Having the ability to manipulate a soccer ball is so important for young players to work on. It is impossible to work up the ladder of Soccer if the basics of ball movement skill sets are not in place. Being able to keep a ball close to your feet and anticipating the balls next revolution is paramount in gaining later enjoyment from this complex game.
From a young age, ball manipulation with all surfaces should be sought by all players, and a goal of all coaches. Being able to stop the ball with the sole of the foot is one of the very first successes players will accomplish. This is good because it will enable players to keep the ball inside of the field markings and it will also stop players from running into the opponents, another good thing. Developing building blocks and forming a foundation from which to succeed will entail adding inside and outside touches of the foot.
An ideal task is to have players do a four touch routine that goes, outside touch, inside touch of the same foot then use the outside of the other foot to make a third touch and the forth touch is the inside of the foot bringing it back to the starting position. The ideal touches in this description are lateral touches so the player stays in one line for all touches, going to the side and not moving forward. This will prove to be invaluable later when defending opponents are present. The player in possession does not want to close their maneuverability spaces down and give defenders help. More complex progressions can include having two and three touches on each surface, moving up to 8 and 12 touches all going laterally.
The turns are with the sole of the foot using a drag back and a 180-degree switch of direction. Others include inside of the foot hook turns and outside of the foot hooks turns. These alone give a solid base as far as ball skills go. Once these core skills have been ingrained in players the plyometric foot movements learned will facilitate more complex approaches with the ball.
Moving forward with the ball is one of the easier tasks. All the player does is turn the foot in approximately 45 degrees and strikes the ball with the 5th Metatarsal (or the pinky toe of the foot) and strike the ball forward. This will be the fastest form of dribbling and also the most challenging because defending players and field dimensions will call for cutting and stopping of the ball to avoid collisions and loss of control of the ball. Being able to turn with the ball helps in navigating the obstacles found during the game.
Developing abilities to beat players such as the Mathews Move, the Maradona Spin Turn, the Rummenigge, the Cruyff fake cross, fake shot across the body and pass will all start to be easier tasks for players to add to their tool box.
It is important to know that players do not have to be equal in ability from the right side to the left side of their bodies, but having one dominant foot that can keep track of the ball is key. So while being ambidextrous is a wonderful idea, getting there will be nearly impossible for 99% of players. Do not stress out over it. Having one foot that is trained and competent will assist in the enjoyment and fulfillment within the game.
This is just a short idea on how a curriculum can be designed and curated to have the best holistic effect on player development. Coaches that do not have the ability to demonstrate these skills should look at the MOTI Soccer App that has an extensive library of 3D Animated Techniques that can be used as a development tool for both players and coaches.
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.