Westfield Soccer Association

Keep an eye on the bigger picture

Weekly email 10/7/15


As you all know, I spend a lot of time on the fields every weekend during the Fall and Spring seasons. I watch many games being played from our REC program through FC Premier. I obviously see many coaches and trainers in action every weekend, with a variety of different coaching styles. I love the enthusiasm displayed by all our coaches, helping our younger players learn to play the beautiful game of soccer.

If there is one piece of advice I can give all our coaches it would be to take a step back away from the sideline and observe what happens out on the field. Not something you haven’t heard before, but still a very important message in my humble opinion. I can give you a list of reasons why your players and team would benefit from the coach taking a step back, or potentially a few more. Better yet, bring a chair, in case the field you are playing on doesn’t provide you with a bench, and sit down while watching your player are playing the game.

I hope that by now you are all well aware that soccer is a player’s game. Which really means that the influence of a soccer coach during a game is very limited. We should allow for our players to make their own decisions, rather than the players waiting to hear from the coach what might needs to be done next. It can also be very intimidating for a young athlete to have 1 coach, or multiple coaches, right on the sideline who are all hoping to have an impact on the flow of the game.

This is however, not the main reason for this email. I would like all coaches to take in the information shared with you previously in this note, but there is an even more important piece of information that I want to share with you all. Coaches who are heavily involved coaching from the sideline more often than not lose sight of the bigger picture and are mostly looking at the player on the ball.  When you are so close to the game the chances are you have a hard time figuring out whether or not your team is organized well.

If your team is not organized well in possession of the ball, the team hasn’t taken up the right shape, we can do our best to control the decisions made by the player on the ball, but that will not have an effect on how your team plays the game. Your team needs to be spreading out to ensure the players off the ball can receive a pass. With a team bunched around the ball, our players will struggle to get open for each other. With no passing lanes being opened up for one another, the player on the ball will struggle to make the right decision. We can try to control what the player on the ball does, but we need to keep an eye on the bigger picture!

You will also miss an opportunity to organize your team in case your team does loose the ball if you are only focused on the player on the ball. Although our main focus is on the development of our players and teams in possession of the ball at a younger age, it helps to keep an eye on the overall organization of your team. If the ball moves up the field it is important to tell your backline and goalplayer to step up as well. If you fail to recognize this, the chances are your team will give up a lot of space in the middle of the field after your team loses possession. Which makes you very vulnerable for a counterattack.


So keep an eye on the bigger picture:

  1. Is your team spreading out across the field in possession of the ball? Are they in the right shape?
  2. If a team is in the right shape we can also work with our players to open up passing lanes for their team mate on the ball.
  3. If the player on the ball is provided with support off the ball he or she is more likely to be able to make the right decision without needing constant guidance from the coach.

This is a very brief summary of some very important principles of possession soccer. I will run a workshop/clinic this upcoming Friday open for all coaches in travel and intercounty to give you a bit more information on this topic.  This clinic will take place at the Gumpert facility this upcoming Friday and starts at 730PM.

I will also be able to answer any questions you might have on this topic after this clinic.

Hope to see you all this upcoming Friday!





Ruben Vloedgraven

Director of Coaching - Westfield Soccer Association