Do unto the other guy… first
by Hubert Vogelsinger
A soccer game is a series of duels … completely individual confrontations between opposing players. The team that wins the most duels has the best chance of winning the game.
You first confrontation is very important, because it will often give you the edge for the rest of the game.
If you take the fullback easily the first time you face each other, the next time around the fullback is thinking, “Is he going to do it to me again?”
It’s psychological warfare.
If you can get the other guy worried about what you’re going to do to him, he’s not thinking about what he’s going to do to you.
Cock the gun.
You smell a goal, provided you can deliver the ball with maximum firepower.
But how to get that power? You must cock your leg like a gun.
Swing the leg back so that your foot almost touches your rear end. Plant the other foot beside the ball. Then snap your leg down explosively and drive your laces through the ball with your toes pointed down and your instep as firm as iron. Make sure your knee is over the ball at impact and that you follow through low with your foot. That way you can fire the ball on a low trajectory so it won’t sail over the crossbar. Above all, glue your eyes to the ball; block out everything else.
American kids tend to kick at the ball, plunk it along, instead of stroking it. At my soccer school, I take them all out at 6:30 in the morning in their bare feet. It’s freezing cold. So they quickly learn to coax the ball along, nurse it, caress it. Otherwise it hurts their feet. It’s a great way to develop sensitivity to the ball.
Watch a real soccer player manipulate the ball sometime. He’s controlling it, not just kicking it ahead and then chasing it. The only thing you ever chase in your life is a girl. Never chase a soccer ball.
Feint & counterfeint.
The best feint in the world is useless if it doesn’t register.
You must work to convince the other guy for a split second that you really are going to shoot, or pass off the ball, or whatever it is that you want him to believe.
So keep it simple. And make it look real.
To counter a feint, watch your opponent’s hips.
Don’t watch his shoulders, head, or feet; they’ll lead you astray.
His hips are at his center of gravity, so wherever they go is where he’s really going.
Use your peripheral vision to keep an eye on the ball at the same time.
Mr. Vogelsinger is the coach of Team Hawaii, runs the Puma All-Star Soccer School, and is the author of the in-depth handbook, “The Challenge of Soccer” (Allyn and Bacon).
Stripe your feet.
A soccer player will run anywhere from 4 1/2 to 7 1/2 miles during a game. So a comfortable shoe is a must.
I wear Puma – the shoes from Europe with the big stripe on each side. Puma uses a very soft, flexible cowhide for the uppers; this is very important, because if you don’t have the most sensitive feel of the ball through your shoes, then forget it, you can’t play well. And there is every imaginable kind of padding … even the tongue is padded to protect your instep.
Should you were Puma? My opinion is, a good shoe like Puma can make a difference in how you play. If you take pride in how you play, you’ve earned the right to wear Puma. You’ve earned your stripe.
The Puma Rapid
earned your stripe.
sauce: Puma 1978