Understanding the modern game…. Does it really help?

Watching our children play football for the school, their local club or in some cases a professional academy can often be an emotionally charged spectacle. But as an onlooker are we truly watching a game that we really understand?

After all football is just a game where we kick a ball and just run after it, isn’t it? I lost count of how many times over the years where at least one person on the touchline would shout as loud as they could, “run after it” or “tackle him”. It’s not like we weren’t trying to do that and as we grew older and the game became quicker and dare I say a little more complex some of the required actions were a little harder to complete as successfully as some would want.

Today’s game at the top level is quicker than it has ever been. Players are required to complete a variety of skilled actions under the most arduous of physical pressures and under more scrutiny than ever before. The development of the women’s game continues and they as players will come under this scrutiny and it would therefore be useful for all us to ask how we might be better placed to help our child develop as players and give them the best chance possible to succeed in the modern game.

Simply understanding what happens in a game is a great starting place. We all like to think when we watch our children that we understand the physical and mental pressures that they may be facing. The question is, do we? Knowledge is a wonderful thing and when applied appropriately is very powerful. Although our children cannot perform physical tasks to the same degree as those of fully matured professionals the fact is the level that they play at still puts them under pressure and sometimes great pressure, and as each year goes by that where their own physical and mental maturity evolves the level to which they can perform to may develop considerably. This in turn can put even more pressure on them.  In any game a player will experience numbers of:

  • Accelerations
  • Decelerations
  • Rapid turns following rapid decelerations or accelerations
  • Two footed jumps
  • One footed jumps
  • Physical challenges while in possession of the ball
  • Physical challenges without the ball i.e. jumping to head the ball while under pressure from an opposing player

If we also consider that the modern player can run more than 11.5km regularly and in doing so required to demonstrate technical excellence, such as the use of both feet well, control skills, heading skills and all-round mastery of the ball. Our young players are also required to move towards this competence which will allow give them the credentials to develop as modern players. The list to these aspects of a player’s play is considerable and if one was to look it at by playing position on the field could be even more interesting to the watcher. As training philosophies evolve it may be that the game becomes even faster and the technical abilities of the players may have to evolve to a level greater still.

If we can view games with such knowledge and apply that to the performance levels of our children it places us in a position of real strength because it allows us to view the game through their eyes, as they see it and perhaps may make us more informed as to the level of their performance at any given time. When we join this with the knowledge of the football club and add our contribution to it we are on the way to creating quite a powerful team around our child to help his development.

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