How to Win at Five-a-Side: Player Audit

To win a social five-a-side football match, you need to play as a – prepare to yawn with joy at the stupendousness of this insight – team. OK, self-evident, but I still see plenty of teams, especially those newly formed, relying individually on their tricks, their pace, their previous experience and even their sense of nominal positioning. They walk off the pitch surprised they lost.

team

A pub in the background? Bad sign.

But we scored those amazing goals? What about that snooker shot through ball! And such unlucky goals to concede. We had rushed forward interchanging passes and were so close to scoring, then the ball comes out to some bumbling beach ball who jogs into the acre we’d left behind us. Or when we miscontrolled one pass in front of our D and they leapt on it.’

Luck is a great leveller, and horrible misfortunes will indubitably befall you on and off the pitches. But in five-a-side, you make and eat your own luck like half-time oranges. Both ‘unlucky’ goals described above are clearly avoidable. If I have to divide ‘playing as a team’ into two categories, they would be strategy and, what the strategy is based on, playing to your team’s strengths. Strategy is about knowing your individual responsibilities, knowing when these rotate during play, and making sure that everyone else knows too. I’ll not get into that here. Varied strengths and their influence on your gameplan, however, are underplayed. When I read about five-a-side tactics, there always seems to be a presumption that all are equal. All can pass accurately, all can receive the ball well, all have the vision to mark the player and the pass, and all can shoot without spooning the ball into a tree. While many teams are peopled with excellent, skillful, athletic players, no team is a clone army of identikit Stormtroopers. Accordingly, there is no one style of play that suits every set of players. It’s important to say I’m talking about social games. If this was at a professional academy, while everyone would agree players have different strengths, professional players are expected to acquire certain proficiencies or be hurled out onto their ear. The pros can bend to whatever the current thinking is on the most effective strategy. We can all perhaps learn and improve. But you and your 38-year-old mate Yevgeny from the pie shop are what they call in biology ‘frozen accidents’. Your motor skills and muscle memory for football, your habits, the way you kick the ball or always go for the dragback have become largely ingrained, however flawed, and your brain is less pliant or just plain unwilling to relearn how to play. It is not defeatist of me to say: accept this. To understand your team’s strengths, you need to understand your team. You will generally have one of these exaggerated archetypes in your ranks:

One player forgot his kit and ruined it for everyone

One player forgot his kit and ruined it for everyone

  • The lazy front player. Walking back across the halfway line fills them with nausea. They only want to attack, which they’re good at, but having lost possession they’re not in a hurry to track back or recover, preferring to offer an outlet for a counter-attack. But what goals they score. (In a professional 11-a-side context, imagine BERBATOV.)
  • The ‘technical’ midfielder. Strangely calm, they’re always in a position to receive the ball, and will not release it until a clear pass is on. They have a great first touch and have the vision in defence to mark out the danger in the centre. Perhaps not the fastest between two points. (ARTETA.)
  • The gung-ho runner. No lost cause is officially lost until it gets a certificate to prove it. This player will chase down any ball, and they’ll beat their marker to a pass or die trying. Their touch may be loose, but they respond to clear communication. (While a few PL players could fit this brief, it’s really a five-a-side thing.)
  • The psychic defender. They will never be nutmegged and the only way around them is to pass back. They are generally solid individuals who will back their physical strength in a one-on-one. Best of all they know exactly when to bullet forward and somehow be first to the loose ball. (KOMPANY.)
  • The running commentary. This guy is always talking, telling you what to do, where the opposition are, to mark the runner, to get in space, to get up off the ground and stop crying. (CARRAGHER.)
  • The goalie. Often seen wearing gloves … I don’t think you need any help with this one. Goalies of course come in a variety of forms, but that’s an article in itself.

All, and particularly the latter, are useful to have in their own way. I would suggest though a little mental audit of attributes. How many of your team have a good first touch, a good shot, a good pass, how many have pace, how many love to beat a player with silky skills, how many have defensive vision? The reverse audit is just as crucial: how many have an erratic first touch, a dreadful shot, a tendency to pass blindly under pressure, how many will only accept a pass to their feet, how many will never jink, feign or jelly-leg a stepover, how many will be slow to track back? For teams with the psychic defender (or with two of them) and some pace and touch elsewhere in the team, your strategy is likely to revolve around the one reliable player sitting back, while the other three outfield players run high with impunity but switch as necessary between attack and defence. If someone on the team has a finisher’s eye for goal, this is probably the ideal set-up. You’ll be able to hold a lot of possession in the attacking third and have options when it comes to the final ball. For teams with little pace, no one obvious defender, but a technical midfielder (or two), a counter-attacking model will work better. Everyone becomes a defender marking hard within their own half, soaking up the opposition’s passing until a loose ball is seized upon or the goalie picks up an easy shot from distance. No one from the opposition is allowed near the centre of your D, and they are instead shown to the flanks or back where they came from. Positions rotate as necessary for marking. Once in possession the counter-attack is assessed. If it’s not on, the ball is passed to the feet of the player in space, always selecting the safe option, probing, waiting.

