The guys around Birmingham Drive always stop for soccer on Wednesdays. It’s almost become some sort of ritual and a highlight of the week, untethered from our workstations, and dragging ourselves away from the code, we come together to share a common love for the beautiful game. Or at least a desire to get some fresh air, have a blow out and kick something that won’t kick back.

This week, our team lost. Not that we keep score. But it was pretty obvious even if counting isn’t one of your strengths. Not that I mind (losers have to say that right?) but the last goal got me thinking about something bigger than just a game of soccer – and it’s called ‘reducing the angle’.

Reducing the angle is actually a really useful strategy

We might not have ceded that last golden goal had the keeper reduced the angle. In soccer reducing the angle simply involves narrowing the attacking player’s options. By approaching them, rather than holding back and waiting for them in goal, you limit the angle of any shot at goal. It does involve an element of risk since if they can dribble the ball past you there’s no chance of saving it. But in most cases, particularly when it’s just you and them, reducing the angle works well. So if you ever hear someone yelling ‘come out keeper’ they’re not coaxing shy beavers – they are just telling the goalkeeper to reduce the angle and limit the striker’s shot at goal.

What does this have to do with anything?

So apart from knowing what to do if you find yourself stuck in goal (don’t take it the wrong way but sometimes it’s given to the person tagged as the unfit one), what can you take away from this foray into soccer strategy? Depending on how creative your imagination is, you could walk away with a lot of allegories, but if your imaginationals aren’t working right now, here’s one you can have for free: Life is fraught with danger. There are risks at every turn. Things can, and regularly, go wrong. So think of life as the striker, it’s headed straight for you, and it’s taking shots at goal. You have two choices: Stay back in goal, letting life take random pot shots at your goal with the maximum chance of scoring a goal. That’s a passive approach and is often the preferred choice for life’s helpless victims, both in personal and business life.

Option two is a more proactive approach. Approach life, don’t wait for it to strike, strike first. Cut down its chances to score against you by following the ‘best defence is a good offence’ ethos. Don’t let life happen, make it happen by doing what you can to minimize things going wrong. Sure life will still score now and then, but life isn’t on rails, you can influence the outcome.

So next time, you hear ‘come out keeper’ know it works just as well for life as it does the game of soccer.

Reducing the angle – Not just for soccer players
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