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Soccer Poet

Chapter 51

Chapter 51
So not much happening on the soccer front, unless of course you count a 9 year-old hitting a ridiculous BICYCLE KICK. Here’s the thing… most fans are just going to go Wow! Look at that bicycle kick! But soccer people, particularly coaches, are going to appreciate the entire maneuver because this little prodigy actually does three very advanced things here.
  1. He wedges himself between the ball and the opponent to protect the ball. Trust me, that’s not just by accident.  That’s advanced.
  2. Under pressure, he juggles the ball up perfectly.  In addition to the technical proficiency it takes to do this with a defender draped upon your back, it shows that before he even touched the ball, he decided he was going to hit the bike. Again, very advanced.
  3. He nails the kick itself. And what’s really cool is that if you watch his non-kicking foot, it’s the one that goes up first, because that sets up the scissors motion that generates power. I’ve seen a lot of bicycle kicks, but very few players have figured out how to get the non-kicking leg up first, the way Pele explained it to us decades ago.

In summary, Barcelona’s status of being an exceptional soccer team doesn’t appear to be in any immediate jeopardy.

The Monkey of the Day is enjoying a banner year thus far in 2013.  It has been particularly prevalent in movies I’ve watched. Since the new year began, I’ve watched all or parts of 10 movies. Would you believe that there’s been a Monkey of the Day in every single one of them???  Sincerely.  And since this list is so eclectic, I’ll just share it with you:

Wall Street 2
Home Alone
Beach Blanket Bingo
Bikini Beach (yeah there was a Frankie Avalon double feature.  So sue me.)
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
There’s Something About Mary
Romancing The Stone (even before Kathleen Turner goes to South America)
All-In (a poker documentary)

How strange is that? It makes me wonder how many movies I watched before I learned of the MOD that also contained MODs.  And what’s truly funny is that there is no earthly reason for a monkey reference in 8 of them.  I’ll concede Bikini Beach because the monkey is a major part of the eht-hem… ‘plot’ line, and Romancing The Stone, because when a movie is set in a South American jungle, you’re pretty well guaranteed a monkey. But c’mon… All-In? Wall Street 2?  Rounders???  Tell me there isn’t a running joke between screenwriters to work a monkey into their scripts.  There’s gotta be, right?  Am I alone on this?

Oh!  Here’s some cool news… next weekend I’m going to be inducting Katrina Morgan into the athletic Hall of Fame at Embry-Riddle University.  Katmo played for me from 2003-2006 and excelled in pretty much everything on and off the soccer field.  I’ll tell you more about her after the ceremony.

I’m going to close up shop with a story that came my way via Mike Melton, an assistant coach at Ole Miss and also the head coach of a boys high school team in Oxford, MS.  It’s the only story I’ll ever need to feel good about the time I spent to write that book and I want to share it for no other reason than it makes me feel good.

I hired Mike as a student-assistant in the spring of 2009. The staff that replaced us kept him on, elevated his responsibilities and now Mike is building up one heckuva coaching resume.  Anyway, Mike ordered copies of Soccer iQ for all the guys on his high school varsity team.  Here’s the story as Mike tells it:

I am an assistant coach for an NCAA Division I women’s program and also coach a boys’ high school team during the winter. I bought and read Soccer iQ toward the end of the college season and decided it would be a good idea to get our high school booster club to buy copies for the varsity team. I gave them copies just before the Christmas break, assigned them to read the entire book, and told them there would be a quiz when we reconvened.  Based on the quizzes I know that almost all of my players did their homework, and based on what they’ve said, they enjoyed the reading and got a lot out of it.
As our season winds down, here are my thoughts on this book and how it has affected our team.
For starters, at some point during the season, we’ve dealt with every one of the chapters. Whether it was the impossible pass or throw-ins or the toe poke, at some point or another each chapter was applicable to my team. The material in this book is very relevant and it’s presented in a simple and direct way that makes it easy to remember.
My core group of players really gained a lot out of it. I can see how the things they picked up from reading are being applied during our practices and games, which is really cool to see. But my favorite story is this one:
A few days ago we were heavy underdogs in our district final game.  We were playing a much more talented team from a much bigger school, but we went up 2-0 on them by the middle of the first half. Shortly after our second goal, a player of mine was sent off, so we would have to play the rest of the game 10 v 11.  At half-time we still led, but the score was now 2-1.
As I was trailing the players over to the spot on the field where we were going to have our halftime talk, I was trying to sort out the thoughts in my head as to what I would say to them.  But then a bunch of them started saying, “Chapter 51, right, Coach? Chapter 51!”  At first I had no idea what they were talking about and then one of them said, “The chapter about clock management.” Then I realized they were talking about Soccer iQ.
My boys are not savvy soccer players.  We don’t live in a soccer area and I doubt this town has produced a single college soccer player.  Most of the guys on my team only play 3 months a year and I doubt any of them have ever watched a game of soccer on TV. But they had done their homework and they had remembered what they read and they went out and killed off the second half better than any high school or college team I’ve ever seen.  It was almost surreal to watch how they milked seconds off of every single restart like they had been doing it their whole lives. They applied all of the strategies in that chapter and held on for a 2-1 win and a district championship. It’s really crazy to think that one chapter (three pages) of a book had such a dramatic effect on the outcome of a playoff game.

So there you go.  I’ve done some good in this world. Pretty cool.

Have a great day!