It may sound like an easy question and depending on who you ask you will get a different reply. But think this for a minute; If you like to be told what to do all the time you will never grow and develop in anything that you attempt. If you are spoon fed information and decisions all the time your brain will never learn to think on its own, become lazy and actually become counterproductive regressing in its learning and developing.
Well, at any given day on any given youth soccer field that is what’s going on. Every game has 16 or 22 players on the field, (depending if you are playing small or large side), and tens or hundreds coaches/parents around the field screaming directions and what to do at every moment of the game to the players. I realize that everyone wants the best for the players and truly want to help them but in actuality they are doing just harm to them. There are coaches on the sidelines that give instructions to the players and it’s the players’ job to execute them. Furthermore often the directions that come from all the parent/coaches are inaccurate. The team coach has given certain directions that apply to a strategy, plan, development that the team is using and the parent/coach is yelling something totally different. The player gets confused, does not want to make either coach upset, does not learn how to make his own decisions, his play ability slowly declines while his frustration increases. A player just kicks the ball to nowhere and the parent/coach cheers: “Great kick awesome job”. Maybe the situation didn’t not warrant a kick to nowhere at that particular moment of the game. Maybe the player needed to maintain control of the ball and keep possession instead of just kicking it away. Knowing how to cheer and when to cheer is another way of supporting the players and it comes from properly learning and understanding the game.
The best part about the game of soccer is that it is a “PLAYER’S GAME”. It is a game where the best players make up their own minds by reading the game and constantly adjusting to situations. The fastest a player can read the game, think, prepare and adjust to situations the better he will be. The players learn from making both good and bad choices.
“SILENT PLAY/” is a way that SoccerSkillz Training helps the players accomplish their development. After an instructional training session players will be asked to play in small sided games, varying from 3v3, 5v5 or 8v8, where they will have to make up their own team shape, line up and substitutions. They run the teams as if they are in the school playground with no adult supervision. You will be amazed at how much more they communicate, help and create situations.
As coaches, parents and spectators, we can help the players more by giving them a chance to play on their own and make their own decisions. There is a right time for teaching a better way and a right time to enjoy watching them play.
Do the players know the difference and if so, can they read the game to be able to make quick adjustments and decisions?
As a player, student and coach of the game I have been taught to appreciate ball control and possession. I am a product of being able to read the game at all times, make adjustments and quick decisions. Having and maintaining possession is a key element to the game. Without possession of the ball a team cannot apply the principles of attack. They cannot penetrate a defense and eventually score.
How much possession is enough, what makes an effective possession from an ineffective one and how can we make sure our players understand the difference?
We all know Barcelona are the masters of the possession game but we can't all play like Barcelona because we may not have the skill set to do so.
If Barcelona are the masters of possession why has the team conceded loses to Milan, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and the unforgettable disaster to Borussia Dortmund in 2013 Champions League semis? Is it because they have fallen so in love with their own style of possession game that they do not make proper adjustments when needed?
Let’s take a step back and first analyze what do we need to maintain possession. In my experience before we even attempt to teach possession a team needs to have sound fundaments. Players need to be able to trap the ball, control the ball and pass the ball. If players cannot do those things, there is no way they will be able to maintain possession. At SoccerSkillz FUNdamentals are part of every day training. When a player trains in our system foot skills have to become second nature, so that a player develops the confidence to be able to receive, control, pass or take on another player 1v1.
So once we have developed the individual player’s skill set then we need to move forward and work on the concept of possession, passing the ball, moving without the ball and offering support to the player with the ball. This is something that takes time and patience; as players now need to read the game, make adjustments and decisions. As they get better at it the possession touches and time of possession increase to the point a team can move up and down the field with ease. As the team reaches that goal of mastering possession now it faces a new problem. POSSESSION OVERKILL. That is what happens when the team passes for the sake of passing but really is not moving towards the other goal, remember the reason why we want to keep possession is so at the right time we can penetrate the defense and possibly score a goal. Yes, the goal was to teach our team how to keep possession but once that is mastered the team must be able to read the game and know when to pass, where to pass, how much to pass. If a player has the right opportunity to take on a defender one v one and thinks he can beat that defender then by all means he should do that. If the ball is passed to a player and the player has read the game quick enough and accurately and can make a one touch through pass to penetrate through the defense instead of just passing the ball back to a teammate that is great adjustment and decision. If the ball comes to a player and he is in a good position, has the right angle, and sees an opening to take a shot instead of passing the ball again that is a great adjustment and decision. How about the fact that slow passing, predictable passing or just too much passing helps the other team set up defensively and takes the element of surprise away from your side. The space where a team passes is another consideration. With TIMELY passing we want our team to spread out the other team so it can make it easier for our team to penetrate. A lot of times teams fall victims of small untimely passes which although it gives the illusion that our team is doing great, in reality it helps the other team set up defensively and crowd the middle of the field or their penalty box making it difficult for our team to penetrate. As our team may push all players up to try and break this massive crowd up we leave ourselves vulnerable to counter attacks and quick goals.
