When the Chicago Bulls were the championship dynasty of the NBA the General Manager, Jerry Krause, made a statement that championships were won by “great systems”.
Naturally, everyone laughed at this because everyone knew Michael Jordan was the reason the Bulls won 6 championships.
Even with Jerry Krause’s “great system”, the Bulls have not won a championship since Michael Jordan left.
But on the other hand, Jordan played in the NBA 7 years before winning his 1st championship and after his successful career with the Bulls, he played for the Washington Wizards with little positive effect.
So it appears that one is not mutually exclusive from the other.
It’s true that you need great players but it’s also true that great players in a weak system will plateau much sooner than their individual abilities would indicate.
Conversely, players in strong system will achieve results beyond that of their individual skills… the old saying of “the whole being greater than the sum of its’ parts”.
Because soccer is such a low scoring game, the “system” can take on a greater role since every scoring opportunity requires almost perfect execution to put the ball into the back of the net.
Teams that play consistently, that get into position every single time, that follow the shot every time, are the teams that win tough games and beat opponents with equal and often stronger talent.
They always seem to get the “lucky bounce”.
In this video, you’ll see the center striker following the ball even though it was obvious the goalie had this shot all lined up and the stop was all but guaranteed. But pay attention to the right striker and you’ll see her following the shot as well.
This score, and 1-0 victory, occurred in the 80th minute and after this goalie had stopped everything that came remotely close to the net. The teams were evenly matched and this was a hard fought physical game with both sides showing exhaustion from the long effort.
But the “system”, the quality coaching, the learned consistency and the individual drive of the players put this game into the W column because they followed EVERY shot to the goal from the opening whistle to the final second of the game.
This wasn’t a “fluke” or crazy “luck”, it was the product of a “great system” with disciplined players.
Had these players tried to win on talent alone, I guarantee this game wouldn’t have ended with the same result.
This is where talented players separate their team from their competition… by playing with a “great system”.
The challenge becomes educating your players to play within the “great system” through education and effective coaching.
And one of the best tools for “great system” education is SocrPro.com. Built from the ground up for soccer and only soccer.
Best of all SocrPro.com is FREE… so get your copy today and start winning more games immediately.
PS Your players will believe it when they see it… so make it easy for them to believe you and follow your instructions.
Try your FREE account of SocrPro today!
This isn’t a heroic story about a single player overcoming enormous odds to make it into the Premier League.
Nor is this a story of the underdog that persevered for years, toiling in the shadows of bigger, faster, stronger players before finally getting his chance to show the world he exists.
It’s really a story of the vast majority of youth soccer players and how they learn to play the game.
But before I get to soccer, let’s talk about a good old fashioned street fight.
At some point in time, you’ve either been in a fight or witnessed a schoolyard fight and there’s one thing that happens in almost every street fight; both participants use only their right hand to strike the other person.
Whether they’re fighting standing up or wrestling on the ground, they still use their right hand to hit the other person.
When kids are taught to box, the 1st thing they’re taught is to use both hands.
To throw punches in combinations of left, right, left or right, left, right. To throw a high jab to set up a lower body shot using their opposite hand.
Nobody ever questions the need of the boxer to be able to throw punches ambidextrously with equal veracity and everybody understands the importance of this skill.
Sometimes I think more soccer players should go take boxing lessons.
Some need it just to learn that not listening to the coach’s instructions leads to bad things while others would better understand the importance of using both limbs… but I digress.
When you study youth soccer (preferably via video with your free account at SocrPro.com), you’ll quickly see that the vast majority of players use only 1-foot for 90%, or more, of their touches.
They receive, dribble, turn, pass, shoot… all with their right foot.
It’s the equivalent of a boxer entering the ring with one hand tied behind his back.
The root of the problem, and the reason coaches struggle to fix this universal problem, is the immense space of the soccer field and the randomness of play.
Kids simply learn how to do things faster and more efficiently using only 1-foot instead of making a conscious effort to use both feet to double their speed and options on the field.
They have more initial success using their strong foot than struggling to improve their weak foot so they just do what works better for them without thinking of the future when the game speeds up and the skill levels required for success are increased.
This is where SocrLabs is different… and in this case far better.
Taking advantage of a controlled environment and hi-tech development tools, we’re able to quickly break those old, bad habits and force the kids to use their weak foot repetitively. This repetition builds the good habits and muscle memory that is then carried onto the practice / game field.
The next time you’re watching your kids play in a game, count the number of times they use their strong foot versus their weak foot. I guarantee you’ll only need 1-hand for the weak side count.
If you want your favorite players to step onto the field with 2-legs instead of 1, bring them to SocrLabs today and we’ll untie that 2nd limb so they can use both their right foot and left foot to play better soccer and win more games.
