May 18 soccer game.

         We knew it would be a tough game. We were playing a travel team. I do not have one girl on my team who plays travel soccer. In fact they only played the last 3 years of spring soccer. But I have a fundamentally sound team with a ton of heart. We are a physical, aggressive team that lacks overall team speed. They can compete with anyone.

First quarter started with us with the ball. The other team quickly established their speed superiority. They played a similar style to ours, short to intermediate passing, aggressive defense forcing the ball outside. They also packed the field making the short passing game very difficult. We quickly took advantage of their overagressive defense. We got a quick break away, our best scorer had the ball, made a move, their goalie fell, our girl took one extra dribble shot!!! Was stopped by their goalie. Great stop by their goalie. They followed up with a break shortly after. They drove it, beat one of our defenders, took the shot, it hit our goalies hand and dribbled in. GOAL!!!!! They went up 1-0. We had 4 shots to their 3.

Second quarter they started with the ball. It was a great back and forth quarter. They had breaks, we had breaks and both goalies were playing off the charts good. We started going for the chip to loosen up their defense. It gave us some great chances but we just couldnt finish. They also started chipping and had some incredible chances, but both goalies were ridiculous. It got a little extra physical but the calls werent falling our way. Our buildup attacks were working up field but our shots just werent hitting. After 2 it was still 1-0. We had 5 shots on goal to their 5.

We started off with the ball in the third quarter. It was the same as the second. A tough, grind it out type of game. It became a game of break aways. We were close and so were they but nothing was happening. It was just give and take. They were our team, just alot faster. Their players were getting frustrated that they couldn’t pull away and ours were frustrated that they couldnt get it in the goal. There were a lot of nice passes and buildups, but both defenses were playing great. The goalies were dominating this game. Still 1-0 after 3. They had 4 shots on goal to our 2.

Fourth quarter was the same as the previous 3. A hard fought give and take game. Very physical, a lot of buildups being negated. As the quarter went on our girls really put the pressure on. We began moving it easily through their defense but they either came up with a defensive stop or their goalie would make a great play. We were close time after time. We really dominated the last 6 minutes of the game only to fall short. We lost 1-0. We had 6 shots on goal to their 2.

I am very proud of the way our girls played. Travel teams have a hard time beating each other, they should have really taken it to us. That either means they were not very good or we have really improved. Either way I walked away truly impressed with my team. I let them know how proud I was and how impressed I am by their heart and dedication. I am a lucky coach.

Saturdays Soccer game

          We came into this weeks game with excellent momentum. This week we were playing a team a year older then us and it was our first time, practice and games included, that we had out full roster. We always have our girls show up 30 minutes early to warm up. When they showed up this day, there was no get and up and go, they were very flat. I talked to them about it, but it seemed to reach deaf ears.

The other team opened up the game with the ball. Our girls made me eat my words, they came out on fire. First 3 minutes were dominated the ball, working it up with excellent passing and some smart soccer. The unselfishness was really on display, but their goalie stop several shots and a few other went off to the side. They kicked the ball far up the field, our one defender who is very passive, did not play aggressive letting them get a very nice break. Our goalie made an excellent stop. Our mid recieved the kick, drew the defender in and made a quick move. She went around the defender, slowly working up the side drawing defenders to her. She made a beautiful cross to the forward who one touched passed to the other forward, who just got her foot on it to redirect it. GOAL!!!! 1-0 we were up. A little while later our defender had a nice tackle, pushed it up field and made a beautiful pass to the mid. The mid passed to the forward who quickly gave it back to the mid, very nice give and go. The mid deeked a defender, faked a shot and passed a dribbler to our forward, who quickly passed to our other mid. The mid hit a dribbler right past the goalie. GOAL!!!!! We went up 2-0. The quarter ended soon after. We had 7 shots on goal to their one. Nice quarter.

Second quarter started and we immediately saw a different team on the field. Our girls were not aggressive, our passes were ugly. We were walking up and down the field. They started bringing the ball up the field and everyone of our players were moving backward, which is contrary to what I teach them. They brought the ball down the field against our very passive defense, pushed it to the middle and shot. GOAL!!!!! 2-1. Our goalie didnt even move. Our girls were recieving passes very badly. Balls were bouncing 5 feet off their legs and it was very ugly. Off of one of our turnovers they chipped it up the field. Our defenders jogged to the ball, while their players ran to it. We of course got beat to the ball and they pushed hard, shot from the box. GOAL!!!!!! 2-2. The rest of the quarter was complete dominance by them. We couldn’t get our girls to play our game. If our goalie didnt make some nice saves we would be way down. They had 6 shots to our 2. It was tied 2-2.

