No game sense

Discussion in 'Coach' started by elessar78, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    I just had a really entertaining talk with one of my coaching buddies about why our youngsters have no game sense.

    He was railing about how he has to go to practice with his pay to play club and go over kickoffs, but we also covered throw ins, corners, and a host of other related topics. But the bottom line is, growing up, no one had to show us how to throw the ball in, or how to take a kickoff, or how on a corner kick from the left side a right footed kicker should put the ball closer to the end line than the touch line?

    How do you teach this "game sense", this "insight"? I'd like to think that exposing kids to the situations would help but I'm not sure it does. There's something missing. What is it?


  2. cleansheetbsc

    cleansheetbsc Member+

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    --other--
    1. Some of the compulsory crap was covered in Phys. Ed in elementary school when I was young.
    2. Game sense? I tell my kids to, at the very least, watch the EPL review show each week. Try to watch one match a week and/or go to a school or college (we have 2 D-1, 1 D-2 and 4 D-3 schools within 15 miles of here, including the D-II defending women's Nat champs) match. I've toyed with the idea of inviting kids over to my house to watch a Saturday morning match, but 6-14 11-yo boys won't hold their attention too long when grouped together. Its basically how I learned all sports growing up.
  3. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    I encountered that for other sports. First football practice, here's a how you hold a football for example. When they tried to teach us soccer in middle school phys ed, it was almost laughable. I think most of the athletic kids came into PE with a baseline sense of how to play sports.

    But even basic concepts true of any sports. One example we were laughing about was receiving a ball and turning right into pressure. Seems obvious you run to daylight and don't give the other team a chance to take away the ball.

    I wish I could get them to watch more soccer. I've even made it part of practices. They watch video of themselves or they watch some pro clips I pick out. But it's too infrequent.

    I wonder if it's more true for girls?
  4. cleansheetbsc

    cleansheetbsc Member+

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    Yeah, there definitely many head banging moments. "Play the way you are facing" might as well be a foreign language.

    Oh, definitely worse in girls. To get a girl with the hunger to compete and learn the game is gold for a coach. As much as I dislike the US Women's tour a champions thing, it gets folks attention when they are a short drive away.


  5. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    Some experts say kids learn tactics faster by playing multiple sports. Evidently drawing comparisons between sports lets them better deduce basic principles of play. Playing pointy football taught me how to fake and wrong foot defenders. Playing basketball taught me how different defenses were organized, how defenses are broken down, and combination passing ideas. That allowed me to recognize the same ideas in the playbook when I was on my HS football team. Tennis taught me about gaining the initiative, dictating your opponent's movements, and changing the point of attack to score points.

    My impression is kids do not play multiple sports to the extent common in past generations.

    Then the conventional wisdom is that it is caused by joystick coaching.
  6. snolly g

    snolly g Member

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    interesting... my experience too (almost exactly)--pointyball, basketball, tennis. and the very same principles reinforced.
  7. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    It's a bit of a loop, huh? Kids don't play a variety of sports, kids don't develop a natural sense for athletics/sports, so coaches have to do more joystick coaching for the clueless kids, and kids become overly reliant on their coaches for "game sense".
  8. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    "Have to" is the only thing I question.
  9. Beau Dure

    Beau Dure Member

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    I also thought about trying this, but my team with no game sense also has a tiny attention span.

    I've been sending a few video clips over the course of the season. Of course, I'm sending them to the parents, so that doesn't mean the kids are seeing them.

    Now that our last practice will be wiped out by a hurricane, I'm going to redouble my efforts.

    But here's the thing -- there aren't a lot of videos that break down soccer for 8-year-olds. Plenty of coaching videos telling U8 coaches what to do. Not many geared for the *player*.
  10. Ihateusernames

    Ihateusernames Member

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    Kids knowing other sports is something I use to my advantage. How many times do you have a kid yelling he's open just because he has no one immediately near him (say he's standing 10 feet behind a defender who is between him and the player with the ball)? I like to call it "basketball open" since you can toss the ball OVER the defender. As you all know, it doesn't work like that in soccer. However, most kids can catch and toss a ball before they can effectively dribble or pass, so I eliminate the footwork. Mind you, I only do this in extreme cases where I have kids still learning to get open. I focus on one thing at a time and that's what it means to get open. We essentially play keepaway with a small ball that they must underhand toss (passes below my head). Once they get the concept of actually being open, then we progress to dribbling and passing with our feet. I've only had to do it for 5 or 10 minutes a season just for that lightbulb to click so luckily it doesn't really take away from technical ability.
  11. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    So at what age do you start teaching chips and bending balls? I started teaching the technique at U10 as a part of striking.
  12. J'can

    J'can Member+

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    Perhaps use highlights of games. i too want to introduce watching the games at a cental location a few times during a season and make it a family thing but what you said may not work for the younger kids. but if you take clips of an EPL game that might work. send it to the parents and even show it as part of practice. maybe a clip of someone doing something that you are looking to teach or avoid.
  13. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    My assistant has one of those portable projectors. We use it quite regularly. We have a pavillion at the complext with electricity so we can hook up. Now early darkness is a time to watch film clips instead of going home early.
  14. Beau Dure

    Beau Dure Member

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    I've sent out a few clips. MLS's site is pretty good for that -- the "Anatomy of a Goal" feature is sometimes accessible for younger viewers.
    J'can repped this.
  15. J'can

    J'can Member+

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    awesome. thanks for that. will keep that in mind.
  16. Ihateusernames

    Ihateusernames Member

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    It depends on the kids I have. I have had high schoolers that can't do it but 9 year olds that can. Granted, that all CAN be considered open, but should it be the first and only choice? That was more my point I suppose.
  17. Monkey Boy

    Monkey Boy Member

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    I hate using highlights only. These examples almost always miss the critical set-up that produced that highlight. They also miss a lot of the difficult battles that happen in the midfield which many times dictate the run of play. In addition, they miss the great defensive efforts that kill off an attack.

