Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Young players can learn from watching their heroes

One of the attackers in my U10s team has been having a tough time of it lately. Early on in the season he was getting a lot of the ball and scoring freely, averaging a goal every other game and getting three or four shots on target every week.

In the second half of the season the teams we have already played have marked him tightly. I’ve been trying to get him to move in different directions to lose his markers, but obviously in his young mind he can’t work out why he should when he’s been very successful without doing it in the past.

The problem is, his confidence has been hit. After a game where the defender was practically standing on his toes and he didn’t get a chance in front of goal the whole of the game, he came up and asked me if it was allowed that he was so tightly marked? He complained that the ball was intercepted before it got to him. “Look at my leg,” he remarked, “I’m bruised, I think he was cheating!”

It is difficult to explain to an eight year old that he will have to put up with defending like that for the rest of his career if he plays as well as he can. It was, of course, good defending, but that didn’t hold much water with my attacker.

So when he was around at my house with his parents I got him to watch some highlights of how the Barcelona players move to lose their markers when they are tightly marked. It helped him to realise that by moving the players were creating space for themselves and the markers were having to run quickly to get back and cover.

This is espcially true when the Barcelona team have a corner each player is tightly marked and must lose their marker to give themselves chance to shoot at goal. My attacker was impressed with all the movement and agreed he needed to do more of it. In the next game he was much more successful in front of goal and got his confidence back basking in the glory of being compared to Lionel Messi!

Watch the hightlights of Barcelona’s 5-0 win against Real Madrid last season and see how movement, support and passing took them past tight marking defenders.


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