All these things happened to Barcelona, as they fell in love with their possession style of play and over passed at times, did not take shots when it was the best option, let the other teams counter attack them with quick through passes and timely finishing.
Being able to balance the passing possession game with quick proper read of the game and appropriate correct decisions is the magic of the game in my opinion. Teams that can master a blend of proper passing possessions, quick 1v1s, through passes, long balls and timely shooting are teams that will be able to see positive results.
Is the measure of development in youth sports how many games you have won? Why is that a lot of parents and coaches have become accustomed answering this question: "How did you guys do?" with this answer: "Oh, we won!". I always tell them I did not ask you if you won or lost but how did you do. How did your player play, how did your team play. Did they use their fundamental skills, where they able to read the game, make correct decisions or execute properly. Did they play as a team, did they help each other, encourage and motivate each other. DID THEY HAVE FUN?
I see all the time premier level teams that claim how great they are and how they never lose, just not understand the game of soccer and their coach has gotten the parents so into winning that they are clueless about how under skilled their children are. Yes I said clueless because either the coach is not educated about development or has just forgotten about development. I see coaches just pick the biggest and fastest kids on their teams and then proceed to encourage them to just kick the ball as hard as they can up the field, run after it, bump, push and shove to get it and try to toe it into the goal under any cost. How about this one: As soon as the team recovers the ball the coach screams and yells for everyone to pass the ball to one player on the team that has a bit of skill. EVERY SINGLE TIME pass the ball to that player. I do not know about you, but last time I checked soccer has eleven players and they are all supposed to play together in order to accomplish their task. What happens when that one player is sick or can not play? Parents that get it find themselves paying money to have their children play for academies with paid trainers so they can be developed the right way. Paid trainers do understand the difference between winning and developing a youth player.
Below is a great report I found by Ivan Kepcija & Prof. Craig Johnson that sheds a lot of truths to the right development of the youth soccer player. PLEASE PLEASE read the entire report and I am sure you will see what I am talking about!
Once you download and read the report you will have a better understanding what development is all about and how SoccerSkillz follows that philosophy in order to reach long term development, similar to the development European and South American countries have. Then sign up for a free training session so that you can experience first hand the philosophy and how it works.
Most parents and coaches think players come to the pitch simply because they want to win. In reality, this is the furthest thing in a player’s mind. Players want to play more often regardless of the result. For less able players, if this means playing in a losing
side, then many would rather do that than not play at all. Players play, coaches coach fans cheer! Simple isn’t it?
As a coach my philosophy is to give all players in the development years as close to equal playing time as possible. Off course there may be situations or instances that may not be possible but overall the playing time should be divided equally. Think about it; would you just show up in every game knowing you will be sitting on the bench? And please do not tell me that some players know their role and have accepted that they are support role players or are on a team for development purposes. At the youth development level there is also a social element to being part of a team. Players build bonds and relationships and feel like they are part of a group.
Research shows the focus should not be on whether you lose or win, but on positives.
Introducing a procedure that reduces the emphasis on losing or winning and focuses on activities to create more developmental fun activities while creating a learning environment for the players is essential and the positive results will follow.
I had a parent recently tell me after a training session that he liked the fact that I trained, build and developed for the future rather than the now. He meant that he liked the fact that the training sessions were designed for developing the player/goalkeeper skill set, awareness of game, solving situations and most of all having fun. He said that his son always looks forward to coming to training because number one he is always curious to see what the coach has planned for the training session, (keeping a session always fresh by doing different things keeps the player’s retention and focus), and likes the fact that the players play.
That is what the “street games” philosophy is all about that SoccerSkillz Training and Just4Keepers are implementing in their indoor training sessions. Players/keepers come together and after a topic specific warm up and technical period the players play 3v3 and build to 5v5. However the players make their own line ups, substitutions and run their teams as they see fit, without the coaches’ input. Coaches make coaching points during brakes. As coaches we like to watch players/keepers find their own solutions in the game. Just like kids do on the school playground without any grown-ups around. It is beautiful to watch games start at a chaotic state and eventually settle down with a well organized group helping each other and working together.
