For Ashley

Holidays have gaps. While I can fill free hours at home with series and video games, on vacation they are always filled with reading. Filled by books, magazines, news and websites. In 2014, in Sicily, I updated the Spox feed every second to see new rumors, articles or videos. I didn’t care what it was about. No matter what sport, no matter what topic, no matter what team. Driven by boredom I absorbed it all.

In an article which’s content I can hardly remember was about Spielverlagerung.de, a tactics blog whose daily articles enjoyed increasing popularity during the World Cup. Although I had a huge interest in football, played in a club, had a season ticket at the SCP and also kicked daily on holiday, the article didn’t catch my attention. I quickly switched to the next article and didn’t look at the detailed match analyses.

It took a year, until the next vacation, until the next free hours, until I remembered the page. Bored in a hotel room in Austria, I searched for the page whose name I couldn’t remember with certainty, but surprisingly correctly – and was blown away.

Enthused by the level of detail of the articles and fascinated by the peculiar, difficult to understand language, I read and read and read everything I could find. the theory of half spaces, reports on Pep Guardiola’s Bayern, hymns of praise for individual players and teams and last but not least training theory. In retrospect I didn’t understand anything at that time. While the content entered my head on one side and fell out on the other, the fascination remained.

A fascination that in a year full of injuries drove me to the idea of becoming a coach. In spring 2016 I started as one of the youngest participants with the C-License without having coached before. Despite the cold water that this course represented for my less self-confident former self and despite the sensation of many teaching contents as meaningless, I finished the course and became coach of a U13 next summer.

I had no idea what I was doing. Although I had read a lot, I didn’t know anything about training design and football tactics. My team had a structure, one of the few things I had actually taken with me, and was supposed to play flat out. To do this, I used a repertoire of isolated pass and technique trainings and terribly coached rondos.

It slowly got better. From isolated forms more and more game-ilke tarinings arose, from a lack of understanding of tactics, the meaning of dribbling, the vertical game and the center of the playing field grew by observation of my team . At the end of the first season, I wasn’t a good coach, I actually didn’t have much fun at the job, saw my influence as too limited and my skills as too little.

After graduating from high school, I had a lot of free time. Free time that led to boredom and boredom that led to reading. My understanding grew. Not linear, not like a house on whose foundation the walls and finally the roof followed, but more like a tree. From individual branches of understanding grew small cantilevers. Some branches were chopped off, others neglected. I can hardly comprehend this development now, the tree of my knowledge has no age rings.

Next year, in anticipation of considerable stress at university, I decided not to take on a team of my own, but to act as co-trainer for the U19. It was a decision I regretted after a few weeks. Instead of learning from the experienced head coach, I was confronted with a caricature of my own past coaching. Isolated exercises, isolated runs, extreme training intensity at the beginning of the season just to cut back after many injuries, antiquated, dysfunctional tactics.

But my decision was not a mistake. Looking at bad training forced my critical awareness to find mistakes and alternatives. Poor results led me to understand the inadequacies of tactics and seek solutions. The higher age group, full of players I had played with myself, allowed me to give more complex instructions without thinking about their packaging, while the same age gave me back the fun of coaching.

In the same year, I helped out with various teams. In particular, I contested and won a tournament with the then U17 purely by defensive compactness and counterattacks. While I was fortunate not to conclude a step to the Mourinho style from this success, it gave me great self-confidence to represent my opinion more actively to the outside world and at the same time showed me my development.

This self-confidence is an important point for me. As an enormously introverted person, I didn’t even dare to comment after creating my Twitter account (to get updates about new SV articles). Only occasionally did I write anything. That only changed when Karsten Jahn from halbfeldflanke.de, a Schalke tactics blog followed me back. During the conversation with him I was asked if I had a blog…

I was amazed by the question, I had thought about writing such a blog in the previous weeks and considering the outstanding season of SC Paderborn more often and in this context even bought a, more exactly this, domain.

The question drove me around until one Sunday evening, while watching a mediocre football game with a friend, I decided to do an analysis of Paderborn’s 2-0 defeat to Wehen Wiesbaden. I watched the game in repetition, wrote down some elements of the game that I noticed and packed them with some graphics into a blog entry.

On December 3, 2017 Paderball.com started without announcement or introduction, without knowledge of the Paderborn fan scene and on a low content level.

When I got up the next morning, my whole cell phone was full of messages about likes, retweets and comments. Stephan and the rest of the PaderCast troupe had read and listened to my contribution. Within a few hours the article had collected over 200 clicks.

This experience drove me on. With every game I wrote an analysis, with almost every analysis the readership increased and with every analysis my knowledge increased. The articles became longer, more detailed, and above all… more.

There are some texts that are of particular importance to me.

The team analysis of FC Magdeburg, the preview of the cup quarter finals against FC Bayern, the parody of narratives in football and the meta-analysis of a commentator.
But above all the analysis of the Cup last eight final against Ingolstadt should be mentioned. Not only the result was a reason to be happy, after a strong Paderborn game there were some highlight videos on Twitter to see. One such video, which showed a build-up scene, was tweeted by Eddie Schmidt. As a reaction I posted a link to my page and got into conversation with him. From this conversation about football, analysis and coaching, a friendship grew that led me to travel all the way to Canada in October.

A few weeks ago, when I saw one of my old comments on a picture of David Goigitzer’s team, I was amazed to find out that I knew this pitch – after all, I was there.

At the beginning of this blog I hoped, but did not remotely expect, to gather so much knowledge and meet so many great people. I stood in many places and was disappointed by the number of clicks or my personal development – until I looked back.

Whenever I think I’m treading water, I look back and see how far I’ve come. Whenever I think I know everything, I look back a year – and see how you can be wrong.

Now, one year, 365 days, 42 articles and 74115 characters later, I am grateful for what I was able to experience. Grateful for the acquaintances, the conversations, the podcasts and trips.

And yet this is not just a review, but the promise of a better future, deeper analyses and new contacts, personal development and other highlights. I am looking forward to it!