How to Learn Football skills step by step

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Published Date:01-08-2017
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The Football Coaching Process An Official FFA Publication Kelly Cross 1 PREFACE: Football is one of the most difficult games to learn and master. The range of skills and techniques required, using almost every part of the body, to control and move the ball through a 360-degree spectrum of possibilities, under regular pressure from opponents, means that a lengthy period of practice, training and development is necessary for each individual player. The additional complexity of the game in terms of decision-making and the constant challenge of correct off-the-ball positioning increase the difficulty of the learning process. Players also need to learn how to function as part of a team, interacting with their ten team-mates while dealing with the actions of their eleven opponents; they need to be aware of the various tasks required of the team, and the many and varied individual player tasks. It is perhaps stating the obvious to the reader when I stress how difficult it is to play football. However, despite the widely-held acceptance that it takes a long time to learn how to play football, there seems to be a very common perception that it should not take very long to learn how to coach it. If it takes around ten solid years of effort and practice to learn how to play, mastering perhaps one or two positions in the team, why should it take any less than that to be the one who knows EVERYONE’S role, the one who makes the WHOLE TEAM tick, the one who can plan and conduct training sessions to MAKE THE WHOLE TEAM BETTER, the one who can observe and analyse WHOLE TEAM PERFORMANCE ON MATCH-DAY, seeing the problems and IDENTIFYING SOLUTIONS, the one who DRIVES, INSPIRES AND DEVELOPS ALL PLAYERS AND STAFF, with a special combination of PLANNING, COMMUNICATION AND LEADERSHIP SKILLS? It is clear that learning to be an effective team coach, like learning to be a player, is a process that takes a lot of time, effort and practice. This book is all about this PROCESS: by helping the reader to see and understand the logical and connected PROCESS which underpins the act of effective coaching, it is hoped that we will develop a much larger pool of successful and perceptive coaches who will push Australian players to a higher level. Coaching is a profession, and a difficult one; however, we believe that our role in Coach Education is to make sure that learning the trade is not any more difficult than it needs to be. We hope the clear and logical process outlined in this book and on our courses will assist you in reaching your coaching goals. In essence, this manual aims to provide the theoretical background for the practical application of the coaching art. The real learning is in the ‘doing’; attending a coaching course is a key part of a coach’s development, but there must also be a period of practice and reflection to ensure steady improvement. 5 Introduction - The FFA Coaching Expertise Model The FFA Coaching Expertise Model was developed to give coaches and coach educators a clear picture of what knowledge and skills are required to operate effectively as a football coach. Our vision on how to play football has been well-documented, through the publication of the National Football Curriculum and FFA’s Building Blocks of player development. The next step required, then, was to articulate a corresponding philosophy on how to coach football; in other words, we knew the kind of football we want to play and the kind of players required to play that way, so we also needed to know what kind of coaches we need to produce those players and develop the teams they play in. That is where the Coaching Expertise Model came in. With a model in place, we were then able to logically plan a program of Coach Education, because we had all the necessary points of reference. 11 The FFA Coaching Expertise Model outlines the three main areas of competency the coach must develop:  Training  The Match  Management There are specific competencies related to all three of these. We call them the ‘THREE PILLARS’ of Coaching. ‘The Match’ is at the centre of the whole model in line with FFA’s philosophical direction, as it is the focus of everything a coach does: it all begins and ends with the game of football. That also explains why the central pillar is green and looks like a football field. Match Day competencies have historically been neglected in Coach Education, but they are vital tools in the successful coach’s toolbox. ‘Training’ only exists because there is a ‘Match’; we train to become better when we play matches, and we measure the effectiveness of Training by evaluating performance in matches. Proper training, according to the age and level of the players, is critical for the future development of football in Australia. ‘Management’ encompasses all the skills and competencies involved in ‘managing oneself’, and ‘managing others’. The main areas to be considered here are Communication, Planning and Leadership. Since the coach, regardless of the level they work at, is constantly interacting with others they need to develop competencies which will improve the success of these processes. 