Monday, March 21, 2016

Individual Defense Mastery

Whilst browsing YouTube for videos to improve my defending, I found this clip ( by ProgressiveSoccer. Very good tips and it addresses many problems I personally witness on the field on a regular basis. Watch the video. For those who have run out of data for the month, I have listed out what I felt were key points of the video.

Close down your Mark

ALWAYS close down your mark. Regardless of whether he is skilful, or a dumbass, close him down. Never stand too far off him as this gives him time to think and choose the best option available. CLOSE him down until you are at an arm's length away, then slow down to prevent yourself being wrong footed by his drag backs or change in directions. 

Anticipate, not React

To make your life easier, anticipate. Don't wait for your mark to receive the ball before reacting. See the ball being passed, and go. Best case is to reach him just as he receives the ball, putting additional pressure on him to control the ball perfectly. A heavy touch, and you're there to dispossess him. 

Stick to your Mark like Velcro

If your mark turns his back to you to shield the ball, spoon him. Don't worry about looking gay. Stick your body into his back and make sure he knows you're there. Force him forward. Not illegally, but let him know you're a strong defending type. Make him do the added work of having to hold you off AND keep the ball. 

A common mistake is to try and poke the ball away from the side. A decent player will have options to either accelerate away on your strong side, or wrong foot you by going the other way. 

Be like Velcro. Give him only 1 option and even then, make him work for it. 

Did I mention stick to his back like Velcro?

Get yourself closer to the Ground

When you are Velcro-ing your mark, stay low. It lowers your CG, allowing you to turn faster and/or accelerate faster. If he nutmegs you, you will still reach the ball faster if you're on your toes. Remember, as a defender, stay strong, stay intense. Don't straighten up or there's a chance your striker is gonna make you land on your ass. Like how Demichelis was made to sit on the floor doing a yoga pose by young Rashford's change of direction in the Manchester Derby on the sunday of 20 March 2016. 

Go in Hard

When you see your mark lose concentration, or an opportunity for you to take the ball opens up, go for the kill. And go in hard. 100%. Don't be afraid to dish out some body to body contact. This is to ensure that even if you did not get full contact of the ball, your mark will be off balanced and be nowhere near to take advantage. If he manages to hold you off, you are screwed. Even worse, a half-f*^£ed tackle could result with you getting injured. 

"More often than not you will win the ball just by staying in front of him."

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Protect yourself when playing under the Scorching Sun!

Word has been going around that the temperatures in the afternoons over the next fortnight might approach 40 degrees. NEA refuted these claims, saying we might hit 38 at best. Yah. Ok. That makes a whole lot of difference.

Seeing that my team plays under the unforgiving 11am sun, I felt, as the (self proclaimed) team supremo, it's my job to educate them, and myself in the process, on how to best protect ourselves from the harm of the unrelenting sun.

Fluid Intake

This is really obvious. Ensure all the players are adequately hydrated before the game, at halftime, after the game and anytime in between. Remind the players to drink up before the game, almost army style, where everyone stands together and bottoms up. If you are part of the team management, try, if possible, to buy an extra carton of water to bring to the games. Noone will complain that there is too much water to drink. Really. And remind the players not to use the drinking water to pour on their heads. Go to the loo/bathroom to do that.

Water is essential and if the budget allows it, get isotonic drinks to help replendish lost electrolytes.

Cover Thy Heads / Wet Thy Heads

Bring along a cap. Yes you might look like an uncle playing football, but it is better than getting heatstroke and looking like a dead animal lying on the grass. A cap or a bandana will keep the heat off your head and there is a lesser chance you will get a headache or feel giddy due to the bbq going on on your rooftop.

Vince (pictured above) sporting a bandana that does more than accessorize his head

Another option for the vainpots out there (like me), is to go into the shower and wet your hair before the game. Besides looking like Cristiano Ronaldo (kinda), the wet hair helps to alleviate the heat from your hair. Cue O' Level physics, where heat is extracted from the body via the evaporation of the water on thy head. If you are really hardcore, you can just drench yourself in the shower prior to the game. Just beware that wet socks may lead to slippery feet, which leads to blisters.

Wear Long Sleeves

Only crazy teams order long sleeved jerseys! Or are they really crazy? If you have played in long sleeved jerseys in Singapore, you will notice it isn't as hot and as suffocating as it looks. The long sleeves actually protect your exposed skin from the sun and after the game, you will notice that your arms don't have that burning sensation as it would have if you had worn the short sleeved jerseys.

