Tag Archives: John DeBenedictis

Textbook Finishing by Carli Lloyd to Win World Cup

Textbook Finishing by Carli Lloyd to Win World Cup. Did She Read my book? Carli Lloyd practically won the US Women’s World Cup on her own with her three goal performance and she did it in textbook fashion. There it is in plain English on page 217 and 229 of my book on how to score a goal from a cross. Carli Lloyd followed my instructions step by step. Did she read my book? Her hat-trick performance was one of perfection. Her actually finish is no different than any player can and should be able to do provided they know how to kick and pass a ball. But for some reason few seem to be able to score consistently. The actually physical skills needed to score are simple. And practically every player good enough to play on a State, College, or National Team has them. Why then, do not more of them score when they should? A shocking 16 of 24 teams in the tournament scored 5 or fewer goals in the whole tournament. The US team scored 5 in the finals with clinical finishes. Canadian coach, John Herdman was asked before the final what Canada needed to do to get to a final. His answer, “develop goal scorers”. The question is how? In my opinion, there are plenty of players that have the needed physical skills to score. The question then becomes, do they have the mental skills? That’s the issue and that’s what I tackle in my book, The Last 9 Seconds. The second goal displayed even more textbook finishing by Carli Lloyd than the first. Her run into the box to score followed the step by step path I lay out on page 219 of the book. And her third goal is right there on page 188. After her third goal the color commentator in the game said that Carli Lloyd was in “the zone”. Wait a second, that’s chapter 23 and 24. Lloyd was definitively in “the zone” as her split second decisions were the difference between scoring by being at the right spot at the right time and not scoring by being a bit too early or too late. Her third goal is what I talk about in my classroom sessions to my goal scoring students. I discuss the mental aspects of the game including knowing the opposing goalkeeper and what he or she may be doing at any given time. These super advanced skills are all mental skills that separate the top players from the average because in reality, the skill of kicking a ball in the net, or passing a ball in a 8 yard by 8 foot target should not be that difficult. Being focused and in the zone to make the right decisions at the right time is the main skill that strikers need to develop but it’s not an easy task. In her post game press conference Lloyd said she had visualized scoring goals the night before and said that scoring is a mental thing. My gosh, that’s chapter 25. Ok now, if you’re a coach, surf right over to www.thelast9seconds.com to order your copy of my book. Be warned it’s got a lot of information (400+ pages) but as Dr Jay Martin said in a review in the NSCAA’s Soccer Journal, “It’s an entertaining read. It’s an easy read. The book just works on so many levels. This book is highly recommended.” And if you’re a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, check out the latest issue of Soccer Journal for a special discount. If you’re not, you better become one because this association is open to bringing in different ideas and opinions from coaches around the world to make everyone a better coach. It’s probably why the USA is on top of the world right now in soccer. www.nscaa.com Thanks for reading.  John DeBenedictis


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Bachmann Turns It Into Overdrive

