Assessing Each Player On The Pitch As An Individual

Analysing a teams weakness is not a skill many junior or youth soccer coaches have, especially if they are a volunteer or enthusiastic parent.

A question often asked is “are there any specific tips available about analysing individuals in the team?”

Well, for most of the game the majority of your players will not have possession of the ball.

Therefore, they will spend most of their time taking up a position on the pitch to either support an attack or help with defensive duties.

This is one element where you should focus some of your attention when observing your players.

Remember the old soccer saying…Pass and Move…and it’s stood the test of time.

The movement element of any soccer is critical. Players should constantly be on the move, looking to support an attack or equally build a defensive line to prevent an attack.

A valid observation for soccer coaches is to look at the six players who are closest to the ball and see if their positioning in relation to the ball is ideal AND are they in positions to actually influence the game.

By this I mean, while they may be close to the play, are they in a position where they could receive the ball?

Are they aware of what’s around them and where the next phase of play can built?

What’s their body positioning like, is it open to the field of play or closed, limiting their options?

These are all factors when assessing the support players around the player on the ball.

However, it’s when your player gets the ball, and what they decide to do with it, that highlights the strengths or weakness in their decision making process.

This process is probably the most important aspect of their soccer skills and one that you should focus your attention on.

Here are two critical factors for you to concentrate your analytical skills on…

#1 Which option is chosen?

Does the player make the right decision based on the range of options available to them?

Do your players understand what’s going on around them during the game, do they read the situation and assess the options open to them.

When they got the ball where did their first touch take them, did they create space and time for themselves or do they put themselves under immediate pressure?

I always ask my players to assess SOS!

SOS stands for Space, Opponent, Support.

When players are assessing what’s on I ask them to first look for the space and take the ball into it, providing its there.

If space isn’t available to exploit can they take on an beat their nearest opponent?

Finally, if they can’t find space, or take on an opponent, then where is their support player.

This simple three step assessment is quick for the players to do and helps them to quickly make up their mind.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and one all sideline coaches have to hand, remember to be impartial with your feedback and thoughts.

When observing players you may think that the correct action to take was to send a pass down the wing. However, do understand that the players on the pitch may be under pressure and the course of action they took at the time may be the right one at that moment.

#2 Technical Execution

After making their decision was it the right option to take and what was the level of technical proficiency of the skill?

Choosing the right option available is easy however… but it’s another to execute the correct technique while under pressure.

By taking notes about individual players, and the team as a whole, during your observations will provide with a useful guide for future training sessions.