Week of April 13, 2020

Hope everyone had a nice Easter weekend.  There should be another soccer update this week.  As most of you are aware, SLYSA continues to press forward, asking for black out dates, etc.  This shows some hope.  Be prepared for worst and expect the best.  Please continue to communicate with your families.  If you haven't been sending out emails, calling families and or Zoom Meetings, please do so.  If you are personally struggling with crisis and need the club to step in and help your team please email me directly- jasonglover@steamerssoccer.com
We can all agree that good health, physical activity and caring for one another is the foundation of vibrant lives, thriving communities and forward progress.  We do this by staying connected.  By reaching out with your players, your families, your team.  Simply ask, "How are you doing?"  It's important.  You are important.  Keep your family safe.  

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Soccer intelligence

1. This is the “thinking” part of the game. The game starts in the head of the player and we as coaches must guide the players to think more quickly and with better accuracy in decision making.

Soccer intelligence is based around players being able to identify their options BEFORE they receive the ball; and pick out the best option of hopefully several available to advance it; and maintain possession of it in the next phase of play.

2. Another VITAL part of developing soccer intelligence in a player is the “Coaching Methodology” a coach uses.

You will never know how much a player understands until you ask them.                               

How often does your coach ask the players questions in training, how often do they ask the players to “decide themselves” where would be a better position to stand, what would be a better pass to make, where would it be best to dribble, where would it be best to play one touch; and then have the player SHOW the coach through their own movement and decision making?                                                                                    

How many times do you see a coach tell the player to do this, do that, go here; go there?

The player does it but doesn’t necessarily understand it; they did it because the coach told them to.

So with this current and prevalent style of coaching how does the player learn soccer intelligence for themselves when they are being told what to do all the time and not allowed to think for themselves? EXACTLY, they DON’T.

So from this my directive would be from the earliest age possible the coach should engage the players in conversation about the game, get their opinion, the coach doesn’t ram their opinion down the players throats, after a minute are the players listening anyway?

Half time team talk, have the players run it, yes even at U8. Ask them questions don’t tell them everything that happened unless they clearly do not understand for themselves and need the help.

In time you will see they are thinking for themselves; identifying situations that happened in the first half that they did well, that can improve on.                                     

Of course the coach must offer advice also, but mix it up so everyone has a chance to add constructive information.

From this you would find the players begin to talk more on the field of play which is a serious problem in youth soccer in the USA where players play and hardly say anything.

They should ALL be communicating on the field which means less need for the coach to offer direction, and therefore offer direction sparingly when they really need it.

So start this process as early as possible.                                                                    

Why is it Important?

Without soccer intelligence a player cannot assess situations quickly enough  through thinking and movement and therefore cannot maintain possession of the ball especially in pressure situations that occur every second on the field of play.

At what age should soccer intelligence training start?

It depends on the player. Some can start at 7 years old some might not be able to grasp it until 10 years old. Generally speaking the earlier the better; introducing very simple decision making training at 7 or 8 years.                                            

Development of technique with closed skill training is the most important at these ages, repetition of the same things without too much thought; so they are capable of making successful dribbles and turns and passes without pressure and then introducing decision making to see if the players know where, where, how and why to make that pass, that dribble that turn and so on with pressure included.

Creating situations in training where the player MUST look around before they receive the ball, and so setting “conditions of training” to ensure this happens.

Simply put it goes like this and in this order:

  1. Observe where the ball is coming from

  2. Observe how it is coming? In the air; on the ground; and position accordingly

  3. Know where “teammates” are before receiving the ball

  4. Know where “opponents” are before receiving the ball

  5. Know where the “space” is to play into before receiving the ball

  6. Decide what to do with the ball before the ball arrives (one touch pass, two touch, dribble, run with it etc)

  7. Observe “where” the ball is to be moved to (where is the free space for example)

  8. Decide “when” the ball has to be moved (quickly due to pressure or keep it as you have time)

  9. Decide how the ball needs to be moved (one touch pass, two touch, dribble, run with it etc)

  10. Decide why that is the best option (compare all options with the teams tactical objectives in mind and pick the best one)

All this must be processed in the players mind BEFORE they get the ball.

  • Look / Observe: what are my options?

  • Body position: Open stance

  • Feet preparation: not flat footed; but fleet of foot

  • Communication: with your own eyes, vocally or from teammates

All done below after receiving the ball:

  • Technique: the first touch; could be a controlling touch so 2 touches or more; or a one touch execution

  • Skill: the when, where; how and why of the technique; the decision making process

  • Mobility: Movement off the ball by the player and preparing for the next phase of play

  • Transition: we lose possession we immediately tune into a defending mentality from an attacking mentality

To add, many players have the first part (the most important part), the look / observe assessment of options after e) and before f) when it should be at a) and be the first thing they do.

They don’t assess their options until they have received the ball and often this is too late and they lose possession.

Therefore the Look / Observe; if done before receiving the ball; actually may give them more “time” and offer three or four yards of space “in their head” or tell them they need to move it one touch because there is quick pressure on them.


Thanks coaches.   Please have a safe and healthy week.  You are important.


© 2020 by St. Louis Steamers

Our Facility is Minnie HaHa 13091 Gravois Rd, St. Louis, MO 63127
Minnie Haha is located in Sunset Hills, Missouri. This is a Sunset Hills park and recreation location. The location can hold up to 4 soccer fields. The St. Louis Steamers have a partnership with the Parks and Recreation Division to continuously upgrade and maintain the grass fields. Minnie Haha has a very nice walking path for parents, playgrounds for siblings, bathrooms and a concession stand.

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