Can You Teach Your Team to Be Instinctive?

An Instinctual Goal - (

The amazing thing about watching a brilliant goal in soccer is that players will often reflect upon how the shot or pass was simply their instincts.  Take a look at this Thierry Henry goal and how he describes it simply as “strikers’ instincts”.  As a coach, one will always want to instill this feeling in their players to where they don’t over-think plays, but merely just convert and find success.  How is this possible?

One thing that is clear is that to make soccer purely instinctual is to always practice. This goes beyond simply what you do in practice, and if your players truly want to be professional players will they need to spend countless hours on the ball at home.  Teach your team how to juggle, as it greatly improves ball control and try to persuade them to spend time by themselves working on these skills.  Likewise, encourage their parents to assist them with passing the ball in a park or the backyard.  Not only does this improve their skills, but it also gets kids outside and lets them spend quality time with family.

Similarly, during the practice time that you do spend with your team, spend a good amount of practice just focusing on technical skills like passing, control, and shooting.  The idea is that the more and more you work on certain skills, the more instinctual they will become to your soccer team and the better your players will be at repeating those skills in a game setting.

Another thing to remember is that regardless of skill level, those talents need to be polished continuously no matter how advanced you have become.  Even professionals spend a good deal of time simply passing a ball back and forth with teammates during training and in pre-game warm-ups.

Finally, work on keeping players calm.  Pressure leads to self-doubt and thinking too much.  That leads to mistakes and even more pressure.  Keep a pleasant attitude around the team so that players don’t stress out over the game.  Players like Thierry Henry found so much success because of that confidence to relax and simply go for it.  Sure, sometimes he took shots that were misjudged, but players have to feel good with their instincts and trust themselves in order to create works of beauty like the fantastic goal above.

Therefore, make sure you work on a lot of technical skills in practice, persuade your team to play at home, continue to work on skills even when you feel your team has mastered them, and help keep up players confidence by creating a happy atmosphere around the team so that your players will become the instinctual bunch of goal-scorers you often dream of.

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Nicholas Spiller

Nicholas Spiller resides in LA where he dreams of musical super-stardom on his bass guitar. He also writes for and is an avid Arsenal fan!

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