When coaching kids soccer, one quickly realizes how it can be difficult, because young soccer players seem to always be wandering in a different direction! How can a coach keep his/her players’ attentions and keep control of their practices? By mixing up activities and using as many senses as possible, a coach can give players an outlet for their energy while still teaching them. By keeping lessons short and focused, a coach also encourages players to pay attention before being let loose.
Mix it Up In my youth coaching career I have seen coaches be all fired up and full of creativity after they first get their coaching licenses but soon they fall pray to the weekly training boredom blues. A lot of coaches show up at the field, sometimes late because of their daily routines, not properly prepared with a coaching session plan for the day. They try to wing a training session and at times forget that their key subjects are youth soccer players that they might have had a long day at school and might want a bit of release of energy in the soccer pitch. Coaching kids soccer requires one to be innovative and always engaging and mostly to be always using their creativity and imagination. Kids do not stay focused for long, so coaches must constantly invent new ideas, games and techniques for keeping their young soccer players excited about participating in soccer and learning. To do this, I personally have had plenty of wacky, creative ideas from time to time…crazy hat day, golf soccer, hula soccer, for the younger soccer players, daily player game creation and favorite exercise, or player run training session for the older ones…
Keep it Short Coaches do not have much time with youth soccer players before their minds will begin to wander. To stretch out this time and get more undivided attention from young soccer players, coaches should work to involve players by asking them questions, asking them to repeat things just said, summarizing important lessons, and making the session interactive.
Because of short attention spans, coaches should keep lessons concise and very focused. By encouraging players to pay attention to one lesson at a time, broken up by periods of physical activity and reviews of material covered earlier in the practice, coaches lengthen the amount of serious time they have with young athletes.
Increase Interactivity When Coaching Kids Soccer Youth soccer players today are not as able to sit and absorb information as previous generations because of the readily available media streams. They are now able to process multiple inputs at once and often get bored or restless if they are simply listening to someone talk at them. To reach young soccer players on their level, I incorporate videotaping of training sessions, with the aid of a parent and then email all kids that training session with comments and remarks. Kids love to watch themselves and realize much better what the coach was talking about when they see themselves participate in that particular training session. Skills that were explained or mistakes and adjustments that were discussed in a training session, all of sudden become understood by watching the video playback.
Coaches should remember that any internet usage by young players needs to be heavily monitored by responsible adults to prevent athletes from wandering to inappropriate sites or accessing unapproved material.
Those coaching kids soccer can also provide written material or charts for older athletes who can read and write. Charts could contain a list of what skills have been taught, when they were first introduced, and the coach’s assessment of how well the athletes perform that skill. For written material, coaches can pass out brief instructions about skills or a one-page review of what has been taught to that point in the season.
The use of different soccer aids that are fun and engaging is another great way to teach and improve their skills while holding their attention and always have them ask for more.
Lastly one of my least favorite methods of training is “LAPS”. I see kids running laps, either for warm up or cool down or for punishment. My philosophy is that soccer is a game or quick short sprints. Running nonstop for a prolonged period of time is called cross-country or long distance running. A soccer player’s heartbeat is different from the one of the long distance runner. Why not develop and strengthen that heartbeat with proper sport appropriate exercises. I have found some fun engaging videos of great ideas on these sites:
www.futworkz.com - www.soccertoplay.com
I know that the youth level soccer teams are mostly coached by weekend warrior coaches. These are the gents or ladies that volunteer their time and effort to help
shape the kids on and off the pitch. Not an easy job given the amount of time most coaches have to train their teams or even the field time assigned to them by their clubs.
The development of young kids is a major part of coaching at the youth level, something that has been forgotten completely by coaches and not understood by a lot of parents! A lot of coaches see training as babysitting the kids for an hour. Not much emphasis is placed on proper technique, fundamentals, touches on the ball or even fitness. The kids show up kick the ball around for an hour and then go home. Then they are expected to show up for games and actually perform. Further more the kids get yelled at when they make mistakes. It brakes my heart when I see this from a lot of coaches, who although they mean well and want to help their town’s soccer league they are not really qualified to teach the game.
The F License has become a joke as people get it a lot of times just by showing up for 5 minutes in class and do not even participate in the 6 hour on-field training that is required. Let’s be honest here, the more a coach knows & the more time a team puts into training the better the results will be. There are a lot more elements to soccer than just kicking the ball. Kids must develop a good first touch on the ball, be able to use all surfaces of the foot, have agility, timing, and conditioning. Things like that are not going to be developed with once per week training session that is only kicking the ball around. Kids also need to practice all of their fundamentals at home so that the coach’s job becomes easier when the kids show up for training and at the same time he or she can spend more time on other parts of the game.
