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'The second ball game is killing English football'

The media is a wonderful thing but sometimes when we sit in front of our television sets we take in information that may well do more harm than good.

If you are interested in football you will hang on every word the most famous of people in football tell you and believe it. I am sure that in recent years you would have heard many times the words ‘percentage game' and maybe thought ‘hmmm, sounds good to me’ without realising the real meaning of such words, in terms of football.

Behind the words 'percentage game' hides another truth, namely a game which in is reality based on the 'second ball game' and its implications. You may not realise it but most players in Britain play the second ball game to their cost.

Think about this! All too often a coach expects the keeper to kick the ball long, the defender to kick the ball long or the long throw to be taken, and the longer  this happens in a game of football in this country someone in another country improves their technical skill level and ultimately leaves England further behind - why?

In countries where the skill level is much higher they expect their players to be on the ball and that mean that the keepers try to find the nearest man and give them the ball. In this country seeing the ball fly high in the sky from the keeper actually reduces the time on the ball for all the players and that does mean that given time our players lose out on the volume of practice they need on the ball to match anyone in other parts of the football world. 

If you want our players to match the best players in the world then we must give the young players the opportunity to play the first ball game and that means playing football to improve the young players and not playing football for a result based mentality that’s based on the second ball and all its implications.

Martin Bidzinski is the author of football coaching books The Soccer Coaching Handbook, Smart First Touches and Soccer Training: Developing the 360° Player.  For more information click on Martin's books click here.

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