Rod Underwood: The importance of the ball

Credit: Pexels

Being Proactive

The modern game has various styles, various positions, multiple technical and tactical philosophies. The approach to the game that is most intriguing is using the ball to dominate the opponent. Why intriguing because the most important aspect of the game is the ball. If the team has possession it is very difficult for the opponent to score, the team in possession is in control of the opponent even when an opponent prefers to allow the opponent to maintain possession of the ball as the defending team has to react to the ball movement and player movement. The defensive team can be extremely organized and set traps in certain parts of the field but those traps rely upon the team in possession to move the ball into the trap areas of the field. The idea of playing without the ball to win a match seems to contradict the fundamental idea that to win goals must be scored to score a team must have the ball. There is no question the argument can be made a team needs the ball only for a short amount of time to score especially in the modern game. There is more to explore in that theory at a later time.


Teams using the ball dominance theory train in a manner that is different than none ball-dominant teams. First, the key element is the mentally of players as the ball-dominant team believes the ball is the most important aspect of the game, therefore training sessions focus on the ball. Second setting the fundamental idea the ball is most important creating a mentally playing without the ball is counter-productive leading to players fighting quickly to winning the ball back. The training organization is designed in such a manner game-related sessions dominate the core of training. By training in such a way, the session focuses on playing the game developing more complete players. This structure of training provides a more linear transition on match day.

Long Term

There is not a question that a playing philosophy based on a theory of playing without the ball can win games. The bigger question is does the philosophy of playing without the ball lead to long-term player development, winning multiple championships over multiple years the answer is a strong no. Whereas the mental development, phycological development, technical, and tactical development that takes place following the ball dominate philosophy is superior. The ultimate factor that separates the two philosophies is ball dominate philosophy trains players in a way the players are more flexible to make in-game changes to how the team is playing depending on the opponent, score of the game, and the time within the game. The ball-dominant team also is flexible because training is focused on all aspects of the game.


The debate can go on between these polar opposite philosophies, but in the end, when players are on a ball-dominant team the joyful mindset as this philosophy wants every player to have many touches on the ball which in a way creates connectively between players with the ball being the linking agent. Ball dominance is the philosophy that provides the best opportunity for teams to win over multiple years not just in the short term. In the modern game, there are teams such as Manchester City, FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich all over the world that a ball-dominant philosophy is a key component to the structure of everything the teams do on the field. Also, look at the number of trophies these clubs have won just in the last decade.

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