Friday, June 15, 2012

I score 5 goals & 4 assists in indoor soccer

Thursday evening (June 14), from 817 PM to 950 PM (93 minutes), I played in indoor soccer games at the Waltham Y sponsored by the Irish Village Soccer Club.

The first two games were played from 817 PM to 853 PM (36 minutes); these were like one game in that the break in between the two games was only about one minute. My team lost the first game to what I call the 'Arsenal' team 6-3. Then I was moved to the 'Arsenal' team and 'Arsenal' won 9-7. These were 4 on 4 games. During these two games I had 3 goals and 2 assists. I estimate I played about two-thirds of the time on offense.

I felt debilitating pain in my calves and the soles of my feet during these first two games and for the rest of the evening. The pain was like that described in the blog entry for the practice last week, except not as severe.

The pain was not always present, however the greater the exertion on the stressed muscles ligaments tendons etc., the greater the pain. The pain would subside with decreased exertion, and then start up again upon exertion. I did not feel pain while exerting myself by running but in-between exertions (I noticed this anesthetic effect of exertion when doing the wind-sprints I designed for indoor soccer fitness also).

I call the team I played on after the first game 'Arsenal' because Greg, who wore a red and white 'Arsenal' T-shirt, was always on that team this evening, and so was I after the first game. Greg is the tallest player in these games; he is skilled at dribbling the ball in the air with his feet while moving over the floor slowly, and good at dribbling and shooting.

Next tall 'Arsenal' Greg decided that henceforth, shots taken from beyond the midline in the center of the court, would be scored as goals if they went in.

Next after just a 3 minute break, from 856-910 PM (14 minutes), my team 'Arsenal' won a game 4-3; I did not have any goals or assists this game. I played mostly back on defense. During this game we had 5 players and they 4, best I can recall.

Next after a 2 minute break, from 912-934 PM (22 minutes), and for the rest of the evening, there were 5 players on each side, and my team 'Arsenal' won 6-4. I had 2 goals and 1 assist. I played mostly defense during this game. I achieved a high scores/assists per minute rate spent playing offense during this game. I blocked a lot of shots per minute spent playing defense. In other words, 'Arsenal' was basically me during this game (50th minute played to 72nd minute played).

Note: according to the traditional Irish-Village way of scoring, this 6-4 game was actually a game that ended when 'Arsenal' reached 5 goals, and then subsequently a second game, because a game ends according to their traditional way of thinking, when one team scores 5 goals.

Next after a break of just 2 minutes, from 936-950 (14 minutes) my team 'Arsenal' won 3-1, I had one assist, playing mostly defense.

So in total in 93 minutes I was on the floor playing for 86 minutes, constantly having to battle with the pain that I would feel in my calves (front-side of calf especially) and the soles of my feet after exerting myself by running. Nevertheless I achieved much both on offense and on defense. In total I scored 5 goals and I had 4 assists. The goals I scored were mostly one-touch angled shots off of passes; (estimate) at least half of them were scored with the right foot although I am left-footed.

Along this line during the games, I suggested to left-footed 'Will', that he work on his one-touch right-footed shooting ability. That does not mean that I thought Will did not play well overall. I could see that since he could not shoot with his right foot he was flubbing opportunities that I was not flubbing since I was shooting accurately with both feet.

Thus the weighted average is that overall there were 9 players on court during a typical minute of play. In total 46 goals were scored. Assuming that the assists per goals rate was the same as was the case with me personally, there were in total 37 assists. Thus the average player had 5 goals and 4 assists, just as I had 5 goals and 4 assists. Thus it seems I was just average.

However: I spent (estimate) only 40% of my playing time playing offense; my mobility was constantly hobbled by the pain that was produced in my calves and soles of my feet as a result of running; the hobbling of mobility was especially acute after the first 36 minutes.

If I had kept up the scores/assists rate of the first 36 minutes the entire game, I would have had 7 goals, and 5 assists in total.

I felt as if having practiced basketball a couple of times a week this month, for about 35 minutes each time, improved me as an offensive soccer player. Shooting in soccer is a percentage thing. I suspect that I tend to: get too inhibited about shooting simply because I often fail to score on a shot; get discouraged and fail to shoot & become inaccurate when I'm missing shots; fail to shoot when I should be shooting. I now believe that the basketball shooting practice helped me to properly develop a more cavalier attitude regarding shooting in soccer, as a result of which I was not shooting less than I should be shooting, given my shooting percentage.

