A big part of Honoring the Game and Good Sportsmanship is respecting one's opponent. Hand shakes and high fives at the end of the game and a cheer for the other team are just some of the tools we use to help us support our opponent. Without our opponent, we do not have a game.
It is our Region's policy as well as the Area's policy to keep blowouts of greater than 5 goals to 0 at a bare minimum. This is just another tool we use to respect our opponent. Unfortunately, my email box is full of frustrated coaches that have been blown-out this season. So I thought it prudent to remind and discuss ways to prevent blow-outs and continue to respect our opponent.
Let me start by saying I have been on the receiving and giving end of a blowout. There are 2 teams on the field and it is as important for the dominate team to recognize early on that there is the potential of a blowout as it is for the opposing team to keep up the spirits of their players when they are behind.
Tips for pulling back:
1. Preventing a blowout starts at practice. You must explain to your players what your expectations are and how your team will handle a blowout. It is better when everyone on your team knows what to do on queue versus you yelling across the field directions in ear shot of your opponent. Do it discretely and quietly, treat everyone with respect. Your opponent should not know you are pulling back.
2. Recognizing the potential for a blow-out early in the game is key. This comes with experience but here are a few things to look for. If you are in the attacking third of the field for most of the first quarter or your keeper has not touched the ball, you need to be ready for some changes.
3. Changes to your line-up on the fly will help you later on in your coaching career when you need to make adjustments against an opponent. Moving your better players to defense or into the keeper position is your first step. Take them out of their comfort zone. Let less experience players take throw-ins and goal and corner kicks.
4. Limiting the number of touches to two or three and then they must pass it is a great tool.
5. Playing with their nondominate foot.
6. Four players must cleanly control the ball before shooting.
7. Outside of the area or back pass shots only.
8. Pulling players should be your very last option. We want the players to play.
9. With older players I allow them to continue playing as hard as they can but our goal is to shoot the ball between the outside of the goal area and the goal post. We continue to keep a team score but the shot results in goal kick for the opponent. This way we continue to play at a high level without running up the score and your opponent does not feel like you are taking it easy on them.
On the other side of the field you should:
1. Ignore the score and have fun.
2. Play everyone where they want.
3. Set your expectation and goals on something else like successful crosses, passes, wall passes or gives and go's.
4. Compliment and praise your kids for being good sports and not giving up.
5. Encourage your kids to be positive in their comments to their teammates and the other team.
6. Be sure to shake hands after the game; leave the bad feelings on the field.
Respect your opponent and remember that no one wins when a game is a blow out. No matter which side your team is on it is a lost opportunity to gain skill or have fun. Without your opponent you do not have a game.