Bachmann Turns It into Overdrive, but Teammates Fail to Take Care of Business, Hence CANADA Wins Probably the most exciting player to watch in the Women’s World Cup so far has been Switzerland’s Ramona Bachmann. Her half field runs with the ball, dribbles past opponents, speed, goals, and creation of chances make her exciting to watch. Unfortunately, her efforts did not resulted in enough victories. Her teammates let her down after she provided them with some great scoring chances. Against Canada, in the round of 16 knock out match, Bachmann whizzed past a couple of defenders to set up a teammate with a sure goal scoring opportunity. In one attempt, Lara Dickenmann made a horrible error that could have caused the hosts a heap of trouble had she scored. In another chance also created by Bachmann, Canada’s goalkeeper, Erin McLeod bailed her teammates out by making an incredible hair-raising save that preserved their 1-0 victory. Just one goal, one chance, one second, can change the whole complexion of a game. Now, I can take this article a number of different directions, but I will stay with a similar theme to a previous Abby Wambach article about missing seemingly easy scoring chances. But in a future article, I will look at some important concepts regarding player development that coaches should know about so that we develop more exciting players like Bachmann. Similar to Wambach’s miss against Australia, Dickenmann made a similar key mental error in the chance set up by Bachmann. Often, when it comes to goal scoring, the reason players do not score is not because of lack of technique or skill but something completely different. I would say that psychology plays a bigger part of missed scoring opportunities than most coaches give credit for. Lara Dickenmann probably scored hundreds of goals like the chance she had in the Canada game at practices but in the pressure of a knock out game against the hosts, she could not take care of business. You can only attribute her missed opportunity, in the first half of their game against Canada, to a psychological breakdown for that instant. And that is exactly what it was. It’s clear on all the replays. It took only a split second for her to lose her deep concentration needed to score in that situation. It was a common mistake that players make all the time I have come up with three key concepts to focus on in such situations to help a player avoid missing these types of scoring chances. These 3 “secrets” have helped students in my Golden Goal Scoring Course break goal scoring records. They can be found in my book, The Last 9 Seconds. In it I explain how and why players miss chances and offer coaches some tools to help their players eliminate psychological errors as much as possible. It’s not often that a player these days tries to dibble around the whole team to try and score or set up a chance but Bachmann provided this type of entertainment. She put it all on the line and into over-drive. It’s too bad her tournament has ended because I enjoyed watching her play. Similar to watching Neymar, Messi and Giovinco of Toronto FC, these exciting players, who can take on opponents and create chances for themselves and their opponents are what fans pay for to see. So let me end this article by taking you back to the 70’s and to a completely unexpected place. Link here to see where that takes you and you’ll know why I titled the story what I did. Hope you enjoy! Link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dSzaScsWh4 Once again, Thank you for reading, John DeBenedictis www.thelast9seconds.com Cover photo by Les Jones, Covershots, Inc.   Women’s World Cup Nutrition Tip By Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark, authors of Food Guide for Women's Soccer (Meyer & Meyer Sport 2015) What’s true for World Cup players is true for all players: You need to find time to fuel up and refuel with an eating schedule that enhances your energy and improves your performance. Eating with a purpose, and also with enjoyment—that’s what nutrition for soccer is all about! Eating the right foods at the right times can help you train at your best so you can then compete at your best. It will also improve your health and future well-being. Unfortunately, eating well on a daily basis doesn’t just happen magically. You need to understand good nutrition, and find time to food shop, so you’ll have wholesome sports foods available. This is the message of Food Guide for Women’s Soccer. Stay tuned for more from the Women’s World Cup. Watch for today’s quarterfinal  matches, Germany v. France; China v. USA.   


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The Penalty Shot: People Remember

 "It's a Battle of the Mind" “When you miss a chance in open play, people don’t remember. When you miss a chance on a penalty, people remember,” said Alan Shearer, all-time leading goal scorer for Newcastle United of the EPL. Years later people talk about a missed penalty shot. People still talk about Baggio’s missed penalty kick at the 1994 Men’s World Cup Final in the USA. Certainly people remember most when a missed penalty shot costs you the game. Yesterday, Alex Morgan bailed out Abby Wambach after her missed penalty shot against Columbia at the FIFA Women’s World Cup by scoring shortly after the miss to erase some people’s memory. Later in the contest, the USA was awarded another penalty and everyone was wondering whether or not Wambach would be given another chance. She couldn’t miss two in a row could she? Instead Lloyd stepped up to the spot and scored. The USA won the game 2-0 to get to the quarter finals. It’s not often that a player gets a chance to take two penalty shots in one game but when it happens, the coach has a big decision to make. In one way, you would assume that your best shot taker will regain their composure to do what they have done for you many times. In another case, you figure that their confidence may be a bit shattered and you cannot put them under that kind of pressure. Penalty shot taking is all in the mind isn’t it. Even for the coach! In Sunday’s MLS match with the Vancouver Whitecaps the New York Red Bulls’ coach gave striker Bradley Wright-Phillips a second chance at taking a penalty shot in the game after missing his first. Consequently, Wright-Phillips became the first player in MLS history to miss two penalty shots in the same game. The Red Bulls lost 2-1 and ultimately, Wright-Phillips’ two missed scoring chances cost his team the game. In my book, The Last 9 Seconds, I spend a full chapter on the psychological aspects of the penalty shot. Taken right out of the book, Shearer said, “It’s a battle of the mind. When I missed in one game, it was my responsibility that everyone went home miserable that evening. It took a while to get over that. Penalty shots don’t get any easier just because you have taken lots.” In the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final, Brandi Chastain scored that memorable penalty shot goal that got her so excited that she took her shirt off after the ball went in the net to give the USA the World Cup. But fortunately for her, she had taken a shot on the Chinese goalkeeper before. She said, “She (Gao Hong) had psyched me out earlier. I looked up and caught her eye. Her gaze rattled me and my shot dinged off the crossbar.” In her book It’s Not About the Bra, Chastain said, “There is no way I’d look into her eyes again. A penalty kick is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. No one really expects a keeper to save a PK, so she has nothing to lose. All the mental pressure weighs on the shooter.” And how ironic is it that the USA’s quarter final match is against China. Should it go into penalty shots again, Wambach will certainly be asked to step up to the spot. Wow, what pressure. Thanks for Reading, John DeBenedictis http://www.thelast9seconds.com/      


