- Where and when did you start to learn football off the ball? Did you see your game develop the better you understood your role?
You are soon taught that each game a player is only on the ball for maybe a minute and a half out of ninety! This underlines the importance of how a player performs when they don’t have the ball including how they support the player on the ball and defensive organisation.
I was very lucky to have developed through the academy at Arsenal Ladies from the age of 9 till 17, and so from an early age we were taught details about how to provide support to players on the ball including the angles in which to support and the runs to make. This could be as simple as a full back overlapping their winger to provide an overload for example. We also were drilled very heavily on back line positioning and defensive organisation in units. This was all very key to my development as being a centre half I think you need to have good understanding of every aspect of the game to make good decisions and to also lead from the back.
2) What do you want from your weekly training sessions eg. Physical technical tactical ?
Over the course of a week leading up to a weekend game for example our training programme will cover all aspects to give us a well rounded preparation. I believe all types of training are equally as important in their own right and so all must be included to get the best results!
3) Could you explain to a younger player what decision making in football is? Could you give an example ?
Decision making is the most key thing in football. It involves assessing the scenario in front of you and then making a split second decision on how best you can overcome the challenge. For example a winger driving with the ball looking to get past their defender, may look to read the body language of their defender and notice they are too flat footed so takes the ball round them at speed in order to beat them. Alternatively if the defender is really tight to the winger they may choose to play a one two round them in order to beat them.
4) Can you give the key attributes needed to play your position?
At the moment I am playing holding centre midfield at my club and I would say key attributes needed would be: a calm head for decision making as you are in a dangerous area of the pitch; a competitive spirit to fight for the ball and make a difference going forward; and good awareness of game scenarios.
5) How much of the game is your battle with your direct opponent
A lot of the game is about your battle with your opposing player and so it is important to take the time to work out their strengths and weaknesses if you can.
6) When do you feel you have as a good game ?
When I feel I have been effective in breaking down attacks, assisting in attacking play build up and carrying out my roles and responsibilies given to me by my coach.
7) Who are the standout players you have come up against this season
The best team I have played against this year has been Man City as they are extremely well drilled, very hard working and are as effective defensively as offensively. The best players have been Caroline Weir (Man City) and Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal).
8) What boots do you wear?
I wear Adidas X boots
9) Favourite player growing up!
I loved Steven Gerrard as he was a great competitor and always was brave enough to make the difference for his team.
This is an excellent interview and great information for young players. I worked with Hayley before joining Birmingham City in 2017. Hayley plays professional football in the WSL and is a current Wales international.
Thanks for this Hayley!