If ever there was a soccer match that highlighted the importance of an attacker staying cool in the penalty box, it was England's opening World Cup 2018 match against Tunisia. MORE
Coming away from my U15s game at the weekend I was thinking about a couple of the moves that led to goals. I am always looking beyond the final pass or shot to the move that resulted in a goal. You can learn a lot from just recalling what went on for the goal.
Where was the ball won – was it a counter attack or did the goalie play out from the back? Did we force a mistake or was there a good interplay to create space that we exploited?
One of the goals was more or less a lovely high tempo pass from a defender – who had won the ball breaking down an opposition attack – out wide to our winger.
My player went on a great run bursting past the wingback out wide and cutting inside once she hit the final third. As defenders rushed back and her team mates caught up I thought she should pass the ball… but she proved me wrong, she cut inside, and unleashed a great shot from just inside the penalty area into the top corner.
Wow. At the end of the game, I listed the skills that went into making that move – and that goal – possible:
1. An interception
2. Good control
3. An effective dribble
4. The decision to go it alone… the right one
5. The ability to look up to see where the goal was
6. Moving the ball to a position where it could be hit
7. Shooting with power and direction
That’s a big list for a 14-year-old to process whilst on the run.
But if I look back over the past couple of months, as a team we have practised counter-attacks, performed 1v1 decision-making, and played out drills that use control of the ball, dribbling and shooting.
So when I think about it, any one of my players should have the skills to score that sort of goal. For me, the best part of the move was the interception that started it all off.
And how often when we see highlights of a game in the English Premier League are we shown goals that miss out the tackle or press to cause a mistake that wins the ball?
Young players should be able to see the effects of good defending and good body position that can force a team to lose the ball.
It is wonderful to see a technically clever player win the ball and watch the team change from squeezing the pitch to spreading out and creating space all over the place.
This is what I love about coaching – your players can often show you how much they’ve learnt in one snapshot, and just when you least expect it.