. They need to be first to every ball. Win the ball is a great session to get them focused and gives them the confidence to see the game out.

For the older age groups you also need to get them focused on winning balls in the air when the opposition are desperate to score a goal and will try any means possible to break your team’s resolve. Win the first header is a fantastic way to get players to make sure they are not sitting back and inviting their opponents to come at them. You want them to Win the first header and take control of the game.

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