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Training tips with Sasha Victorine

December 31, 2003 09:00 PM
The Los Angeles Galaxy's Sasha Victorine was a first round MLS draft pick in 2000 out of UCLA. He also starred for the United States in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The following is an interview conducted by Janice Trecker.
Please describe your position:
My position is basically center forward in the system we play, and my job is mainly to hold the ball and to be a target; also to get behind the defense and to stretch them out and make space for our midfielders.
Some forwards wait around for someone to get them the ball, that's not your game, is it?
No, running is a big thing that I do. It's something I can bring to the team. The more I run, the more the defense has to move and run and that creates holes. There's a difference between just running around and running purposefully.
ow do you learn where and when to run? Can that be taught?
That's the hardest thing to teach; it's basically just knowing the game positionally. You learn that when the ball is in a certain area you move. Sometimes making a run isn't to get the ball for yourself, but to open up space. It comes from watching a lot of games.
How should a player watch a game?
If you're a forward, you try to find a player in a similar position and watch. The best players find a way to create space even when they are marked. The big thing good forwards do well is to find ways to get open. And two, to find a move or two that will get you behind people. Get a couple of moves and practice them daily. Watch how forwards combine and move the ball.
Do you have a favorite training tip for young players?
I think the biggest training advice is that when training is over, it's not necessarily over for you. If something needs work that didn't get covered in training, the best players grab a coach or a couple of other players and stay to practice whatever needs work.
Could you describe a weakness you overcame in your own game and how you went about correcting it?
My biggest weakness is quickness, I'm still working on that, and I try to compensate by reacting quicker. My speed is good over long distance, but I'm not so fast over the first few yards, so I have to find a way to react quickly. As a forward, you `cheat', you try to anticipate where the ball is going.
Could you suggest a good skill drill for younger players?
The biggest thing most players need is to work at whatever skill they are practicing at speed. For example, pass while dribbling at speed. You see players taking time to trap, to look up, to pass - by that time, spaces close down. At the higher levels, everything needs to be done fast.
Is there a particular defense which you find hard to attack?
There is no one defense that's harder to get behind than others. It's maybe certain games, if you're tired, or if your legs are tired, then it's hard to get behind people. If a defense is well organized, they will be hard to get behind. Our job as forwards is to make them disorganized.
Who is the player you most like to watch?
I like to watch (France and Real Madrid midfielder) Zinedine Zidane: he's just a good player in all aspects. He's flashy, but he's still oriented to playing for his team and trying to make the team better.
I suppose the temptation for forwards is to concentrate just on scoring?
It's a different mentality. You can be the hero [or not], but it takes, mentally, not worrying about the response from the sidelines. You can hurt yourself by worrying about what other people are saying about you. The key is believing in yourself, believing that you're a good player and that you can do whatever you set your mind to do.



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