Sunday, July 26, 2015

He who Controls the PACE Controls the GAME

Even at the gym, i wear my team tee proudly!
Had another ho hum session at the gym today. Mostly upper body since I almost died last week from the intensive lower body workout.

But this post isn’t about what ho hum things I did at the gym. It is about what I learnt from Coach Ivan at last week’s training. Yes. Coach Ivan returns! I love him. He’s always giving nuggets of advice to us ignoramuses on how to play the beautiful game, something that I find as valuable as the actual training itself, in terms of improving us as players. 

Mental nourishment, I call it.

As usual, he started off with an abstract analogy.

“If you are walking with your son, you do not walk so fast that he cannot follow. You follow his pace so you can walk together.

“Football is like that also. If you are good and fast, you do not take the ball and run all the way to the front, or pass a powerful but difficult ball for your teammates to chase.

“You look at your teammates, you play to their speed so everyone is playing at their maximum efficiency.”

Twisted my ankle just moments before this picture was taken. Not sure if I'm too fast for my feet or my feet move like a concrete mixer...
All this originated, as usual, from our 2-sided game at the end of the training. Too many times when we regain possession of the ball, we, being the amateurs that we are, tend to bomb forward ala Barcelona style. We scream for the ball to be played down the flanks into open space, make the winger run his socks off, then berate the strikers for not sprinting into the box to receive the cross… assuming said winger actually got the ball and miraculously managed to send a cross in. 

When the attack breaks down, we start screaming at the strikers and wingers to fall back and defend.


Have you actually tried a 50m shuttle run? 2 consecutive runs are all you need to be crying out for substitutions!

Yes its true 30% of all goals come from counter attacks (see previous post where I broke down the statistics), but you got to look at your team. If you team was just under siege from a counter attack and your hardworking attackers tracked back to defend, please don’t launch a counter attack of your own when you win back possession. No one is going to run. Your teammates need rest. 

Keep the possession.Get everyone involved in the game. Play to their feet. All your friends came down to play football, not to do 2.4km at breakneck speeds. 

As explained before, with the ball with our team, you make the opposition chase you from left to right. Don’t think it is necessary to explain which is more tiring- chasing the ball or playing the ball. In a situation where they win back possession, their legs would have gone and you will be in a better position to get the ball back.

Controlling the pace of the game to suit your team is very important if you want to control the tempo of the game. Masters of this awareness and skill include maestros like Iniesta, Pirlo and Fabregas. 

When your team is tired, play a slower game. When the opposition just harried and won possession off you, start harassing them in the next 15 sec so they don’t get time to rest.

Do this often enough, they will be like putty in your hands in the last 20mins of the game.

The old adage of the fitter team wins no longer applies. 

The game is won by the team who controls the pace of the game. 

Just like Coach Ivan said, don’t walk in front of your son. Walk next to him and the two of you will have a better walking experience.

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