On defense I was burned once by Matty. He dribbled down the right wing. I approached him from the center-area to confront him. He feinted as if he was about to dribble the ball right into me, dribbled towards the endline instead, shot and scored from almost a 90 degree angle. I played him the way I did because that is the way I play an attacker when a team-mate is paying attention and helping out like they should be & like they often actually are in such a situation. If a team-mate had been hustling, Matty would not have been able to score from the difficult low angle, almost like shooting from the corner.

In retrospect, I wonder how Matty was able to freeze me momentarily before speeding down the sideline, by feinting dribbling the ball right into my feet, because if he had actually done what he feinted he would do, he would have simply dribbled the ball right into my feet.

Generally I found that after having spent alot of time playing at midfield & on offense and not playing defense. it took me about 20 minutes of playing defense to get used to playing defense again. At first my usual confidence as a defender when in a one on one situation with a dribbler was not there, resulting in a lack of aggression with dribblers. After about 20 minutes playing defense the confidence and the intuitive ability came back, and I began to steal the ball from dribblers & force them to pass off suboptimally, as has been characteristic of my play on defense.

My performance blocking shots similarly improved after the first 20 minutes back on defense. There were times when the number of shots I was blocking per minute played was enormous.

For some reason it seems that there is nothing glamorous about blocking shots. Nevertheless, one can improve a surprising amount in terms of shot-blocking performance, there is a high level of skill in shot blocking performance, and there is also a low level of skill in shot blocking performance. It's not true that it is simply very easy to block shots while guarding a 4 foot high 6 foot wide goal as a no-hands-allowed goalie/sweeper/defender, and that therefore there is no such thing as superior shot-blocking when performing the task.

Overall, I felt that the players on the court played better than they ever have in these Irish Village indoor soccer games at the Waltham Y.


Thursday, June 07, 2012

soccer games, two on two, indoors; hobbled by pain in feet and calves

From 810-915 PM, I played in two-on-two soccer games sponsored by the Irish Village Soccer Club indoors at the Waltham Y. We played ten minute games with about two minutes of breaks in between.

Sean told me that we would be using the games to practice passing and getting open for a pass, so that's the way I played the games. He also told me not to lag back to guard the goal (each goal was just a standard size chair), and that's the way I played it also.

During the games I noticed regarding us as players: we were making passes that would have been great passes if only the point the passes we made arrived at had been six inches away from the point the passes actually arrived at; with the passage of time we will develop into impressive passers, if we practice passing enough.

There were only four of us: Sean, Peter, Jose, and myself. Sean said that only four people showed up, because most of those who usually play, were drinking in a bar watching the Boston Celtics playoff game on TV.

From beginning to end I was plagued by pain in the soles of both feet and the calves of both legs. The pain was worse than what I used to experience previously months ago when attempting to play in games; the pain was worse than what I used to experience when run-walking (alternating between mile run and mile walked) six miles straight nonstop while wearing thigh-weights, ankle-weights, and weight-vest.

As a result of the pain, most of the time though I could dribble pass and shoot, I could do little more than walk.

At first I could not understand the pain. I thought maybe it was because we were playing with just two on each side, half-court. Then I realized that when we were playing full-court four on a side there was much less such pain. Then I thought maybe the problem was something that I had consumed in the previous 24 hours.

Finally I felt that I had mentally fingered the guilty suspect, namely: the new drills I did yesterday evening, involving a heavy cylindrical punching bag (a 'punching bag' of the 'heavy bag' type) hanging from the ceiling, and a 6-lb medicine ball.

Drills done yesterday evening involved me--for 2 hours from 740-940 PM, dribbling a 6 lb medicine ball with my feet, while repeatedly colliding with the hanging swinging punching bag if the 'heavy bag' type; I've been thinking that these punching-bag/medicine-ball drills are clever original inventions which will significantly improve my performance as a player; I was eager to get on with them. Doing the punching-bag/medicine-ball drills did not produce any pain in the soles of the feet or the calves until the pain felt during the games today.

I figure I should have been wiser and postponed the new punching-bag/medicine-ball drill until after the weekly soccer games.

The fact that evidently the punching-bag/medicine-ball drills produced pain in the exact areas where pain has been a problem for me during games (soles of feet & calves), indicates to me that the punching-bag/medicine-ball drills eventually if repeated enough, will help to prevent the occurrence of such pain during games in the future.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Baseball Pitching Practice, 2nd Day

This evening for the second time this year, I practiced pitching the baseball.

The stats for the practice session are posted online at 'Baseball Stats 2012'.


