This area encompasses the all the strategies behind playing: soccer positions, formations, set plays and restarts and spacing. Many times, coaches spend far too much time on this area – at the youth level – instead of the more fundamental technical skills. It is curious and looking inside our sports culture provides some insight.
If you compare soccer to baseball, football or basketball, the natural stoppages of the match place the coach in a central position to interject and direct on an almost constant basis. The coach is almost a participant in those games. And, so it is only natural for coaches to try to impact the game through constant direction – it’s what we’ve seen and learned.
This opportunity for coaches to intercede and “call the right play to win the game” is not possible in soccer. The game never stops. Nonetheless, that inherent “Coach Centered” mentality pervades our coaching ranks in soccer and causes coaches to try and focus on the areas where they can make an impact and “help the team.” This occurs at the detriment of focusing on the technical skills that will help the players truly succeed on the pitch.
Your time to direct comes during practice. During games, it is time for the players to perform. Hopefully, you’ve met the challenge as a coach to inspire creatively thinking soccer players. Since the game is fluid, each player has to be their own “coach” on the field moving from situation to situation.
From a building perspective, if you don’t understand your player’s capabilities and your players haven’t developed the ball control skills, it would certainly be futile to try and explain formations and lineups to them. This would be like asking a child to write in cursive without first teaching the letters of the alphabet. First things, first.