Be patient! Soccer aggression will come… And if it doesn’t come, then below are some great ways to teach & learn how to become more aggressive in soccer.
About a year ago I was talking to a friend of mine who played professional soccer for a long time and he played aggressive like a hungry lion. He said when his daughter was ages 5-7 she was just not really into it at all but once she turned 8 things changed around completely. So it really is interesting how it all plays out sometimes, because at the younger ages you can see that some players get it and some don’t.
Some parents write their kids off early, just because they didn’t match the intensity of the few who are really into it.
My daughter is still young U7 & she loves soccer and other sports but in soccer she is just not aggressive at all. It’s hard for me to watch to be honest! But trust me I am not an intense parent who yells or tells… You won’t even hear me during the game because that’s not the time to be yelling or telling your kids what to do. Instead you can record what they are doing and talk to them about it later, but during the game just tell them to keep working hard and be encouraging. For me, I don’t care if my daughter plays or doesn’t play soccer, but I do care that she works hard at what she is doing. So I tell her it’s not fair to her teammates if she is not running up and down that fields and trying to get the ball. She runs up and down the field great, but she does not want that ball. So I am being patient and waiting till she is 8-10 years old to see if her mindset changes.
Putting Pressure on the ball (Meaning putting pressure on the player with the ball)
I think for the most part aggressiveness in sports is in the players nature. Some parents who are kind of forcing the kids into things might end up with a great player, but if it’s just not in the kid then it might never come. Now I have seen some Amazing players in soccer who never become aggressive but that person had better be fast or really skilled. If you are not aggressive and you are slow, then your chances in soccer are slim. Aggression doesn’t mean you have to be the player who is knocking people down; it can also mean putting pressure on the players with the ball. Going to the ball! This is what coaches want more than anything is for players to play hard, because you don’t have to be the best with the ball. As long as you can play good defense and be switched on the whole game (meaning focused) then you can contribute greatly in soccer.
You don’t have to be big to play big. If you are big then you better play big and use your body because this is an asset you have. If you are smaller then play big, meaning be everywhere always putting pressure and try to put a body on someone. The smaller players can get away with more, so take advantage. If a smaller players is pulling jersey, getting in on tackles they can get away with more because they are usually not knocking people down. But for bigger players it’s easier to knock players down, so they have to be a little bit more careful so they are not being called for fouls which result in dangerous free kicks.
Make Yourself Big is a term used for players to use their verbal language and sign language so that their teammates know they want the ball. This is a way to be aggressive without even having the ball or being on defense. Making yourself big is the opposite of the players who are “hiding” on the field. The players who really don’t want the ball… These are the players who need to change their habits so they can become better at things they can control.
2 Things to help players become more Aggressive
Aggression in soccer is definitely something the players are born with. Some run like crazy, some are physical and some are the opposite from both of those. Especially at a younger age its going to be one or the other.
Thing 1: You can teach the players how to shoulder charge by setting up two lines. You have them start off shoulder to shoulder and slow jog within a 5 yard area where they are bumping shoulders the whole time and once they get to the 5 yard mark they are done. Or you can also toss a ball out for them to retrieve once they go to that 5 yard marker. This builds their confidence in tackling and their strength. Oh and they LOVE IT. They love this game because its different and it’s what they were told not to do when younger. Hey, this is soccer/futbol/football!!! It’s a physical game and it’s important that players know how to play physical. I will never teach dirty plays, but I will teach players how to protect themselves and become better players. Pulling jersey for a second, using your hands, forearms to keep players from your ball is OKAY. It’s not a foul nor is it dirty. Play Hard!
Thing 2: If you’re a player then watch clips of players who are aggressive. If you are a coach or parent then show your players these clips of other players who are aggressive and use their body to shield, shoulder charge, slide tackle. Watching is one of the best learning tools! Take advantage of our fast technology.
7 Soccer Terms you should know to help promote aggressive play
- Shoulder Charge is when there is a 50/50 ball that you are running to and while running after the ball you can shoulder charge the opponent. Make sure your elbows are in at your side not out. The contact should be made from the top of your shoulder to your elbow, which is the outside of your bicep. Make sure that your arm is bent not straight down.
- Slide Tackle is taught later on, usually around 10+ years old. This does need to be taught! Make sure you NEVER Slid tackle from behind or it’s a RED CARD. It’s very dangerous to slide from behind, so instead you want to slide tackle from the side or front. Make sure your feet are low (no higher than) the equator of the ball or else you and the opponent could be injured. Usually your top foot/leg makes the tackle and your bottom leg is bent so that only your top leg is straight and reaching for the ball.
- Be First to the ball is a term used for a ball that is been punted or is about to be cleared away. Kind of like a 50/50 ball before it happens and you want to remind your mates to be first to the ball. Teams that are first to the ball are aggressive and usually win the game.
- Go up strong means go up for a header but be strong because there is a player challenging you. Make sure your hands/wrist are the widest part of you, NOT your elbow because that is dangerous dirty play. Most don’t do either. Many go up and they have their arms to their side. To improve this you can have a partner toss you the ball while you go up for a header. Notice where your arms are. Many times a player will jump and then their arms go in (on the side) of their body. This leaves them exposed to other players hitting them in the body or head.
- Pressure means pressure the opposing team don’t just sit back and wait (The wrong thing that many parents say is “Attack”) Please don’t tell your child to attack when they are on defense. That is bad verbiage and you should be yellow carded for saying things like thatJ
- Step to if it’s a defender telling a midfielder to step to the player with or receiving the ball
- Step up is when a coach or player is telling the defense to step up as a unit or individual. This way the defense is closer to their midfielders so that there is not much space between. As a defensive unit you want things to be tight so that there is always pressure on the opposing players. Pressure is hard to deal with and that’s what you want the other team to feel the whole game! A coach should communicate this to their team because it’s important that you don’t have a player running when they don’t need to be running or else they get too tired. Usually a coach is telling his team (Forwards) where to press to. Might be the half line or might be the 18 yard box or the edge of the center circle. That way the whole team is pressuring together and using their teamwork so they don’t get tired running around like a chicken with their head cut off.
One Thing EVERY Player Can Do
Pressure the ball 100%, meaning when the ball is traveling to the opponent or they have the ball you need to pressure (run at) the ball as fast as you possibly can. The reason is because the player who has the ball or is about to receive the ball will be more nervous and more likely give the ball away. The higher levels have this higher pressure because they are not only naturally aggressive but they are trained to play aggressive 100% or come off the field. This is the way soccer should be played [Except in the middle of the Summer in Texas, Arizona, Florida] type climates. That brings up a whole other topic I remember reading a story about Climate Difference compared to Europe and the Americas. It was about why European Football is faster than South American is because of the heat. You can’t run the whole game like they do in London, England where the temps are much cooler compared to places like Sao Paulo, Brazil or Houston, TX where it’s super-hot. Interesting story.
At the end of the day there is NO Player who is great at everything! Not one sport has ever and will never have an athlete who can just do it all, so know what you are good and not so good at and work on fixing it the best you can. Continue to work on your strengths because those help us feel better about ourselves but working on our weaknesses help us improve overall.