Sunday, June 03, 2012

Baseball pitching practice for first time in years

This evening, for the first time in about 2.5 years, I practiced pitching the baseball. There were no uncounted warmups, for every pitch it was recorded, was the pitch a ball/strike.

In the following stats B means a ball was thrown, S means a strike was thrown, they are listed in order thrown. No uncounted warmup pitches are left out of the stats.

First segment, 540-555 PM: BBSBSSSBBBBBBBBB; Strikes/Pitches=4/16 (25%).

Second segment, 730-745 PM: BBBBBSBBBBBSSSSSSBBSSBBSBSBSBB; Strikes/Pitches=12/30 (40%).

My stationary foot was approx 18 yards from the strike zone representing the target. I was not on a pitching mound, I was not using anything like a rubber for the foot to push off of during the pitch. I pitched sidearm.

The strike zone target I used was a black cardboard paper 24.2" wide & 20.9" high; the bottom edge was 11" above the ground. This strike zone was designed to reflect the strike zone actually called by major league empires, as opposed to what would be the strike zone if umpires perfectly adhered to what is written in the rulebook.

The stats for the baseball pitching practice sessions this year are posted online at 'Baseball Stats 2012'.


Friday, June 01, 2012

Soccer Game Courtesy Irish Village Soccer Club, May 31

This evening indoors on the basketball court at the Waltham Y from 808-932 PM (84 minutes), I played in soccer games organized by the 'Irish Village Soccer Club'. I scored one goal, hit the post once on a shot, and had four assists. I was part of the action on 36% of the goals my team scored, though on average, I myself constituted only 21.5% of my team's total manpower. This despite me playing mostly defense.

Game 1 lasted 26 minutes; score-- Us 5, Them 4 (I played defense, scored 1 goal, had 2 assists). Game 2 lasted 21 minutes, score us 2, Them 10 (I played offense, hit the post on a shot). Some changes were made in the composition of the teams after this drubbing. Game 3: 10 minutes, Us 3, Them 2 (I played defense). Game 4: 17 minutes, Us 4, Them 7 (I played defense, had two assists). During the 84 minutes there were breaks between games that totalled 10 minutes-- I was playing in a game, on-court, 88% of the time.

My performance tailed off after the first game, which went on for 26 minutes nonstop, with just 4 players on each team.

Various factors come to mind as having produced an impairment in performance. Highlights and so-to-speak lowlights come to mind with regards to my play come to mind. Lessons learned come to mind.

Possible factors impairing performance: extremely soft ball-pressure (0.5 Psi); being unused to playing for 84 minutes nonstop with only a tenth of the time being rest-time between games. being unused to playing the forward position, which I had to do when two of my team-mated dropped back to play defense.

American Goofiness RE Indoor ball PSI

Usually these days I practice indoors using a standard outdoors size 5 ball inflatedto 8.0 PSI. During the Irish Village games May 24 a week ago, I could not put my pressure gage needle into their green fuzzy ball, because previously I had caused permanent collapse in the bladder of a twin ball by putting the pressure gage needle into it. I now estimate the ball PSI was only 1.0 PSI on May 24. I estimate the Irish Village soccer club's beloved old pet the green fuzzy ball was only 0.5 PSI today May 31.

By way of contrast, according to the official rules of the world soccer governing body FIFA: for standard full-size field outdoors soccer the size 5 soccer ball PSI should be 8.5 – 15.6 PSI (average 12.05 PSI); and, for indoors FUTSAL play the size 4 soccer ball PSI should be 8.8 – 13.2 PSI (average 11.0 PSI).

According to the official rules of the USA national Futsal governing body US Futsal: for indoors FUTSAL play the size 4 soccer ball PSI should be 5.9 – 8.8 PSI (average 7.35 PSI).

Thus we see that the average of the required PSI range for an outdoor full-size-field ball according to FIFA is 12.05 PSI; and the average of the required PSI-range averages for FIFA-FUTSAL and US Futsal is 9.2 PSI (11.0+7.35/2=9.2).

The midpoint between the FIFA outdoors PSI specification of 12.05 PSI and the FIFA-Futsal/US-Futsal average spec of 9.2 PSI is 10.6 PSI.

Yet: the Irish Village (IV) Soccer Club is playing with an ancient green fuzzy ball whose PSI is only 0.5-1.0 PSI; the IV soccer club is apparently satisfied with not being able to gauge or change the ball pressure due to fear of the ball-bladder collapsing.

