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Easy Pass, Assist and Score.

Can we say that shooting in goal and scoring could be considered the final ‘pass’, in a sequence of passes that lead to ’score’? I think so.

Can the pass to the player that will score, that we call ‘assist’, be considered a normal pass? I thinks so.

So why we are able to make dozens of passes correctly and when we have to make the one that really counts, an ‘assist’ or a ‘shoot’, 99% of the time we miss it?

It is not easy for me to try to explain this phenomenon for a very simple reason. I wasn’t an outstanding player but, if there were a couple of things that I was good at, they were giving the right assist to a teammate and scoring a goal from a situation that permitted it.

Those who follow my news letters know that I rarely talk about myself or my soccer achievements but I’ll make an exception. When I was 17, with my team named Ausonia Grassi from Milano, we won the National Title playing the final phase in Rome. On that occasion, in the Semi-final and consequently Final, I scored 5 goals! Maybe it was for that reason that A.C. Milan asked my team to trade me and to let me play on their youth team!

Without false modesty, I can say that some are lucky to be born with a certain kind of talent. This is something that can’t be taught. You have it or not. But this is only one of the components that make you score easily. Being cold under pressure it helps in scoring but that’s not only dictated by character. I’m not a cold person. Who knows me personally, can easily say that I’m the opposite! So why was I cold under the pressure of a game?

Because I was very well trained!

My father (he played professionally in Serie A) began to coach me when I was 6. I have to say that, he coached me a little too early, a little too hard and a little too boring! Fun never entered into my father’s coaching and I almost had a rejection of soccer. But this was 50 years ago so, it is comprehensible considering the times. The sophisticated techniques that are applied today, weren’t invented yet so, he trained me like his coach trained him, forgetting that I was just a kid of 6 years old!

But one thing is for sure. When I was 10, in proportion, I was much better than when I was 17. At 10, I was a ……………………………… monster!!!!!

If, in growing, I had kept the same level of improvement, I could have reached any level possible. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the right ‘attitude’ and the right ‘guide‘. I was too good and very tall for my age. I stopped trying to get better! When I enter A.C. Milan I didn’t know yet the famous quotation. "Your talent has brought you here. Your character will permit you to stay here!”

When you enter in a reality in which other hundreds are good like you, no one cares if you care or not. It’s only about you.

Now I know. Too bad. Too late!

When my father coached a semi-professional team, very often he made me train with the adults. This means 25/28 year old semi-professional players.

When we did the shooting drill, kicking from outside of the big box, the ball came from the side and we had to shoot to the post that my father yelled, just a fraction of second before the shot. I repeat, I was 10, but very often I scored, shooting a foot from the post, a couple of feet from the ground, against a very good keeper, 25 year old, semi-professional!

I think that he really hated me!

My father, 50 years ago, invented a way to hit the ball with the head, by attaching soccer balls to thin nylon ropes and making them stay suspended from the ceiling of the gym. We players, standing and jumping under the ball, hit it HUNDREDS OF TIMES every practices, with the right timing sending the ball back and forth, like a boxer does with the punching ball. This exercise repeated for YEARS every week, made my timing in hitting the ball, perfect.

Perfect means, at the highest point possible, looking at the ball, going in the direction from which it comes and sending it ON THE GROUND to the goal line close to the post.

During that famous Final in Rome, 2 of the goals I scored were with the head. The first from an indirect free kick from half field. Without going in off-side, I arrived at the appointment with the ball, very high in the air, above the opponent keeper’s hands. The second was in counter attack, from a cross kicked very powerfully, almost horizontally, and when I hit the ball, running to it, the impact was so hard that blood come from my nose! I hit the ball almost at the border of the big area and the power was almost as if I kicked with the foot. The keeper didn’t move because, by the time he realized what was happening, the ball was already in. I still remember the titles in the news papers in Rome and Milano. When I was still living in Milano, even after 30 years from the goal that permitted us to receive a Gold Medal from the President of Italy, every time I encountered some of the parents of my team mates, before even saying “hi”, or anything to me, they always said: "Gianni, what a goal you score in Rome!" After more than 30 years.

O.K. Sorry I talked to much about myself but, I did this to try to explain that it’s only PRACTICE, PRACTICE and more PRACTICE, that gives you that confidence which make everything apparently easy. This way, an ‘assist’ will be just a pass like all the others. But this will make a team mate score.

When you shoot from outside the big box with the right technique, in which you lock your ankle, snap your knee, bend the knee of the leg on which you put the weight of your body, hit the ball in the middle and look at it, you’ll see that the ball will go away like a rocket, a couple feet from the ground and one foot from the post. Just as you will make a pass to an invisible team mate that is in the opposing net!

There is no time to practice this during a team practice one time a week so, do this hundreds of times by yourself against a wall and you’ll see that, at the right moment, it will be only a formality to score. It will already be a goal, before you shoot it!

Remember. Just pretend to pass the ball to an invisible team mate that is in the net at the far post.

Even better. To remember, pretend that is me!

Coach Gianni
Posted on 19 May 2006 by coachgianni
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