I need to work harder... and smarter.

Our U17 team got thumped 1-6 on Sunday.  The match was both closer than the score indicates and worse than the score indicates. How can that be?  Well, there were periods where we passed the ball well, built attacks and were dangerous. There were also times our defensive alignment was the best its been all year.  So, consistency was obviously a problem.

With a talented and deep roster "buy in" becomes a critical consideration and unfortunately not everyone has bought into the team style of play we are attempting to implement.  As a coach, little is as frustrating as having to correct the same mistake repeatedly. This is unfortunately the position I find myself in these past two weeks. Old habits can be difficult to break, but I expect effort in attempting to establish new, better habits.  That "buy in" to improve individual play for the benefit of the team has been lacking. It's my job to do a better job of selling sacrificing self for team.

As an experienced coach I know that sometimes team chemistry never does develop to an extent that allows collective achievement to rise to potential.  Some of the most talented teams I have ever been associated with have under achieved because some key players never came to appreciate and understand what it means to play for their teammates.  I'm not sure we are that point with this team, but we have a need for greater buy-in to a team first approach.

To date, I have started the best individual players with the belief that as they learned to play together they would develop a team approach to the game. Our practices are team oriented to re-inforce this. We don't do a lot of individual work. Almost everything we do is based in playing together as a team.  Support on offense and defense.  Sharing the ball ... or allowing the ball to do the work for us. 

Johan Cruyff once stated that "the most difficult thing is to play simply" and this is a message we need to heed. Too many lost possessions caused by taking on multiple defenders or by attempting fancy passes instead of a simple push pass.  Trying to be spectacular rarely works. The "Play of the Day" plays arise from making the simple play on a routine basis, then when extraordinary is called for it is based in simple fundamental play.

For the next match I will start the 11 that play best together instead of the 11 best players. A subtle difference at times, but success is found in the smallest details of the process.  The small details is where our process has faltered in recent days.  As a coach I must encourage paying attention to the details of the process. I must help this group of players develop individual and collective discipline where it concerns the details of the process. Once we re-establish that base I am confident we will regain momentum and finish the season strong.

Lots of work to do. 

Time to get started on it.

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