By: Jose Debernard, 2006 Boys & 2003 Girls Trainer
Players often ask me “coach how can I learn new moves?” or “how can I play as such and such player?” My answer is a simple one but effective one, watch lots of soccer games on tv and study and learn from your favorite players. In my opinion, one of the easiest ways to learn about the game is by watching professional games and copying moves from professional players.
In soccer there are four pillars, Technical, Tactical, Physical, and Psychosocial. Soccer players are constantly working on the technical and physical part of the game when they are on the field, but what about the mental part of the game, how much time do young players spend learning about the tactics and mental part of the game? In my opinion, not enough. I often tell my players that the mental part of the game is as important as the other aspects of the game, if not more. When watching games on TV, try to pick a player that plays your position, so for example if you are an attacking midfielder or a striker pick players that have mastered those positions on the field, such as Iniesta or Neymar. Make sure you pay attention to details; how do they move on the field when they don’t have the ball, how do they support their teammates, how do they go in for tackles, how do they win the ball out of the air, when they lose the ball, how long does it take them to win the ball back, how long does it take them to transition from offense to defense, etc. Once you have studied a player, you can now study a team as a whole. When you study a team as a whole, try to look at them offensively and defensively. Offensively, notice how they are shifting together up the field and when they lose the ball how they are transitioning back on defense. Defensively, notice how they shift as a unit to keep the ball in front of them.
The more you watch and study games on TV, the better understanding you will have of the game and you will feel more comfortable about how to play your position. You will also learn that by applying what you learned from watching games, you will work smarter not harder on the field; obviously this comes with time. Lastly, I will say that watching games on TV helps you not only on tactics, positioning, etc., but you also become more passionate and inspired about the sport and the intensity that it takes to get to a higher level of playing. Challenge yourself and pick a team and/or a player you like, and try to be like them. Get inspired!