A run of poor results at the start of the season can really knock a team’s confidence. Sport psychologist Dan Abrahams offers grassroots coaches four tips to help their teams get over a rocky opening to the campaign MORE
8 tips to stop Harry Kane scoring
If the opposition has a player like Harry Kane who can shoot from all around the final third of the pitch you will find it hard to stop him scoring – here’s 8 tips to help you stop him.
1. Quick to close him down
It’s important when playing against Harry Kane that you stop the space. If you’re playing against somebody that hits the goal from all areas of the attacking third, you’ve got to get really tight. The trick is to arrive when he receives the ball so that he hasn’t got time to run at you and get into the space behind. Close him down early and don’t give him a chance to build up momentum, because once a player knows he has the beating of you, you’re in for a hard time.
2. Be patient in your own half
Don’t be too hasty to slide in, or stick a foot in when defending, and play a patient method of football, holding Kane at bay and ensuring he can’t advance or put a cross in. I’m not suggesting you let him play in your half, just that patience is a virtue. While there’s plenty of scope for quick-break attacking play, a slow build up that sees you passing the ball around in your own half, spotting space and opportunities will be rewarded with time and space.
3. Anticipate passes to him
There isn’t a secret formula for stopping Kane. Once you let a clever player get the ball it is very hard to prevent him punishing you so you have to try to make sure that he cannot receive the ball in the first place. You need to anticipate and get in ahead of him. That is hard so you have to defend as a very compact unit and close down spaces into which the player can run.
4. Watch him even when you have possession
Often with a key player on the opposition you have to be so careful of him when you have the ball. A quick counter attack will see Kane take advantage of any spaces you leave with incredible speed. Communication is vital between team-mates to make sure there is always someone very near him and that, collectively, you are well positioned to deny him space. Not just when he gets the ball but in case he gets the ball. You cannot leave him alone at any time.
5. Show him away from your penalty area
If Kane gets one-on-one against you, you have problems. You have to try to keep him as far away from your area as possible and when he starts to attack you, you have to try to show him away from your penalty area. You have to watch him very closely and make sure he doesn’t have that space to exploit – and in his case it only needs to be the tiniest space. It’s very, very hard to stop him.
6. Don’t get isolated
If you find yourself in that position the key is always to try to show him outside, away from goal. You have to offer him that passageway in the hope that he doesn’t take the inside option, but it is risky. Above all, though, you have to try to make sure that he doesn’t isolate a solitary defender. You can’t try to put two or three players on him, though, because if you do that you will leave space for others Communication is very important. He drops deep to receive possession and get involved. The centre-back cannot afford to follow him out, because if he does he just leaves space for someone else to take advantage of. You have to then pass him on to another player to pick up as he enters into their zone. That’s why it is vital that the collective organisation is good – and the communication too.
7. Fouling is pointless
There are players who pick up more fouls than Kane, like Ronaldo, and Messi but that is not because no one tries to foul him; it is because their characteristics invite fouls more. Better is to try to make sure that he only receives the ball with his back to goal and unable to turn; if he turns and faces you, if he can see all his options clearly, he is very dangerous.
8. Defenders stay focused
Defenders have to be 100% focused all the time, at every minute, because as soon as you are out of position he takes advantage. That can be very hard mentally. The other problem is that we are talking about a player with great attacking team mates. So if you focus only on him, someone else will catch you. He knows how to use his team-mates to his advantage and also how to help them take advantage. It’s about mobility rather than fancy tricks. He is not trying to confuse you, he is just very, very hard to stop: it is one thing knowing what he does and how, in theory, to stop that; it’s another actually succeeding.