There’s actually one play during a Football or Soccer match that garners more oohs, aahs and applauses than a dazzling dribble or display of ball control … the perfectly executed pass…especially the perfectly pre-planned, easy-to-control, one-touch, daisy-cutter variety that we all marvel at, appreciate and enjoy tremendously, but unfortunately experience far too infrequently as spectators and viewers.
To Soccer purists, there is no greater thrill than to witness a simple, fluid, smart, one-touch pass — or better yet a contiguous sequence and flurry of them, as the ultimate fix to satisfy our insatiable Soccer souls.
We all know instinctively that such a glorious display is what we instantly recognize and crave as the proper way to play the sport, yet we all settle for a more choppy, stop-and-go, physical and less fluid brand of the sport at the pro level … displays of Football or Power Kickball … when in fact, a more elegant and productive iteration of the sport in the form of 10%+ one-touch, pure Soccer is within our reach if we start demanding such from our players and coaches.
Why do we put up with players retaining the ball when they could more efficiently share it with appreciative teammates as a habit and requirement of play, and as a reward for the Soccer-hungry fans? That has to, and will change over the next decade.
We deserve better Football and its more beautiful-pass-happy brother … Soccer … where more than 10% of the play is filled with eye-catching, soul-appealing, simple, one-touch daisy-cutters.
Reaching Soccer Utopia
How will we get to that ‘Soccer Utopia’? It starts with an understanding and commitment to this fluid brand, especially at the youth coaching level.
You can’t implore players to make perfect daisy-cutters until they fully appreciate the value of it, not only as a productive and enjoyable way to play, but also to jumpstart the better play of their teammates.
Yes — good passing is contagious. Perhaps more significantly is that poor passing, and unnecessary ball retention and dribbling are also contagious.
The former inspires attacking Soccer and proper, productive movement to an open space when a player knows that he/she is likely to receive a well-executed, highly-controllable, one-touch pass from someone who possesses, or is about to receive, the ball.
Never do Kickball
On the other hand, the reverse is painfully true, and all too common. Players who don’t have confidence that a player will release the ball, or will one-touch it — or worse yet, are convinced that the player won’t give up the ball with the precision and regularity that they wish for, play less productively themselves.
They are more stagnant and thus less apt to be in the flow of the game; often left flat-footed and less capable of performing a positive play themselves; becoming part of the continuum of unproductive play and become accessories to anti-Soccer.
They become the perpetrators of Kickball … and the losers in the equation are the spectators, their teammates, the sport of Football, and the advanced passing-and-movement based sport of Soccer.
An accurate, daisy-cutting, one-touch pass in Football or Soccer is the equivalent of scoring a bucket in basketball, and should occur during a match almost as frequently but, unfortunately, because of outdated traditions, paradigms and coaching shortcomings, especially at the youth level, the skill and imagination required to perform this basic element of Soccer is largely a deficient art-form.
What a shame.
Change is coming
And the frustrating thing is that it’s not as difficult to train and insist on 10%+ Soccer, with its scarcity squarely attributable to a lack of demand by coaches and the public, plus a paucity of pure, replicable fluid Soccer play during senior level and pro matches players can emulate and add to their skills and paying repertoire.
That will change over the next decade. All it will take is one highly successful and celebrated team, league or nation to take on the job of standing up to, and disrupting the status quo of how the game is played on their pitches.
We’re close. It’s going to come from a country not so fixated on a tradition of retention-addled, staccato Kickball as its primary model and reference … which is the foundation and perfect firmament for pure, American-exceptionalism Soccer to take root!
Written by Ray Lindenberg
Follow Ray on Twitter @ProPrepSoccer
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