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Soccer Euro 2016 – Skill Observations

Watching Euro Soccer 2016 games provides great opportunities to observe professional players at their best, and worst. This week I want to point out three coaching points:

1.Goalkeeping – Reaction vs. Anticipation

One of the seven speeds of soccer is anticipation speed. That is true for everyone except the goalkeeper. Soccer goalies must react to the shot and then reaction speed, or reflex, is key. A good example comes from the Portugal v. Iceland game. On one occasion there was a header on the Iceland goal from about 4 m out. The Iceland goalkeeper waited for the header and then made a reaction foot save to stop the shot. The right thing to do.

2. Sportsmanship

Players trying to draw free kicks or yellow cards without being fouled is one of my pet peeves. A good example of that was Ronaldo of Portugal. In one game his foot got caught in the grass and he fell down. He protested very obviously that he was fouled, expressing disdain at the referee. On the other hand an English player was pushed inside the penalty box. He stayed on his feet and did not go down. Had he thrown himself down, that may have drawn a penalty. You judge who demonstrated better sportsmanship and lived up top the spirit of the game.

3. Referees

I have observed very inconsistent penalty kick decisions. In some cases an obvious push or very hard elbow to body tackle goes unpunished. In other cases the slightest shirt tuck results in a kick from the spot. I understand these are difficult decisions at the pace the game is played, but…. consistency would be refreshing. If it is not happening already I would suggest that video feedback is given to each referee on his performance, good and bad, and shared with all other refs. With today’s instant communication capabilities, all referees should get a daily review of good and bad decisions so that the next day will be better.

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