Week 1. Moves like Messi.
We created this clinic around Messi, as one of the greatest players* to have been on the field, to demonstrate what a player could achieve. We also structured the clinic in this way to encourage the coaches to encourage and create environments where players can learn to be as creative and as unpredictable as Messi.
Moves like Messi. What are his moves? What does he do?
He scores goals – an obviously wonderful move. He scores goals using his laces, as is always coached, but he also scores with his toes, with flicks, with both feet, with his head, and even his heel. Are your players ‘allowed’ to do this? What would your reaction be if your player missed whilst trying to flick the ball in?
He beats players – He had the freedom of growing up playing Street Soccer and then being fostered through La Masia, where the players individual development takes precedence over winning. He developed his creativity in those environments that encouraged it and where he could learn from mistakes. After all, they are only mistakes if you don’t learn from them, or as a coach you don’t teach kids to learn from them and make a mistake a good thing.
He assists’ – Only when he needs to. His coaches don’t tell him to pass, but have taught him to make the decision as to when a pass could be the best decision. He uses team mates to beat players, without necessarily relying on his own skills or tricks, by combination play. He also attracts defenders, which creates space for team mates, but again, he doesn’t always pass.
After all, when was the last time you encouraged (not coached) a player to flick the ball over an opponents’ head in the right moment and even better, if they didn’t execute did you encourage them to try again in the right moment?
In summary, we focused on Messi, we focused on the skills he uses – the flicks, the scissors, the cruyff, the maradonna and so on, but the underpinning message was about the situation you create for the players to use these skills. They cannot use these skills whilst waiting in a line for their ‘turn’, nor can they do it whilst running around the field for a warm up. They can do it in small-sided games and they can do it with constant encouragement from you.
*Undoubtedly one of the best, the argument continues as to whether he IS the best. I think so.
A huge thank you to Kevin Comer from Challenger Sports for delivering the clinic. You can reach him at email@example.com if you would like to follow up further. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have additional questions or comments.