A view from my side.
Last night closed out the Team Camp. Four nights, 2 hours a night. It was time to focus on the attack. The boys had been asking about it, waiting for it. We can only focus on defending so much, after all.
The session focused on moving the ball around the back, up to the wing and then putting it behind the defense for the strikers to run on. But in order for it to be effective, speed of play is required. Everyone knowing what everyone else is thinking is required. Making the right runs off the ball is required. It doesn’t just magically happen, creatio ex nihilo. It has to be planned, worked, trained, and then anticipated.
So last night we worked it. We worked on the defenders swinging the ball around the back. Our outside midfielders worked on getting wide, feet on the line. Our strikers worked on getting across the field, moving at the right time to the right places. I had one checking to the ball as it hit the outside midfielder’s feet, creating space behind him and down the line. I had the midfielder punch the ball down the line behind the defense, as the 2nd striker, slightly higher than the one checking in, made a run to the ball. I had the outside mid from the opposite side of the field make his run up, becoming a 3rd striker. I had the inside mids making their runs into the box. We put four players in the box quickly ready to finish the cross coming from the striker who ran down the ball.
We started out slowly. Moving the ball at half speed, almost walking through the motions. They figured out what we were doing, where they had to be and how hard to hit the ball. We picked up speed, going 3/4 speed. The faster pace on the ball slowed their speed of play. Now they needed more touches to receive and play. We worked on the speed of play issue trying to get it down to two touches. When we got there, we moved to game speed. It started to click and they started to have success.
We worked both sides of the field. We moved different players into varying positions. We changed the strikers. We changed the outside midfielders. We worked the runs and we worked the ball. At times it was pitifully ugly. Other times, when it worked as planned, it was spectacularly beautiful.
We scrimmaged the final 45 minutes against another team in the club. The first 20 were not all that great. While we dominated possession, we had a hard time working our practiced movement. It’s different, you know, when there is another team opposing you. Finally, in the second half of play, it began to come together. We started getting the ball wide, we started hitting the ball down the line, we started making runs to the ball and we started putting the ball in play in the box. We scored 3 goals in that 20 minute run of play. Two came from this planned, practiced movement. The other from a breakaway when we won a ball in our midfield and caught our opponents gambling with numbers forward. We knocked the ball over the head of their single central defender and it found the foot of our speedy forward. He took it up field, drew the keeper out and passed it by him to the corner.
I couldn’t have asked for a better finish to the week. The boys worked hard. They trained hard. They had fun. They learned a lot. They soaked most of in like a sponge. The goal of the game is to score goals. Last night, they finished strong and met their goal. Last night, they learned how put the ball in The Back of the Net.