So I have been fortunate enough to play varsity soccer, broadcast pretty high level collegiate soccer games and now began my first stint as an assistant coach for my high school soccer team. It is truly remarkable the different perspectives you gain from each part of the game.
First when I played soccer as a goalkeeper in high school for two years is like a position comparable to being a catcher in baseball in terms of thinking in the game. I think while your team has the ball and is progressing up the field, you get to see who is making cuts or runs, who is playing man or zone defense, and who is trying to stretch the defense or push that offsides line. You also tend to have plenty of time from game to game where you are not constantly running around and it gives time to think about what you did right or wrong the previous play and what to adjust the next time around. It also gives you time to talk to your defensive line about small adjustments on rotations or just simply communication.
Probably my proudest moments from my years of playing are being on the team’s first two years and having gone to post-season play both years although we did not advance but being able to do that in a school that had 150 students going up against bigger schools and being successful. Also just a personal stat of saving 5 or 6 penalty kicks over the two years without allowing a goal is something I can say was pretty impressive.
At Stevens (and on Empire8.tv), I have been fortunate enough to broadcast collegiate games including soccer for three years now and clearly there are tons of things you learn in that period of time. The biggest change I noticed when broadcasting is you get to see the entire field and a broader view on the formations on both sides. You can clearly see if the outside backs are making runs on the outside flanks or whether a defense is successfully able to clamp down in the middle to close any passing windows. Obviously being able to see all 22 people on the field in one view helps you analyze plays and even see plays as they develop regarding who is making a run or who just happens to slip in behind the defense.
Now as for coaching, I have only done this for a couple of weeks now but it is truly unlike any of the other two. It certainly brings back the desire to play while teaching you to not only focus on one issue. You have to have the ability to watch several players and see whether they are in their right positions or are making the right reads. If they see a defender pinch in, the midfielder should have the knowledge to stretch to the sideline and give his/her teammate the option to play the through ball or even drop one over the defense’s head.
The biggest challenge so far regarding coaching I would say is watching a team do exactly as they are supposed to in practice and do it routinely without a problem but have tendencies to not execute the very same things when they step between the lines during a game against an opposition they haven’t seen this season. I remember a couple of rough starts when I first started and they tend to go by the way side as you gain more experience and you grow more comfortable as a team together. These are the things you see develop in a young team over the course of practices and games and certainly you hope that you can help them out.