12 The foundation that supports the coach’s work is Football Knowledge. This is gained in numerous ways, including playing football, analyzing football, coaching football and talking about football. Without in-depth Football Knowledge, the quality of what the coach does will be adversely affected. The overarching ‘compass’ that guides the coach is their Vision and Philosophy. In essence, this is where the potentially infinite range of possible playing styles and formations must be distilled into a ‘personal preference.’ The coach has to be able to say ‘I am aware of the many different ways of playing football, but THIS is how I believe it should be played. I have a philosophy on football, and a vision for bringing it to life.’ A clear Vision and Philosophy are the product of extensive Football Knowledge and practical football experience. Therefore, our Advanced Pathway C and B Licence courses are conducted in such a way that the ‘novice’ coach is provided with FFA’s Vision and Philosophy, based on the guiding principles of the National Football Curriculum. When a coach progresses to the A Licence and Professional Diploma courses, and is by that time suitably experienced, they may choose to develop and articulate their own Vision and Philosophy as their frame of reference on these courses. 13 We believe that the Coaching Expertise Model is a strong one as it has a solid foundation, sturdy pillars and something at the top to hold it all together. These qualities are also intended to give the model a timeless structure that will, we believe, only ever need adjustments in the details that define the elements: we firmly believe that the elements themselves are constants. ‘It is a good model if it is elegant and there are few arbitrary or adjustable elements.’ Stephen Hawking (NOTE: the full detail of each element of the Coaching Expertise Model can be found in the Appendix of this manual) 14 Part One – Senior Football This section primarily relates to coaches of players in the Performance Phase, approximately 17 years of age and older. However, many principles and concepts outlined in Part One are universal and apply to the whole of football. 15 Chapter 1 - Why? Why write and produce a coaching manual? Why does FFA continuously strive to deliver world-class coach education? Because FFA has an ambitious long-term mission: ‘To make Australia a world leader in the World Game’ We sincerely hope all coaches in Australia have the same goal. That might answer another ‘why?’ question: ‘Why are you reading this?’ There has to be a starting point, and there must also be a direction in which to head in order to fulfil the mission. The National Football Curriculum, published in 2009 gave the background and the blueprint for this exciting journey. The Curriculum was updated in 2013. (Links to both these documents are in the Appendices of this manual) For too long, there was no clear direction for football in Australia and the result was an obvious lack of progress towards a defined objective. This applied equally to both Youth Development and Coach Education, which have now been identified as the two strategic spearheads to drive this country to its long- term goal. The National Football Curriculum has set the road map and one of the major benefits of the Curriculum and its philosophy is that we now have clarity. We have realized that football isn’t ‘just football’; there are many styles and brands of football but we now know how we want to play. We can now talk about ‘our football’, which can be defined and visualized, and not settle for ‘any football’. We are able to say ‘any old football isn’t good enough’. That provides a solid platform for Youth Development, because we can logically define the types of players required to play the way we want to play. From that point, we can then define what Coach Education should look like. There are many theories and philosophies on coaching; we can now set a clear direction on the kind of coaching we require to develop the types of players and teams we need in order to fulfill our mission. Australia, given its population and the existing sporting landscape, has performed remarkably well to reach its current standing in world football. However, we strive for greater results, and to create a set of conditions in which Australia is competitive enough to challenge the best of the world on a regular basis. 