How to Turn a Great Start Into a Great Win

Great Start! Now keep it together - (Photo: Metrowestdailynews.com)

Against all the odds, your soccer team came out of the gates blazing.  Catching your opponents completely on their heels and unprepared, you controlled all the possession for the first 5 minutes of the game and capped it off with a beautifully worked goal of pure majestic bliss.  1-0 up on 5 minutes is the dream start to a soccer match.  But, soccer games are long and can be trying.  How can you make sure that you go on to actually win the game after this wonderful start?

The test is sure to come.  Teams are most vulnerable to conceding right after they score a goal.  The issue is two-fold.  While your team suddenly feels an abundance of confidence and relax a bit, your opposition will fight on by a sense of urgency and near panic.  This can often completely reverse the momentum just seconds after your team has taken the lead.  As the team in charge, don’t give in!

While you can certainly expect the other team to up their game after conceding the opening goal, you should by no means expect to have this game all wrapped up after just 5 minutes of play.  Remember, in a 90-minute game you’ll now have to defend this lead for 85 minutes.  A lot can happen in that time.  Not to say you shouldn’t be thrilled about the great start, but it doesn’t really mean anything.

The best teams understand the flow of a soccer game.  There will be high moments and low moments.  The importance is in converting your high times into goals, and in preventing your low times from resulting in conceded goals.  After you cap off a great stretch with a goal, expect your team to sag just a little bit.  You may have to undergo several minutes of hurried attacks by the opposition.

Defend hard!  Don’t give the opposition an inch or they’ll take a mile.  Be stern, and win the ball back cleanly for your team.  Don’t get overly aggressive and give up a free kick; that’s a surefire way to switch momentum and help your opponents organize players for attacks.

The hard part about turning a great start into a great win is maintaining your intensity.  You want to keep playing the same way that you started the game, but you must understand that the other team may settle in.  Once everyone finds their groove, the true game really starts, except that you can have a goal advantage.

The wonderful thing about a great start is that you can really hurt your opponents with a second goal.  A two-goal margin is a much stronger lead.  While miraculous comebacks do occur, they are typically rare, and most often a two-goal lead can quickly turn into a 3-goal and even a 4-goal drubbing.

But lazy teams will laugh about their great start and might not have a sniff of a goal for the remainder of the match and end up falling 2-1.  The challenge is within your head and how you deal with early success.  If you can celebrate your early lead but still recognize the hard work that must be done to complete the victory, you will be well on the path to winning that game!


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