The longest 20 metres you will ever run ...

The longest 20 metres you will ever run …

For teams with the lazy front player: fire them. Well, no. In fact this player can be very useful, but only when recognised as such. There is no point getting apoplectic about them being left behind by the player they were supposedly marking for the hundredth time. Obviously it’s not ideal, and everyone needs to defend. But while they’re on the pitch, station them as high as possible, moving in looped runs from left to right to lose any marker. Then simply get the ball to them. Everyone else needs to be primarily defence minded, and it will help to have one runner who dashes from attack to defence and back again, being the link between the zones. These three strategies: ‘carefree attackers’, ‘bus-parkers’ and ‘long-ball merchants’ fit different groups of players. Your group is different again, but it will always pay to have a sense of how you do things as a team, and for this to suit the players you have. Why were the goals described at the top so strategically poor? The first was a result of playing a carefree attack without a reliable defender stationed at the back. Possession transitions quickly in five-a-side and even in the heat and flash of a sublime attack, you need to consider your team’s defence. The second was the result of undervaluing the danger of the central zone in front of the goal area. No pass should be risked to a defender in this position if they are marked at all, and especially if you know them to have a random first touch.

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The new edition has a great section on 5-a-side goalkeeping

How to Avoid Injuries During the London Marathon

The London Marathon is just around the corner, you’ve been training for months, you’ve ironed your best and tightest running bottoms, and you’re determined not to embarrass yourself in front of friends, family and live TV. So what can stop you now you ask?!

Did you know that 28% of runners never make it to the starting line due to injury? And that on the day, a further 2% (about 500 runners) don’t finish the race due to injuries? We know that at this point it’s far too late to change anything drastic, but we’ve been dipping into John Shepherd’s fantastic Strength Training for Runners to find a few handy tips to stop those last-minute niggles.

Pre-conditioning:

‘Prevention in the case of running injuries, is very much better than cure’. Wiser words were never spoken, and in aid of preventing running injures John Shepherd recommends this great selection of resistance exercises for pre-conditioning training:

Pre-conditioning

Warming up:

A running-specific warm-up will raise your body temperature, improve your range of movement and get you mentally ready for the task ahead! These are all fairly vital, so we thought we’d chuck in some of John Shepherd’s very own advised warm-ups to help you on your way:

Warming up

 

Stretching, obviously, but concentrate on sites of previous injury:

Stretching everything properly is vital, but if you’ve had an injury before in a specific area, like the hamstring, it is vital to make sure that area is fully prepared. As John Shepherd points out:

‘In terms of learning from previous injuries, a team of researchers investigated hamstring injuries in elite athletes, hypothesising that those with a prior history of hamstring muscle strain were at increased risk of sustaining similar injuries in the future.’

So, if you have any previous niggles in important areas, make sure those areas are properly stretched out and warmed up before you head for the starting line.

 Order your copy today

9781408155615

 

Meet Michael Hutchinson and Discover the Obsession, Science and Luck Behind the World’s Fastest Cyclists

Discover the Obsession, Science and Luck Behind the World’s Fastest Cyclists

Hutchinson-Ireland_0210

Michael Hutchinson is obsessed with speed. He will be here at the Bloomsbury Institute on 6th May to tell us about his new book, Faster, and explain why cyclists do what they do, what the riders, their coaches and the boffins get up to behind the scenes, and why the idea of going faster is such an appealing, universal instinct for all of us.

Fantastic. An intelligent and personal insight in to the world of elite cycling’ Sir Dave Brailsford

Book your tickets today!

Sporting Calender: April

Happy April, everyone. Hope you’ve all survived April Fools day. Who knew the Bloomsbury Sport’s ski trip to Holland was just a ruse?!

Starting this month, Bloomsbury Sport will be aiming to keep you up to date with the month’s upcoming sports events, with maybe the cheeky odd plug for some of our great sports titles. And it’s a bumper month to start with; April literally showers us with sports…

APRIL

HORSE RACINGk3453368
5th Grand National, Aintree

ROWING
6th The Boat Race, Putney to Mortlake

ATHLETICS
6th Paris Marathon
13th London Marathon

GOLF
10th-13th The Masters, AugustaGolfTeeGrass
Ever wondered what golf would have been like back in the day? Written in 1914, Batchelor’s Golf Stories pre-dates the Masters, evoking the inherent wit, intemperance and pratfalls of golf.

