Status of the blog

2017-08-08

Hello and welcome to my website!

Hope you all have had a nice summer and are prepared for the new season of futsal!

As you probably have noticed, it has been a while since I last wrote anything on this blog. This does not mean that I am dead (thanks anyway for asking), but as you might have suspected, I have too little time to maintain this website on a weekly basis.

At the moment, I am on a parental leave, which of course is a lot of fun but also takes time from coaching and writing about futsal. My wife has also got a new job, which means that my family are in the middle of a move to a new city within Sweden.

All of this together takes a lot of my time, which means that I for the moment will update this website less often than I am used to do. I have also taken a temporarily break from my Key Instructor role at Gothenburg Football Association and my expert & blogger-role at Futsalmagasinet.

This does not mean that I have ended those roles, it only means that I have taken a break until I have got more time on my hands. Hope you understand and respect that. If I get more time than I expect during this fall and winter, I will of course write here more often. Do not count on it for the moment, though.

Meanwhile, you can still get in touch with me via e-mail at hello@johansolinger.com

See you all soon!

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I will take some vacation now, but I’m back again after the summer with some fresh posts. It’s also when the futsal season starts, which I really look forward to!

Of course, you can still comment on my posts and send me emails at hello@johansolinger.com and Twitter messages at @johansolinger , but at best I will reply to these messages occasionally.

If you really need to reach me before August 1st, I recommend you to call me on phone number +46 763 69 09 70.

Have a nice summer!

A few days ago, I wrote a post at Futsalmagasinet, Sweden’s largest portal for futsal news, about the issues that arise when we educate coaches and players in futsal.

This text has been shared by many people and can be read here for those who are interested: http://www.futsalmagasinet.se/2017/06/14/futsalen-har-en-daddy-issue/

My headline in the text is that we often sell in how futsal could provide football players and coaches in their development. The problem with this kind of sales is that it will be a one-sided story and that futsal will be seen as a tool for creating better football players. That the sport would have its own value seems to be non-existent.

This is noticeable in much of the material coming from both FIFA and UEFA. It’s not uncommon with quotes like this from pro players: “thanks to futsal, I became the world player I’m today”. Of course fun for them, but would you imagine the reverse? “If I had not played football I would never have been a successful futsal player.” An stupid opinion for many, which further proves that the futsal for many people is just considered to be a tool for creating football players, not an own sport. This prevents the development of futsal on both long and short term.

Some time ago, I received additional water on my mill when I read UEFA Direct # 168, a publication that UEFA publishes. In this issue, the focus was on futsal, which you can read about here:

http://www.uefa.org/about-uefa/news/newsid=2476815.html

Of course fun that the futsal is noted, but as you may have understood, there is a con. Several times in the magazine, it is described how futsal is a tool for creating good football players and that it is mainly because of that reason why futsal exists.

Below are a few examples from page 22 of this issue that further strengthen my thesis.

It may seem small of me to remark on these words, but I have a strong belief that words affect how we think and look at things. It is of course very good that UEFA properly gives futsal a lot of space, but it must also be done right. As we use these word choices and formulas to describe futsal, it will be a one-sided story where futsal is subordinate to football. It’s problematic that we describe futsal as a tool to create footballers. Futsal is not a training method to create footballers, it is an own sport.

Misunderstand me correctly here.

I think it’s great that UEFA and FIFA give futsal more attention and of course football players can benefit from training futsal. But that does not mean it’s okay to have educations that puts the emphasis on creating good footballers instead of doing both. Or that we sell in futsal to coaches because it’s a good method of developing football players, instead of pointing out that it’s a sport that some actually prefer instead of football. Like me, for example.

A lot of thing is done well and going in the right direction, but many things can still be better.

No matter what many consider, futsal is a sport of its own, with its own rules and tactics. It is a sport that has many similarities to football, but also many differences that are important to pay attention to. Above all, it is important to make no valuation in any of those preferred from federal associations because UEFA and FIFA represent both football and futsal. Football is not futsal’s father, they are siblings who can coexist and learn from each other. That is my definite view.

Some children do not dream of becoming a new Ronaldo, some want to be the new Ricardinho.

Let them have a dream of being that without adding value to it.

