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Tips so you aren’t so predictable on the field

Some teams and players become predictable in how they play, move the ball and options they chose on the field.  Whether you have a scouting report or not try to learn as much about how your opposition plays when the game starts.  I always like to take the first few minutes of the game and watch exactly what the opposition is doing.  Analyze and study then.  What formation are they playing? Are they moving the ball on the ground, in the air, up the middle, down the wings? Is your man playing high, playing deep or looking to get involved in the play at all?  Some teams are so equally balanced, knowing these questions will help prepare for the smallest details which could be the difference maker in the game.   This article discusses how you should analyze your opposition and break them down as a collective and as individuals.  It also discusses what you should do individually so that you’re not so predictable.

Switch the play: some teams like to play the ball down one side of the field over and over again. Sure this option might be available but it is important to switch the play.  If the defense is catching on and closing the lane making things difficult for you then don’t force the play.  When you force a play chances are your pass won’t be delivered as accurately and the man receiving the ball could be heavily marked making the situation more vulnerable to a loss of possession.  Switching the play when under pressure can open up the field and spread the opposing teams’ defense.  It can also allow your side to regroup for a better opportunity to attack.  In addition, nothing is wrong with keeping position of the ball. The more ball position your team has the more it will frustrate the opposition.  It will also tire them out leaving them vulnerable later in the game.

Use both feet: from an individual standpoint I liked to analyze how the man I was guarding would play technically.  Ask yourself what level of skill does he/she have? How good are they with both feet? How good is their touch on the ball?  Look at their overall skill level and look to exploit any weakness you see.  If it takes them more touches to get the ball under control then there is an opportunity to attack and steal the ball or force them into a mistake.

In terms of your own it is important to develop the skill and touch on both feet.  You want to have your skills developed at such a high level so that when attacked by one, two or three players your body instinctively knows which way to fake and move.  Having to think about it will only make you that much slower, predictable and likely to make mistakes.  Start at slower speeds and then increase the speed.  Then incorporate your moves and speed (with both feet) in training.  The way you train is the way you’ll play in a game so be sure to train at a high level of intensity.  This way when game time arrives everything should be second nature.

Head up: another area of your opponents’ game you can take advantage of is how well they see the game.  If the man you’re marking doesn’t have their head up then they will be at a huge disadvantage.  You’ll be able to attack quickly, double team, come from different angles and better position yourself to win the ball off of them.

When you or your team is in possession of the ball always, always, always have your head up.  Look around you to see where you are on the field in relation to your position, your teammates and the play itself.  Having your head-up makes you a smarter player because you see can more of the game and what is going on around you.

Develop new skills: you must be a 10 in something whether it is speed, endurance, shooting, heading, or passing.  In one element of the game being a 10 will make you a dangerous player to any opposition. Do not use the same move or skill over and over again.  It becomes predictable and can then easily be stopped.  Develop other parts to your game. Be the best at the three to five different moves.  Often times, keeping the game simple with good control, quality passes and movements on the field will make you an effective player.  However, always have more tools up your sleeve depending on how the play develops.

What tips work for you?

By Philip MacDonald

The idea for Goalden is to help other soccer players of all ages improve the many different aspects of their game. We began coaching youth teams and watching youth soccer all over Ontario. We watched semi-professional and professional teams and noticed how far the game still has to develop here. From that, we decided we want to help others obtain the best information as early as possible in their soccer careers. We want to educate readers about the game of soccer and the fine details that are often overlooked by coaches in North America.

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