    In my experience, the few kids who watch at least a little bit of soccer have a lot more sense. This is a huge part of knowing how to play.

    But rca2 is definitely right that the joystick coaching is really hurting things. I remember when I started playing that the ref on the field would tell us what to do if we weren't sure. It didn't take long for the players to figure things out from that little bit of instruction.

    Now I'm coaching U9 and up until last year the majority of coaches were still directly on the field constantly organizing their players. Those same coaches are required to be off the field, but the constant organizing (yelling instructions, etc) hasn't stopped.

    When are the coaches going to stop this and just let the kids play and learn by making mistakes? Let the kids play, let the kids play!! Focus on substitutions and provide instructions when they're off the field. Have some faith and trust in your players, they will figure it out.

    Another part of the equation is the lack of free play pick-up games. As a kid I had already played soccer with neighborhood kids and at recess long before playing on a team. That's why I asked my parents to let me play. Kids aren't doing that much anymore. My kids play outside after school for a couple of hours each day, but they rarely play sports since there's only a couple other neighborhood kids doing the same - rarely enough to get a game going.

    So the free play is left for practice. As a coach, how often do you let the kids scrimmage with no instruction? How long is that scrimmage time? When they have an issue, do you step in immediately to resolve, or let them work it out? How much of your practice is structured for guided discovery? The players aren't going to get this on their own anymore, so I think we need to schedule this in as a part of practice. This year I increased the amount of scrimmage time to be about 20-30 minutes for each practice and I was amazed at how much this improved the players' teamwork during game.
    J'can repped this.
  18. La Magica

    La Magica BigSoccer Yellow Card

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    Michel Bruyninckx of Standard Liege is a genius uses brain learning techniques to get the kids and older youth players thinking faster. His training sessions are conisdered to be thinking outside the box but the results speak for themselves
  19. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    This is not something new or unique. The concept has been a part of mainstream coaching for 30 years that I know of first hand. My understanding from what I read was that it was around 10 years earlier than that. It is an express part of agility and speed training and in soccer is part of the concept of "tactical speed."

    PS: Just checked with a friend who remembers the concept from the 1960's.
  20. Beau Dure

    Beau Dure Member

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    One possibility here: The EA Sports Madden games have been credited with creating a whole generation of pointyball fans who know far more about game strategy than previous generations.

    At one point do the FIFA video games take hold?

    Might be too difficult a video game for this age group (geez, I can't play it, either). But I wonder if some simpler video games might give people a general idea.

    I was going to use the "Soccer 101" EA Sports ads until I realized they were just goofy sketches with MLS players!
  21. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    Interesting.

    I'm a junkie about pointy football, to the point that I'm currently reading the evolution of the Air Raid offense and studying it's intricacies.

    I know a lot of my peers (in their 30s) who play Madden and NCAA football and watch a ton of football and don't know what the smash concept is or the read progressions in the West coast offense which has been around for decades. Instinctively, in a video game, they'll know which receiver will come open, but not really know why.

    FIFA, I feel, posseses some teaching value but more value because it helps kids fall in love with the sport.
  22. La Magica

    La Magica BigSoccer Yellow Card

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    I don't know the history on it but a case can be made for him having the understanding to be better than anyone else currently adopting these training techniques...I find this area fascinating and something that should be looked at in great detail
  23. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    Playing video games will make you better at playing video games. Video games are simulations. By their very nature they use predictable patterns (programming) to simulate reality. They are not reality.
  24. J'can

    J'can Member+

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    good post. but when i say highlights, you pick the highlights so if you have the recording of a game 90 minutes long you could pull your "highlights " to illustrate the things you mention above. show only that part of the game that pertains to thee defense killing that attack for instance. just a thought to make the technolgy work for us. it is there just up to us to find a work around.
  25. GKbenji

    GKbenji Member

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    But doesn't that--somewhat--describe how we train for soccer? "This is a give and go pattern. Use it in this sort of situation. This is an overlap--use it when you see this pattern develop on the field. If the ball goes to the corner, you should make this run or this run or this run." No, it's not rote and there is lots of room for creativity and it's dynamic. But it's also not random.

    I often impress my kids by "predicting the future". I'll say, "Uh oh, #7 is unmarked and open"... and 7 gets the ball and scores on us. I'll say, "Look at that space over there: that's where Joey should go because the ball is going to end up there"... and lo and behold, the ball ends up there. We talk all the time about "reading the game". There are plenty of patterns there to be read.

    I'm not saying that playing FIFA 2011 will make anyone a great player. But TBH I feel like any exposure American kids get to how the game looks from the outside is good. If you don't know what the game is supposed to look like, how can you aspire to play that way?

    A clear example. Years ago I had a very inexperienced HS team with little game sense. One rainy afternoon, we watched video. 45 minutes of one of our matches from earlier in the season. Then 45 minutes of a ManU vs Real Madrid Champions League match. Many of these kids had never watched a high-level soccer game before. The next game we went out and played, you could see the light bulb had come on for many of them--they played their best, most savvy soccer of the year. Kind of like, "Oh, now I get it, THAT'S what the coach has been yammering about all this time!" :)
    rca2 repped this.

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