Performance Improvement Tip #1: Improve contact time with the ball

In the future, the best players will be those who can excel in a fast-paced environment. There will be even greater demands on technique, tactical understanding and physical conditioning.  Players today are faster and cover greater distances than previous generations. Passing combinations are faster and there is an increased importance on controlling possession. More goals are scored through quick counter-attacking play and decision-making is of critical importance.

So what are the main technical skills that you as a young player should focus on?

As a young player you should be continually working on your dribbling ability, passing and receiving and how to successfully execute individual skills under the pressure of time, space, and an opponent.

-Dribbling: Take risks! Develop your moves to beat an opponent

-Improve your ability to keep possession. Work on shielding, spin turns and changes of speed and direction to get away from opponents

-Receiving: Work on the ability to receive and have a quality 1st touch – when receiving on the ground and in the air. Receiving using all surfaces should be developed

-Shooting: Proper striking technique from different angles should be worked on and taking shots on the volley and half-volley with both feet

-Passing: Proper technique – Laces, Inside, Outside, Short and Long; Crossing

-Heading: Jumping to head

-Tackling: Proper technique, in balance, no fear.

A New Study has confirmed that Technical Skill is the most important attribute to achieve Soccer Success!

The researchers found it was their skill — not speed, strength, or fitness — that was the most important factor to determine a player’s success. Learn more 

“Higher skill allows players to have a greater impact on the game. Accurate passing and greater ball control are more important for success than high speed, strength and fitness. “It may be obvious to soccer fans and coaches that players like Lionel Messi and Neymar are the best due to their skill.” 

( Professor Robbie Wilson – University of Queensland, Australia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yet, one of the greatest challenges that many young players face is the lack of contact time with the ball.

Young Brazilian players are spending 12-15 hours a week working on their ball skills and the most talented young players in Europe are training five or six times each week. Consequently, you must adopt the same philosophy towards technical development if you wish to be truly successful in soccer and reach higher levels of play.

Technique is the basis of everything and if you, as a young player,  can see where you have to pass the ball to, but don’t have the technical skill to pass the ball to the correct spot, then recognizing the correct moment is of no value.  Without technique there is no tactical proficiency. Teams and players can have the best tactical planes in place before games but if you as a player cannot keep possession, feel confident in taking players on and beating them in 1v1 situations or passing a ball accurately at the right pace to teammates then you will not succeed.

To ensure that technical skill development is the most important component of my players training I have partnered with two companies who in my opinion provide the best home training programs on the market. We use Top Tekkers for our players in the foundation phase of development (Ages 5-12) and On the Ball for our players in the youth development (Ages 13-16) phase of their development. This allows our players to train every day at home for at least 30 minutes to ensure that they are accelerating their technical skills learning on par  with young players in Brazil and the other top soccer nations.

If you are motivated to improve your performance levels as a young player I would highly recommend that you make technical training a key part of your daily routine. It only takes 30 minutes/day to complete at least 1500+ touches on the ball and this work can be done in small spaces such as your backyard, driveway, basement, living room, garage or basement. 

Tips for Players: Take a ball to the park and work on your skills for 30 minutes each day, rather than spending time on your phone or iPad. If you are not sure what to work on contact us for access to the two training APP’s that we recommend. 

Tips for Coaches: How much of your training activity is spent on ball mastery work? Typically, I spend 30 minutes each session with players working at a high tempo in a chaotic structure which demands close control and recognizing and exploiting space. You can also recommend to your players the home training App’s I have recommended. Any additional technical work being completed at home by your players will allow you as a coach to move your players along the development cycle quicker and lead to improved team performances. 

Tips for Parents: You play the most important role in your child’s development. By being positive and encouraging your child to focus on constantly improving their individual skills and love the game you will be providing them with the key attributes to succeed long term. Get involved and work with your child on helping them master the technical basics of the game. The content provided on the training App’s I recommended will be a great source of content to your children – and you can assist by  being there to support and encourage.