Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

How conditions can affect the way you play

David Clarke

It’s been blowing a gale lately out on the practice pitch, but nothing like what I had to endure in a match last season.

We turned up for a match and it was like being on an exposed seafront during a gale. The pitch was very open, high up, and ready to present my players with a real problem in terms of keeping the ball under control.

My immediate thought was that we would find goal-kicks, free-kicks, corners and other crosses difficult to control given how hard the wind was blowing. So instead of doing our normal warm-ups I got my players to practise set pieces, both against and with the wind.

However, I didn’t do it on our regular pitch, I took them onto an adult 11-a-side pitch next door where all the elements were exaggerated. I put my holding midfielder into the middle of the pitch and got two players to practise goal-kicks towards him. “Where would you stand when the wind is blowing so strongly?” I asked him. After a few kicks he began to realise what was required of him. He moved closer and to the side so the wind brought the ball towards him.

Then I set up my corner taker and goalkeeper so they could see the different ways the ball would move from the corners of the pitch. My keeper soon realised he must have firmer hands behind the ball to turn it away or push it over the bar. We used both ends of the pitch so we could experience the different ways the ball would move. With the wind behind us it went flat and long, but any high balls into the breeze held up and often came back at the kicker.

Playing into the wind in the first-half we kept it tight and the opposition played long balls that the wind whisked away and we could usher out. Goal-kicks were short, as was our passing game. Half-time came and the score was 0-0. In the second period we played to our strengths and passed the ball around, keeping long balls to a minimum, and the rewards came.

In the end we won easily, scoring a hatful of goals late on as the opposition tired from having to defend for practically the whole of the second half. We won because we had adapted quicker to the conditions and used them to our advantage.

So remember, when you get to a match it’s worth taking note of the conditions. Something as simple as taking the time to alter your warm-up can have a massive effect on how your team adapt and play.

In the video below I think maybe I wouldn’t have let my team play! But you get the idea from it how conditions can be something to take into consideration when your team plays.


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