The third quarter started and looked just like the second. We had the ball longer, they got breakaways. We were walking, they were running. Our passing was nice but our receiving the ball was horrible. Maybe it was the heat, but we could not get them to play the game we taught them. They went back to just kicking the ball, not even looking to kick it to someone. It was very frustrating, we kept instructing and offering encouragement. The ref said he appreciated the coaching method. They finally got a break, our defender hustled back and got her foot on the ball. Ball bounced up and hit our girl in the hand. Penalty shot for them. The girl kicked it and our goalie looked like her feet were in concrete. GOAL!!!! 3-2 they were up. They got 3 shots on goal to our 3. 3-2 after 3.

I told the girls there are 5 things that go into each game. 1 the refs, cant control that. 2 is the effort, which you can control. 3 is the game plan, which wins games. 4 is luck, which goes both ways. 5 is who wants it more. I told them to show me. The team from the first quarter showed back up. Out of 12 minutes, 9 of them were spent on their end. We had one excellent oppurtunity after another. Our girls just didnt pull the trigger. When they did, the defense and goalie where fantastic. They had 2 breaks the whole quarter. Everything looked great but the finish. With about a minute left our mid and forward hit on a give and go. Forward took the shot and the goalie got her hands on it. The goalie hit the ground and the ball bounced out, right to our forward. She followed up and tapped it on. GOAL!!!!! 3-3 we tied it up. We dominated the rest of the quarter but couldn’t finish. We had 6 shots on goal,4 more outside it to their 2. We ended it a 3-3 tie.

They exploited our kids lack of enthusiasm. The 2 quarters we played our game, we were dominant. They dominated the second and despite no score in the third, we controlled the ball. Our recieving skills were lacking, as was a consistency effort. Our goalie got lazy at times, refusing to use the footwork and positioning we teach her. Every coach will have these games. It is up to that coach to find their way through it without alienating their players. We go into practice and work on these issues and go out next week playing hard. The tie was a loss to me, but you cannot question their heart when it came down to it.

This weeks Soccer game.

            I was a little concerned going into this game. We were playing a team that beat us the last three times and were still missing one of our better players. They are a good fundamental team who seem to have our number. Our practice this week was cut short and this week we had 2 subs. We have faced our issues positively this season and left it with the kids. It is their team, we are the guides, they have to consistently do what we taught.

They started off with the ball. They brought it down and were stonewalled by our defense. They controlled the ball but could not get it into the scoring area. About half way through the quarter we moved our center defender (we play a 3-2-2) up to forward and replaced a mid. Our center defender turned forward imeadiately payed dividends. Our defender made a beautiful stop, passed to our mid who started bringing it up. The kids immeadiately spread out. Three passes later our new forward recieved the ball just outside the penalty box, made a move, drilled it into the net. GOAL!!!! It was the only shot on goal the whole quarter. We were up 1-0.

We started off with the ball in the second quarter. Our defense was near impenetrable. In the 12 minute quarter, we had the ball for about 9 minutes, that is no exageration. We were moving the ball real well, the passing was incredible. Our girls were dribbling until the defender committed, then would pass. We may have turned the ball over twice on passes, the rest would be on the dribble. About 7 minutes in our defense made a great stop, the defender made an incredible pass leading our forward who caught up to it, dribbled, faked once, then again, leaving 2 girls wondering what happened. She faked a shot to the right and kicked it to the left. GOAL!!!! We went up 2-0. Their goalie was playing really well or we would be up by at least 3. She had at least 5 beautiful saves. We had 7 shots on goal to their 0. 2-0 at the half.

They started the third quarter with the ball. We quickly stole the ball, our mid drove it down the right side, faked a girl out, crossed beautifully. Our forward got her foot on it, refirecting it. GOAL!!!! 3-0. They started playing very timidly. They were waiting on our girls instead of attacking on defense. That allowed us to easily set up our offense. The same mid recieved a pass from our outside defender. She started bringing it up, their defense was backing up allowing her to continue driving up. She got to the side, faked out 2 girls and crossed. Our forward, another girl who normally plays defense, got her foot on it. GOAL!!!! 4-0. Our defense didnt even let them get downfield. Everything got stopped really early. After 3 quarters we were up 4-0.

We opened up the fourth quarter with the ball. The other team was giving up. They got a break and got their only shot on goal. It was easily stopped by our goalie. We quickly pushed the ball up the field, our mid took it to the side for another beautiful cross which the same defender as last quarter turned forward easily kicked in. GOAL!!!!! 5-0. We then moved all of our defensive players up to mid and forward. We moved our forwards and mids to defense. The other team stopped crossing midfield, I think they were looking for a morale victory by not giving up any more goals. We had a couple more shots which their goalie easily stops. We had 6 shots on goal to their 1. We won 5-0.

