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In soccer/football, speed is great, but changing speed is VICTORIOUS!

When I’m talking with players at practices, at clinics or individual lessons, I always try to emphasize the concept of changing speed, individually and as a team.

When I see players just walking around on the field, while the action is close to them, according to my sarcastic character, I suggest “there are plenty of beaches and parks around here so, if you’d like to just walk, why don’t you go there instead of doing it here on a soccer field?”

Let’s make this clear:

After having dressed as soccer players, we are allowed to walk outside the chalk line that defines the field. When we cross that chalk line, and the action is close to us, we do just one thing, and that thing is…..RUN!!!

But, off course, we don’t just run. We can jog, run or sprint according to the situations! So, a good soccer player, is able to recognize when to use these 3 different speeds.

In particular, when we approach an opponent handling the ball, in order to beat him/her, we have to slow down, decide early what ‘trick’ to use, do it and after, basically disappear by sprinting away like a rocket!

Only in this way will we be victorious in a confrontation with opponents. By surprising them. Not by being an obvious target keeping the same speed by approaching them, tricking them and going away from them!

Don’t be obvious. Be unpredictable!

If you play poker, and you have a full house, don’t start throwing ‘missiles’ at your opponents at the beginning and make all of them run away! Stay calm, bet low and, when the right moment comes, shoot at them and ‘collect’!

If you play chess, you build your game developing all the pieces correctly. You occupy the strategic squares. Create a diversion. Don’t come out with the Queen after a few moves from the beginning and lose her because she got trapped in a stupid sequence of moves without any meaning. And, after having developed the pieces, you accelerate and………………… check mate in 2 or 3 moves to the other side of the board!

It’s the same in soccer/football.

As I said, don’t be obvious by telling your opponent what you will do. Make a fake, send them to one side and go away like a rocket to the other side. But, if you are victorious in the fake, and just jog away, they will recover, attack you and….win the ball back!

There are many exercises that you can do to improve your speed and getting faster is already a good achievement. Now learn to change speed!

As I was saying, individually and as a team.

This is the hardest part. Individually, apparently, is easy. But doing it as a team, really is not. Team strategy s what makes a team victorious but changing the speed of a game is one of the main characteristics that has noting to do with what is generally considered ’strategy’.

We constantly talk about 1-4-4-2, 1-4-5-1, 1-4-3-3, (we do???) and all the implications that these choices will imply but, what about changing speed while applying these strategic formations?

By the way, did you noticed the 1 in front at the different formations? That’s the keeper and he/she is part of the strategy, not someone that stays there as a spectator!!! The principle of defining the formation this way, with the 1 in front, was taught to me by Coach Frans Hoek and I always try not to forget it!

It’s seems to me very clear that, in order to win a game, there are moments in which, as a team, we have to slow down to bring the opponent team out from their half field, and after that, accelerate and kill them with an irresistible attack! (or counter-attack in the case that they had the ball and we won it back while they were attacking us!!)

So, independent of our strategic formations, it is the changing of speed that will be victorious. And, to be more clear, I’m not referring only to the speed of the ball. I’m referring to OUR speed, as a team!

How can we learn to do that?


We’ll learn to do that at practices, simulating over and over situations in which we play possession with horizontal passes between the defenders (sorry Coach Karl …….. between the backs not the defenders!!!) and mid fielders, and when the opponents come to try to win the ball back…………… ZAK! With a couple of deep passes, reach a forward and….good buy and good luck! 1-0 for us.

After we score, the 2 teams are not in the same situation anymore. We are winning and you are….loosing, and once again, the speed will become fundamental. We don’t have to push and get tired. They have to push and get tired.

So, now our goal is to slow the game down in order to break their effort in equalizing. And in doing that, they will attack in mass, offering us the weapon of the counter attack.

By doing this, staying calm and administrating time and ENERGIES (our time and our energies), we’ll make the other team get tired in constantly attack or try to win the ball back in pressing.

In conclusion, change speed individually not being an obvious target and, as a team, slow down or accelerate according to the situations.

Like always, what I pointed out above, it is my personal opinion and it refers only to REAL soccer players (what ever age they are) who play on REAL soccer/football teams.

If you just ‘play’ soccer, that is fantastically great and forget what I just said. Walk around endlessly during the games or run endlessly with the same speed, it’s just part of the fun.

Supposing that you have fun in doing these two things!

coach gianni
Posted on 16 Mar 2010 by coachgianni
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