100 % futsal

2017-06-01

The careful visitor may have discovered this already, but for some of you this will be a bit of news. In this year, I have taken a little calmer year, mostly because I have taken parental leave. Football / soccer has been less important, but futsal has gotten more space. You have probably also noticed this on my posts, which in the most recent past have basically exclusively been about futsal.

Now I have taken a new step in my career. I will invest fully in futsal. 100 %.

It has been a simple and difficult decision at the same time. Of course, I still love football / soccer, but my relationship with the sport has become more complicated. The coach assignments I have been offered in football / soccer have unfortunately not been what I wanted. At the same time, I have been interested more and more in futsal, which in many ways is a much more dynamic and exciting sport than football / soccer in many areas.

In a short period of time, I have built my name and received many interesting requests in the futsal world. Everything from being an expert commentator and tactic blogger to exciting coach assignments. I have been appreciated in the futsal world in a completely different way than from the competitive football / soccer universe. This is obviously great fun, but I have also learned a couple of things about my coach career.

I see this change a bit like many players are watching their careers. Some would like to be a forward, a world class striker who wins individual titles. But they soon realize that they are not competent enough. They may be the fifth choice on the coach’s list, not even on the bench. But then they saddle to be a left back and suddenly they can play continuously in the staring eleven every weekend. A wise career decision, of course.

I have thought football / soccer was fun, but despite my education and qualifications, I get a relatively uninteresting coach assignments so far. In futsal, however, organizations are screaming for competent leaders, and for that reason I have been able to advance there in a short space of time.

This is not just a cynical decision. In fact, I’ve had a lot of fun with futsal, got a spark of the sport that I missed during a period of football. / soccer. It is an extremely challenging sport for a coach, extremely flexible and places great demands. At the same time, the opportunities are great and that’s what attracts me – To be involved and build something from scratch.

In order to really succeed in a sport of my age, I think it’s important to determine the focus and therefore I have now decided to go all-in on futsal. Making such a commitment also shows that I am serious.

This does not mean farewell to football / soccer, I still love the sport, but the futsal will be what I spend all my time on from now on. In addition, to focus on two parallel tracks when I’m a parent is nothing to recommend, so a clearer focus area is needed. Which now is futsal. This because I want to learn more and develop into an equally good expert as a coach in my field.

My goal is not only to learn more and develop myself. Above all, I want as many as possible to get to know the wonderful sport futsal. It’s a great sport that many people would love, so I want to spread it as much as it goes. If I then take over a team and be successful – It’s a plus, but spreading the sport and increasing the level of education among coaches, players and audiences is the primary. I think I have a lot to contribute there with my interest in coaching.

So, 100% futsal, then.

As you know, I am currently an expert at the swedish site Futsalmagasinet and at the Swedish Futsal League’s (SFL) broadcasts, and I will also have a finger in the game for the Gothenburg Football Association’s talent training sessions in futsal. Here, on my website, I will also focus on futsal in general, but also about the coaching behind the sport.

Hopefully, I have something more interesting in futsal that I can reveal later on here on my website, but the one who is waiting for something good …

Here we go! 

Arrows and circles... They are everywhere!

Arrows and circles… They are everywhere!

Now, at last, I have compiled my futsal philosophy for public display.

You can find my futsal philosophy HERE.

Please enjoy!

Here I am, for the first time as a Key Instructor for Gothenburg Football Association.

As many of you know if, I have no Head Coaching duties this season. For the moment I am on parental leave, which of course is both fantastic and fun. What happens next season, I do not know yet, and I must admit that it begins to itch in the fingers and that I would like take over a team sometime in the future. But until then, I try to combine my maternity leave with a couple of minor tasks and some of them I intend to present for you now with this blog post.

It is no secret that I have been thrilled with the sport futsal. Last winter, I made the coaching course on the matter and in January I had the opportunity to utilize my skills when I was asked to be an expert commentator for a game in the Swedish top flight for men. After this, the carousel has rolled up properly and after awhile I was asked to be an expert for Futsalmagasinet, Sweden’s largest portal about futsal. There, I write a blog which is focused on coaching. I write about tactics, training schedules, game philosophy, leadership and a lot of other subjects that is about coaching.

