Whether they believe it or not, all soccer players have four eyes or two sets of eyes. Everyone knows about the front set. The other set happens to be in the back of the head. Coaches, I have found the following demonstration to be the best and most memorable way to illustrate this new set of eyes.
- Gather all players, assistants, and some parents and ask them all to sit in front of you.
- Select a volunteer player to stand behind you and with only one hand, have him/her hold up anywhere between one and five fingers. Make sure that everyone but you can see them. The one rule the volunteer must follow is once the fingers are held up, the player is not allowed to change the number. Make sure to exaggerate to all the players that you can\’t see the fingers being held up (i.e., cup you hands to the sides of your eyes, make sure there is no shadow, etc). Put on a convincing show.
- Open up the set of eyes in the back of your head and tell everyone the correct number of fingers that are being held up. Enjoy the surprised and amazed looks on your players\’ faces.
- Choose another player and follow the same steps. As you do this, start asking the players how you are doing this. Eventually they will catch on. How often you have to repeat this trick will most likely depend on the age of the players.
So how am I always guessing the correct number? It\’s simple. Someone is gesturing the number to me. I have found that if my informant is either a parent or another player, the players will not catch on as quickly. Before the demonstration, pull aside a parent or player and come up with a set of inconspicuous hand signals that will give you the answers you need. Look at him/her when you are ready for the number. Since the first thing players will look for is someone displaying fingers, I usually designate a scratch of the head as #1 and an itch of the foot as #5. Choose other in-between body parts to represent numbers 2-4.
Once the players figure out or you tell them what is happening, ask the following questions:
- Q: Why is it important to develop eyes in the back the head?
- A: It is just as important to know what is happening behind you as it is to know what is happening in front of you
- Q: How do you develop this set of eyes?
- A: Peek over your shoulder (the player takes responsibility for developing his/her second set of eyes).
- A: Have teammates communicate what is happening behind the player (the entire team becomes responsible for developing each others\’ second set of eyes. As was written in another post entitled, \”2-3 Goal Difference-per Game: Communication\”, \”man on\” is a great way for teammates to let a player know that she must take the necessary precautions because a player is coming up from behind her.
There will be much more about communication in subsequent posts. I would love to hear if this demonstration works for you. Share it with the rest of us.