American football, Association Football (US soccer), and Rugby are all born of the same game, "football". Be thankful the lack of rules and absence of etiquette are in the past. Coach Belichick understands the same foundation and this has been a great example to share with soccer teams. My favorite example is Coach Belichick talking with a rookie defensive lineman about their opponent being backed up on their one yard line. The situation is that the offense has nothing to lose by risking a millisecond head start on the snap. If flagged for offside, they only lose two inches. The defense will give up five yards by biting on the trick to encroach on the offense. The Patriot's defensive lineman should take that extra millisecond to be sure the ball is snapped before rushing in to prevent the lopsided advantage the rules provide. Take a look.
Three situations every team can prepare for and use to their advantage:
- Your team is down by 2 goals with 5 minutes left in the game. Where is your goalie and defense? In any late game deficit, push your defense to the opponents side of the field and pull the goalie to midfield. Create a numbers imbalance with more players and create some chaos. What's the difference in losing by 2 or 3? Nothing. This is where Coach Belichick remarks, "two inches". It's meaningless to the big picture.
- Your team (11 vs. 11) has 18 players today while your opponent has 12. The situational advantage is stamina for your team. Start the game fast and keep running. Your rotations will pay off in the long run and the score will take care of itself in many match ups. The Patriots defeated the Falcons in Super Bowl 51 in part on stamina. Even in the face of an unprecedented 25 point deficit, the situational preparation and mental toughness made the difference.
- Practice drills should be lopsided to allow one group to master a skill or coordination, while allowing the other group to be resourceful to overcome it. Most of a game is played in balanced numbers, 3-4 players opposing 3-4 opponents in a section of the field. These generally don't result in many goals. The game is more often won on advantages you can create. Teach your players how to create advantages as well as competing head to head. Not all of the 3-4 players will reaction the same. You need both types of playing time, but the situations you create will likely be the difference on the scoreboard.
"Expecting rain. It'll be easier in practice than it is in the game" - Coach Belichick