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“THE DREADED THROW-IN” – Friend or Foe?

by Graham Ramsay

How often do you see this when watching a game: Its Team “A’s” throw-in, and the thrower throws it quite inexplicably to “Team “B.” Without a moments hesitation, the game merrily carries on like nothing just happened. It’s as if such turnovers don’t matter. Yet if it’s an intercepted pass in the midfield, then that’s another concern – now, you’re talking a quality panic that gets a coach’s fibulator into overdrive. No wonder coaches at playoff time are often found walking short of breath, keeping a 2,000 yard stare, and suffering tremors. Just think of Coach Corleones reaction as his precious Godfather All-Star Shooters concedes a golden goal in OT – off a flubbed throw, in their defensive end …

If you say that only happens in the midgets divisions, just the other night, watching Newcastle play Arsenal in the Carling Cup (October 27, 2010) the Gunners’ third goal was a great example of what we are talking about: Newcastle throw-in and assist = Arsenal’s 3rd goal. So, the disease is alive and well. I wonder if Chris Houghton, Newcastle’s Coach, has fully paid his Mafia dues this year?

How is it we care so little about a throw-in and (lost) possession from it, yet it is possibly the most used of all set plays? No, I am not talking just about Air Dunlap and the long-bomb throwin, which has been around for 50 years, but the so-called simple thrown-in.

Let’s count some of the most popular ways of turning the ball over in this “simplest” of set plays:

(1) Bad throw
Be it a foot on the pitch or delivered out only out of one hand or a stuttered, stop/start motion from behind and then in front of head,etc.

(2) “Throw-in to Nowhere”– (Soccer’s Version of the Bermuda Triangle).

(3) Feeding the Multitude
For every attacker that comes to the ball a friendly opponent follows. Often resulting in a rush hour traffic jam of players.

(4) Too close to the Touchline
On receiving the ball, the ball is put immediately back out of play for the opponents. Another throw-in, and for the next 5 minutes both sides play a brand new game of, “Your throw – our throw, your throw – our throw.” And the beat goes on …

(5) Ruud Gullit Bullet
A throw-in faster than a speeding bullet aimed right down the receiver’s gullit (gullet). The only instant cure for the common cold!

(6) The Keystone Kop
Add to all this, the overzealous referee whose forte’ is throw-ins and nothing else. His expertise revamps a flowing game into a legal log-jam of frustration, complete with parents baying for blood. These officials are above the fray however, seemingly indifferent to the chaos they help create. In France such excellence would be sorted out and rewarded with the (I.C.A.L.) Inspector Clouseau Award for Lunacy.

Maybe a search for the cure, (other than the Mafia prescription) might be to start
every scimmage with a throw-in rather than a kick-off. This would at least highlight the thought of actually passing the ball to a teammate in order to retain possession. This may be a revolutionary concept for many as well, especially in places like Newcastle or at lower levels.

Yes,”throw-in,” is another term for “PASS.”

I hope this article will awaken the standard of giving this set-play equal billing or at least sound a warning bell before goals are given up from this dreaded malaise. Of course you can always try the Mafia method and send them to Sicily, or maybe suggest a swim down the East River. The choice is yours …

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.