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Wambach is Back

Just like I predicted in my blog last week, after Wambach missed a great scoring opportunity against Australia, she’d bounce back better than ever. Folks, “Wambach is back”. Her goal against Nigeria put the USA through to the next round in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and was the only goal of the match. When the pressure is on to score key goals, the best find their way back to putting the ball in the net. It’s just the way it is. For the best to stay the best, that’s the way it has to be. Sometimes you wonder why the top goal scorer’s continue to be the top scorer’s year after year, even though often other players seem to have similar or more technical skills than they do. They just fail to register as many goals as them. The answer is that the best goals scorer’s in the World have that special mental make-up that others don’t. I like to call it their “inner game” is better. And of course, I talk about that extensively in my Golden Goal Scoring Courses and in my book, The Last 9 Seconds. I believe it’s the 9 seconds before a goal is scored that counts the most. What is the player thinking, doing, and where are they going? What’s going through their mind so they get to the right spot at the right time and what are they doing with their final touch? Seems simple but it’s the hardest thing to do. That’s why consistent goal scorers are highly sought after and make the most money. When a striker fails to score for 5 straight games, everyone wonders what’s wrong with them even if they are getting absolutely no decent balls that anyone can possibly score with. If a striker doesn’t score often, they will disappear into obscurity, sometimes without ever getting another chance at the big leagues. If a striker goes into a slump, especially once they approach 30 years of age, they are often labeled as being finished and ready for retirement. How unfair. I recall consulting Jeff Cunningham of the MLS. He was one of the all-time leading goal scorers in the MLS before getting to Toronto. After a terrible season with Toronto FC, where he could not find the back of the net much, I had the pleasure of meeting him and started consulting him. Players can be very fragile when the pressure is on them. Jeff was a true gentleman and very receptive to my advice. He wanted to improve and listen to my comments even though he was an experienced goal scorer. The following season he got back on track and won the MLS scoring title with FC Dallas at the ripe old age of 33. That’s’ practically unheard of in soccer. But if you can clear the mind and get your “inner game” back in form, great goal scorers will put away their past misses and poor performances and get right back on track. Strikers have to have that special makeup to be able to score goals year after year especially after getting hacked, butchered, and fouled all the time. If they don’t, they’re gone. The striker position is so unforgiving. That’s why I knew Abby would bounce back. Her goal against Nigeria required deep concentration and focus. She was there and did her thing. Way to go Abby! Best of luck the rest of the way. Thanks for Reading, John DeBenedictis www.thelast9seconds.com   Women's World Cup Nutrition Tip By Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark, authors of Food Guide for Women's Soccer (Meyer & Meyer Sport 2015) As the tournament moves on, the question becomes: how do players stay energized? Do vitamin supplements help players? As Food Guide for Women's Soccer tells players, your best bet for fighting fatigue is to be responsible with your choices and nourish your body with the right balance of wholesome foods. Make the effort to eat a variety of foods and fluids from the different food groups every day to consume not only the amount of vitamins and minerals you need, but also the calories your body needs to prevent fatigue. If you are tempted to take supplements for health insurance, do so only if you simultaneously choose to eat responsibly. Remember, no amount of supplements will compensate for an inadequate diet--but you will always win with good nutrition. Eat wisely, eat well!  Stay tuned for more from the Women's World Cup  


