Keira Walsh is brilliant. You know it. I know it. And thanks to the Women's European Championships, the whole world knows it too. In today's masterclass, I dissect that brilliance in a long-form Player Analysis, helping you and I come to a greater understanding of how you too can play (or coach) with the brilliance of Keira Walsh. Here is our analysis.
The game is deeply rooted in all five aspects of the common coaching model, and in fact, every decision a player makes boils down to all five elements simultaneously. Here's why the technical, tactical, physical and psychological aspects of football are all deeply intertwined.
Nothing can exist in football without perceptions of ball, opposition, teammates and space (BOTS for short if you want!). While there may never be one unequivocally correct answer to any given footballing problem, players can more adequately assess for decision making through muscle memory, experience, automatisms, sheer intelligence, and studying the tips in this article. But those same players, analysts and coaches must also recognize the deeply-rooted tandem bike quadracycle nature of the four elements of the game, and how they all co-exist to work in harmony.
This is not a headline that you would expect to see from a website so devotedly focused on tactics and analysis. But as complex and debatable as this may sound, football is more about psychology than tactics. The best coaches are not always the best tacticians. But the best coaches are always the best motivators. The likes of John Herdman, Emma Hayes, Jose Mourinho and even Jurgen Klopp, rarely ever speak about tactics when expatiating about the game. Instead, they pontificate about the psychology of their teams and players, and their attempts to get the best out of their mentality.
There's a beautiful thing in the coaching community, where we all strive to share resources. But this inherently creates a problem. What works in one context, doesn't always work in another. Sam and I are both content creators who always get asked to come up with solutions to various coaching problems and share our thoughts on how coaches can accelerate their teams to new levels. While we love creating content and educating coaches, it must be said that everything we put out always needs to be adapted to the context of the individual coach, team, players and environment. The same could be said for taking things from the professional game, where very few lessons can actually be applied at the youth level.
In the movie of my life, I always portray myself as some hopeless art loser the moment I thrust myself into an art project. The reality of the situation is that I’m actually totally fine at drawing, painting…even dare I say…colouring…especially when given the right tools or the right level of instruction. In fact, if I had ever stepped out of my hopeless art loser shell and took say…a painting class, I likely would have developed useful knowledge, skills and maybe even new attitudes, that could have transformed my entire art mindset for life. Our abilities are not fixed in time, and can change with practice and help. So it’s important to approach any challenges or perceived inabilities with a growth mindset, and positive self-talk. That’s why in this article I’m going to be giving you tips and tricks to establishing a growth mindset. And cut the scene.
In the past few years, I have adopted an almost entirely games-based approach to coaching. Everything is based within scenarios and situations players encounter in the game, and related to rehearsed actions on where to be in different situations players encounter on a football pitch. These are what the footballing world call "patterns of play", and what some top managers in the game have dubbed "automatizations".
The mental side of the beautiful game is at least as important as the physical side, but is often neglected by coaches in training sessions. In this series, Travis Norsen, author of Play With Your Brain, will discuss small tweaks to standard training exercises and the large positive effects they can have on players’ decision-making and soccer intelligence. This week, Travis explores why you should incorporate double goals into your training.
Recently I have heard much in the way of what I would classify as "misinformation" regarding the readiness of youth players to learn tactical concepts like switching play. Switching play as a tactical concept ultimately comes down to recognizing space and making decisions based on that spatial awareness. Switching play doesn't mean crossing a long-ball forty/fifty yards from one side of the field to the other. It is about recognizing the space to see the opportunity of when space is condensed, versus when space is available and what to do in both of those situations. It is therefore an essential concept that can be taught to players of just about any age. Here is a session plan and key coaching points to match, all about spatial awareness and switching play!
COVID-19 has presented unique challenges for coaches across the globe. A year after joining an MLS-affiliated organization at the start of a pandemic, Trevor McGahan gives Rhys Desmond and TheMastermindSite.com an exclusive interview about the challenges he has faced and the experiences he's had after breaking into the coaching scene. Trevor and Rhys also discuss some of the differences between coaching in the United States to Canada, and the exciting future of young Canadian players progressing into the professional game.
You might have heard some buzz recently in the coaching world about something called "game models". But what exactly is a game model and why is it so important to coaches across the globe? Sam Holmshaw joins the podcast to discuss his insight into creating game models, and shares his experiences working in the UK coaching and football scene.
COVID-19 has presented a unique opportunity for community sports organizations and their coaches to rethink their practices and work toward greater inclusivity. In Canada, few opportunities exist in the community for youth to practice on their own through unstructured play and unstructured learning environments. This episode explores how we can create these unstructured sporting environments in Canada, using programs like Kicks in the UK as an example. We also explore how to inspire youth to achieve greater individual involvement in the sport, both in terms of participation and individual involvement within games.
Players engage in 1v1 battles just about as much as anything else in the game. So, to help players defend their 1v1's to the best of their ability, we provide eight tips for success when defending 1v1 situations.