How simple can a practice be? How effective?

Young players need Structure

Young players need structure and an environment that allows them to succeed in their soccer skills development.  

Small practice areas – more touches

Therefore, Coaches need to set up small playing areas or grids. Coaches should use cones or pinnies/vests as boundaries, that give players visual reference points. This will reassure them of their surroundings.

The use of smaller working areas ensures players get as many more touches on the ball as possible. Players that navigate with a ball in a smaller area touch the ball more often. Getting all players moving around and being active with a ball is a great starting point. This should be a goal throughout the player’s lifetime participation in the sport.

The correlation between the number of touches on the ball and increased skill mastery is indisputable. The more touches, the better, never forget it.

Keeping it interesting

Coaches should continually change the activities in the grid setup 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 familiar with a minimum of 8 skills with the ball. Having them do the basic moves that are required to move, guide, and protect the ball in all directions.

By coaching with activities and techniques that accelerate their players learning curve, this age group can learn basic ball mastery.  

What Skills curriculum must-have?

A Skill curriculum is a must-have set of skills 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 surface going outside, outside to inside, inside, repeat on the other foot side.

These simple foot skills produce all the ingredients of great dribbling skills and ball manipulation.

Changing direction to either keep the ball in play or turn away from opponents is hook turns with the inside and outside of the foot.

The sole of the foot can produce a drag back motion to turn or control the ball. The sole of the foot can also produce lateral motion. This is useful to move the ball into passing lanes or preparation for clearing or shooting a ball.  

Teaching this Age Group the correct foot positions and shapes of the body is a must in ball manipulation.

Correct muscle memory and focused body movements are crucial for performance.

Where to spend training time?

Athletes who spend the time and effort learning these foundation ball skills will have the necessary level of proficiency to thrive in the game often making it a lifetime team sport.

Therefore, players who do not get these foundation skills will pass up on the more difficult aspects of the game. They often leave the game frustrated and despondent at the age of 13 and 14. You will see them as solitary joggers on the park trails or side of the road later in life.

Where players can practice?

Players can and should get 3D Animated foot skills for their Mobile devices and practice the plyometric foot movements of ball mastery at home.

By Alan Merrick

I provide content, curriculums, topics and detailed coaching points to the MOTI Soccer Training Platform.  I am pleased that a product like MOTI Soccer Training Platform is now available to all players, coaches and soccer enthusiasts.