One of the neat experiences I’ve had coaching youth soccer is having a player who can do a flip throw. We actually have two players on our 96 girls team that can do it, though one is a striker and only throws in on occasion. The other is one of our starting defenders and was a competitive gymnast before she started playing soccer. She perfected it on her own when she was 11, and has done it ever since. By the middle of our U13 season, she could drop the ball into the center of the penalty area with ease. Here is a video of one of her throws that we treated like a corner kick (and scored off of):
While it certainly has helped us occasionally, it’s not a crutch by any means. It has, however, provided a lot of funny moments for us:
- Whenever we play teams we haven’t faced before, it’s always fun to see the reaction of the parents and/or players when our defender does her first flip. During a recent tournament, she didn’t flip until maybe 5-10 minutes into a match we already led by 1 or 2. When she did it, our opponent’s center striker, almost involuntarily, shouts out “Oh my god, that was SO AWESOME!!!!!!!! Did you SEE that?!?!” Even funnier was the reaction of her coach, who was pretty intense, and clearly did not appreciate his player’s outburst. Made me chuckle.
- Our team has a specific formation for corner kicks. We line up most of our players in a line at an angle about 18 yds out from the far goal post. The girls ‘take off’ at preset intervals in the few seconds before the corner kick. So when the ball goes out-of-bounds on her side within 10-15 yds of the corner flag, I’ll often shout out to the team ‘setup a corner!’ and we treat the throw like a corner kick. Once a coach sarcastically reminded me that it was CLEARLY a throw in. So I say ‘Oh, thanks! Sorry I sometimes get confused’. Then I shout again, ‘Ladies – set it up!’ He looks at me like I’m a complete idiot. The girls scatter from formation, she flips, drops the ball over the hash mark, and we score. The look on his face when he glanced back over to me was PRICELESS.
- One team we played had a parent with a foreign accent. Every time the ball went out-of-bounds for us, he’d shout out ‘De Flip! De Flip!’. It cracked my team up because he sounded like Hervé Villechaize on Fantasy Island shouting ‘De Plane! De Plane!’
- During a tournament this past Spring, we lost possession off of one of our flip throws. Out of the blue, a player on the other team grabs the ball and does a flip throw right in front of her bench, which got her team (and parents) very fired up.
- Against another team we were setting up our corner kick formation on a throw in and the opposing team seemed to get what we were going to do as she had flipped once before, but always from farther downfield. So the girls were marking up our girls in formation, far from the throw. The opposing coaching was screaming at his players “Why are you moving so far away! It’s a throw in! She can’t throw that far! Move Closer! WHY ARE YOU SO FAR AWAY!?!?” She flips, we score, and one of his players turns to him, grins, and shouts “THAT’S WHY!”
The interesting thing is that even without doing a flip, she can throw the ball quite far, so she doesn’t do it all the time. She uses hand signals to try to alert her teammates when she plans to do one, though I’m not sure they always realize it.
I know many people view the flip throw as an abnormality in a soccer match, but it sure has been a lot of fun to watch and see the reactions of other teams.