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Women Play Tough But Fair

As I sit and watch the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup I sense that there seems to be something different about the women’s game than I’m used to seeing with the men’s. There is a refreshing quality about the spirit that the games are played in that’s noticeable. But at first, I could not figure out what that was. The women play the game as tough as men. There are some tough bone- crunching challenges in the game that make you want to look away. At the same time, we see some great finesse and strategic play that did not exist 20 years ago. The women’s game has come a long way. I find it very enjoyable to watch. But what I noticed most is that they play the game fairly most of the time. I do not see cases where players are deliberately attempting to injure an opponent. Also, and this is the part that took me a while to figure out, I don’t see feather-like contact turn into academy award, “I just got shot”, performances. The women play tough but fair. You know that when someone is down, they are probably injured in some way and not faking it. And I’m not the only one to have noticed this. When I’ve brought this up with avid soccer fans, they have all agreed. In the event of tough challenges, it often results in a badly timed tackle and not any intention to cheat or disobey the rules. Of course there are some exceptions but generally this quality is refreshing. I wish that more men players played in this spirit.   Thanks for Reading, John DeBenedictis, author of The Last 9 Seconds: Follow on twitter @JohnD_Soccer Like on Facebook


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Women Coaches Produce More Goals

Here is an interesting statistic from this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup. Teams coached by women have scored more goals and also given up more goals than teams coached by men in the competition thus far. The top two scoring teams so far are Germany and Switzerland and between them they have scored 21 goals. Each team has only played 2 games. The good news is that both teams are coached by female coaches. At the other end of the spectrum, the top two teams that have conceded the most goals so far are Ecuador and Cote D’Ivoire. The bad news is that those two teams have conceded 29 goals in 4 games and are also coached by female coaches. It seems as though that teams with women coaches produce more goals both for and against. It’s interesting that female coaches are at the helm at both extremes. (I shall refrain from making a comment here). In this World Cup, only 7 head coaches of the 24 teams are female. If we look at the total goals for and against record of those 7 female coaches, we see a total of 33 goals were scored and 39 goals were conceded. The combined total from the remaining 17 male coaches shows only 41 goals scored and only 35 goals given up. This could be purely coincidental but based on those numbers I would say that, from an entertainment point of view, watching teams coached by females would provide a lot more excitement. In fact the numbers suggest that games would be filled with goals if all teams were coached by females. Maybe we should consider forcing all teams in the Women’s World Cup to be coached by females. That could make things interesting. Come to think of it, if this is a trend and not just a coincidence, the MLS, which is traditionally a low scoring league, should consider banning male coaches and forcing all teams to hire female head coaches. That may help boost TV ratings for the MLS as well! Please don’t comment on that last sentence because I’m just kidding. But it is an interesting observation isn’t it? Will it continue? Keep an eye on it. Thanks for reading, John DeBenedictis, author of The Last 9 Seconds: The Secrets of Scoring Goals on the Last Touch (DeBenedictis Books) Follow John on Twitter - JohnD_Soccer  


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If They Don’t Score You Can’t Lose…But

