Women’s Training League: 2nd Week
Already players are becoming familiar with the flat, smooth surface of the gym floor and how it favors a faster roll and a higher bounce than does our outdoor field. Since the ball is behaving quickly, so must players; so we continue to shorten our steps and stay light on our feet. Since we are flexing at the hips, knees, and ankles, we are like tigresses, low to the ground and patiently awaiting the moment to pounce.
Maybe that moment doesn’t come, but regardless, if the player positions herself well, she can benefit her team without ever touching the ball (Isn’t this game cool?). There is an entire strategy behind where a player ought to be, when, thus the game is played on an intellectual, as well as, a physical level.
One of the intellectual items on today’s menu, was the notion of a defender “forcing” play in the proper direction. So as a defender, I defend against the ball penetrating the middle of the field. As the attacker approaches my goal, rather than run in a beeline toward the ball, I curve my run so I approach the ball nearer the center of the field than the attacker. Effectively when the attacker approaches from the left side, my job is to keep play on the left side, keep play in front of me, apply constant pressure to the ball, position myself so to block the passing lane between the attacker and her team mates, and if and when the ball is available, to attack it and clear it wide and down the touchline.
Oftentimes, when I have a covering defender, I continue my run forward after playing the ball, as though I expect to get it back. I sprint into the other half of the field, running at an angle, staying behind the ball. I sense a gap opening between two defenders, through which I run and, “yes!” get the ball back. Now only to get the footwork timed correctly to get the support foot next to the ball and to strike the center of the ball.
No one said it was easy….but who can deny that we are getting better? Tonight Lydia made a “recovery run”. I bet my shoes that Lydia hasn’t a clue what a “recovery run” means precisely, and the beauty is…she doesn’t need to know what to call it, just when to do it. Lydia, and, Shannon, and the other Shannon, and Natalie are all developing the awareness of what to do, when. They are developing soccer awareness, soccer intelligence.
Who saw Lisa’s goal tonight? Not me. I heard it, and I knew it was a quality strike on the ball, but never saw it or expected it. Judging from the time I heard contact with the ball, and the ball slam the back wall, my guess is she scored from a ways out, indicative of an intelligent choice. Lisa has soccer intelligence.
Watch Lisa closely and you will see that she oftentimes knows before she gets the ball what it is she wants to do with it. The decision is made as the ball is somewhere on its path to her, so when she gets her touch (and all it takes is one touch) the ball is gone in an instant, impossible to defend.
What would be the Cliff’s Notes on soccer intelligence are the archetypal soccer plays Tad talks about. These plays are situations that occur repeatedly in a game. One of these plays would be the give-n-go, another would be a diagonal ball sent backward from the goal line. With the understanding of some of the repeatable plays, comes the beginnings of identifying them during dynamic play.
That is where Lisa and Sheri gain a step on most right now. They have a “pre-programmed computer” alerting them when the archetypal plays are developing. Your “computer” is being programmed every time you play.
Tomorrow night we train at Beacon. And last I heard there is a 6:15 group forming for Friday (contact Tad, Shauna, or Amy if interested). We are “on” next Sunday.
Starting next week, We will enter and exit the front door of the building. Please do not enter the door to the private business “Sound Health”. Our door is on the opposite (south east) corner of the building. The entrance is safer (sidewalk) and well lit (yeah, safer). We also will now park in front of the Albany building.
Watch some soccer this week. Comment on what here you have read…and see you Sunday ready to play!