Writing and Reading - the beat goes on.

By my standards ... we had a bad season. And just like after a poor performance in a game, I am champing at the bit to get right back out there to put things right. The self-evaluation is on-going and will be until I can get back to working with this team.  Hungry? I'm starving! And surviving on leftovers right now.  Leftovers in terms of reading through notes on past seasons.  I write and read and re-read constantly.  Reading and writing are two of my favorite pastimes.  They have proven to be both cathartic and educational throughout my life. This is certainly the case this off-season.

What I am discovering ... or remembering ... is I have been here before. It has been awhile, fore sure, but nonetheless I have traveled this path before.  There is some solace in this. There is some frustration in this.  Two main themes have emerged (as they always do).  First is to focus on what I could and can control. Secondly, ask and answer the question "why?".  

Did I do a good job with what I could control? For the most part, I believe I did. Yes, that response indicates there was room for improvement in some areas. For me recognition and flexibility are key words in this process. I took some things for granted and therefore was slow to respond. I am coming to believe I was also too ridged in my consideration of the best formation and systems of play for this team.  In fact, where I once believed I was on the cutting edge in terms of formation and systems of play in local high school soccer I now realize this is no longer true. I allowed myself to become comfortable in success.

The past couple of seasons I have not been pleased with the defense played by my teams. Where my teams were once feared because of our vaunted defense we were now average at best.  I approached this from a fundamentals standpoint - we went back to basics and drilled the basics.  Some improvements were made but it seemed like opponents capitalized on every single mistake we made. Something was amiss and I was blind to what it was.

My teams have played with 4 in the back since the late 1990's.  It worked because of the prevalence of 3 forward systems. In today's high school game the preponderance of systems we face have 2 forwards and occasionally only one forward.  Four in the back is unnecessary. In fact, I am coming to the realization 4 in the back has contributed to our defensive woes these last couple of seasons.  If a defender has no one to pressure he is in a supporting role. Four in the back saw a redundancy in supporting roles and a decrease in concentration levels in those filling non-direct support. In a sense we were lulled to sleep by a false sense of security.  it turns out this impacted our effectiveness on both defense and offense.

So it is that in addition to reviewing and analyzing my own teams' performance I have gone back to analyzing the high school game in general.  Next years team will play a different formation and adjusted systems of play. I'm already moving into design mode on this.  No, I am not going to share the changes I am contemplating and instituting for I know some rival coaches read this blog.  Our readers will need to wait until fall of 2018 to fully appreciate what is coming. Suffice it to say, we are going back to forcing opponents to adapt to what we do.  The problems we are going to present opponents next year are going to be very different from those we have presented them these past couple of seasons.  

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