The lack of holding ball possession is an ugly plague that infests every sector of soccer in this country!
Aside from the aesthetic appeal that comes with stringing together five, ten, twenty, forty touches while the other team fails in its attempt to recover the ball, here are some vital things you must know about possession:
- The more you have the ball, the less opportunities your opponent has to hurt you.
- The more you have the ball, the more you physically wear down your opponent.
- The more you have the ball, the more demoralizing it is to your opponent. The psychological impact can not be stressed enough.
- In general, the team with greater possession usually wins. And no, I’m not talking a mere 53% to 47%. I’m talking more in the 60-40 region.
- With possession you get to pick and choose when to strike at goal. As the ball gets transported between different sectors of the field, the defense has to constantly shift, adjust, find their marks, etc. It is very labor intensive and requires constant focus. No defense is perfect so it will lose its shape sooner or later. When it does, it can be exposed and a quality chance on goal can be created.
I’ve heard many comments over the years from people who just don’t understand or were never told of these values.
“Possession is overrated if you don’t do anything with it.”
Here they are talking about not going forward and attempting to score. Well if that were the case then I agree, but the truth is no team just holds possession for the hell of it! Teams “possess with a purpose” (see above). And this happens in the opponent’s territory, not just with defenders in their own half.
More recently I’ve heard people citing certain results as evidence that possession is not all it’s cracked up to be. The most laughable one is:
“The US beat Spain at the Confederations Cup.”
My god! I’m not kidding, there are people with this mindset. Listen, nobody says having the ball 60% of the time ensures victory. But it greatly increase your chances. In addition, citing one or a handful of results does not prove anything! In only shows that anything can happen in sports.
When executed well, it is truly a beautiful work of art!
The opposite of this is playing a “direct” style. Meaning, “go forward, go forward, go forward”. Playing sideways or backwards is of no use. Just launch the ball forward! Launch into the opponent’s box and see what happens. This style is the promoter of randomness and chaos! No control. No beauty. No consistency. An abomination!
The philosophy, in its most basic form, essentially says “if we launch enough balls into the opponent’s final third, something good is bound to happen”.
This is the style that infests our youth, college, and professional ranks. It is a disease, and we are on a mission to distribute the cure.
Finally, don’t just take my word for it …
If you asked any player if he would rather have his team hold more possession than the opposition, I’m sure he would say “hell yeah”!
… I wonder why?
What style does your team play? Do you have a style, or are 11 players thrown on the field and whatever happens, happens? Share you thoughts in the comment section below.