My girls played exactly like we taught them. We have preached and repetitively practiced these things over and over again. We spend a lot of time at practice in game situations. We constantly work on passing the ball. We work on positional defense constantly. It has come together in our first 2 games. Hopefully we can keep it headed in the right direction. Fine tune what we do and add more as we go. I am very proud of these girls. They have come a long way and keep improving.

Spring Soccer about to start.

           Spring Soccer is right around the corner. After the tough finish to the fall 2 of us decided to come back for the spring. It is definitely my last rec season. I may either take over or assist with the school team in the fall. So I am going to use the spring to fine tune the things I like and add new to keep ahead of the game.

I believe in a possession game of soccer. Offensively you need to limit turnovers, put pressure on their defense/goalie, short and quick passes and unselfishness. More passing then dribbling, use the dribble to draw them away from teammates and pressure, pressure, pressure. Good shots on goal in order to make the goalie move. As the season wore on teams began packing field in order to make the short passing difficult. To combat this we used the chip, it created more turnovers. This year I will preach the cross field pass. Bringing up a defender to relieve the pressure on our attackers and flipping the attacking field. I believe this is our next progression. As well as intermediate passing.

Defensively I preach ” Do not let them dictate to you, force them to make a decision. ” I want everything forced outside, defenders using the sideline as an extra defender. Nothing in the middle and when it does the defenders pinch close to muck up the scoring area. I do not want the defenders to attempt a tackle until the team defense is in position. I call it riding the offense to the sideline. Slow them down then attack the ball. Position first, attack the ball second. We have a slower group of defenders, so we would ask them to start the buildup only if they were open otherwise get it out of bounds. It worked for a while but now they need to be involved on offense.

We are faster then we were and our stamina is way better. We start off with stretches, jumping jacks, squats and then mountain climbers. I wanted to build strength in their legs as well as get them used to the burning of tired legs, it has worked, we have owned the fourth period. We then spring half the field, jog the next half, all the way around the field. Then set cones 10 yards apart, they sprint to the first, sprint back and do this for 4 cones. Then we sprint the field, do bow ties and finish with the 20 yard box. I want to move to more interval training and anaerobic sprint circuits. You need the stronger legs in the last 4 minutes.

In order to be a good coach you need to teach fundamentals, help them become faster, better stamina and stay ahead of other coaches. Always thinking. Talk to other coaches and even refs, they see alot. Help other coaches as well if they ask for it. Drills and small sided games help more then scrimmages without rules. Each scrimmage needs rules. Only 2 dribbles then you have to pass, the whole team including goalie have to touch it for a goal to count or even goals only count off of crosses or give and goes. I am very excited for the spring season. I think it will be alot of fun.

Just remember, quick accurate passing, constant pressure and force them to take bad shots. Then you have a chance.

My plan for our Basketball team.

       It is the second season our school has had a 7 and 8 grade girls team.  Last year they scored one basket the whole season. They didnt much direction. They had 2 practices a week, just like we did. They had 3 practices before the season,   we had 5. The teams we play against practice 5 days a week and had a month of preseason conditioning. To say we were behind the 8 ball is an understatement.

Upon speaking with the athletic director we are trying to get more practice time. We do not have our own gym yet. We have seen significant improvement from most of our players, in most areas of the game. They work hard, play hard and take coaching for the most part. It hasn’t been easy, but i have started a plan. We started an offense and have begun to outline our practice plan for next season. It has been a rough season, but I have learned quite a bit.

To start the preseason we are going to work fundamentals, as any coach would. Then we will install our 2 offenses. We are going to run a 3-2 motion offense, with a high-low post and backdoor cutters. It is a little hard to teach at first, but once it clicks it is good. It depends quite a bit on screens and your players reading the defense. Our zone offense will be a 1-3-1. The key is the girl on the free throw line and the girl underneath. Both players need to move to the ball side, the underneath player needs to creep behind the defense. We have worked quite a bit on the press break, but oily t hasn’t completely clicked yet.

Defensively I want to stick with a 2-3 defense. When we use it our perimeter defends well but our backline does not rotate quick enough. I prefer this defense because of the lack of athleticism. The head coach prefers a 1-3-1 defense. I think it is a gimmick defense, it works well when it works, but when it doesn’t it doesn’t. We have been putting the girls in a man to man defense to teach them personal responsibility. It has worked in that regard, but it exposes our lack of athleticism. I prefer to press with the guards and have our 3 at half court.

