Soccer is among the greatest team sports in the world. Players in every position of the pitch can play a vital role in helping the team win or lose a match. But, as the game is played with only one ball among 22 players, getting one’s fair share of the ball can often become a struggle, especially if your team suffers from the antics of a dreaded ball-hog. As a player or coach, such teammates can often be very detrimental to the overall quality of your team. Here are some tips for players or coaches to help deal with such a player.
First off, one must make an accurate assertion when determining if your team has a ball-hog or not. Although soccer is a team sport and passing should be one of the most important abilities of your players, scoring goals sometimes require players to take on opponents 1 v 1. Taking charge of a match does have its benefits and if a player makes attempts to take on defenders while occasionally ignoring other options to pass it does not necessarily mean that your team is suffering from a ball-hog.
The key word here is “occasionally”. A true ball-hog is the player who never passes the ball and always tries to take on opponents by themselves, often times losing the ball. This can be disastrous for your team. If the player is a forward, goal chances can be lost while the player ignores open teammates. If the player is a defender, your team could be threatened to concede more goals as the player loses the ball in dangerous positions on the pitch.
So if you see this characteristic in a player, someone needs to take action. This is a painful conversation to have (often ball-hogs have massive ego’s and will not be happy to hear such news), but one that is often the only course of action that will help out your team. It is best as a player to notify the coach of your thoughts, and to have the coach initiate the discussion.
When talking to your player, let him or her know how important passing is in benefiting the team. Also, refrain from being overly angry with the player. Their ball-hogging tactics may have cost your team a vital opportunity in a game, but the conversation needs to be held in calm circumstances so that you get a positive message across.
If the player makes a concerted effort to become a team player, you will be well on your way to having a more cohesive team. However, sometimes players will take this as a challenge and continue to force their negative pursuits onto your team. This will take more direct and harsher action on the coach’s part to correct.
If the player still refuses to pass, substitute them off during the match and tell them they need to pass more. This should make the statement very clear to the player and most will respond with more positivity towards their teammates. If the player simply will not listen, have a conversation with their parents to intervene. If this still doesn’t work, think about expelling the player from the team and suggesting they pursue a more individual sport like baseball or tennis, because the other players on the team will suffer from the ball-hog and will likely lead to a poorer record on the season.