This blog is in Swedish and can be found at this address:
http://www.futsalmagasinet.se/category/blogg/taktiktavlan/

I’ve been asked if I would be interested in taking over a team in futsal, which I must admit is interesting. Futsal is an interesting sport in many ways, and has great potential, not at least here in Sweden. I’ve actually had a few inquiries, but nothing that feels really hot so far. It is required that there is a sufficiently high sporting level and that there is good potential to grow as a club for me to be interested. But I close no doors yet, of course.

I still have not released football / soccer though. A while ago, I was asked by the Gothenburg Football Association to become a Key Instructor. A mission that means that I coach at talent training sessions (what is now meant by the word “talent” is an entirely different discussion, but more on that matter eventually) and raises the educational level of both players and leaders in the Gothenburg area. Obviously a very flattering mission which in any case at the moment does not take much of my time, which fits perfectly with my obligations as a parent and an expert at Futsalmagasinet.

Yesterday was my first day as a Key Instructor, one day that actually offered sun and a lot of fun memories. Some brief reflections on my part is that it was incredibly fun to get back to the training ground. I’ve been missing it for almost half a year. It was also nice to know that I still can coach with high energy and commitment, although of course it goes down a little after a day out on the pitch. After all, we coached hundreds of players for nearly five hours, you get tired after that.

Other reflections I did after my first day is how important the organization is. As I said, hundred of player trained at Heden and then you need to have the logistics to work so that the training does not suffer. Another factor that is important is to be studious as coach. I am thinking primarily of the coaching process. It is striking to me that many of the prejudices I have unfortunately was confirmed when many young players feel it is important to do things quickly rather than to do them right. Several times yesterday, I noticed players who several times tried to rushed to do things quickly, but instead of doing it right it becomes wrong. There is a difficult balance here for a coach.

Should I look the other way and praise when it’s right, or point out the shortcomings and try to get them to do the right things?

For my part, it becomes clear that there is no point in doing things quickly if it is wrong, so I’m more for the way to do it slowly and properly. Then it is easier to increase the speed and difficulty. It’s not about cutting players, it is about giving them the right tools to succeed so they can be as good as they can be.

Are you starting to cut corners with the simple things, then what will happen when you do difficult things? No, it’s better to do it properly from the start. Of course, you make a difference between what is important or not, but basically everything must be done properly – From hitting a pass on the right foot to pick up the balls after a shot exercise.

Proper behavior creates winners, that is what I think. But more on that subject in another blog post for the future…

Another thing that struck me is that the skill level of young players is incredibly different. Another may have come incredibly far in his / her development, another lie far behind. It is a challenge to adapt the training session so that everyone gets something out of it. But the important thing is not always trying to do things to the maximum, but optimally. A setting that I think you will get far with.


In addition to this, it was a brilliant day that I will remember for a long time.
It will be interesting to see how it unfolds as I get warmed up, but right now it’s a good feeling.

Although of course I miss being a Head Coach, it is not bad to be a futsal expert and a key instructor in anticipation of something good.

Is this how a good coach looks like?

Is this how a good coach looks like?

A few days ago I received a question that I still do not know how to answer. It was an old player I had in a previous team, which now is a student of the new football / soccer coach education, who wondered “what is a good coach”. Despite my years as a coach, I have to admit that the question caught me off guard.

What is a good coach?
A few years ago I would have been much more sure about the answer.

When I started my career, the answer was plain and simple that “a good coach is a coach who win games”. Rather one-dimensional, I think today, but I thought so then. Then, I thought that football / soccer was only about winning. Today I’m older, maybe not necessarily wiser, but more versed in how complex the issue really is. Above all, I have encountered coaches who I thought were skilled instructors, but they have not always succeeded on the pitch. The same goes the other way, I have met some coaches which I thought was incompetent, yet time and again manages to win games.

Obviously I no longer think that it is enough to win games to be a good coach, but I would still like to throw in a disclaimer. What is a good coach is to some extent a subjective question. Different people respond differently depending on the role one has in this context. A player certainly has a completely different view of the matter than a coach colleague, to take one example.

However, I want to write a nuanced post of what a good coach might be.