I just finished watching the Women’s World Cup match between Canada and New Zealand that ended in a 0-0 tie. Although there were a few crossbars and a few great saves by the keepers, there were not that many chances manufactured by either team. In the past, it was not uncommon for a coach to say to his or her team, "If they don't score, you can’t lose." Teams would play defensive soccer and hope to steal a victory with a chance goal. It was after the 1982 Men’s World Cup that FIFA probably started considering changing their point structure to encourage attacking soccer. In that tournament, Italy played 3 first round games without winning a game and only scoring 2 goals but they managed to advance because they also only gave up 2 goals. That was enough to allow Italy to go through to the next round. As it turned out, they ended up winning the World Cup but it only came after they started scoring. In their last 3 games they scored 8 goals. But playing negative soccer was not attractive so FIFA introduced the 3 point system whereby a win was worth 3 points instead of 2 while a tie was still worth only one point. Today, it would be unlikely that a team can go to the next round with only 3 ties. Nonetheless, goals are still hard to come by thus far in the 2015 Women’s World Cup. If you take away some lopsided scores, which are probably a result of some weaker teams being entered into the competition due to more teams being allowed in the finals, scoring would still be very low. Courtesy of Les Jones, Covershots, Inc. So far, in 62.4% of games only 1 goal was needed for a team to win the game. Staggering when you think about it isn’t it? Only 1 goal can win you over 50% of soccer games. Are the goalkeepers that good? Maybe teams are playing as though they are afraid to lose in fear of being eliminated from the tournament. We did see goal scoring go up in the 2014 Men’s World Cup, so let’s hope that as we move to must-win games that teams will need at least 2 goals to win a game instead of 1. That would be more enjoyable to watch too. And don’t forget, that you also cannot win without scoring a goal! Thanks for reading. John DeBenedictis – Author: The Last 9 Seconds: The Secrets to Scoring Goals on The Last Touch (DeBenedictis Books 2013) Go Like my Facebook page The Last 9 Seconds by John DeBenedictis http://www.thelast9seconds.com/   Nutrition Tips By Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark, authors of Food Guide for Women’s Soccer (Meyer & Meyer Sport 2015) http://www.pointsgroupllc.com/author/gaverbuch/http://www.pointsgroupllc.com/author/gaverbuch/ As the competition ramps up, here is a key fact to consider from Food Guide for Women's Soccer. Some statistics reveal that the majority of goals are scored in the last five minutes of the first and second half of the game. And according to a 2002 men's World Cup analysis, the peak of scoring was between the 76th and 90th minutes of the matches. This indicates that fatigue and/or lack of focus has a major impact on allowing opponents to score. That's why smart nutrition can keep you in the game, and competitive until the final whistle.  Stay tuned for more from the Women's World Cup http://www.pointsgroupllc.com/author/gaverbuch/ http://www.nancyclarkrd.com/


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Even Abby, the Best in the World, Missed Scoring Chances

Abby Wambach’s missed scoring chance against Australia in the USA’s opening game, clearly proves that when it comes to goal scoring, that often the reason players do not score is not because of lack of technique or skill but something completely different. I would say that psychology plays a bigger part of missed scoring opportunities than coaches give credit for. Wamback’s missed header would normally have been a routine goal. We know she has the skills and techniques needed to score because she has scored on similar chances many times before. In fact she’s The BEST in the World when it comes to scoring. She holds all the women’s goal scoring records. Courtesy of Les Jones, Covershots, Inc. Her psychological make-up is usually spot-on because to re-iterate, she’s the best in the world at scoring goals. We know she has the skill because she has scored in these situations over and over so her miss cannot be blamed on lack of skill or technique. Even Abby, the best in the world, missed scoring chances. You can only attribute her missed opportunity, in the first half of their game against Australia, to a psychological breakdown for that instant. It’s clear on all the replays. It happens to the best of them; Messi, Ronaldo, Marta, Sinclair, and yes, even Wamback. Even these superstars have psychological breakdowns when it comes to scoring goals but much less often than most of their competitors. It took only a split second for her to lose her deep concentration needed to score in that situation. It was a common mistake that players make all the time. When she realized it, it was too late to correct. She’s a pro and she’ll bounce back better than ever. I have come up with three key things to focus on in such situations to keep a player focused. These 3 “secrets” have helped players I have coached break their own goal scoring records. They can be found in my book, The Last 9 Seconds. In it I explain how and why players miss chances and offer coaches some tools to help their players eliminate psychological errors. They will never be 100% perfect, but an improvement in conversion rate in these types of chances can be the difference between winning and losing. Thanks for Reading, John DeBenedictis, author of The Last 9 Seconds: The Secrets to Scoring Goals on The Last Touch (DeBenedictis Books 2013) http://www.thelast9seconds.com/   Women's World Cup Nutrition Tip Water, water everywhere...Hydration is a vital topic for soccer players, and especially in the summer heat of the World Cup. Australian forward Lisa De Vanna, who terrorized the U.S. in game 1 of the tournament with her incredible speed and ability, reveals in "Food Guide for Women's Soccer,": "The biggest nutrition improvement I've made since coming to professional soccer is drinking more water. Drinking enough has made a significant impact on my energy level and performance on the field." She sure showed that, scoring Australia's only goal of the game. Stay tuned for more from the Women's World Cup!  By Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark, authors of, Food Guide for Women's Soccer (Meyer & Meyer Sport 2015) http://www.pointsgroupllc.com/author/gaverbuch/  http://www.nancyclarkrd.com/  


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