Harry Kane: World Class Striker?

Standard

With only his third touch of his debut game for England last night, Harry Kane scored his 30th goal of the season. Kane currently sits atop the Premier League scoring charts, but does that mean he is world class? Perhaps the 21 year old is just a flash in the pan. Perhaps not, though.

Looking at Kane’s attributes, we see that he has an impressive array of tools with which to contribute to any team:

Goals: 30 in all competitions. In the Premier League, he has 19 goals (10 with his right foot, 5 with his left foot, and 4 with his head).

Technique: Kane’s first touch is quality. He rarely gives the ball away and often looks to receive in tight situations. He is right foot dominant, but can score, pass, and cross with his left. Strong in the air, at 6’2 he is more than a handful for opposition defenders if he needs to mix his game up, too.

Tactical sense: For a 21 year old, he has an acute sense of being in the right place at the right time to score goals. However, no less impressive is his ability to find pockets of space in the middle and final third. He is not afraid to play 1 and 2 touch when necessary to keep a move flowing, but he also recognizes when it is on to hold play up.

Dribbling ability: For a big man, Kane has duped many defenders this year with his electric change of pace. Combined with his impressive first touch, he presents a credible threat on the dribble and has the confidence to beat players and leave them behind.

Work rate: Often deployed as a lone striker for Spurs in a team that is known for pressing teams. Covers a lot of ground for his teammates.

Attitude: The only headlines Kane is currently making are about his goals. Doesn’t appear to talk back to referees, or get involved in duels with other players (a la Diego Costa). Seems a genuine guy.

Overall: Kane has the tools to become a world class striker. Let’s not get carried away, though. He needs to do this all again next year, and the following year to be considered world class. Furthermore, he needs to play and score goals in the Champions League and he needs to play and score goals for England. Assuming Kane remains injury free, he may repeat his feats of this season next year, but for the last two, he probably needs to move to a bigger club. It is unlikely Spurs will make the Champions League this season, so, unless Kane transfers to a top 4 team, we won’t begin to know if he can do what he does on the biggest stage. If he does move, it could upset his game. I recommend he stays with Spurs for at least another 2-3 seasons  (like Gareth Bale did). He’s only 21 and he’s not world class yet.

Do you want to learn how to train strikers like Harry Kane and develop the attacking mindset in all of your players? Read my book, It Pays to Win on Offense: A Game-based Approach to Developing Soccer Players that Create and Score lots of Goals.

New Book: Beta Readers Needed

Standard

Hi all,

I am looking for a small group of beta readers for my next book (It Pays to Win on Defense), which is a follow up to It Pays to Win on Offense (currently hovering between #4 and #7 on Amazon’s Best Sellers in Soccer Coaching [Kindle] section). The new book is a game-based approach to developing the skills and mindset needed for highly effective defenders.

If you are interested in becoming a beta reader, shoot me an email at jamesedwardjordan@gmail.com and we can set it up.

Thanks, 
James

Possession is King? My Liverpool-Man United Match Analysis

Standard
Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 10.16.41 PM

LUFC vs. MUFC Match Analysis on 3.22.15

Manchester United beat Liverpool 2-1 on Sunday in a well-fought match. According to some analysis I cribbed from FourFourTwo’s Stats Zone, Man United dominated in a number of key areas:

  • Goals scored (the big one!)
  • Passes completed (over 100 more passes than LUFC and with a higher completion percentage: 81.9% vs. 75.1%)
  • Passes completed in the attacking third (almost double LUFC’s number and with a higher completion rate: 68.8% vs. 55.9%)
  • Possession (58.4% vs. 41.6%)

Although MUFC attempted more take ons (19 vs. 15), LUFC had a higher percentage of successful ones (60% vs. 52.6%). Furthermore, when you look at take ons in the attacking third, LUFC attempted double MUFC’s (12 vs. 6) with a higher percentage of successful ones (33.3% vs. 16.7%).

In terms of crosses, MUFC attempted more (14 vs. 8) and had a higher percentage of success (14.3% vs. 0%).

All in all, MUFC dominated possession of the ball (ironically, more so in the first half when LUFC had 11 players!), while LUFC had the edge in take ons (1v1 offensive duels). Whether you think MUFC deserved the win, they scored more goals and missed a late penalty.

How do you train your teams to create and score more goals? Check out my latest book, It Pays to Win on Offense: A Game-based Approach to Developing Players that Score and Create lots of Goals.

Does that make sense?

Standard

I have often said that to one of my soccer players when I have been trying to get a point across (usually i have fired a lot of information off and I can see I may be losing the player, so it’s a mechanism to get us back on track). When we say this, though, what are we really doing? I imagine this scenario comes up in the business world, too, where the person in charge attempts to communicate something to a colleague/subordinate and they ask if what they have just said makes sense. I wonder how effective this is, though.

In soccer, very rarely do my players say “no, coach, that doesn’t make sense” (although, I have had a couple!). They nod their head and then go out and make the same mistake or they don’t completely “get it”…at least how they were supposed to in my head.

When we ask that phrase, we tend to look for an affirmative answer so we can pat ourselves on the back and know that we did our job. I read somewhere recently that what we are teaching is not of importance; rather, it’s what our players learn that matters. Consequently, I try to ask more questions and listen to what they have heard, or better yet, get them to show me/explain it to someone else and then work from there. This is a tough one, especially for those among us who want to correct every little mistake or direct the minutiae of an activity to ensure it’s “done right.” We are giving up our “control” of the discourse and opening it up to an unknown set of variables (our players!). This is very difficult to do, but we may get a better, more productive outcome this way.

Perhaps instead of saying “does that make sense,” a coach might find it more valuable to employ one of the following techniques:

  • Tell me what you think I want you to do?
  • Can you explain to your teammates what you think I have asked you to do?
  • Even though you may have a lot of questions, can you go out and give me your best effort in trying to do what I have asked and then we can review in a couple of minutes?

Although I have a long way to go on my own journey, when I have tried one of the techniques above, I have found it opens up a dialogue that is a lot more productive than simply asking “does that make sense” and then getting a “yes” response.

Perhaps we are really asking ourselves whether something makes sense when we pose that question!

I would love to hear your feedback on this issue. Does that make sense?

My new book, It Pays to Win on Offense: A game-based approach to developing soccer players that score and create lots of goals, contains over a hundred of these guided discovery questions that help to facilitate deeper understanding of attacking principles in soccer.

The coach’s role vs. the player’s role in player development

Standard

I am currently reading Ledley King’s autobiography. The imaginatively titled “King” details the author’s rise to becoming one of England’s best (if not most injury prone) defenders in recent times. It’s always interesting to hear about where and how people got started and made their way to the top; however, a few pages in, Ledley discusses his views on the responsibilities of the coach and the responsibilities of the player in terms of player development. It’s not new or particularly profound, but I think it’s worth sharing:

Certainly at that [youth] level, the coach develops the team, but the individual has the responsibility to develop himself. Practice is everything. You get help with shooting and passing and your first touch, but ultimately you have to work on these things yourself if you’re going to get to where you want to go.

I get the feeling in America and our club/adult-dominated soccer scene, people often place the responsibility for player development on the coach. I think Ledley King has it right: the coach guides the team and helps with technical development; however, players have to put the time in on their own if they want to improve. Time spent at the local field/community space/street playing soccer with friends cannot be overrated or understated.