MOTORSPORT
6th Bahrain Grand Prix
20th Chinese Grand Prix

CRICKET
6th World Twenty20 Final, Mirpur, Bangladesh
We don’t like cricket … We love it. Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack 2014 has just published, so make sure you get yourself a copy of this yellow bundle of cricketing joy.

FOOTBALL
12-13th
FA Cup Semi  Finals, Wembley1197103862376117882Gioppino_Soccer_Ball.svg.hi

SNOOKER
19th -5th May World Championship, The Crucible

Listen to Julia Buckley talk to KFKA’s Devon Lentz about her new book The Fat Burn Revolution

Click on the book cover below to listen to Julia Buckley talk to KFKA’s Devon Lentz about her new book The Fat Burn Revolution.

9781408191569

New release: The Bloomsbury Companion to the Philosophy of Sport

And now for something completely different…

PHILOSOPHY AND SPORT might not appear immediately to be obvious bedfellows, but sport has often captured both the intellectual and personal imagination of innumerable philosophers throughout the ages. From Albert Camus’ love of football, and time playing as goalkeeper for Racing Universitaire d’Alger (spawning the famous declaration that: “after many years during which I saw many things, what I know most surely about morality and the duty of man I owe to sport and learned it in the RUA”) to Jacques Derrida’s notoriously perplexing and gnomic formulation “there is nothing beyond the touchline” (neither certainty nor truth, just le terrain and le foot)—philosophy and sport have often been entangled in an intersectional and productive relationship.

The Bloomsbury Companion to the Philosophy of Sport features specially commissioned essays from a team of leading international scholars. The book, by providing an overview of the advances in the philosophical understanding of sport (and related practices), serves as a measure of the development of the philosophy of sport, but it also constitutes an expression of the discipline’s state of the art status. The book includes a critical analysis of the historical development of philosophic ideas about sport, three essays on the research methods typically used by sport philosophers, twelve essays that address vital issues at the forefront of key research areas, as well as four essays on topics of future disciplinary concern. The book also includes a glossary of key terms and concepts, an essay on resources available to researchers and practitioners, an essay on careers opportunities in the discipline, and an extensive annotated bibliography of key literature.

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‘Drawing on the very best scholars, this volume provides the intellectual foundations for a philosophy of sport from four major intellectual philosophical traditions – the Analytic, the Continental, the Eastern and Pragmatism. This volume is essential reading for anyone desiring a comprehensive philosophical understanding of the phenomenon that plays such a major part of our lives.’
Norman E. Bowie, Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota, USA.

‘This excellent collection of specially written articles is organized in a n innovative way, combining a comprehensive account of the history and the research methodology of the philosophy of sport with the critical reflections on current theoretical issues and future developments in the area.’
Claudio M. Tamburrini, Senior Researcher, Stockholm University, Sweden.

The Outspoken Cyclist meets Rouleur

Click hereThe Outspoken Cyclists‘s Diane Lees interviews Ian Cleverly and Robert Wyatt from Rouleur to discuss the Rouleur Centenary Tour de France.

Click on the radio to have a listen…

David Moyes Is The Right Man, But Only If…

David_Moyes_MUFC_2013When the news broke that Sir Alex Ferguson was stepping down as manager of Manchester United and the name of his successor was revealed the following day, I was one of those who claimed that David Moyes was the logical and right choice. I expressed this belief on Danish television only minutes after Moyes had been officially “chosen”, but as it happens, I did in fact already indicate in the book Standing on the Shoulders of Giants that Moyes was the best bet, at least in terms of British candidates for the most impossible job in the world. But (and there is a “but” which has become only more visible in hindsight) I forgot to mention that Moyes being “the right choice” came with a precondition. The name of that precondition was René Meulensteen.

When it became clear in the course of July that Moyes had indeed made a clean cut and released Ferguson’s entire staff, I thus immediately felt the dark clouds assembling above Old Trafford. Ferguson is from Scotland, and so is Moyes. No problem in that. On the contrary, if one knows the history of Manchester United one also knows that the two most successful managers – Alex Ferguson and Matt Busby – are both Scots, and, apart from that, they both occupied the Old Trafford hot seat through more than twenty-five years. These facts, the Scottish connection and continuity, are some of the reasons why Moyes was the right and logical choice. In short, Manchester United have a deep love for both Scots and continuity, and this is why they not only chose Moyes, but also chose to give him a six-year contract. So far so good.

