Coach: You would not believe how well your ‘9-Step Practice’ is working for me and my players. However some of the players are beginning to show signs of becoming ball-hogs. They just hang-on to the ball until it is taken away. Any suggestions?
Karl: Love the progress your players are making and all in one season – Congratulations on being so patient.
As for their hanging on to the ball too long and becoming potential ‘ball hogs’ Again, no need to worry your players are going through yet another developmental stage. All players go through ‘three stages’ in their development. Top players go through the stages more rapidly than mediocre players and some players get stuck. The stages of development are: 1. Dependent Stage – 2. Independent Stage 3. Interdependent Stage…
In the Dependent Stage the players have little or no soccer background. They need others to learn from and the coach becomes that other. The coach must be a teacher and the players basically mimic what has been presented.
In the Independent Stage (which some of your boys seem to be in) the player believes that he has the skills, knowledge, background, etc. to win ball games for his team. They feel that unless they take on the opponent and beat him the team can not win. You will see a ‘selfish’ type of play or as you called it ‘ball hogging.’ Players who continuously keep the ball will eventually learn that ‘hanging on to the ball’ may not be the solution to the teams success. They will get tired during the middle or toward the end of the game -we know what happens to technique when one gets tired. They may get injured since opposing players will find a way to strip the players off the ball. Or they may be double teamed if the opposing coach knows what he is doing. All of these negatives (and more) should lead a ‘smart’ player to conclude that there is a time to dribble and a time to pass…!
This is when the player reaches the top stage (and this takes years of playing) and that is the Interdependent Stage – where the player realizes that it takes everyone on the team to have a successful game/season. Players making it to this stage will have taught themselves that it is better to pass the ball to the outside in the Defending third of the field. That it is better to look for through passes in the Midfield. And to dribble for a shot in the Attacking third of the field -if a shot is not available they will then find a teammate in a better position to shoot or score. In all cases they must feel very comfortable in ‘hanging on to the ball’ until they can find a supporting teammate.
I believe your boys are currently in their Independent Stage and you know what the teen years hold in store? So, be patient and in time they will outgrow the current Independent Stage and eventually play as a team in their Interdependent Stage.
In the meantime let them have some FUN in this current stage which may be frustrating for you but a great time for them