“I want to encourage players to look for the long ball option sometimes, but I am aware I’ll come in for criticism. Should I do it anyway?”
– U12 Girls Coach.
There can be a lot of snobbery around coaching. This is particularly true at youth level, where the competition between coaches is strong – many are taking their first steps on the ladder and want to be seen to be getting on.
Combine that pressure with the global outpouring of praise for sides playing neat, tight, technical passing soccer, and it’s no wonder you’re thinking you need to conform. But this is your team and you should put forward the ideas that you want to implement, irrespective of what others say.
It’s clear from your question that you’re not advocating a repetitive long ball game – rather, showing players the benefits of mixing things up every now and again. I do sometimes feel that longer passes don’t get the credit they deserve.
For starters, they are, in technical terms, much more difficult to pull off than a short ball. And constructing long passes still requires all the same tactical planning in terms of the positioning of the receiving player, control of the ball, plus support and movement of his team-mates.
A coach who steadfastly refuses to acknowledge the long ball in youth soccer is actually doing his side a massive disservice, and is leaving his players open to an opposition team who can spring a surprise by pulling off the tactic.
Maybe your best response to disapproving coaches is to use the long ball as a weapon against their side. If it works, they might just change their way of thinking!
Use the session: Long Pass Game to help your team use long passing effectively