Confidence with the soccer ball. We all want that. But what goes into developing technical control properly? And how does that play into developing a more "complete" athlete?
Soccer is a simple game of "kicking" a ball between two posts BUT the modern game has gotten MUCH more detailed in almost every aspect. Today, athletes must be developed in every area of their game; technically, tactically, physically, and psychologically. For today's article, we will be focusing on how to technically develop YOUR athlete AND how to inspire creativity at the same time.
Over the past decade of coaching, one of the most common things I see lacking on the soccer field is technical control and creativity. Whether at the younger development ages to the high school and professional level, far too many athletes have a poor first touch or lack the control to be creative with purpose. The solution is simple though:
Players need more time with the ball at their feet
Players on average get 4.5 hours of training each week and 1.5 hours of match play. That is far too little time with the ball to become proficient with it. The Malcom Gladwell Theory of 10,000 Hours to master has flaws, but the premise is strong - you need to practice with purpose a lot to become good at what you do.
I'VE HEARD MY CHILD'S COACH MENTION TECHNICAL CONTROL. WHAT IS IT?
Technical control is basically the ability to control the ball with multiple surfaces of the body; including the feet, chest, head, thigh, etc. as well as passing & finishing technique. Players that are considered "technical" are comfortable controlling the ball under pressure and exciting actions with very little reaction time.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY ATHLETE NEEDS TO IMPROVE TECHNICALLY?
It's fairly simple. Watch a training session or game. How often does your player lose the ball on their first touch? How often do they make inaccurate passes or miss shots? How often do they keep the ball when dribbling or execute creative "movements"? If they lose the ball or miss passes/shots fairly often, they need to focus on technical improvement.
SO WHAT CAN MY PLAYER DO TO IMPROVE?
Practice with purpose. Assuming a player sleeps 8 hours a night, spends 7 hours a day at school, and trains with their team 6 hours a week, they have approximately 77 hours to work with! Yes, that includes social time, studying, eating, etc. but that is almost 11 hours a day free.
Imagine if they added one hour per day of training outside of team practice. Look at the math:
Player 1 - Trains 3x a week + 1 game = 312 hours a year of training
Player 2 - Trains 3x a week + 1 game + 1 hour a day = 677 hours of training
That allows for plenty of recovery time, social time, studying, etc. but imagine the difference in ability and confidence in Player #2!
All it takes is one hour a determined hour per day.
WHAT IF MY PLAYER DOESN'T KNOW WHAT TO TRAIN ON?
This is common with many athletes. You cannot train if you don't know what to work on. Even I, a professional coach, have a personal trainer at the gym because I need evaluation and feedback to improve. The best in the world (Lionell Messi, Christiano Ronaldo, Carli Lloyd, etc.) have personal technical coaches to keep them at the top of their game. Additionally, the worst thing a player can do is become proficient executing the WRONG form!
The first step is to get your player evaluated; by a professional coach (QTSD© offers player evaluations), their team coach, or by peers (if older). Self evaluation can be helpful as well by having your athlete record themselves during training. Additionally, evaluation allows a player to record, review, and measure improvement.
We stress that serious players should work with licensed or professional coach to ensure that proper technique is taught. If the improper technique is taught, a players development and confidence can be set back significantly.
MY PLAYER TRAINS WITH A PERSONAL COACH. IS THAT ENOUGH?
Unfortunately, although a great start, the answer is no. Most athletes train 1-2x with the trainer each week, but that is not enough time to creatively test the new skills they learn. They need to be training at home and playing pick-up soccer to allow for trial and error.
SHOULDN'T MY CHILD'S TEAM COACH BE ABLE TO PROVIDE THIS TRAINING?
Not usually. A team coach has to focus on multiple athletes, training management, the different development level of their players, and many more variables. In a team environment, development improves at the team level. In an individual or small group environment, individuals get more focus and develop faster. This is not a negative towards any coach but rather recognizing the environments have different requirements and outcomes.
WHAT ABOUT BURNOUT?
We know 677 hours a year sounds like a lot, but let's put it in perspective. They spend almost 1,500 hours a year at school alone. Additionally, that is 677 hours spent with teammates, continuing to lead an exercise filled life, learning social skills, and much more. Simply put, more hours spent being healthy!
Quick Touch Soccer Development (QTSD©) strives to be YOUR source for soccer training and confidence building. If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to reach out. Our next QTSD© Training Ground Article will be "What is a Tactically Intelligent Player and Why Is that Crucial? (Part III). Stay tuned!