There is an epidemic hitting the soccer world. Something has corrupted the mindset of our youth players to make them think they can score a goal while laying down on the field. I’ve seen a lot of soccer and I’ve never seen a goal scored by a player with his nose in the grass. I think the real issue stems from the excitement of a direct kick somewhere around 20-25 yards out. It’s a lot of fun to try and strike a ball from distance and curve it around 5 defenders, under a crossbar and just out of reach of a goalie. But, personally, I would rather be traveling at a sprint with no one but me and the goalie to beat. My chances are much better that way. Professional players like Cristiano Ronaldo have, frankly, made an art of the dive. They are very good at it but that is a bad influence on the game.
Remember, if you are fouled the referee will give you a few seconds to try to gain control and “Play On” with the ball which gives you an advantage… it’s called the “Advantage Call”. So, you may still get the direct kick you want and the chance to stand at attention as the entire opposing team assembles themselves in front of you. You also have the chance to use your athletic ability to keep the ball moving forward and as everyone is expecting you to fall you keep going. You keep playing. And, you have a better chance of scoring because you only have one or two defenders to beat — BONUS! Neither of them are expecting your attack because everyone is expecting the play to stop because there might have been a foul.
Strategically, the Play On call is awesome and should be used more. Coaches and players should let the referee know that you are going to do everything you can to keep your feet and to PLEASE try to give the advantage call before a direct kick is given. I had the awesome opportunity to watch two of the best EPL teams play in person yesterday. Chelsea and Manchester City played a friendly in St. Louis and I had great tickets. The most amazing thing was watching Tevez and Aguero and most of the other players play at top speed. Even better was how they would play for the Advantage Call. The ref was kind enough to let the action move on the field and gave the advantage call. On one occassion we saw everyone practically stop because the foul on Aguero was so tough but he kept his feet moving and kept the ball close. The ref yelled PLAY ON and he was literally racing through 40 yards of field without anyone in his way. It was spectacular!
SoccerPro is so dedicated to the Play On call that it has created a practice drill that reinforces keeping your feet and ultimately scoring because of your hard work. It’s called the Play On Challenge. Visit www.soccerpro.com/playon to get a downloadable practice sheet and watch the video on how to run the drill. If you have any questions or recommend ways to improve the drill I welcome any comments below.