In recent years, the importance of stats to the professional football game has developed leaps and bounds, with clubs going into great detail when analysing upcoming opposition, individual players and so on in the hope of finding that edge.
I think that youth soccer/football can learn something from the professional game and stats can potentially be used even when coaching a local team youth team. A great way to incorporate this and something I do a lot, is use the players on the bench to help collate stats.
Before a game, I would think about what we have been working on during the week and then challenge the players on the bench to count the number of times whatever it is was done. For example, if we were working on possession, then it could be that I ask the players how many times we can make at least 5 passes in a row. Giving the players on the side this task, can help in a number of ways. First of all, it keeps the players engaged in the game on the side, so when you are ready to bring them on, they actually know what’s going on and are mentally prepared to play. It also gives you as a coach, a small level of analysis that you can potentially use during your half time and full time team talks (and even with the parents when you communicate with them).
One word of caution before using these stats, they are not the be all and end all. For example, if you have been working on shooting and ask your players to keep count of how many shots on target you have had but only have one shot in the first half, then it is likely the issue isn’t with shooting but another part of the game. It could be that your team didn’t keep possession of the ball very well, which in turn means there are less opportunities to shoot.
So next time you’re coaching a game, give this a little try, it really is a great way to keep your players engaged and provide you with a little bit of information!
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