Many young and other soccer players are timid and are afraid of some contact with the opposition. This may be most apparent and occur against some teams or towns where strong aggressive play is more common or even an accepted practice by their coaches. This is easily observed when players are seen slowing down and backing-off when simultaneously a more aggressive opponent is charging towards a “loose ball”. This occurs more often with the more timid players yet may also be seen with one’s stronger players when the opponent team intimidates them with a more aggressive behavior. Yet, good soccer players are aggressive in a sense that they usually end up with a ball when going up against another player; this does not mean however, fouling the opposition player.
The correct amount of legal aggression can be taught to all players with a certain drill called “The Shoulder Charging Drill”. This exercise is not to be thought of as one that teaches illegal soccer-play or exceptional roughness; but one that is within the fair rules of the game. The international source is FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), the 2012/2013 LAWS of THE GAME states:
Law 12, page 113; FOULS AND MISCONDUCT:
Charging an opponent
The act of charging is a challenge for space using physical contact within
playing distance of the ball without using arms or elbows.
It is an offence to charge an opponent:
• in a careless manner
• in a reckless manner
• using excessive force
So within the legal limits of the law, it is permitted to make contact with an opposing player using the shoulder–this can generally mean to make shoulder to shoulder contact. But before I discuss the drill in more detail, I would like to present a little relevant history during my coaching experience with two stories:
Years ago, while organizing the Park Ridge NJ soccer league, I was approached by a middle-aged coach, coaching the house league team of an Under 10 team. It was in the middle of the season and his team had not won a single game. He also said that his players were not very soccer aggressive. So, I decided that I would personally teach his players the shoulder charging drill. For the next two practices I spent about 25 to 30 minutes with the drill, working with each player while doing the drill. About four weeks later, the same coach told me that his team had now won two games. He was happy and so was I. He attributed the wins to the new training exercise.
Years later while managing and coaching a RI Portuguese men’s team with players from the Azores, our team lost the first four matches, even though early in each game we were ahead by two to three goals, believe this or not. Our players were highly skillful, yet were not accustomed to any or much contact. They were also accustomed to play against teams with their same approach to the game. …