Far too often, I end up in discussions where people compare resumes and titles with each other to decide who is a better coach. Is Brian Clough better than Lars Lagerbäck? Clough has won two European Cups, but on the other hand, Lagerbäck made brilliant results with small resources in the national teams as Sweden and Iceland. Clough has never coached a national team, Lagerback has not coached a club team at top flight level. It differs 30-40 years between their two greatest triumphs. Can you even compare them?

These discussions have a tendency to stick to the number of trophies, but is it really just the price cabinet that decides whether you are a good coach or not? Should not conditions, or what level you are on, play a part here? Or what the purpose is of your coaching deed? Is it better to win titles in a team like Manchester City, with virtually endless resources and huge potential, than to remain in division 3 with a team that does not even own their own football / soccer pitch?

Many issues, of course, that creates shade to the main issue. It is not quite as simple that a good coach is a coach who win trophies, there must be other factors as well.

Let’s say we have a coach who works with children. This coach cannot win any Champions League trophies or World Cup-medals. Is it just that the coach should be compared to? Or are there other values? Maybe that many children continue with their football / soccer well into the adulthood, or that the children learn something new about football / soccer on the next training session?

Play with the idea that we compare Pep Guardiola with a football / soccer coach for children aged 6-9 years. Although both have the same title on their business cards (football / soccer coach), it is in many aspects different jobs. The other one coaches elite players at the highest top level, the other one coaches toddlers at the grassroots level. You cannot compare them. But both can still be good football / soccer coaches.

I read a study a few years ago on what the adult players wanted from their coach. It was all kinds of possible options they could answer. A tactical genius. A good educator. And so on. However, what stood out was that the most important characteristic was that the coach would be socially competent. It was by far the most important point. On a good second place, but still far from the first, was that the coach should possess football / soccer knowledge.

To be “socially competent” or “possess football / soccer knowledge” is a very vague concept, but it’s still interesting answers, although the survey was not very scientific and is a few years old. But somehow it testifies that there is not a clear answer to the question of what a good coach is.

For me, the leadership philosophy is important here (you can read mine here on my website), a document that I think all serious coaches should write. A text describing what you think is a good leader, an idol image after how I should act in my role as a coach. It is obviously extremely personal, but then you at least have a map and compass of what you think is a good coach.

So, after all this waffle – What is a good coach?

My answer is that there are probably as many answers to that question as there are people on earth. So it is very subjective. Some want a socially competent coach, others want a clear instructor while someone wants a tactician.

But one thing I want you to take with you after reading this post – When you compare coaches, define first what you think is a good coach. And understand that the issue is much more complex than to simply discuss the size of the prize cabinet.

futsal_tv

Me (to the left) as an expert commentator at the futsal game between IFK Göteborg Futsal and Borås AIK.

This winter, I have had the pleasure to improve my knowledge in futsal, the indoor version of football / soccer that I’ve written about earlier here on the blog. I have followed the sport in a few years and I think it is interesting, especially from a coaching perspective since the importance of a good coach during the game is far more important than in football / soccer. A few months ago I went to the official coach education for futsal coaches and I must admit that I have a desire to take on a team to test my skills in this relatively new sport sometime in future.

As I wrote in the blog last week, I received a phone call from Tommy Moholi, board member and event manager in IFK Göteborg Futsal. He had by chance ended up on my blog and was wondering if I was interested to be an expert commentator to Saturday’s game between IFK Göteborg Futsal and Borås AIK at Lisebergshallen. Of course, a flattering request which I accepted, something I absolutely do not regret today with a few days’ distance to the game.

My colleague for the day, the main commentator Tobias BW Granberg, welcomed me with open arms and I think that we are the whole did a good job together. As Granberg said after the game, it’s always a bit difficult to start working with someone who is new since the natural chemistry is not there yet, but it was a good debut.

What I really liked in my role as an “expert” (I dislike the word, but I think you understand) is that I got the opportunity to explain what actually happens in a game. Often, viewers have many opinions concerning why a team plays in a certain way, but they rarely understand why a coach chooses to play the game like that. Here, I got the chance to explain why a team uses high or low pressure in their defense, the different types of defensive methods, when there is the right time to take a time out and so on. I simply had the opportunity to explain how a coach reasons in different situations, which I think the viewers liked.

img_1876

The national certificate that confirms that I have passed the official training course for Futsal Coaches in Sweden.

