"motivation to succeed is far more powerful than simply being ‘dedicated’ to the sport"
This is a topic hot on my mind as of late, and with good reason... Last weekend I took the idea of counting how many Throw-ins my u12 team received during one game, and how many we actually managed to possess. When I say posses, I am theoretically stating - how many did we manage to connect 2-3 passes from, and transition into a purposeful attack or possession based piece of play. My statistics came out like this.
Throw ins "earned" - 18
Throw ins connected in possession - 3
Throw ins "turned over" - 15
Many coaches will look at this and say " ok, this is normal, we aren't too bothered as its just a throw-in, there's no point to this".
Well here is my point that I made to my u12 team last night. "We earned the right to maintain possession by winning a throw in, and we gave possession away 15 times, for free, without even being tackled by an opponent". The kids all looked at me, blinking as if they just did the math in their heads and realized the true nature of the stats I just threw at them. To give possession away 15 times in a game from a throw-in is quite a lot, by any margin, and something I've decided to attempt to change a little.
I want to encourage my team to build from our own half, I want us to be confident enough to cycle the ball backwards and not always go for the "Bomb forward" that too many kids in US youth soccer seem accustomed towards showcasing. It's not just about the throwers though, where is the movement? Too many kids are stood there, idolizing the thrower just wondering if the ball may land at their feet, and this is something, as coaches, we can help affect in such a positive way.
If we can present ideas, and help encourage movement patters by painting different pictures in our training sessions, maybe, just maybe, we can give the kids the tools to see the bigger image around them while on the field. Movement is so underrated in soccer, its the greatest mental skill any single player can have, and its never too early to develop the mental understanding of the game these days. For example, when my 3 year olds are dribbling through gates, I give them all a "steering wheel" to drive their favorite cars while they dribble through the gates... Why? It stops them wanting to use their hands, because they're so fascinated by their fast cars and the ball at their feet.
Anyway, going back to throw-ins. I also counted the oppositions throw in's, we gave them 25. How many did they possess successfully? 1, all game, just one where they actually connected 3 passes from it. Which probably explains why we just edged the game 2-0. But the principle of "wasting" possession is so evident after my recent study that I just had to do something to help encourage a possession based mindset from throw-ins.
Below is my full session exercise for UTILIZING THE THROW-IN. I hope it is useful and helpful to many others, I did the session and it went very well recently, so I'd be interested to hear from other coaches who try it.