Most of preventing lopsided soccer scores comes from good intentions and spur of the moment thinking. But, better lessons are drawn from preparation. The same objectives from training should be used in games.
There is nothing worse than overt mercy. The kids bragging after the game are overheard by the losing team that “we could only score with headers” or “we could only shoot after we juggled”. Watching a clear opportunity be wasted with a precondition is nothing short of ridicule. Besides, the benchwarmers want the same opportunity as the starters who rang up the goals.
So how does a coach keep clear focus on competitive soccer when trying to be gracious three or more goals up? Obviously and foremost, give some players playing time. But, emptying the bench is not the answer. The players at the bottom of the depth chart develop by playing with the best players. They also deserve to be given purpose in the game as every other player going in. Playing a young winger to serve or new backs to possess will slow the game and create objectives to feature new players and slow the game. Having a new midfielder in charge of changing the point of attack provides both an opportunity for valuable lessons and game slowing. Training any striker to play as a target and distributor can be both valuable and slowing. Make the game about the less-featured players and give them a taste of being relied upon.
No coach wants to put mittens on players’ boots. A sharp eye for the goal must be cultivated in competition and training. Feature the midfield sharp shooting during a lopsided game by using a two penalty box game in training. Then, when imposing a condition in a lopsided game, the result is smooth and not ridiculous. The call “1805” from the sidelines imposes the conditions that after 5 passes, players may shoot from outside the 18 yard box. The 1805 game in practice keeps midfielders heads-up for their own chances while possessing the ball against strikers looking for theirs. The field is two penalty boxes facing each other with full sized goals and goalkeepers. Define the 18 yard line with disc cones. Each team has 3 or 4 midfielders in the box farther from their goal and 1 or 2 strikers in the box with the goal. No player may cross the 18 yard midline of disc cones. Next to each goal is an arsenal of balls. Only goalkeepers can put balls into play. Balls out over sidelines or end lines mean the deserving keeper pulls one out and quickly puts a new one into play from inside the 6 yard box.
Training elements from 1805 are:
- Midfielders under pressure looking for the goalkeeper out of position
- Long shooting, quick decisions
- Changing the point of attack quickly to create chances
- Using strikers as targets and distributors, giving off one-touch chances
- Strikers creating their own chances from loose balls or wins
- Strikers turning or playing back to goal
- Goalkeepers playing out balls across receivers’ paths
- Goalkeepers constantly aware of positioning
- Possession under pressure
- High energy training
Evoking 1805 in a lopsided game provides high energy for both teams by pulling the intensity into the midfield. An opposing goalkeeper can handle realistic chances without the chaos of their own defense breaking down. Teams on the zero end blend better into the game and can probably dish out pressure on 80% of the field. The winning coach’s own team maintains discipline and features different players.
Best of all, when it comes to soccer scores no team has to hear “Now you can only score with your head”.
By Diana Boettcher
FUNdamental SOCCER Contributor
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Koach Karl (Karl Dewazien)
- Emeritus Director of Coaching – California Youth Soccer Assoc. 1979-2012
- Author – Internationally Published FUNdamental SOCCER Books Series
- Producer – highly acclaimed ‘FUNdamental SOCCER -Practice’ DVD.
- Clinician at: www.fundamentalsoccer.com