Getting proper compression wear can help to ensure efficient use of energy, a valuable commodity when playing under the hot sun.

If, like 99% of the teams, your team jersey is short-sleeved, then get a long-sleeved rash guard, or if you are sibeh rich, get the long sleeved compression tops. They make you look pro, they make your midsection look smaller by squeezing it, and they protect your skin the way long sleeved jerseys do.

Ask the Ref for Water Breaks

I think most referees do that these days. If the weather is hot, take a short water break every 20 minutes. If the toilet is nearby, run to the toilet and wet your hair again to keep your scalp cool.

At the end of the day, learn to protect yourself and your teammates. If you feel giddy, ask for a substitution and leave the field to freshen up. There are countless injuries that can occur when we are tired or unwell, and we are not even taking into account heat injuries. If you see your teammate looking giddy, quickly bring him off the field for some first aid. The refs will understand.

Take care peeps! And play safe.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

My body weight vs my strength. Clear winner there!

Wow! Been a while since I last blogged! 

That doesn't mean I haven't been working out. The journey towards match fitness is a long, arduous one. Kinda like my battle with fried foods. 

Today went for a Callisthenics class. Simply coz I was curious about Calisthenics. 

We did this for 30secs, 6 reps. Arms felt like swollen tofu thereafter...

Simply put. I almost died. My upper body strength (or lack thereof) simply couldn't support my weight (which of course is made up of largely muscles and stuff). 

The workouts were focussed largely on upper body strength. And it's obvious the guys were having a hard time coz ALL 7 guys were struggling to balance their handstands (after 45mins of pull-up-like workouts, the hands really felt like giving way), while the 3 girls were ramrod straight. 

Ok. So one looks like she lives in a gym while the other 2 are yoga instructors. But still...

Will continue to look for interesting classes to go. In the meantime, I gotta squeeze in some time to post my last few fitness class visits. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Training no substitute for Game time

For the last 6 months, I had to skip my weekly Sunday games due to work commitments. In an attempt to stay fit and match ready, I attended weekly Wed trainings religiously, on top of my Monday gym to ensure I'll slip right into the squad should I return to the squad. 

Unfortunately, as conscientious as I was, I found out recently to my detriment that all that training DID NOT keep me match fit. 

I was doing alright in training. Putting in 100%, running, tackling, shooting. 

The red of AC United flows through my being! Not looking forward to its hardening into the infamous bakwa (roasted meat) though. 

Then came match day. A friendly against an old foe. I was so off the pace, my fitness was terrible, my ball control and decision making was abysmal. I was everywhere, yet nowhere at the same time. 

Last Sunday was my second game back in the team. I still felt a little lost, my teammates were asking what I'm doing and one actually told me I used to be much faster to the ball. That 'used to' was a mere 6 months ago!!!

I guess all that training did ensure I did not fall too far off the required pace, but apparently, it's no substitute for a good hard game of competitive football. 

A little bakwa on my left knee and a sprained right ankle are reminders of how far off the pace I currently am. 

I may suck for another 2-3 games. But I guarantee you I'll be back. Better than before. I owe it to my team, but more importantly, to myself, to return to my best and more. 

Bring it on!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Advanced defending for the more accomplished defenders

At football training sometime last month with RMFTA, we did a simple segment, where a single attacker goes one-on-one against a single defender and tries to beat him to score.

I was pitted against my brother, a 120kg behemoth, who is a rock as a centreback, but as an attacker, not someone that'll make me quake in my boots. So here I am, facing up to my bro, tilting my body to show him to my left so I can move in for the steal when he goes for the shot with his masterfoot.

Instead, he did the unexpected and cut the ball to his left, ghosting past me like I wasn't there. If he took an extra touch or two after getting past me, I might have been able to recover and put in a tackle. But he took the right option for an early shot with his first touch after getting past me, smashing an unstoppable left footer into the net that would have made any striker proud. 

Damn that was a rude wake up call!

Probably overconfidence on my part. And some impressive footwork on his part. (There! I said it! You happy now?) But I also realized there's something fundamentally wrong with my defending in one-on-ones situations. 

Came across a Nike Academy training video that really shed some light. Not just on individual defensive skills, but the collective defensive covering and movement as well. Have a look at the video and you'll understand where I'm coming from.