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Fundamental Soccer Blog

“PLAYING AWAY” or (Helping Your Opponent Win)

by Graham Ramsay

Without knowing it many players fake preparing to compete or train. In other words they are choosing to lose. Remember around 50% of a win earned before the kick-off.

Let me share some of the ways poor players prepare to set up wins for their opponent . They are:-

(1) SHOW UP LATE or not at all. A major killer to a team.

(2) BEING UNFIT. Such players can always find a way to lose, especially in tight games. Players that tire first lose first.

(3) BEING KIT LAZY. Frayed laces that snap at a vital moment causing a slip or a fall, setting up their winning goal or twist an ankle or pull a muscle. Injury & errors are just are just lying in wait to meet lazy players.

SHOES – Wearing the wrong cleats or worse still missing or worn down studs. On muddy fields you need screw-in shoes to get consistent traction – not blades or multi studs.

SHINGUARDS – Faking to wear guards of the postage variety is an open invitation to any passing soccer thug.To the clumsy defender its like open season when they see those juicy shins just waiting to find a cleated home on/in a fresh shin. Or to the other extreme where players wear hand-me-downs modelled by Roman soldiers of the first century. Yes those huge pads used by Ben Hur in his prime,
Poor players tend to dress poorly- shirt hanging out , socks down.
Then look at the best and they always look sharp. Be it Messi or Marta.

FAKE PRE-GAME DIET & FLUIDS– Your body is a finely tuned machine and demands a balanced diet & not junk food. The days of eating fish & chips prior to the kick off have gone. That the same as putting sand in the tank of a car. Today many clubs have a dietition who prescribes the players diets. This is because the gap of losing & winning is so narrow that the diet might be the difference.

FAKE WARM-UPS Too many poor players & teams idea of a warm-up is to let your opponent score a couple of goals then excited to play. That tends to speed up the warm-up process from sleep to panic mode. Thats like a boxer fighting with their arms down and major trouble is brewing.

As they say it takes seconds to lose a game and 90 minutes to earn a win.

Again study the Umbro dvd on warm-ups, goal setting, preparation & diet. Then add to it, if you consider yourself a serious player, the mental prepping takes around 24 hours prior to game time to come out of the gate to win & play well  from the kick off.

Like school you have to prepare for the exam if you want top class grades. Soccer is no different. First class preparation often sets up a first class performance. In your case the game is the exam.

Good Luck & Great Soccer,
Graham Ramsay,
Executive Director,
The Soccer School (Est. 1969).
Email –

Graham Ramsay

Graham Ramsay is the Director of Soccer Sphere, a soccer educational cum marketing company based near Washington, DC. He is also the former Director of Soccer Development for the Maryland State Soccer Association with nearly 20 years of service to the youth in that state. Graham was one of the first National Staff Coaches for US SOCCER and has written several books and numerous articles. His latest book, SOCCER FOR GIRLS has sold nearly 60,000 copies worldwide. Graham has spent extensive time traveling with soccer teams in Brazil. As well as coaching in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and across Europe. While in the USA has coached in over 30 States doing clinics, workshops to helping college teams reach the NCAA's to taking Annandale Boys Club to winning the McGuire Cup (U19 National Championship) to developing high school programs to help creating one of the finest youth programs in the USA - MSI in Montgomery County, Maryland. Graham Ramsay also runs Soccer Clinics! Click here for more information.