PS Yes… they all cheat the same way with their right foot to avoid using their left foot. The better players are simply better at cheating. You’ll be amazed at how much better they become when they double their options.
PPS No kids were harmed in the writing of this article and yes, we know that girls punch too… just ask their brothers.
With the performance of the USMNT converting the players into World Cup spectators, it’s been a common mantra that US Soccer needs to “come together” to solve the lagging performance problem and create a powerful development system.
But is this really what we need?
If we’re going to “come together” as a group, who should we “come together” around?
Will we look to the mothership of US Soccer to provide the guiding light or should we circle the wagons around a German, Spanish or Brazilian program? Or maybe put the women’s team in charge since they’ve proven they can win on the world stage… so many options to choose from.
But I think any “single” program we choose will ultimately fail.
It reminds me of the old story of the semi-truck that drove under the bridge too low for the trailer to clear and got stuck. While everyone was “coming together” pulling the truck from the front and pushing the truck from the rear with no success, 1 young boy watching from the curb suggested they let some air out of the tires to lower the height of the trailer.
This boy could have “banded together” and provided an additional shoulder and legs to push with the rest of the crowd but that truck would still be stuck under the bridge; not moving an inch forward.
What US Soccer really needs are more people “doing their own thing”.
Experimenting, modifying, adapting and learning from every mistake and every success to “evolve” the performance of soccer into a world beating dynasty.
Trusting coaches and clubs to drive performance because they want to win games, build their clubs and ultimately devour the less successful, lagging clubs. To allow a free market approach without artificial hindrances of a controlling authority that decides who’s awarded “academy” status or who receives the centralized funding dollars.
To truly accelerate the performance of soccer, it’s necessary to allow as many “experiments” to take place concurrently so the best ideas can matriculate to the top while the weaker ideas fall off and make space for the next opportunity for success.
We don’t need to “come together” around some mythical genius soccer organization and hope they’ll solve the problem of US soccer, we just need to go out and win the next game, win our tournaments and take home the trophy for whatever league your team plays.
Set the example of how a good club creates success and you’ll set the example for the nation.
PS There are simple things every coach can do to improve the performance of their players and team. Improving their “soccer IQ” is the quickest and easiest way to win more games and SocrPro.com is the easiest and only coaching platform built from the ground up specifically for you.
The US Men’s team just missed the cut for the World Cup for the first time in 4 decades… I think it’s safe to say that being disappointed is an understatement.
But I’m not sure if we’re supposed to feel better that we made it for the last 4 decades or if pointing this out is a way to further illustrate what a disaster this is for the US men’s team?
The most amazing part is that we still lose to countries that have fewer residents in total than we have kids playing soccer in the US.
Costa Rica? Trinidad & Tobago? In what other major team sports are they even allowed in the same venue much less toppling the hopes and dreams of a US team from competing on the world stage?
But is this really surprising?
When you really look at soccer programs and compare them to other sports in the USA where we’ve dominated year after year, it’s obvious that soccer is light years behind technologically.
When “hi-tech” soccer training is defined by having multi-colored plastic cones instead of only one color, or using an iPad to draw out the X and O training diagrams instead of a dry erase board, there’s a really good chance we’re not using all the advantages afforded the wealthiest nation on planet earth.
Here are a few suggestions to bring US soccer out of the stone-age and onto the world stage:
- Emulate Successful Sports – Stop trying to copy other successful countries, with different cultures and social systems, and start looking at why the USA is successful in other sports and copy those programs instead. The USA is not Germany, or Brazil, or Spain, etc. so stop copying them and start copying sports where we dominate the podium.
- Utilize Technology – It’s our edge… it’s something we can do that others cannot. Quit lamenting the fact that our kids don’t play shoeless street soccer and start taking advantage of the things that are uniquely our advantage.
- Embrace Free Markets – Socialized economies lag free markets and socialized sports programs will never perform as well as a free market approach. Let the creativity of individual coaches’ flow and allow their success to bubble to the top without artificial restrictions from the “controlling body”. Other coaches will copy, follow, modify, and improve with a virtuous cycle pushing success through endless iterations to achieve new heights month after month and year after year. There is no single person, or single entity, that will ever be as smart or creative as the collective of individuals all competing and experimenting with their teams and programs.
- Stop Diluting the Talent Pool – Quit making kids choose between high school soccer and club soccer. Kids like playing high school soccer and forcing them to choose 1 versus the other does nothing but dilute the top players into multiple soccer programs or into other sports outside of soccer. If you want the best athletes to play soccer, you need to let them enjoy “high school glory”!
- Recognize our Culture – The US is “school year” centric and this isn’t changing any time soon. Whether other countries base their leagues on the calendar year is immaterial and should be ignored. Kids like to play with kids in their same grade regardless of age. High school freshmen do not want to play with middle school 8th graders and college freshmen are not coming back to play with high school seniors.
