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Soccer philosophies and trends come and go, however I have established some concrete, non-negotiables within my personal mission statement.

The four CORE principles of my team will be:

  • Commitment – Each player will pledge their dedication to their team mates by the attitude they show their and application to practice and games, everything is geared towards team development and improvement

  • Ownership – Putting player and team development in the hands of each individual

  • Responsibility – Holding each player accountable to high standards, both on the field in the classroom and in the community

  • Excellence – Striving for superiority in all that we do!

The Non-Negotiables

  • Every time we step on the field we have the mindset that “We WILL get better today”.

  • Every player contributes to the overall success of the team. No act is too small.

  • Do the most positive thing you can, every single time you get the ball.

  • Never be afraid to fail – We often learn more from our mistakes than our triumphs.

  • Handle yourself with class, regardless of the result.

  • Control the controllable's - Your attitude, your preparation, your emotions and your work ethic

  • Be respectful!

  • Be Industrious – Work hard – EVERY DAY!

  • Be Enthusiastic – Love your work and take pride in it!

Personal Philosophy – A ‘Tom Poole’ Soccer team will play….. "A Contemporary Style of Soccer"

‘A free flowing, attacking brand of soccer with emphasis on organization, hard work, discipline and continual improvement. All players will be technically efficient and value keeping possession of the ball with a targeted purpose in mind. I believe the best way to stretch and disorganize an opponent is by penetrating quick play, my teams will move fast, whether we have the ball or not, we pass quickly, we dribble quickly, we move quickly. My teams want the ball but are mindful of the overall objective, to score goals and to win games in an Elite soccer setting, and sustained player development in a Youth soccer setting.

Regardless of age I beg the question, how fast can we effectively get the ball from point A to the opponent’s goal while playing an aesthetically pleasing style of soccer? I believe soccer games are won and lost in transition, how well one team can exploit another’s disorganization often determines the outcome of the game. My teams will value defensive transitions, counter pressing and will always have cover behind the ball. The team that reacts best to losing the ball, will often be the successor. My teams will look to dominate possession and create numerical overloads in central areas of the field. The reason being is around sixty percent of the game is played in the mid third, so having more numbers in those areas is hugely beneficial for my team.

When possession is lost and in those transitional moments, I look for multiple things from my teams:

1) A positive reaction from the player who lost the ball - Staying mentally engaged and focused.
2) Deny/delay penetration playing options - Shot, pass, dribble, run.
3) Adjust shape to the side of the ball - Can we look to apply pressure on the ball carrier and provide cover and create numerical superiority.
4) Communication, our movement and work has to be in unison.


Statistics prove that teams are most vulnerable to conceding possession within five-six seconds of regaining it. Therefore, my teams have a six second counter pressing rule, where by as soon as possession is lost, we adopt a variation of the 'Gegenpress'. Some variations include 'The Leeway Press' where by immediate pressure is put on the ball by 3-4 opponents and they aim to cut off the all surrounding passing options while the rest of the team step to the nearest opponent. The second variation used is the 'Man Oriented Press' where by one person pursues the player in possession, forcing them to play sideways or backwards which gives time to team mates time to react and cut off all surrounding passing options. The third and final Gegenpress variation used is known as the 'Passing Lane Press'. This form of pressing focuses on pressing and clogging the passing lanes. Players are concerned with screening penetrating passing options and look to intercept passes rather than hunt the ball. Each form of Gegenpressing is adopted to regain possession higher up the field and to stop the inevitable counter-attack.

if possession is regained through one of our styles of Gegenpressing, our aim is to possess with a purpose (be positive) and to keep it longer than five-six seconds, if a goal scoring opportunity cannot be had within that five-six second period.


If possession is not regained in five seconds, my team will firstly get behind the ball, stay condensed and compact and will wait for visual cues to press the ball again. Some visual cues my teams highlight are, having numerical advantages in the area where the ball is, a negative or sideways pass, a poor touch or when an opponent enters the final third of the field. My philosophy is forever changing, but the brand of soccer my teams play requires hard work, therefore fitness and is an integral part of my philosophy. 


The sign of quality a quality team is their ability to adjust and manipulate their playing style in order to achieve success. We encourage smart decision making and finding a balance between being a threat and being pragmatic in our play. Our ability to see success when adjusting our playing style depends on each players understanding of the attacking and defensive principles of play.


Principles of Play – Attacking

Penetration – Shoot, Pass, Dribble, Run – quickest way to score, split two or more opposing defenders, heading towards the goal

Support – Be an option for the player on the ball, move to create space for yourself or a team mate, your support might be a diagonal run to drag a defender to create space for another team mate

Width – Stretch field both laterally and vertically, create options on the touchline and make angles for player on the ball. Seldom do we want to receive the ball in straight lines, angles are important with width in attack

Mobility – Movement of attacking players in the final third. We encourage creativity to drag defenders in areas of the field they do not want to go, exploiting space in front/behind them

Improvisation – individualism, a player’s ability to express themselves in the final third of the field

Principles of Play – Defending

Delay – The job of the first defender is to engage (pressure) the ball, deny/slow down the forward penetrating passes, dribbles, shots and runs

Depth – Always providing vertical depth/cover if initial defender gets beat. If defensive team is flat, opponents can play a penetrating pass they may take an entire line/unit of players out of the game. Depth denies penetrating supporting options

Concentration – Defensive units should stay very compact both vertically and horizontally, forcing the ball into wide areas, rather than penetrating through our lines/units

Balance – Serves as second, third defenders etc.  Provide depth and cover to initial defenders

Discipline/Patience – Restraining the opponent, being organized and controlled in our defensive shape. We will engage the ball if we have someone close enough to do so, if not we wait for visual cues to press, must have a player close enough to press the ball:

  • A bad touch – inviting initial pressure so long as we have player who can affect/apply pressure to the ball

  • A negative pass – unless player receiving ball has time and space to play long/penetrating ball – Recognize!

  • Player facing their own goal – inviting initial pressure

  • Too many touches on the ball/head down – Player taking multiple touches inviting pressure


Pairing the principles:

  • Delay & Penetration – Defenders job is to deny/slow down the penetrating pass/dribble/run or shot

  • Depth & Support – Defenders job is provide depth and cover the supporting players.

  • Concentration & Width – Defenders job is to stay compact and delay penetration, forcing the ball into wide areas.

  • Balance & Mobility – A defenders job is to offset the threat of movement by staying compact and covering initial pressure, while tracking opposition runners.

  • Discipline/Patience & Improvisation – Defenders job is to stay organized and controlled in our shape, when creative play occurs. Staying disciplines and communicating well is a great way to counteract individualism.

Our job is to make sure our players fully understand the attacking and defensive principles. If they are able to execute what is required for each principle, tactical changes in formations/styles of play will be seamless and easy. It becomes difficult to change formations with ease if players are unfamiliar with the principles listed above,

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