by Jeff Pill
If one of the goals of coaching is to get the most out of the available time for practice, it is important to make a careful analysis of what needs to be done. The best way to find out what needs to be done is to observe a team in a full game.
What follows is a checklist of considerations which will help guide the coach’s thinking and planning in deciding what needs to be done. Much of this material can be found in Alan Wade’s book, Soccer: Guide to Training and Coaching.
A. Control of the Game: which team established this control in terms of:
1. Territorial advantage
2. Ball control
Also, was time with the ball productive? Did it lead to increased scoring?
B. Is control the result of:
1. Tight marking?
2. Loose marking?
3. Physical domination by specific players?
4. Unforced errors or lack of technique?
C. To what extent are the basic principles of play being ignored or exploited?
1. Is there adequate depth in defense?
2. Is there variety in attack?
3. Is there support, etc.?
4. To what extent does the team commit itself to regaining possession once possession is lost?
These and other questions relate to the basic principles of play and can be used to single out individuals, or the collective action of the group. However, they should be evaluated in light of certain strengths or weaknesses of the opposition.
D. Is the team being stretched territorially?
1. Are supporting defenders supporting close enough?
2. Are attackers failing to recover to support defensively?
3. Are attackers running away from the ball instead of checking back for it?
4. Are defenders retreating too soon and too quickly?
5. Is an attacker taking as much space forward of the ball as possible? Is the attacker letting a deep lying defender go
E. What is the work rate of the team and individuals?
1. Are players working hard in the wrong place and at the wrong time?
2. Are defenders over committing in the wrong place?
3. Are attackers making runs when the ball is not ready or able to be served?
4. Are certain players hiding, not wanting the ball?
F. What is the team’s tactical pattern?
1. Who are the principal feeders?
2. Where and how do these feeders get the ball?
3. Who are the principal receivers?
4. Where do receivers receive the ball?
5. Is there variety?
6. Does the team play direct or indirect?
7. Does the team’s tactical plan match their technical ability, mental ability, and
G. What is the team’s defensive tactics?
1. Zone, man-to-man, combination?
2. High pressure or low pressure?
3. Does the team defend “outside in” or “inside out”?
4. How do they defend in the air? . . . on the ground?
H. Is the dominant team given too much time or space?
1. Can the team defend a strong player individually?
2. Which players fail to contain well?
Many defenders defend too loosely. This does not mean that a defender should always commit to tackle, but the attacker must be made to work hard for what the attacker is trying to achieve.
I. Is domination coming from team rhythm and effort?
How can the rhythm be disturbed? Higher pressure? Higher off-sides line? More depth? More forechecking?
J. From where does the team like to penetrate?
1. Crosses? Early or late?
2. Through passes?
4. Late runs from midfield as target attacker holds ball?
5. Overlaps? Etc., etc.
K. What are the strengths and weaknesses of individual players?
1. Are they being utilized correctly?
2. Are they playing out of position?
There are several things to keep in mind when completing a match analysis:
1. This is not a means of humbling or belittling players. It is a means of determining where a team can improve, and thus acting as a guide for deciding what needs to be emphasized during practice. One of the goals of coaching is to improve the abilities of individuals and the team.
Match analysis is used for these ends.
2. The way that a team plays at any given moment depends greatly on how their opposition is playing.
3. It is wrong to generalize too much about certain tendencies or strengths of your team or an opponent based on one glimpse. Initial
impressions may be superficial or deceiving.
4. The effective coach does not evaluate in a hurried or emotional manner.
5. If analysis is to be constructive, it must be both thorough and logical, with a specific plan to follow.