16 To make that happen, we must maintain and develop the traditional Australian strengths, such as determination, winning mentality and a ‘never give up’ attitude. But a whole range of other changes and improvements are essential to make the big leap forward. We believe that minor, cosmetic changes will not be enough to make the difference: a fundamental transformation is necessary. KEY POINTS: ‘To make Australia a world leader in the World Game’ ‘Fundamental transformation’ 17 Chapter 2 – What is Football? If we want to be a world leader in football, we need to have a clear idea on what football is. One of the challenges in understanding football is this: there are many OBJECTIVE FACTS and also many SUBJECTIVE BELIEFS about this beautiful game. Firstly, OBJECTIVE FACTS 1. Laws of Football There are 17 Laws of the Game; coaches must have at least a basic understanding of these laws by studying the latest Laws Book and passing an online Laws exam (or undergoing Referee training) 2. The Purpose of Football As the Laws state: ‘A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar, provided that no infringement of the Laws of the Game has been committed previously by the team scoring the goal’ ‘The team scoring the greater number of goals during a match is the winner. If both teams score an equal number of goals, or if no goals are scored, the match is drawn’ Clearly, the purpose of the game is to score goals, and it is obviously just as important to avoid conceding goals. 3. The Structure of Football There are TWO TEAMS in a game of football, and this, of course, keeps things interesting. However, the fact that there is only ONE BALL makes it FASCINATING This one ball can naturally only be in the possession of one team at a time; there will be times when Team A has it, and times when Team B has it. There are many variables here: How long do they have it? What do they do with it? How hard do they try to keep it? But the fact is, when your team is playing football, sometimes you have the ball and sometimes your opponents have the ball. These two ‘moments’ are defined as: BALL POSSESSION (BP for short) = we have the ball BALL POSSESSION OPPONENT (BPO for short) = they have the ball When your team loses possession of the ball there is a period of time in which the team must change from its focus on its BP roles to a focus on functioning properly in BPO. Instead of BP tasks (making forward runs, taking up supporting positions to receive a pass, etc), players must now perform the tasks required in BPO (marking opponents, closing down space, etc). 18 This is called TRANSITION There are two TRANSITION moments that the team goes through: a) transition from having the ball to not having the ball (BPBPO for short) b) transition from not having the ball to having the ball (BPOBP for short) Football is a constant repetition of this cycle, from one of the four moments to the next. BP – BPBPO – BPO – BPOBP – BP – and so on… These Four Main Moments make up the Structure of Football KEY POINTS: There are OBJECTIVE FACTS and SUBJECTIVE BELIEFS in football OBJECTIVE FACTS 1. Laws of Football 17 Laws of the Game 2. The Purpose of Football Clearly, the purpose of the game is to score goals, and it is obviously just as important to avoid conceding goals. 3. The Structure of Football The Four main Moments 19 20 Chapter 3 - Football Philosophy and Vision We previously looked at the OBJECTIVE FACTS about football and will now move on to explore the SUBJECTIVE BELIEFS. The OBJECTIVE FACTS (the Laws, purpose and structure of the game) are key components of FOOTBALL KNOWLEDGE. But there is a lot more knowledge to gather. It is essential for a coach to have a broad Football Knowledge, which is gained in many ways: watching football, studying football, discussing football, coaching football, playing football, etc We are forever expanding our Football Knowledge. Coaches are always looking to see what other teams, other coaches, other countries are doing. Luckily for all of us, football is a game that lends itself to a myriad of playing styles. Think about the different types of football that you are aware of and the different players you have seen. Reflect for a short while and consider how you would answer the following questions:  What style(s) of football do you prefer and why?  Who are your favourite teams (past or present) and why?  Who are your favourite players (past or present) and why? What you have just briefly explored is your own FOOTBALL PHILOSOPHY. You have a unique FOOTBALL KNOWLEDGE, based on your own experiences, and from all that knowledge you have, perhaps unconsciously, developed your own unique FOOTBALL PHILOSOPHY. These are your beliefs, your preferences. This is a filtering process: it is impossible to play like every good team there has been; there are too many different styles and types of football. What you have to do is SUBJECTIVELY filter through them and say: ‘I have seen many types of football, but THIS is how I want MY team to play. This is MY philosophy.’ The FFA PHILOSOPHY What FFA have done, as a key starting point for the Fundamental Transformation of football in this country, is the same as the individual coach does when developing a philosophy: study football and decide on the best way forward to achieve our goal. 21 The FFA Philosophy on Football - Opinions and beliefs Opinions: Football is a game: • to be enjoyed by players, coaches and spectators • which provides enjoyment for all when you play attacking football and try to score goals • in which scoring goals is the key objective Beliefs: Principles for scoring goals: • You must have the ball in order to dominate the game and create goalscoring opportunities • ‘Effective Possession’ football is the best way to get the ball and our players into goalscoring positions • Individual skill, unpredictable football and clever combination play are needed to break down defences Principles for preventing goals: • If we have the ball, our opponent cannot score • If we don’t have the ball, we must deny our opponents time and space to use the ball • Winning the ball back quickly (ideally, as close to the opponents’ goal as possible) restricts their ability to get the ball and their players into goalscoring positions A philosophy can be seen as a set of guiding principles, for life in general not just in football. FFA’s Football philosophy outlined above is a clear set of guiding principles. The next step is to translate the philosophical principles into something more concrete: From Philosophy to Vision A vision is required in order to bring the philosophy to life. We now need to be able to implement the philosophy with our team in clear football terms. The first thing we must do is articulate THE PLAYING STYLE. ‘Pro-active’ or ‘re-active’? There are many successful playing styles in world football. Some teams take defending as their starting point. Their first priority is not to concede goals and their playing style and team organisation is attuned to that. They allow the opponent to have a lot of possession and defend as a compact unit in their own half. When the opponent loses the ball in these tight areas, they try to strike on the counter attack. We call this a re-active playing style and some teams have been and still are very successful playing the game this way. 22 Other teams take attacking as the starting point and their first priority is to score goals. Their playing style and team organisation is attuned to putting the opponent under so much pressure that they will make defensive mistakes and concede goals. These teams take the defensive risks of this playing style for granted, counting on the fact that they will always score more goals than they will concede. This pro-active playing style is generally more attractive but also more difficult to apply successfully. Between these two extremes there exist of course also many successful ‘hybrids’. In defining FFA’s Football Philosophy and Playing Style we looked closely at the Australian mentality and psyche, both in general life and in sport. It’s obvious that a pro-active playing style corresponds best with the Australian mentality: the fighting spirit of Australian teams and athletes is renowned all over the world and Australians always want to ‘go for it’. ‘After the World Cup in 2006, we decided to concentrate more on ball possession and on initiating play. We set out to change our footballing culture and to move away from reactive play’ Joachim Löw, National Team Head Coach, Germany ‘Possession-based’ or ‘Direct Play’? A pro-active playing style can be applied in various ways.  One extreme is the possession-based style of football made famous by FC Barcelona.  The other extreme is ‘direct play’, which involves playing long passes from the back to the front, thereby taking the shortest route to the opponent’s goal. This version of ‘pro-active football’ is the traditional approach to the game in Australia, perhaps because of the influence of the other Australian football codes. Possession-based Direct Play  Dominating the game by controlling  Putting the opponent under pressure by possession aiming long passes towards the strikers as quickly and as often as possible  Patient build-up  Break down compact defences with  Aerial and physical power to create individual skill and creative combination scoring opportunities play 23  ‘Long ball – second ball’ approach Having expressed Australia’s natural preference for ‘pro-active’ rather than ‘reactive’ football, we then had to decide which end of the above ‘pro-active spectrum’ would be the wisest choice for our national technical direction: ‘possession-based’ or ‘direct play’? In itself, there is nothing wrong with the more physical ‘direct play’ style of football, as historically some teams and countries have had a certain amount of success with it, but is it the right playing style for us to adopt if our aim is to challenge the best in the world?’ The English FA adopted a ‘Direct Play’ approach in the 80s and 90s, based on some statistics that showed most goals were scored following moves of 3 passes or less. If that was true, it was argued, then why bother with patient build-up and controlled possession? Why not simply launch continuous long passes towards the strikers, hope for ‘second ball’, and then score in 3 passes or less? This approach led to some short-term success for teams who adopted it (Wimbledon, Norway, Republic of Ireland) but did not lead to any real success for England at National level; in fact, one might suggest that the opposite has occurred. The English have long since abandoned their ‘Direct Play’ policy, and those responsible for it have been accused of ‘poisoning the well’ of English football. To gain further information on ‘possession-based’ versus ‘direct play’, we took a close look at the best in the world, using FIFA’s analysis of the 2010 World Cup, and the UEFA Technical Report on the Euro 2012 tournament. FIFA’s technical analysis of the top three teams in South Africa in 2010 (Spain, Holland and Germany) was as follows: st Spain (1 place) • Patient build-up play from the back through the midfield • Excellent passing game • Influential individual players (INIESTA, XAVI, VILLA) • Comfortable in possession when under pressure • Disciplined, well-organised defence • Immediate pressure after losing possession • Winning mentality • Good links between the team lines • Width of the pitch used well - wingers attack the goal, are able to cut in, good in 1v1 situations nd Holland (2 place) • Patient build-up play from the back through the midfield • Excellent passing game • Influential individual players (SNEIJDER, ROBBEN) • Disciplined, well-organised defence • Dangerous at set pieces • Winning mentality 24 • Good links between the team lines • Width of the pitch used well - wingers attack the goal, are able to cut in, good in 1v1 situations • Midfield pressing • Immediate pressure after losing possession rd Germany (3 place) • Patient build-up play from the back through the midfield • Excellent passing game - good options for the player in possession • Influential individual players (SCHWEINSTEIGER, OEZIL, MUELLER) • Disciplined, well-organised defence • Dangerous at set pieces • Winning mentality • Excellent team spirit • Width of the pitch used well - wingers attack the goal, are able to cut in, good in 1v1 situations • Rapid transition from defence to attack • Effective use of full-backs There are several striking similarities between these three successful teams at the 2010 World Cup, but in terms of answering our questions about ‘possession-based’ football or ‘direct play’, the answer is clear. All three employed a ‘patient build-up from the back through the midfield’ and an ‘excellent passing game’, and no mention of long forward passing can be found. So direct play does not appear to be the way to gain success. The UEFA report on Euro 2012 also states that the ‘trend towards possession-based football is undeniable.’ In Euro 2008, Spain notched the tournament high of 510 passes in one game, and had the highest average of more than 450 passes. However, in Euro 2012, every team except Ireland averaged more than 450 passes, and Spain’s tournament high of 929 passes was not far short of double the record in 2008. Detailed data shows also that ‘the trend is away from a long-passing game’ (a ‘long pass’ is defined as one of 30 metres or more; a ‘medium pass’ is between 10 and 30 metres and ‘short passes’ are those which cover less than 10 metres)  Long passes by the finalists throughout the tournament: Spain 8%; Italy 11%  Most long passes: Ukraine (equal bottom of their group) 18%; Republic of Ireland (bottom of group, 0 points) 19% The only teams that were described in ‘direct play’ terms were:  Republic of Ireland (bottom of their group): ‘Frequent use of long passes’  Ukraine (equal bottom of their group): ‘Attacks sometimes based on direct passes to Shevchenko’  Sweden (equal bottom of their group): ‘Blend of direct passing and combination play’ (The Czech Republic who lost their quarter-final to Portugal, are described as employing ‘regular use of direct, back-to-front passes to lone striker Baroš’, however, they were also analysed as having ‘a possession game’, ‘clever combinations’ and ‘fluent, incisive middle-to- 25 front passing’) The evidence from Euro 2012 seems to add more weight to choosing the ‘possession’ end rather than the ‘direct’ one. ‘Direct play’, based on frequent long forward passes, does not appear to be a policy of the top-performing nations. The analysis of these major tournaments in 2010 and 2012 clearly shows that with a direct playing style it is very difficult, if not impossible, to be successful in modern top football, and that the most successful nations can be categorised as preferring the ‘possession’ end of the spectrum. Barcelona, the world’s leading club team, appear to be the extreme in ‘possession-based football’, consistently averaging around 68% possession in the Champions League. Spain, however, averaged 54% when they won Euro 2008, with only 48% in the Final; they