10 Tips for managing your team

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Chairman, committees, managers and coaches need to have a clear philosophy. To best develop players, entertain people and make the game enjoyable; this style needs to be the ‘Passing Game’. In the UK, moves by the FA to introduce 9 a side, more futsal and get coaches qualified, whilst all having a positive impact, fail to address the main problem with the game – STYLE. The fact is the majority of teams at all levels/ages basically play long ball percentage football with often no discussion about the style a team will play.

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             THINK LONG TERM

If working with young players aged 6-16, explain to all involved the ‘winning TRAP’. Adopting long ball tactics may win in the short term but will not develop players – tactics develop technique. Each one of the following might, and certainly will with younger players, cost goals and games:

- Think for themselves, playing for the TEAM not themselves.

- Rotating positions helps develop technique and understanding.

- Attacking, set up to score and attack but not be negative – this better develops players.

- Passes are mainly short and the team play out from the back.

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The team should always look for a forward ball and regularly build play from the back and through midfield. The aim is to play attacking, entertaining football.

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              PASS, PASS, PASS

For every 10 minutes of game play, set a target of around 40 passes (or choose your own number). These are mostly short passes but there are longer passes forward and passes to switch play and exploit space. The team can keep possession in tight spaces in the opposition half. The team can attack quickly but also be patient and the team regard a ‘cross as a pass’ - and not simply ‘lump’ the ball in to the penalty area. The team plays the same way when the score is 0-0 as when they are winning 3-0! Teams often play poorly and then start to play when they are ahead.

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             THE NUMBER ‘10’

The team has at least one player, and preferably more, who can play as a number ‘10’ and the team use this pass a lot (around 40 times a game) as well as passing to feet - even if players are marked - in all areas of the pitch. This requires practice and players who have technical and tactical ability.

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The team defends to attack – it does not foul often or kick the ball out unless they have to and does not simply ‘lump’ it forward. Defenders control the ball on their chest - not head - when possible and use the keeper as a player. This will seem scary at times and occasionally we will concede a goal but we will score more playing this way, develop players and play attractive, entertaining football (more fans will come and watch!).

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              THE GOAL KEEPER

The keeper is comfortable on the ball, throws regularly and plays out from the back, sometimes placing the ball at players feet in the area; kicks are passes and not percentage balls so the team can have an ‘attacking shape’. The general rule is s/he ‘throws more than s/he kicks’ – but throws should be regularly to halfway and midfield.

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The team take short free kicks and often short corners; throw-ins are often played back to the throwers feet but there are a variety of strategies.

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Managers and coaches are clear about the need to support players’ decisions; when they are trying to do the right thing or be creative DON’T judge decisions on the outcome. Football is a game of few goals and it is not easy to play the PASSING GAME. If you criticise players who are TRYING to play, as you ask them then they will play with fear and will not ‘offer’ for the ball.

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Players, managers and coaches all show respect for officials and the integrity of the game. The style is explained to fans, players, media etc. The team, once selected, have to work together to achieve and so new players are not brought in during the season. There is a rule about how much time players will get in games/or games they will be involved in. This helps to ’rein you in’ when you are tempted to leave a weaker player out.