The USA is so good at other sports that it’s not even considered “fair” for us to field our best teams and there’s no reason why soccer should be any different. To not be considered a perennial top 10 team is truly a disgrace.
PS I hope I didn’t sugar coat my opinion too much! But I’ve always been one to put my money where my mouth is and in this case, we’ve created SocrPro.com to bring coaching software into the 21st century and SocrLabs.com to bring soccer speed and skills development into the modern age.
SocrPro.com is free to use so get your account going today and let’s do everything in our power to improve the sport we all love.
It’s a common scenario; the players come off the field (pitch if you prefer) and you take the opportunity to explain to them, what they need to do differently to beat their opponent.
As you finish explaining, there are few, if any, questions and every kid smiles and nods their head when you ask them if they fully understand what adjustments are needed to win today’s match.
Optimism abounds right up to the time the ref blows his whistle.
Suddenly, the players that fully understood their instructions a few minutes before no longer seem to have any comprehension of what they were told and are making the exact same mistakes… sometimes worse!
Could these kids all be mentally programmed to forget everything they know at the sound of a whistle?
How can they go from full comprehension to completely wrong in such a short time?
Is it possible they really didn’t understand what they were told?
Maybe this has never happened to your team but I think most people have experienced this phenomenon whether it’s at home, work or on the soccer field. People hear what you say and understand it in many different ways.
The image you have in your mind is rarely the image shared in their mind.
It’s why communication is so hard and why coaches need to use video to explain things to their players if they really want their message to come across with the same image in everybody’s mind. You need to provide the image by placing it on a screen in front of their face.
Video isn’t the answer to everything.
But it is the answer to better communication and coaching is nothing more than being a great communicator.
SocrPro software will help you become the best coach you can be and help your players understand how to be the smartest and best players they can be while playing for you.
Half-time is a great time to inspire and motivate but a horrible time to “educate”. Attempting to “smarten” them up at that point is already too late. It’s like trying to teach them to dribble better by throwing cones down and running a dribbling drill at half-time.
Your players need a post game analysis that they can see, combined with your feedback and advice, to truly understand what they did well and what they need to improve. Video analysis of the game is absolutely the best way to provide this invaluable information.
If you want smarter, better players, then get your FREE account of SocrPro today and start using it after every game possible.
PS Why SocrPro instead of other video coaching software? The same reason you play with soccer balls instead of basketballs. They’re both round balls but only 1 was built specifically for soccer.
Get your soccer specific software today – Sign up for your FREE account now
Everyone loves the inspirational story about the “big thing” …but it’s the “little things” that really matter.
Not saying the “big things” don’t matter, it’s just that everyone focuses on the “big things” so these just become the baseline for what needs to be done.
There’s also a shortage of truly “big things” to tackle.
Here’s the real secret to “big things”; fixing several “small things” is the true “big thing”.
The challenge for most soccer coaches is finding a way to identify and communicate the “small things” to their players in a way they’ll understand and implement to improve.
For example, one of the common problems I see with youth soccer teams is the urgency in which they pass the ball. With so much emphasis on fast passes, players forget that they sometimes need to pass slowly.
Instead of playing “hot potato” and getting rid of the ball as quickly as possible, very often they need to hold the ball and take a few dribbles up the field in order to draw the defenders towards them and make the defenders honor them as a legitimate threat.
Too many times a player will pass the ball far too quickly and allow their natural defender to drop back and double team the recipient of the pass. This usually results in a lost ball and the person creating the turnover is not even aware they caused the problem because in their mind they did their job… they completed the pass.
In contrast, if they simply held the ball for a step or 2, their defender would need to step forward, the other defender would need to rotate and several other players would need to make a transitional adjustment to a new mark. These adjustments eventually get confused, players are left free, the middle opens up and your team is able to capitalize opportunistically during this state of confusion.
But none of this happens without the “small fix” of taking 2 steps versus passing immediately.
The challenge is teaching your players this subtle effect when it’s over so fast in the flow of the game. It’s not a “big moment” that sticks out and is easily identified or remembered.
The odds of fixing this problem are extremely low unless you use a video coaching software system like SocrPro.
Unless you record video of the game and then review these moments with your team, they’re never going to truly understand what you’re telling them and will therefore never fix the “small problem”.
Why some teams play hard, pass accurately and still lose the ball isn’t because they don’t do the “big things” correctly, it’s because they never learned the “small things” and how these “small things” are the things that lead to scoring opportunities and winning games.
If you want smarter players that win more games, then get your FREE copy of SocrPro today.
Teach your players the “small things” and you’ll see “big things” happen.
PS Did I mention SocrPro is FREE? With nothing to lose and everything to “win”, why wouldn’t you start today? Go get your free account now.