It’s been the warmest winter ever in Holland and over the weekend we had some rare sunshine weather. A classmate of mine today complained that he would have to walk home 30 minutes in this “heat”. Typical Dutch comment haha!
It was a 2nd vs 4th match in a crucial season match. I started on the bench once again by the stubborn coach. In most games this season where I began on the bench, I didn’t give two shits about coming on. I felt it was an embarrassment. I didn’t feel like proving anything to the coach either, when I don’t like him anyway. But yesterday I treated the situation differently. Okay, I can’t change whether I start or not, but whatever minutes I get, I’m going to put everything I put in the whole weeks training into the game and assess myself.
Well, at the start of the 2nd half, coach told me and another winger from the A1’s (Under 18’s) to slowly warm up. About 10 minutes through my warm-up on the touchline, I thought I heard a shout for my name, I look over to the technical area, but I dismiss it as a false signal. A minute later, he calls out the other players name and he goes straight on. So I wait there, and continue warming up. Minutes later, I thought I heard a 2nd shout, but again I wasn’t certain. Another player comes to warm up and 5 mins later he goes on. So at this point I’m like what the fuck is going on? I go over to him and ask, “do you want to continue warming up or not?”. His reply “It’s funny, you would have been the first player on. I called you 3 times but you didn’t listen.”
I would have said “Why didn’t you get one of the other assistant coaches to call me on or a player to come over and tell me?” but instead I just raised my eyebrows, shook my head, laughed about it and went back to warm up again. Anyway, I finally came on with 15 minutes to go and we were tied 2-2.
A few minutes to go before full time and a chance came when I sprinted into the box. The ball came into my path about 2 metres out from goal. I had to make a snap shot with no time to think, but amazingly my shot managed to hit the only player defending on the goal line. Then the deflection fell to the player next to me and his shot hit another player who clawed his way back on the goal. The ball fell into my path again and this time I rocketed it into the back of the goal with my left foot. We won the game 3-2! Felt good to score the winner.
Earlier in the week, I asked Didi our ex-Ajax man in training, what makes the difference between players at the level we play at currently, compared to the level at Ajax.
He told me two things:
– Their quality under pressure. In other words, their Intelligence and quick thinking under pressure.
– First touch
This is good news to me, as in my individual training’s the past 12-months, I focused on bouncing off walls in closed off areas and squash courts, taking 1-2 touches as fast as possible which ingrain it in me to play under high pressure. If any of you players are looking to improve how they play under pressure, find a squash court and imagine scenarios in a game, and use the four walls around you to perfect your technique in those scenarios. I’ll introduce ways to train on a squash court in my training program.