First Touch is Key….!

First of all, thanks for signing up for the newsletter and welcome to No Other Game Alike! I appreciate this is just another newsletter clogging up your inbox but if you’ll forgive me, it’s kind of an exciting time for me as it’s the first time I’ve ever done anything like this before. I’d always thought, somewhat insecurely, ‘who wants to hear what I think?’

As it turns out, quite a few do and I want to help so here’s the first attempt at this!

First Touch is Key!!
As part of the mentoring process for a couple of coaches I am working with, I went to watch their U11 match on Sunday morning two weeks ago. They had been complaining that despite their work in training, learning from the programme and the ideas I am teaching them and the players doing a good job, the boys just don’t stay in shape and are too crowded in the middle of the field with some of them ending up way out of position.

It wasn’t long before I noticed the issue.

The issue was the lack of A FIRST TOUCH from most players too many times.

Sorry, let’s rephrase that. All the players were having a first touch.
Unfortunately it was a clearance or just a boom away. Sometimes it was a little better – some were playing an instinctive 1-2 when they should have turned because they were playing the ball into pressure (which is why I don’t call it a 1-2 but that’s for another day!!).

So perhaps the problem was really a lack of A SECOND TOUCH!

It made the game really transitional, which meant the players could never get into attacking shape. That meant they were super narrow all the time.

I’ll give you an example:
After a bit of kick-ball, the right winger was so narrow he was basically playing as an attacking midfielder. In one play he was close to the opposition’s left center back so pressured his pass to the right center back and ended up on the opposite wing. When they cleared the ball and his own right center back picked it up and looked to play out to the right wing, no-one was there and the play broke down again!

It was so simple!

BUT…The real issue was the coaches letting this all slide. After all, if you don’t enforce it, they endorse it. So despite them hardly ever booting the ball clear in training, they were doing it about 50% of the time in the game!

For the following week’s game (this Sunday just gone), we co-created the following Match Objectives:

– Good First Touch – take a first touch (with the caveat that there’s no such thing as always and no such thing as never) before looking to do something positive like a dribble, pass or sho
– Attacking shape – spread out and get into shape as quickly 
– Skills/Express Yourself – footskills to beat a defender and teamskills like Give-and-Go & Overlap

I gave them some language to use to help coach and enforce the First Touch objective. ‘Liam, what does a good player do? Kick it away like a donkey or control the ball and look to play?’

In our zoom session on Monday they reported back 3 things:
1. The players almost always laughed at the suggestion that a good player kicks the ball away like a donkey!
2. That the game was completely different. While it wasn’t perfect, the players settled into positions much better just because they knew the player on the ball was going to take a touch and look to play rather than just booming it forward!!
3. The players were beginning to enforce it themselves on the pitch with each other and individual players began to self correct with a hand up and a sorry as soon as they kicked it away!

This is the power of mentoring.

If anyone wants to learn more about the online coaching programme and/or mentorship programme please don’t hesitate to get in contact. For those who have filled out the online form, I will be doing the draw on October 1st!
Feel free to pass this email on to anyone you know who would be interested
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Lunch and Learn
That story is why I’m delighted to offer you this MBP School of Coaches ‘Lunch and Learn’. It’s 3 weeks in and their first session was on Oriented Control. Hopefully just that language alone – Oriented Control – is enough to spark your thoughts and realise this is something that will get you thinking and help you see the game in a new way.

MBP truly is a fantastic organisation and the learning experience you will have here is phenomenal. I did my Master’s here and it was the best learning experience I ever had.
As a special treat for friends of mine, you get this totally for FREE!

Go to to sign up and use the code lunchandlearnmichael to reduce the price to ZERO!

I’ve signed up so I hope to see some of you on the webinar.