After the game I suggested to 'Peter' (who was wearing an official England soccer jersey with the three lions) that the PSI of the ball they were using be increased. His answer was (best I can recall), to display a big toothy smile on his wet white face & proclaim through his red lips: 'no, we're doing fine with it (the extremely soft, very old, fuzzy green ball)'. Whenever I volunteer that my black and white Adidas Replique ball be used, they decline. Seems they are happy that the ball disadvantages me while advantaging them, despite the fact that its PSI is so below the lowest PSI tolerated by any official indoor-soccer/Futsal type governing body.

Seemingly in the spirit of this carefree-re-ball-PSI 'Peter', is the internet world; I found it to be surprisingly time-consuming & frustrating, to nail down information regarding what the PSI of a Futsal ball should be.

Time after time I ran across the following info supplied re official Futsal ball requirements: "Bounce: 55-65 cm on first bounce". Problem is that this data re cm bounce on first bounce is meaningless outside the context of from where the ball is dropped when the bounce is tested. Finally I found that the key omitted fact is that the ball should bounce 55-65 cm when dropped from a height of 2 meters.

So: 'Peter' likes the ultra-soft ball because they're doing fine using it; the internet world makes it difficult to find out what the PSI of a Futsal ball should be; the internet world obfuscates by talking about required bounce without mentioning height from which bounced, while neglecting PSI. Seems America in general, is goofy about things like PSI of ball used for indoor soccer.

Personally I find, that practicing with a ball deflated to a low PSI of 2-2.5, puts more stress on my knees not less. When the ball is soft, the impact point on the foot is wider, which increases stress on the knee.

Exhaustion Due to 84 minutes of almost non-stop play

Having to play for 84 minutes nonstop with only 10 minutes of break-time on the last day in May in a warm humid gym, impaired my performance; during the first 26 minute game I scored 1 goal and achieved 2 assists; by way of contrast during the final 48 minutes of game-time I achieved just 2 assists.

A young-adult prime-of-life type guy arrived after game 1, which was a 4 on 4 game, concluded. He joined the other team, whereas a relatively-speaking slow weak unfit middle-aged type joined ours. This young guy who joined the other team really took advantage of the fact that we were all tired due to having played in game 1, to help produce a tremendous 10-2 victory for his team over ours, in game 2.

While the drubbing was going on, my team was in a daze, we could not figure out why we were being beaten so badly. I felt as if my defensive and offensive skills were in decline while we were being smashed. During the game I was not smart enough to figure out that if the other team can last longer endurance-wise to begin with, and is then joined by a fit young man who did not play during the first 30 minutes while we did, the result can of course be a 10-2 loss disaster.

I believe that we would have all played better, if we had realized how endurance-level and rest can effect player and team performance resulting in lots of goals for this or that team. Since during the hustle-bustle and exhaustion of the game we failed to realize this, we became demoralized, lost confidence, and performed even worse than we otherwise would have.

After the humiliating loss, Jose, who was playing defense while they scored 10 goals, looked at me intently and said (exact words?): 'you are running...they are not running'. But I felt as if my team-mates were hustling at least as much as I was. I told Jose that my team-mates run and hustle when they are dribbling and shooting. Actually in retrospect, of Jose, Sean, Matty, me, and the guy who joined us after the first game, the only hustler doing much running aside from me best I can recall was Matty, and actually Matty did most of his running when dribbling or shooting.

I expect that the endurance problem can be fixed if: I do my wind-sprints fitness routine (my personal speed record doing it is about 25 minutes) three times in a row with minimal breaks between each repetition of the routine; and/or, I exploit my continued improvement in terms of ball control while doing corner dribble & pass drills with the ball kept on or close to the ground.

I've been doing these corner drills involving striking the ball at the walls and dribbling a little between kicks. As my skills have been improving, the amount of time that a repetition of the drill continues without a break due to the ball becoming unplayable, has been increasing. As this amount of time has been increasing, the endurance-improvement effect on my body has been increasing also.

Playing Forward is Now Strange for Me

Although when playing on the University High School soccer team, I played left-wing forward, during the games over the past few years I've mostly been playing defense. I've gotten used to playing defense. But recently I've found that I've been literally forced to go up to play offense, because my team-mates have been dropping back to play defense.

The change has been awkwards because it involves my body being in a new and different position relative to the incoming ball I am receiving and the defender, when I get the ball. I expect that I can solve the problem by putting mental and physical time into 'moves' involving me getting the ball with my body in new positions relative to the incoming pass. For example, I could change from body facing incoming ball to body facing away from incoming ball during practice.