Transition defense has hurt us really bad. We have one girl who gets back. I have to make that a focus from day one. With a year of experience under our belt we will be in a better place to begin next season. The program hasn’t gotten a win yet. I hope next year to get that win. But we shall see.

Our Basketball season up to now.

I knew we were in for a difficult season. We had about 5 practices before the season and zero preseason conditioning. It was our schools second year fielding a team and my first year coaching basketball.Our head coach has coached for awhile but it was only younger kids.

Our school had a combined budget of $5,000 for the girls and boys programs. We do not have our own gym, so we had to practice elsewhere. Between that and transportation our budget was gouged. We had 2 hour and half practices a week. I worked in as much fundamentals as I could. The head coach wants constant scrimmage. We get nothing out of them because there was nothing in place to work with.

The head coach wanted her kid to be the star. I had to inform her that she was not our best player. We also have a child who refuses coaching. If anything is said to her, she immediately takes it as a personal attack. When we took measures to curb her attitude and lax practice habits, her mother went on the attack. When she didnt get the right answer from the head coach, she went to the athletic director, when he didnt givec the right answer she went to the principal, who entertained her thereby undermining any other authority. It was a major issue, that was eventually ironed out.

We were not competitive. We were playing a 2-3, which we played solidly but our transition defense was atrocious. Despite drilling them to at least get one back, only one kid bought into it. Our perimeter defense was stout. Inside our girls didnt jump for rebounds or shift quick enough. At least 70% of the points we gave up were in transitions. The head coach switched us to a 1-3-1 and that got tore up, but she refused to switch out of it.

Offensively we are a complete mess. I wanted install an offense, coach was against it. I wanted to have plays, coach thought they would take up to much time. 6 games into the season she bought into the plays. We had 2 plays put in based around picks and motion. First game we ran it we had 27 shots, many of them wide open. The next day we played, the kids couldnt run the plays. We are running a 1-3-1 against the zone. It works well when they play it. It has been frustrating up to now. I give them simple assignments and then refused to do them.

I have begun installing a 3-2 motion offense. High and low post, overloading the ball side, with weak side backdoor cutting. The motion is there, they are setting picks and are now being more unselfish. The motion alone is an improvement, they do not move or come to the ball. We are not a good shooting team. I have done alot of work with their shots, they are not pushing off their chest anymore. We are hitting the rim more, not as many airbags. They know how to do a layup now.

We have seen incremental progress. I have kids crossing over, driving the lane when its there, taking smarter shots and there is more teamwork. The head coach and I are working way better together now and it shows. I am not a good coach, I am an improving coach, as is our head coach. Repetition is the key here. More practice time is also key. All I can hooe for is that they continue to improve. Hopefully we get more time next year.

Our first basketball game.

        I am not going to lie and say that I was oozing confidence. We had 7 1 and half hour practices, it was our first year in the league and the players knowledge was pretty weak. The Head Coach didn’t want to put in an offensive system because it would eat up the clock. I asked to go over the defenses, have a dry run and was told they were aggressive enough. I taught the kids a way to break the press by using picks or screens and movement. As you can see the kids werent working with much.

They won the tip off, kids didn’t play defense and they scored. Our girls forgot the press break and stood there waiting. Before you knew it we were down 8-0. I told the Head Coach to call a timeout and went over the break with them. We were able to inbound it but not move it up the court. The 2-3 defense turned into part man, part zone. One girl literally chased the ball all around the court. The spot she vacated in the zone was where they scored from. We were down 20-0 after one.

We came out in the second and were able to inbound and push it up the court. Very early in the quarter they stopped pressing. Our defense started to stay in position, except for our one outside on the back 3. Instead of covering the three point line on the back half, she would worry about the girl by the basket. She should have passed that on to the center. We stopped their fast break and it became more of a half court game. It was 26-2 at the half.

In the third and fourth quarter our lack of a half court offense was evident. We missed 4 free throws because the girls stepped over the line. Our center would not play her zone on defense and there was absolutely no court awareness whatsoever. At least 5 times we were caught from behind and had the ball stolen. I was calling for picks to no avail. Asking out bigs to establish position on the ball side to no avail. Asking for penetration again to no avail. We could not call a play because the girls wouldn’t listen. All this being said they never quit. We lost 36-6.

It was very frustrating, mostly because I wanted to approach these subjects, but was instructed not to. We play again tomorrow, I hope we learned from this. They need to play with a sense of urgency. I am sure we will see some improvement, but will it be enough.