But in the wake of the fabulous Treble-winning season of 1999, a season where the Red Devils had shown what one could rightly label an uncompromising, but at times also naive all-out-attack mentality, Ferguson realised that the United engine was in urgent need of a continental component who could provide the team with tactical finesse and new training methods, since United were being punished in Europe for a similar tactic in the following season. In other words, Ferguson went looking for a new assistant manager to replace Steve McLaren, who after the Champions League final against Bayern Munich in 1999 went his own way. Ferguson found the cosmopolitan Portuguese Carlos Queiroz, and later he hired the Dutchman Meulensteen. With their schooling in the Portuguese and Dutch football philosophy respectively, Queiroz and Meulensteen brought elements of technical flair, tactical flexibility and strategic intelligence into the United team. Neither must we forget that Queiroz, apart from his technical, tactical and strategic inputs, also kept his fellow countryman Cristiano Ronaldo happy, just as Meulensteen kept his fellow countryman Robin van Persie happy in the latter’s first season at Old Trafford. The importance in relation to man management of having a staff with a multinational composition is not to be underestimated in this era of globalized squads.

When Moyes led Meulensteen go, what did he then do? In contrast to the master, who had realised the need for a continental ingredient in Manchester United’s English and Celtic core, the apprentice brought with him Britishness, Britishness and Britishness. Worst case scenario for a United fan is indeed that Moyes quite simply brought Everton from Goodison Park to Old Trafford. The signs of this have been clear in several matches. But perhaps they were most unambiguous, and symbolically so, in the match against the very Everton team Moyes only abandoned a few months ago. With Roberto Martinez at the helm Everton not only dominated in large periods of the game against Manchester United at Old Trafford, they also secured their victory in what came close to being Fergie Time – that specific period of the match when United historically have excelled in pushing their opponents further and further up the Stretford End and scoring late winners.

Maybe I am too harsh on Moyes. Maybe I underestimate his own tactical intelligence. But I do fear another post-Busby era. Is that too pessimistic? Is it an untimely premonition (untimely because as a United fan one is committed to give Moyes a chance and committed to thinking long term)? Perhaps too pessimistic and untimely, yes, but Meulensteen’s exit was a bad decision. If it was a catastrophically bad decision, only time will tell.

And I guess we could leave it here, hanging in the air in good postmodern fashion. But there is a merciless point that we cannot neglect, namely that seven years are longer today than they were in 1986. And that is not all. It is also much more fatal for a club today to fall out of top 4 than it was then, not just because of financial reasons, but especially because it influences a club’s ability to attract players from the top-top shelf negatively. The consequence is a vicious circle which is almost impossible to break. Just look at Liverpool.

Buy nowSøren Frank is the author of a brand new book about Manchester United entitled Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants. The book was recently reviewed by World Soccer Talk.

New In: Exercise Anatomy Books

Been to the gym for a workout or for a session with a personal trainer and wondered what muscles you’ve actually worked out? Heard the name and then wondered where exactly those muscles are? Want to know how to improve your workouts to target those muscles?

Well, your prayers have been answered. The ‘Anatomy of …‘ series is a great range of books providing anatomical illustrations of various exercises tailored to give you the best workout depending on your needs. Each book contains:

  • annotations identifying the active and stabilising muscles
  • concise how-to instructions for each exercise
  • identification of the specific muscles that benefit the most from each exercise
  • a glossary of anatomical terms.

Bloomsbury Sport are pleased to announce the publication of three new titles in the series:

9781408189979 9781408189986 9781408189993

Others titles in the series:
Anatomy of Exercise
Anatomy of Cycling
Anatomy of Running
Anatomy of Core Stability
Anatomy of Stretching
Encyclopedia of Exercise Anatomy (coming soon)

Competition: The Fat Burn Revolution Giveaway

Competition

To celebrate the launch of The Fat Burn Revolution Bloomsbury Sport and Health and Fitness Magazine are giving away the ultimate fitness prize.

Win a signed copy of the book along with fitness clothing from Moving Comfort www.movingcomfort.com and fitness equipment from York Fitness www.yorkfitness.com.

9781408191569

Everything you need to start this fantastic twelve week programme! Enter here: http://bit.ly/1dZcIE9

 39340  3933839339 39337

Your prize:
Bloomsbuy Sport: Signed copy of The Fat Burn Revolution
Moving Comfort – Rebound Racer Sports Bra (£24.50), Urban Gym Capri (£40) and Metro Tee (£30).
York Fitness: Gym Ball (£22), 20Kg cast Set (£55) and Deluxe Mat (£26.99)

Competition ends 31st January 2014.

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