Youth Soccer News: Wayne Harrison on Being a Great Striker
Wayne Harrison is a former professional player and has a wealth of knowledge of the game both as a player and a coach. Recently Harrison joined San Diego Surf Soccer Club as Director of Coaching for boys. A former Academy Director and professional player at Blackpool F.C. in the English Championship league and Youth Director for Al Ain Football Club in the UAE, he now writes and presents at coaching symposiums worldwide.
Harrison has published numerous books on player development and coaching. Harrison holds a UEFA ‘A’ License, the NSCAA Premier Diploma as well as a bachelor’s degree in applied physiology and sports psychology. Recently Harrison and SoccerNation News editor Diane Scavuzzo discussed soccer training, specifically relating to the position of striker.
Diane Scavuzzo: You are acknowledged as an expert in player development. Can our readers have a tip for being successful on the field?
Wayne Harrison: Many players have a big red Stop Sign in their head limiting their performance on the field. Look instead at the Green Light to overcome your personal playing obstacles and be stronger on the field.
Many players just need to relax to perform better on the field.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is one of the biggest mistakes youth soccer coaches make on the soccer field?
Wayne Harrison: Coaches should NEVER criticize their players. Instead, youth coaches should ask players what was missing from a play or what could have been done better and get the players to start thinking. This helps keep players from being stymied from fear of criticism or afraid of being creative and trying new things.
Diane Scavuzzo: How do you break down training?
Wayne Harrison: I break it down into components that both players and coaches can easily understand.
Diane Scavuzzo: Can you give us an example?
Wayne Harrison: Of course. For instance, let’s look at the components of a successful striker. What is a striker’s job?
Diane Scavuzzo: To score goals.
Wayne Harrison: Yes, it is important that a striker is a good finisher and scores goals. If he (or she) is not doing that, then they have to be creating chances for others to score and contributing to the team.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you look for in a striker?
Wayne Harrison: A striker needs a good first touch and movement off the ball. Because 70 percent of all goals are scored with one touch, a striker has to be good with one touch. To be good, a striker should do a lot of practice with one touch.
Wayne Harrison working with one of San Diego Surf SC’s boys’ teams
Diane Scavuzzo: What is a good first touch?
Wayne Harrison: A good first touch is where possession is maintained until the moment to strike or pass the ball.
It is simple; strikers should always be looking for the one-touch cross, shot or pass. Strikers need to be very aware of the field.
Diane Scavuzzo: What tips do you have for developing a good first touch?
Wayne Harrison: Developing a strong, consistent, good first touch requires concentration. Players should be focused before they get the ball on where they want to move it, whether a cross, shot or pass. Strikers have to know where people are on the field. It is important that coaches help players understand positional training.
Diane Scavuzzo: You mentioned focus. How does focus fit in?
Wayne Harrison: I am talking about focus on the ball and away from the ball. As a player receives the ball, the player needs to be focused on the options that present themselves and the ones that don’t – and the opportunities that the player can create.
Diane Scavuzzo: Can we have a tip for being a good striker?
Wayne Harrison: A striker’s movements need to be short and sharp. A striker does his work in and around the box, if he is a natural goal scorer, so his movements should be in increments of five yards.
A striker also has to be aware of his surroundings on the field. It is important for a striker to see what is behind him. Often a striker has nowhere to go. What he should do then is create an opportunity by coming off at an angle.
I tell players to always look; this is at the start of everything. Look away from the ball to know and understand what is coming. It is important to observe.
The biggest trick for success is making the opposition run. It is important for the successful striker to create avenues of play or movement off the ball.
Ronaldo is a player who does the opposite runs a lot. He goes outside and then runs inside. This is part of what makes him so great.