Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training
“Can I play up front next week because I don’t do anything at the back; it’s boring?”
These were Charlie’s words to me at the end of training a couple of weeks ago. I’ve had this battle with Charlie all season having played him in every single position except left-back – he’s even been in goal. I spoke to him about the brilliant game he’d played the previous Saturday – he was captain of the team and had been running the show from central defence, wearing himself out so much that by half-time he was a puddle of sweat, yet determined to carry on.
I took him off for a while, so I suppose I could legitimately add ‘substitute’ to his many positions!
The problem is twice this season we have watched as Charlie runs up to take a corner – we’ve seen him make perfect contact with the ball as it curves high above the heads of attackers and defenders, over the outstretched arms of the goalkeeper to nestle in the corner of the net.
We’ve seen Charlie when he scores those goals – the look in his eyes, the joy on his face. It’s what Charlie likes to do.
So I spoke to him. “Charlie”, I said, “what about those amazing covering runs you made in the same game last week? What about when you made that last-ditch tackle, and two great interceptions when the opposition were on the counter-attack?”
Without that we’d have lost the game. Without Charlie in central defence we’d have looked slow and flat-footed.
“I didn’t do that!” he said. “I don’t remember that!” “Yes you did, Charlie, and saving three goals is as good as scoring three goals,” I replied. And with that Charlie’s face lit up with a broad grin. He was surprised that I was praising him for what he saw was something run-of-the-mill and natural. This is a player who never gives up, and that’s a fantastic quality to have.
“You’d be wasted up front,” I told him.
“Yes,” he agreed, “no-one else scores from corners yet can also stop the opposition scoring.”
Charlie has now started to realise that the team doesn’t win just because goals are scored, it wins because teams defend resolutely and with skill and intelligence. He’s a rare breed who can be good at both. If you’ve got one of these players, harness his skills, and prove to him how he can be good at both.
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