The 3 thoughts Newsletter

Is vulnerability a weakness?

In our last newsletter, I asked the final question, whether showing vulnerability is a weakness. The question originally came from the podcast of Steve Kerr and Pete Carroll. Especially in American sports, but also in football, we expect coaches and players to radiate strength and self-confidence.

In my opinion, vulnerability is not a weakness but a strength. It means that I had the courage to try something. If you fail, there’s nothing wrong with letting your disappointment run free. This is not a sign of weakness, but rather an expression of the importance for oneself.

Let us create a culture in our team where it is okay to make mistakes. In the end, we are vulnerable when we take risks and therefore make mistakes or fail. Only if we allow this in our team will we have players who always have the courage to take risks. Only in this way will we be able to send a team onto the pitch that wants to win. Teams in which mistakes are hardly allowed, play frequently in order not to lose.

I’ve been thinking a lot about team culture lately, without having a clear picture of what a perfect team culture should look like. What is your opinion about this? Which values are fundamental for you?

Dribbling – when are the dribblings that beat the opponents are established during the build-up phase?

After the 2018 World Cup, criticism and discussions about the German youth system began to revive. Given the large number of midfielders and the problems the team faces against deep-sitting opponents, more players were once again being called upon to play in a way that resembles a real street kicker.

The difference players who can decide a game on their own with their breath-taking dribblings. I already noticed at various points during this discussion that when we think about players with strong dribbling skills, we often have one type of player in mind. A dribbler is usually a wing player who can prevail in 1vs1 situations.

Basically, there is nothing wrong with that, but two aspects of this discussion bother me. On the one hand, 1vs1 is presented to me too often as the basis of the game. As already discussed, many times, there is actually never an isolated 1vs1 in football. You always have to look at situations in the context of the four reference points, which is why the isolated view of a situation is problematic.

However, in this article I do not want to discuss the first point of criticism too much. Rather, I would like to point out that dribbling is not something that primarily winger players have to be able to do. Especially in the central midfield, but also in defence, dribblings are still hardly used.

But here a lot of new possibilities would arise. If you analyse the game of Frenkie de Jong, for example, who was used as a central defender for Ajax Amsterdam and had a lot of freedom in Erik ten Haag’s system, the advantages of dribbling in the centre become apparent. As a central defender the breath-taking dribblings of de Jong could be used regularly. These risky undertakings are enormously important not only for the spectators but also for his own team.

Dribblings create pressure, present the opponent with new challenges, lure him out of his position and cause disorder due to the moment of surprise.

It is important to distinguish between the different types of dribbling. The central defender who dribbles also creates pressure, but these dribblings have more the function of attracting the opponent. However, those dribblings could be also used to actually beat the opponent´s midfield line.

In addition, there are dribblings that are used to get out of a pressure situation. Thiago or Sergio Busquets are good examples.

However, it is rare to find central midfielders who regularly try to break through the opponent’s defensive lines with their dribblings. This is where we should start training young players. In the centre, the safe option does not always have to be chosen. Even a risky dribbling can turn out to be the right decision and should therefore be chosen.

Dribblings in midfield have the advantage that a more man-oriented pressing is confronted with new challenges, because allocation problems arise as soon as the opponent has beaten one defender. Furthermore, the aspect of opening up spaces through dribbling is added.

The possibilities are endless. However, we should move away from 1vs1 when practicing the dribbling skills of our youth players. Because especially in the central midfield there are really no 1vs1 duels. Furthermore, so many variables have to be observed that a 1vs1 game form would not cover the game at all.

Concluding question

Is it worthwhile as a coach to take a close look at other sports and learn their concepts?

My opinion will be published next week.

Until then, stay healthy.



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