If they ask my once again, I think I need to be more cautious regarding how much I should talk. As a coach, I see many different things and it can easily happen that there will be too much information, so I need to take it easy the next time.

About the game, I think IFK Göteborg Futsal partly had faulty tactics for the clash against Borås AIK. The guests are the best team in the series offensively with their 70 goals, but has a defensive where there are gaps when they are being counter attacked. Had the home team decided to stand a little lower in their defense and waited for the opponents and after that decided to counter attack, I think their chances would have improved. Even though the game was ended in the final minutes, it was flattering result for IFK Göteborg Futsal.

Borås AIK was the better team over 40 minutes. They had a diverse offensive game with a controlled build-up play where they patiently waited out the mistakes from the opponents. They could play both the short and long ball while they had players who could dribble off their defender. Sure, they were a bit too much ball viewers in their defense, but if they make seven goals in every game that should not be a problem.

I know that IFK Göteborg Futsal before the season talked about how they wanted to embrace a different game philosophy, one where they were a more attacking team who controlled the events of the game. For me, it is obvious that the club has not got to the point where they want to be. It is far too stagnant and they have too few players who has the ability to dribble off their defender.

If they are to maintain this idea, they should either get the player types they need, or invest in to rejuvenate the team and give young players time to learn the game. But for that they also need time and that they practice way more often than they do today. If I am not misinformed they practice only twice a week. It is difficult to build a lasting game idea with only two sessions a week, so maybe it is better to start from the team’s strengths and try to strengthen them in a modified game idea? If they do not want to sign players or exercise more, that is. Only then will they get a futsal team that battles for gold medals again.

I want to thank Tommy Moholi for the opportunity to come, it was a fine initiative and fun to have been asked. I would also like to thank the entire Brocast team in general and Tobias BW Granberg in particular, who was very welcoming and were generous with his feedback. Thanks for that!

I have said before that I, in the future, want to try to be futsal coach, especially when I have the highest possible futsal coach education in Sweden. I’m still without a coach job for 2017, but the idea has always been to take on a new football / soccer team. But after Saturday’s match, I’m not so sure anymore. Maybe a futsal team is my new address?

Only the future will tell…

 

For those of you who does not know what do to tomorrow – At 1 PM I will be in studio as an “expert commentator” when the swedish Champions, IFK Göteborg Futsal, will face the top team Borås AIK.

I will talk about my view of futsal from a coach perspective, the future of the sport and be an “expert”.

I do not know what it takes to be an “expert”, but you can nevertheless watch the game Saturday 14 th January 1 PM at the link below.

https://ifkgoteborgfutsal.solidtango.com/live/ifk-goteborg-futsal-boras-aik

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At the moment, I am without a coach job (if anyone has an interesting offer, just get in touch), but that does not mean in any way that I’ve been lazy. As a football / soccer coach, you rarely have time to improve yourself or have the space for your own field studies, so I try to use the time I have to educate myself in areas I find interesting.

One area that has interested me for a long time is futsal, a kind of indoor version of football / soccer (which not in any way be associated with that felt ball and tough tackles in slatted chairs). One of the biggest reasons why I have become curious about futsal is that it in many ways removes the things I dislike about football / soccer. More time with the ball per player, no long balls, effective playing time, timeouts allowed for coaches, fluid positions, focus on skill and understanding of the game … Yes, the list runs long and I have not even begun to write about how much fun the sport is to watch.

The other night IFK Uddevalla played against IFK Gothenburg in the Swedish top league, the SFL. They drew 0-0, which apparently was the first time in history that a futsal game ended 0-0 in Sweden. That alone says a lot about how many goals there is in futsal.

To satisfy my curiosity, I went on a course for futsal coaches on Saturday with the Swedish Football Association. Today’s supervisor was Lars Ternström, with dual championships as a coach on his resume as futsal coach of IFK Göteborg Futsal. We were a motley crew of about 10 students who wanted to take us of one of Sweden’s relatively new sports.

