Young players need structure and an environment that allows them to succeed in their soccer skills development. To that end coaches need to set up small playing areas or grids made with cones or pinnies/vests that give players visual reference points of boundaries that reassure them of their surroundings. Smaller working areas also ensures players get many more touches on the ball as they navigate the designated soccer pitch. Having all players moving around and being active with a ball is a great starting point and should be desired throughout the player’s lifetime participation in the sport. The correlation between the number of touches on the ball and increased skill sets is indisputable, more is better and never forget it. Activities in the grid set up can be continually changed to ensure that the needed ball repetitions do not become boring. The objective is to have players from the age of 5 through 10 completely versed in a minimum of 8 skills with the ball, having them doing the basic moves needed to move, guide and protect the ball in all directions. This age group can be transformed with appropriate activities and technique that accelerates their learning curve of ball manipulation and a foundation of ball mastery. The following curriculum is a must have skill set for these players foundation within the game. Inside outside touches of both feet, inside outside touches that then transfer the ball to the other foot side for continuous weaving of the ball from side to side. Double touches of the ball on all foot surfaces going outside, outside then inside, inside, repeat on the other foot side. These simple foot skills produce all the ingredients of great dibbling skills and ball manipulation. The next skill set is one of changing direction to either keep the ball in play or turn away from opponents these are hook turns with the inside and outside of the foot. The sole of the foot or cleats can produce a drag back motion to turn or control the ball, the sole can also produce lateral motion to move the ball into passing lanes or preparation for clearing or shooting a ball. At this age group teaching the correct foot positions and shapes the body needs to succeed in ball manipulation is most important. Correct muscle memory and focused body movements are crucial for performance. Any athlete who has spent time and effort learning these foundation ball skills will have the necessary level of proficiency to continue and thrive in the game often making it a lifetime team sport. Players who do not get this foundation will pass up on the more difficult aspects of the game leave the game frustrated and despondent at the age of 13 and 14 and you will see them as solitary joggers in later life.
Players can now get 3D Animated foot skills for their Mobile devices and practice the plyometric foot movements of ball mastery at home.