averaged 59% at Euro 2012, and in the Final had 47% in the first half but thanks to an Italian red card finished with a marginal 52%-48% advantage. What is important to stress here is that we should not start an ‘obsession with possession’: the crucial point is this: Possession alone is not the key It is foolish to believe that all you need to do in order to win football matches is end up with a higher percentage of possession than your opponent. We are all aware of matches in which the winning team’s possession statistics are inferior to those of their beaten opponents. At Euro 2012, Russia and Holland averaged 56% of the possession in their three games, but went home after the Group Stage. England, despite only 36% (25% during extra-time) against Italy, could have won the quarter-final shootout. Possession is not an end in itself: it is a means to an end. What is the point in keeping possession in your own half for minutes on end, if there is no end product? The only statistic that matters is the scoreline What appears to be the difference with the really successful teams is how possession leads to scoring chances. 26 The Euro 2012 report puts it this way: ‘As in the UEFA Champions League, the challenge was to translate possession and inter-passing into a positive attacking game’ When one looks closely at the statistics from Euro 2012, one finds an interesting point: a key difference between the top teams and those eliminated in the Group Stage is in terms of the number of passes made in the attacking third of the pitch (and successful completion of those passes) Spain, Italy and Germany had 50% more passes in attacking third on average than those eliminated. Spain averaged 217 passes in the attacking third (80% successful), Germany 200 (80% successful) and Italy 135 (70% successful). In comparison, Ireland averaged 90 passes in the attacking third, with around 54% success. These ‘successful passes in the attacking third’ figures also translate to the real measure of effective football: shots on goal and shots on target: Spain, Italy and Germany = 25% more shots on goal on average than those eliminated. Spain, Italy and Germany = almost 60% more shots on target on average than those eliminated. Recent data from the English Premier League supports this evidence. ‘SUCCESSFUL PENALTY AREA ENTRIES’ th The Top 4 EPL teams were approximately 40% better than the teams placed 9th-20 ‘TOTAL TEAM SHOTS’ th The Top 8 EPL teams were approximately 25% better than the teams placed 9th-20 (a reflection of significantly higher ‘successful penalty area entries’) ‘TOTAL TEAM SHOTS ON TARGET’ The Top 8 EPL teams were approximately 40% better on average than the teams placed 9th-20th (a reflection of the two points above) The evidence therefore leads us to believe that the ‘possession-based’ end of the spectrum is the wisest choice. However… 27 the emphasis must be on EFFECTIVE possession. Individual Skill and Combination Play In modern football, more and more teams are able to defend effectively, and most have the ability to form a ‘defensive block’ of eight or more players in a compact unit. Therefore, successful teams have had to develop exceptional ability in breaking down these defences. A key factor in defeating the ‘block’ is creativity. Teams need to have skilful individuals who can ‘pick the lock’ and find a way through the tight defences. The top four teams at the 2010 World Cup all had more than one of these special ‘matchwinning’ players: Spain: Xavi, Iniesta, Villa Holland: Sneijder, Robben, Van Persie Germany: Oezil, Mueller, Schweinsteiger Uruguay: Forlan, Suarez, Cavani Similar players in other successful teams: Brazil: Kaka, Robinho, Luis Fabiano Argentina: Messi, Tevez, Aguero, Higuain As well as creative individuals, teams also need quick and clever combination play. This involves two or more players working together to produce unpredictable interpassing and mobility in order to penetrate the ‘block’ These individual and combination qualities are key points in UEFA’s analysis of the top four teams at Euro 2012. They are also mentioned in the reports on Croatia, Czech Republic, England, France, Holland, Russia and Sweden. Australia must work to develop more of these types of player in order to improve performance. Counter-attacking What can also be deduced from World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012, is that top teams need to have the ability to launch quick counter-attacks. One can also observe the potent use of counter- attacking in successful club teams such as Real Madrid. However, UEFA point out the ‘declining effectiveness of the counter’: in Euro 2008, 46% of the open play goals were from counters, but in Euro 2012 only 25% of goals from open play were derived from counters. This decline is also observed in the UEFA Champions League, where the percentage has steadily fallen to 27% in the 2011/12 season. 28

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