After watching every Academy youth team play (U10-U17 Samurai), I understand the system I have us playing needs to be explained in more detail, and so I plan to compose at least two more short postings here so that it is all in detail with poetic brevity. Athens Soccer Academy teams are all in a similar position within their league brackets at Elite. We can play with the opposing teams, but we tend to finish with less goals than the opponent. Some games we score no goals, and we typically let in more goals than three (3). Academy teams are in a similar position both because the above traits tend to apply to teams across age groups (U8-U17 and each team in between), and because all teams can begin a similar strategy to accomplish a better result. Before we storm the league with our dominance, we must first become HARDER TO BEAT.
Becoming harder to beat is step one (1) of the strategy behind all teams’ road to better success, and that means letting in 3 or fewer goals on average per 18 minutes. We can drastically reduce our goals against average if we (players 1, 2, and 3) learn to stay with our marks when the other team attacks, and never let the opponent behind you in your own half. Players 1 (counting out from our goal) must stay behind and player 2 may have to get behind the ball and get behind (or “goalside”) of the opponent (their specific mark). If we begin to do this from the start of the game, the longer it takes the other team to score the first goal against us, the more their frustration builds.
Player 1 plays the whole game goalside of everyone except our goalkeeper; that is what that position is all about. Player 2 roves forward to help out with attack and tracks back to get goalside of their specific mark. This will be explained in more detail in the next entry I will post here describing how the defense works. Players 2, 3, and 4 become central players in the third poetically brief entry I will write here describing how our attack generally works.
It is important that you understand that soccer is a fluid game, and so a player’s role may change as the game changes because he or she may have to take over for someone else’s duty. Learn the roles of each position and specialize in two.
The two “bad habits” we must unlearn if we wish to perform better are 1) diving in as a defender close to our goal and 2) losing possession of the ball across the face of our goal; add to this learning to set an immediate wall and fronting every one of the opponents’ restarts, and we will drastically improve our performance.
The above strategy–BECOMING HARDER TO BEAT–can be restated in a few words because we are doing some of the above right now, just not all of it, and mostly not all of the time. To become harder to beat we have to increase the consistent minutes we play disciplined soccer. We defenders know not to “get split” or lose track of our mark, but it happens (why? so that soccer can be thrilling for at least half the house). We can begin to play every shift of three or four minutes airtight in the back: 1 and 2 defenders with their marks and goalside, the 1 defender slightly closer to our goal than everybody.
Imagine if we can begin to go 18 minutes giving up a single goal, maybe two, some games three goals against, and if we can combine that with scoring two, three, or more goals a game. That sounds like a good sauce recipe to me. That recipe may lead from becoming harder to beat to something better. You have done the group a favor for reading and comprehending; I want every player to let me know about questions they have about the (1,2,3,4 system). In also fact, I think you can “comment” your questions on this blog. Tad