Time for devils advocate. No matter how friendly a soccer game may be, the undeniable purpose remains winning. It’s human nature that man is born with a competitive spirit. We compete in school, at work, during soccer and even when we do our gardening. Stop laughing, gardening is very competitive. You spend hours doing the gardening while looking over your shoulder to compare your neighbours garden.
Then soccer without the competitive urge to win is not really soccer, is it? Any sport for that matter without the competitive urge to win, is no sport at all. I know what you’re thinking. But you told us that winning should not be the number one priority in soccer. Did I really? Coaching young kids is different to coaching full fledged professionals. Everyone agree? Although winning is not as important during the infant years of a player, it’s still the driving force. It’s the reason why kids will run around like headless chooks in pursuit of that elusive ball. It’s nature, everyone follows the laws of evolution subconsciously. Survival of the fittest is just another way of saying winning.
Without making reference to kids soccer or full time professionals, the higher the stakes in soccer, the more a team will strive to win. Agree? Even when you play with your mates down at the local university grounds, where hardly anything hinges on the result except pride, the habit of winning is evident. Competition and the urge to win signifies that you are alive. You want to compete and feel the emotion of winning like you’ve just conquered some new country that hasn’t been discovered yet. Turn on the discovery channel and you will be amazed how competition exists in all forms of life, not just sport.
When I was playing as a professional, I always treated “good losers” with suspicion. What is a good loser anyway? By this they imply that they didn’t really care whether we won or lost, it’s all the same to them. If you are competing at a high level and you have these kind of players, get rid of them now! If there is such a person or you are that person, you shouldn’t be playing competitive soccer full stop.
“Hang on there cowboy”, you shout.
“For every winner there is a loser”, you insist.
Surely that’s not your argument is it?
Fair enough, for every winner there is a loser. Young players, kids must learn to accept defeat without carrying on. They don’t have to like it! Never accept the feeling of losing. Be gracious in defeat and take it. But get annoyed, study what went wrong and find ways of winning. Remember its not natural to lose in competition unless you want to end up like the Dinosaurs and other species that have perished. The more annoyed you get when losing, the bigger the chance next time you’ll end up on that winning side.
So how do you win? How do you master the art of winning? Well if you’ve got the time, read every post on this site. But let me give you a quick synopsis. First of all, your coach and your team mates must have the will to win. It’s no use pretending that winning is not important. Too many defeats leads to early discouragement and abandonment of the game altogether. If your scores for weekly games read 6-0, 6-0, 6-2 you should be worried even if you were playing tennis.
So how do you win? Start by learning and understanding your teams strengths and weaknesses. Exploit your strengths and try to conceal your weaknesses. Also study your opponents and the opposing team. Investigate their strengths, handicaps, style and isolate their star players. If necessary, change your tactics and style to combat your opposition. Trying to play skillful soccer against a team like Manchester United will inevitably end in disaster.
If your opponents are physical and are known to be much stronger than you in certain areas of the game, there is no point rushing into a game like an amateur boxer wanting to test his skills against Mike Tyson. Work out tactics that will disrupt your oppositions play. Flood the defence, occupy the midfield and make sure you counter every strength they have with a suitable plan.
However, one should caution against ultra defensive tactics. Even when you are faced with a far superior opponent, you should never give up entirely on winning. If Greece can win the Euro Cup any team has a chance of beating the big guns.
Think of this scenario for a while. Your opponents are concentrating and trying to break down your defensive resistance and even their defenders are joining in on the attacks. But what happens when you quickly absorb this pressure and counter attack. A quick, unexpected counter attack relieves the pressure on your goal but can actually result in a goal against play. If you do not believe me, watch the European Cup in Portugal when Greece won it. That’s all they did!
What happens when you see a small fighter come up against a taller, stronger fighter? The smaller guy is always on the defensive because he does not want to be killed. But don’t think for one moment that the smaller fighter while protecting himself is not looking for that one hit or miracle punch that will knockout his opponents teeth. So remember when playing superior teams, defend and counter. Be patient and when the time is right, strike with everything you’ve got. You never know, you might go home with some extra teeth.
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