by Erik Imler

“A true teacher will never tell you what to do. But he will give you the knowledge with which you could decide what would be best for you to do.” – Christopher Pike, Sati

How frustrating is it for you when you consistently watch your players turn directly into pressure and turn the ball over? Quite frustrating for me.

This spring season, our coaching staff has spent considerable time trying to hammer home the importance of playing backwards when few passing options to play forward exist. The difficult part – breaking the ingrained habits.  Nearly every player’s mentality….the opponent’s goal is in the direction of north, therefore, every kick of the ball should be in the direction of the goal. We are like broken records encouraging players to “play the way you face.”

Unfortunately, sometimes old habits die hard.

When players continue to do the same things over and over – and a turnover results most of the time – you have to wonder if your coaching message is getting through. Are the players hearing your message?  Is it a lack of understanding? Do you have search for a different way to deliver your message?  Or is it just staying consistent over time until the habit is broken?

Two weeks ago, one of my U9 players gave me this t-shirt. A clever gift.

Thank you Natalie

Now, I fully understand the player hears the message.

The past few weeks has been a joy to watch more and more players react positively to the call, “RECYCLE.”  The ball is moving backwards to a supporting player in order to retain possession and provide time for the player on the ball to make better decisions.

Watch how many times the ball travels backwards in order to expose openings to go forwards.

Courtesy to Zakreel 7



About Erik Imler

A Retired Professional Player, NCAA Champion (1989,1991,1992), and 1992 U.S. Olympic Team (Barcelona, Spain)who is dis-satisfied with the status quo of youth soccer development in the United States and motivated to create a youth program that addresses the most prominent technical deficiencies in many youth players - passing & receiving.

  • Hi my name is Eduardo Garbarino, originally from Argentina, now located in Clovis NM. A few years ago we created Clovis FC to support kids that wanted to play competitive soccer. I am a former rugby player learning to coach soccer. I find a challenge to teach kids how to pass and receive the ball correctly and without these skills it is difficult to expect the kids to execute any tactics. They improvise to solve the challenges of pressure but no tactic plan is possible if we cannot pass and receive the ball correctly.
    I was wondering if you have any curriculum that I can buy to put through our kids. Please let me know since I completely agree with what I read on your website.

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