In South America, futsal began as a response to the lack of space that existed in the cities, where there simply was not room for large football / soccer pitches. Instead of abandoning playing football / soccer completely, futsal was created, a variant of indoor football / soccer, where the games are played five against five (including goalkeepers) on a surface the size of a handball court. Futsal has been around since the 30’s, but in Sweden, the sport is still relatively new, and our men’s national team (we have no national teams for women yet) have not yet managed to qualify for either the World Cup or European Championship. However, it is the fastest growing sport in the country right now, with about 140 000 licensed players. This compared to ice hockey that has about 64 000 players who are licensed.

It is, as I imagine it was for floorball’s relation to ice hockey, easy to bundle futsal and football / soccer together. It is easy to believe that it is “the same sport, but indoors instead of outdoors” but the differences between sports are striking. Almost as to the degree that I would say that futsal has more in common with sports like basketball and handball than football / soccer.

If we start with the similarities, the feet are main center of attention here. Just like in football / soccer, I pass and shoot with my feet, but that’s about where the similarity ends.

For example, you use much more sole in futsal than you do in football / soccer. There is even a direct necessity to control the ball with the sole in a sensible way. The ball has its own history. It is smaller than a standard football and has a moderate bounce. It feels heavier and is therefore more suited to a game via the ground, the long ball is virtually non-existent in futsal.

There is, because of the size of the court, of course, a difference between the number of practitioners at the same time (five players on each team including the goalkeeper), but there are free substitutions in futsal, unlike football / soccer. The coaches also have timeouts that they can use during a game. When the ball crosses the long side, it is not even throw in, but a play in with the feet.

With this in mind, what did I want to get out of the day that I could pass on to my football / soccer?

One idea I had was if it was possible to use futsal instead of practicing too much at the gym during the winter months. In Sweden, we have a long winter and pre-season training traditionally has contained very little training with the ball. Futsal could be a response to this while developing the individual technical skills and game understanding. Happily, futsal is an interesting complement to this type of gym training, but I much more than that with me from this education day.

One thing that was striking to me is how different the individual movement pattern is in futsal versus football / soccer. In football / soccer, it is normal to follow up a pass with “run with the ball” or go into a new space to be a playable option. In futsal, it is more normal to “back” from the original position and thus rotate with another player. The starting positions are not as important in futsal as there are in football / soccer, the players almost seamlessly switch roles with each other for what is best in the situation. A back can in the next stage become a forward and vice versa.

This makes the players more involved in the game than in football / soccer, but also places greater demands. You cannot sneak cheat in the defense in futsal, the team loses 20% of its total team effort when a player does not defend. Same thing in the attacking game, the team cannot afford to have bad passing players when it comes to attacking. All players are needed in the defense as well as in the attack.

In my head, I thought it was much more skills and less tactics in futsal compared to football / soccer, but oh how wrong I was. The coach’s role is incredibly important in futsal, not only because it is free substitutions and timeouts, but also because it is important to set up the right tactics. Each player is important and needs to have clearly defined roles. Above all, the strategy at set pieces is crucial. To just “shoot the ball” is a guarantee of a conceding a goal, so this needs to be chosen carefully by the coach.

Finally, I had not anticipated that it would be so tough physically to play futsal. Tackling is strictly prohibited, but it does not mean that players should be lazy. The fact that there are so few players on each team, each individual takes up much more space than they do on a football / soccer pitch. In futsal, small teams game is a constant, which is very demanding. Free substitutions are thus understandable. It’s about constantly being in motion to help your teammates. I would not call myself out of shape, but I got sore muscles after Saturday’s practice. That says a lot.

In sum, it was a rewarding education with a good instructor, but the question remains – What is the next step for futsal?

Obviously, there is a breeding ground of many players, but can the media attention increase? I doubt that futsal will outrank football / soccer or ice hockey, but to be the third largest sport in the future should not be impossible. It’s fun to watch, warmer than going to watch football / soccer outdoors, you get closer to the game … All the possibilities are there.

For me personally, now that I’ve got a official futsal coach eduaction, I would enjoy to one day coach a futsal team. I think there are many intriguing similarities (and differences) between football / soccer and futsal that would be interesting to explore in my coaching and leadership.

Futsal may only be in its early stages here in Sweden, therefore it will be exciting to see what the future