The Long Ball is Outdated
Over the fall, I’ve watched some middle school and high school games and there’s one thing that bugs me about a coach’s strategy—the long ball. I’m talking about the pass that is kicked like what you see in a kickball game in hopes of the Striker chasing after it. In my opinion, this isn’t soccer and shouldn’t be taught.
Instead, coaches should promote more direct passing through the thirds of the field. A defender gains possession of the ball and passes it up 15 feet to the midfielder who then passes it to another middy or a forward. In this scenario, a team is more likely to keep possession and, at the same time, teach kids how to play the game properly.
I know it doesn’t just happen in school games either. I see it all over the club level as well. If a high-level youth coach from Europe ever saw this style of football being played, he or she would probably bench all ten field players!
Why is the Lob Pass Still Being Played?
I think some old school coaches in the U.S. haven’t adapted to the times. As the game was in its infancy (even fifteen years ago), the strategy to kick the ball up the field and chase it might have worked for many teams.
However, in today’s game, coaches are more advanced with their strategies and defenders are stronger and quicker. It’s very difficult to have one or two strikers up top (with little support) taking on four defenders.
If you still play this type of soccer against a good team, they will keep gaining possession from your team’s impatience. The defending team will gain possession, work it up the field, and get many more scoring opportunities.
Should Some Teams Play the Boom Ball?
I sound like a typing contradiction but some teams might benefit from playing the long ball. For example, if a team doesn’t have defenders who can play with their feet well or a team’s pressing the ball too much, the team might want to simply get it out of there.
I think there’s a time and place for it but if this is your primary strategy then you are in trouble. Not only will good players become frustrated but they may start looking around for another team to play on.
Remember, development should be priority numero uno in youth soccer!
Coaches, Let’s Be Better!
As youth soccer coaches, let’s teach our players to use the middle and width more. Teach kids how to pass property and make quicker decisions. Let’s promote possession ball and when the opportunity arises, go for it.
By doing this, you’ll make each player a better passer. As a result, they’ll develop a higher game IQ and become an overall better player.