"How often should I (my athlete) be training?" We get this question a lot; both from athletes and parents alike. Answering this question is very important for an athlete to develop fully; technically and tactically. The problem is that there is much more that goes into an athlete's training plan than just dedicating hours with a ball. In this month's QTSD© Training Ground Article, we will go over what is considered mandatory overseas, how we can start to plan our training sessions to work towards our long term success and what a training balance can help athletes improve consistently!
We recently had the opportunity to work with Antoine B. (a u14 boy from FC Barcelona's Academy team in Spain) this summer. His father approached us after researching the local soccer training options in Columbus while on vacation; something that we were very honored to hear! It was a great opportunity to see what developing players overseas look like compared to our developing US talent. One of the immediate developmental aspects you could tell about Antoine was his consistency with the ball. His style of play was not necessarily flashy but every pass, every first touch and every shot was technically sound. After speaking with his father about the consistency of technique, expectations of athletes in Barcelona's academy and more, a consistent message started to appear. It is all about how often a player has the ball at their feet. Period.
So Just How Often Should I Train?
The immediate thought many players assume is to become as consistent as their professional role models, they have to spend incredible amounts of time on the ball; sometimes 2-3 hours a day. Other professionals will try to sell the "10,000 Hour Rule" in that if a player practices nearly 10,000 hours, they can compete at the top level. The thought process behind both ideas is not correct; although aspects can be applied. After speaking with Antoine's father, he mentioned the 14U Boys Academy trains 5 days (1.25 hours) and usually 1 game a week. Doing the math on that equals:
(5 x 1.25) + 1.5 = 7.75 hours
At first glance that may seem close to our usual American schedule of soccer (approx. 4.5 to 6 hours a week). But his father was quick to correct my thought process. 7-8 hours is what the Academy trains in regards to team training. That did not count the hours spent playing pick-up soccer with teammates or working on individual technical control (foot skills, passing & receiving, finishing and free kicks,etc.). On average, a soccer player overseas spends approximately 10-12 hours a week (or an average of 1.5 hours a day). But the key to success is a mix of training instead of "over coaching" or "over structured training".
"24 hours at FC Barcelona’s Academy: What Life is Like"
What Should My Training Mix Look Like?
Players must mix in different aspects of training to become fully developed; not just focusing on the parts that are fun or flashy. Ideally athletes should be looking for approx 10 hours a week of training (including team training and games). The training should mix individual technique, 1v1 opposed partner training, free play or games, team training and competitive matches. One important aspect is to make sure the techniques you are training are correct. Reach out to your coach or personal trainer to make sure you are executing your training correctly. There is nothing worse than building a training habit only to find out it was wrong!
Here is a great example of a balanced training mix:
Monday - Team Training (1.5 hours)
Tuesday - Individual Technical Training (Self or Private Trainer) (1 - 1.5 hours - i.e. less dominant foot skills, change of direction, passing & receiving, finishing, private training, etc..)
Weds - Partner Training (1 - 1.5 hours - 1v1, Combination to goal, Receiving at pace, etc.)
Thursday - Team Tactical Training (1.5 hours)
Friday - FUN GAMES i.e. Knockout, Soccer Tennis, Crossbar Challenge, Juggling Challenge, etc. (1.5 hours)
Saturday - Team Training or Matches (1.5 - 3 hours)
Sunday - Recovery
"You must work on your weaknesses to improve.
Do not just focus on the fun and flashy aspects!"
Even if you drop each extra training to an hour a day, you still increase your technical training from 4.5 hours a week to 7.5 hours. We as coaches understand that athletes are busy with school, extracurricular activities and many other aspects of life. But at the same time, the time required with the ball is much more than only 4.5 hours of training a week. The question that every athlete must ask is how badly do they want to improve? It will take sacrifice and determination; but every single successful athlete has taken that path before.
Our goal at Quick Touch Soccer Development (QTSD©) is to push our your athletes towards their individual potential. We provide the technical and tactical education for athletes to learn how to improve and develop every aspect of the game. Athletes will learn how techniques work, why they are crucial to the game and when to apply them but just as equally important is the individual determination to hone and perfect those techniques on their own afterwards!
Contact us to learn how we can help your athlete develop into a QUICKER, more CREATIVE and more CONFIDENT soccer player today!