Friday, November 30, 2012

Americanizing Soccer for the U.S. Sports Fan pt. 7

The most aesthetically displeasing of all Soccer plays is the goalkeeper punt (punting is dropping the ball from the air with the hands with or without a quick bounce).  It’s awful to watch.  It hurts the flow of the game and looks out of place compared to the rest of the game.

The inartistic nature and brute force of the kick doesn’t blend in with the rest of the skills that make Soccer the world’s most ‘beautiful game.’  The punt delivers more than just concussions for the players who receive them with their heads.  It subconsciously changes how the game is strategically played.

These punts happen when the keeper gathers the ball with his hands after a player from the opposing team has made contact with the ball pushing it towards the goal being defended by the keeper.  The keeper could have made a great save or it could have been incidental contact by the opposing team.  Either way, the keeper has the option to punt the ball to try and give his/her team an advantage going towards the other goal.  After gathering the ball, the keeper runs or jaunts quickly to the edge of the penalty box line if they desire, usually they are waving teammates down field and then the ball drops from their hands and is punted with as much power in the leg as possible (sometimes the punt will be directional with less power).  

Goalkeepers are the only players who have the ability under the rules to touch the ball with their hands.  As children growing up, this has always been the most significant attribute to Soccer.  Players don’t ever get to use their hands, only the keepers.  So why not keep it this way.  

Make goalkeepers use their hands always.  As it is now, punts can almost travel the length of the field; definitely, they are traveling three quarters of the field.  The most any keeper can throw the ball is just barely half the field length.  In other words, the balls thrown typically don’t get past mid-field.

Giving keepers only the option to throw the ball is an important distinction because it means the team attacking may be able to keep their momentum.  They have worked the ball down the field, controlling the action.  Their work does not get punished.  They earn the ability to control more of the action by taking the punt away from the keeper.  

Also, it is important referees enforce the rule only allowing up to 3-5 steps with the ball before the keeper releases their throw.  If a keeper first touches the ball at or near the end line, by only having up to 5 steps with the ball, his throw becomes much more important to the game because he/she can’t get it too far down the field and may have to be ready to defend quickly. 

It makes sense for keepers to use their hands rather than punting.  The team which continues to work better together, ultimately, gets the benefit of having their offense play more time on the other team’s defensive side, thus, providing more opportunities for goals.  

Keepers are still allowed to kick balls in play or kick a ball from the ground that is in play, just no punting.  Punting is useless and ugly.  

1 comment:

  1. This is just stupid. A punt is "aesthetically displeasing?" Seriously? Well I happen to think that the Goalie Punt is one of the most aesthetically PLEASING plays in Soccer. As a matter of fact, I think that one change that should be seriously considered is a "one hand" rule, wherein any player can trap or punch the ball with one hand, and punt a trapped ball at will. Not only would this appreciably affect each teams ability to control possession, it would speed up the game as the accuracy of long passes would increase, giving more scoring chances as well.

    I applaud your call for changes to "Amercianize the Game" I just think that aligning the game a little more along the lines of GAA/Aussie-International style of play would be MUCH more attractive than just some bastardized version of Soccer. If we are talking about transformation, then let's transform. Otherwise take your arguments to FIFA and CONCACAF.