EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

Preparing for the unexpected on match day

It is the most frustrating thing when you have prepared for a game and then the match gets cancelled.

All that preparation and then in pops the email from the fixtures secretary that the pitch is frozen or waterlogged or the opposition have failed to get a team together. Last weekend it was the snow that had forced the game to be cancelled ¬– snow in March!

Now the league has had to extend the season by an extra week which leaves 6 weekends between now and the end of the season and we have 6 games to play. That means any more cancellations and we will have to play on an evening.

It was the same last year when we had to play a game once the hour had gone back giving us just enough light to get the whole game done as long as we kicked off before 6pm. Unfortunately the two teams didn’t get organised until after 6 so the last 10 minutes of the game were not only freezing cold but practically dark.

Rainy match day

We were winning the game but it got a bit dicey by the end with countless mistakes as the players tried to see the game out. The result of the game becomes secondary to just getting the thing played and getting the result to the league so it counts in the final season round up.

Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair that we have to rush like this when factors beyond the coach’s control take over and however well you have prepared for the game it is unlikely you will have worked on playing when the light is poor or defending a lead when you can barely see the ball let alone react to a counter attack.

This is where communication on the pitch comes into its own. Especially from your goalkeeper who can see the danger coming and can warn his defenders where it is coming from. Preparation for the unknown is hardly something on the curriculum and that means you are relying on your players to take control of the game and use their brains to come up with a solution.

Derby County development team

Teams that are controlled by the coach from beginning to end will not be able to cope with having to run games themselves … fortunately the players at our club are given freedom on match days to solve any problems themselves and not resort to looking over to the touchline every time something happens on the pitch.

On the opposition team that night one player in particular was constantly shouting to his coach about where he should stand when the team defended corners ¬– the manager wanted him to be outside the box to drag some of the opposition players out of the penalty area but the other players wanted him to go inside the box to defend.

After much shrugging and shouting he went somewhere in between and ended up in no man’s land which was no good to anybody.

Put some faith in your players and they will repay you in droves.

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