(related) Problem is that this evening, my team-mates did not show themselves to be adept in the art of sending 'lead-passes' (ball is passed ahead of moving pass-recipient in direction of pass-recipient's movement) to their forwards. This evening, the defenders (including this white-haired clean-shaven lean/athletic older-guy wearing a red shirt that said 'coach' on it) were closely marking the forwards, even when they the forwards did not have the ball.

The effective counter-attack for this kind of close-marking defense, is to lob or roll a lead-pass to the forward as the forward runs in the general direction of the goal. However, if players lack the range and accuracy and chip/volley ability to make such passes, the lead-pass attempts result in failure.

When a team is unable to produce lead-passes of range and accuracy, the defenders are free to stick to the forwards like glue. If a team when on the attack shows the ability to generate lead-passes of range and accuracy, the defenders have to back off, not mark the forwards so closely, which would produce a defensive situation similar to what existed in the Irish Village soccer club games up to this week.

Playing back on defense, I had gotten used to successfully faking the pass and dribbling. Now I have to mentally translate that into, when playing forward, faking the shot and dribbling. This evening once the athletic hustling soccer-wise old man was guarding me; with my back to him on the first touch I cut the ball to my right at a 90 degree angle and got clean away from him; next I shot the ball into a second defender when I should have dribbled the second defender, perhaps after first faking the shot (the defender was in a sort of standing foetal-position when the ball I shot hit him).

During the incident I did not want to stick out from the crowd; I had seen how most players will just fire off a shot that is wide or blocked rather than succumb to the possible indignity of attempting a dribble and having the ball stolen; I decided to be like the others and play it safe and fire off a shot when I should have faked a shot and dribbled or just dribbled.

Generally regarding me dribbling, it became clear to me this evening that often the composition of my team is such that me attempting to dribble by the defenders is the superior alternative compared to my team-mates trying to score a goal, and that this is especially true when I initiate the dribble as a defender (for me now starting a dribble as a defender is differerent compared to, and probably easier than, starting a dribble as a forward). Nevertheless, there will be those who complain.

Many persons cannot distinguish between: A) a player dribbling when such can reasonably be expected to be more effective than his team-mates attempting to score, and, B) a player dribbling when such CANNOT reasonably be expected to be more effective than his team-mates attempting to score. In reality, A is a good team-player whereas B is a ball-hog. The common error is to label both A and B as ball-hogs.

Personal Highlights

The lean athletic tall old white-haired man wearing the red 'Coach' shirt tormented me all evening by 'marking' me closely, textbook style. I decided I had to implement the dribble on the first touch in some direction approach, which I'd been practicing earlier in the week. Once I beat him by dribbling right at a 90 degree angle (relative to incoming pass) on the first touch and then shooting when I could have beaten the second defender completely by faking the shot and dribbling.

Another time I dribbled right at a 90 degree angle on the first touch, through a gap in the defense; I hit the ball a little too hard, the old man rushed up and got his foot on it at the same time I got my foot on it, the old man went down, I found myself victoriously in possession of the ball, and I passed it off. I felt as the games progressed this evening, a need to transition from shooting on the first touch, to dribbling once and then shooting.

I made at least two long (approx 25 yds) chip passes that were accurately placed and that led the defender perfectly. One resulted in an assist, the other a pass to Jose, would have been a goal if Jose had played the ball better. I used the wall and backboard well on at least a couple of passes that were at least 15 yards in length, one of these produced an assist for me. Once I led Matty with a short lead-pass, the ball led him perfectly though he was running at top speed; he headed it and lost control of it.

Personal Lowlights

My defensive 'errors' mostly involved me restraining myself from pushing myself to 100% exertion all the time.

Generally I felt I was not taking a good enough look at the goal/defenders prior to shooting/dribbling the ball. A quick glance around slows down the subsequent move by a fraction of a second. When I played in high school I habitually did not take a good enough look around before passing/shooting because I was slow, a weak physical lightweight, and not a good dribbler; a glance around before passing/dribbling posed a danger of the ball being taken by the other team. But times have changed and I have to notify myself mentally of the fact that I am quicker, stronger, and a better dribbler compared to what I used to be and so can now benefit from taking a look around before passing/dribbling/shooting.

General Notes

I was surprised, almost shocked, at how physically the opponents, both young and old played. There was plenty of bulling the other team out of the way with the body and the arms. The ball being at a pillow-like PSI of about 0.5, increased the level of physicality. It was hard for me to change gear, and get physical in retaliation, because for a long time I had been in the habit of restraining myself so as not to offend--not to offend the referee, the small foreign primadonna striker/forward, the woman, the old person.

Possible solutions: dribble a medicine ball at and past a hanging punching-bag.

@2012 David Virgil Hobbs

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