Philipp Lahm: The Ideal Holding Midfielder
Philipp Lahm is one of my all time favorite soccer players. What is not to love; he makes great passes, he rarely turns the ball over, and he is an excellent tackler. Whenever one of my midfielders asks me how I want them to play on the field, I show them clips of Phillip Lahm.
Although the former German national team captain has played most of his career as an outside back, he made the switch to holding midfield when Pep Guardiola came to Bayern in 2013. Given that Lahm was one of the best defenders in the world at the time, many found the move surprising. Now having had the privilege of watching Lahm dominate in the middle of the field season after season, it’s safe to say Guardiola was on to something.
Here are five qualities that make Philipp Lahm a great player:
Philipp Lahm’s ability to play multiple positions at a world class level makes him a coaches dream. He can go head to head with players like Cristiano Ronaldo on defense and he is a model of consistency on offense. With this in mind, Lahm looks comfortable just about anywhere on the field.
When Lahm has the ball, he rarely turns it over. Watching him control the play against Bayer Leverkusen in the clip above is a thing of beauty. He always puts himself in a position to receive passes from his teammates. At the same time, when he gets the ball, he protects and distributes it with ease.
Lahm is a natural leader that players look up to. Wherever he plays, he inspires those around him. In addition to leading Germany to a World Cup title, he has served as Bayern’s captain for years. Furthermore, Lahm truly plays the game with everything he has. This kind of attitude is infectious and it brings out the best in the players around him.
The most essential quality in the game is passion. -Philipp Lahm
Another key attribute of Lahm’s play is his ability to place passes exactly where they need to go. With this in mind, he almost always delivers the ball to his teammates in stride. In addition, he goes forward quickly when opportunities arise. This keen since of knowing when to go forward results in many goal scoring chances for his side.
High Soccer IQ
Many coaches have praised Lahm for his soccer intelligence. Although his play on the field speaks for itself, this quote from Pep Guardiola is high praise for the German.
Lahm is the most intelligent player I have ever trained in my career. -Pep Guardiola
Takeaways For Youth Players
- Work On Technical Skills: Becoming technically sound will serve you in just about every position on the field. Lahm has a superb grasp of the fundamentals which allows him to play accurate passes and go forward when the opportunities arise.
- Protect The Ball: Always strive to keep the ball out of harms way. Practice shielding so that it is more difficult for defenders to take the ball away when you have it. In addition, try to complete passes to your teammates feet. For this, it helps to think one step ahead so that you know where your open teammates are before the ball comes to you.
- Be In The Right Place: Being in the right position sets you up for success. If you’re on defense look to force attackers one way, preferably to their weak foot. Be patient and ready to make the tackle if the attacker exposes the ball. On the other hand, when your team has the ball always look for open space. Try to find passing lanes to support your teammates and make runs to get open.
- Play With Passion: Whenever you step on the field, give everything you have. Work hard on offense and defense. Be the kind of teammate you would want to play with.