Take a look at this training to get a better picture of what I am talking about:
Getting youth soccer players to work on increasing their footwork, agility, speed, timing and stamina often feels like an impossible challenge. I have evaluated numerous programs over time. All too frequently their results are just shy of painfully disappointing.
The number one issue I always find with different programs is that they pretty much are all the same at the core. First of all the kids using a ball to work on their footwork, at the early stages are always miss- kicking the ball and have to constantly chase it. That cuts into the actual time they spend performing the actual task and sooner than later they get bored and tired of constantly retrieving the ball, resulting in performance and focus decline.
Another issue is that once they leave the training facility very few actually go home and practice. There is no real FUN motivation to practice at home. Kids rather play with their friends or video games. Until now! Kids love to show their friends of their skills or something they can do better than their friends. Better yet, how about show their friends of a toy, something FUN that they have. FutPro can fit right in there. Kids will not only love training with it but also actually use it at home so that they can get better and then compete with their friends.
Off course all the time that they are spending having FUN with their friends and using the FutPro, they are actually touching the ball 1000s of times and increasing their footwork, agility, speed, timing and stamina. It is a win win situation for the coaches, trainers and players.
So my Tip for increasing footwork is to be able to have the kids do something FUN, competitive, be able to share it with their friends on and off the training facility. Something that they can see the results as they get better, just like a video game’s progress. Something they can enjoy doing without the coach’s/trainer’s supervision.
Take a look at it HERE
Everyday I that I train kids, various ages and skill levels, one thing that is always constant is their inability to sustain and focus on the tasks at hand. I have come to realize that although they love to play sports they cannot maintain non-stop playing for an extended time. They are always stopping, huffing and puffing. I remember when I was a young lad, say 8 or 9, you could not get me to stop or stand still. Today although kids are always fidgeting, not standing still or not focusing it is not because their high fitness energy level. It is mainly because of their diet. High on sugars, bad carbs, and preservatives. But given the task of actually maintaining a playing scenario of a prolong period of time, most of them cannot do it. Even the kids that their coaches have them doing laps before every practice and have developed a somewhat higher level of fitness; they cannot maintain a period of extended play with many different speeds and agility tasks.
In every sport developing speeds of quick 5-10 yards bursts is critical. These quick bursts or first steps can separate a player from beating a competitor to a lose ball, getting a rebound or making a strong defensive play. Developing a young player/athlete to have quicker footwork, timing, speed, agility, stamina and power to move in small places will not only help them to become a better athlete but also prevent injuries. Another area in youth sports that is greatly overlooked. We tend to think that they are kids, they are young, and they do not any of this. In actuality developing healthy habits is a must at all ages.
So how do we start with accomplishing this developmental task? Simple, yet not known by many: Increasing speed is as simple as training an athlete to minimize their contact with the ground. It makes sense right? The less time you spend touching the ground the faster you will move. Simple theory applied by sprinters. When doing agility training the lighter and faster an athlete is on his/her feet the quicker they will accomplish the given task. Doing repetitive jumping drills may seem pointless, but what they are doing is teaching the athlete to spend less time with their feet on the ground.
Doing an agility session and building it into sprint work, the athlete’s muscle memory takes over and they begin to apply what they learned in the leaping tasks, therefore creating a quicker first step. Coordination and balance are always part of the mix. As I said earlier there are kids that may have a higher fitness level but their coordination and balance is lacking, making it harder to perform on the field.
Here are some other things that I do on my trainings that you should consider:
Speed Agility And Conditioning
Being More Powerful In Your Sport
Developing A Faster First Step
Being Able To Jump Higher
Perfecting Techniques Through FUN Quality Repetitions
Read more and watch videos HERE
How Would You Like To Improve Your Footwork, Agility And Stamina In Your Soccer Training? IT IS EASY – Here Is How
Footwork is one of the key elements in all sports. Professional teams of all sports have a physical trainer that does agility, footwork, stamina, conditioning, speed and timing workouts. In youth sports especially at the U8-U12 levels teaching the kids proper body movement and techniques, agility and footwork is essential if the kids are going to develop into total athlete/players. At that age one of the hardest things to maintain is focus and as a youth coach you are always battling the boredom syndrome. With FutPro and the Futwork training system you are not only teaching the kids the necessary, footwork, agility and body motion essentials but you are making it FUN for them as they love to use the FutPro. The 30second challenges add excitement and FUN in their workouts.
See for yourself what the fuss is all about by clicking here:
As I was training one of my teams at yesterdays practice using FutPro, I was lost in the laughter and fun my girls were having while using it and doing their footwork. Prior to getting the FutPro I would have them touch the ball off the wall in our indoor facility at the start of every practice. As the weeks passed I noticed a few things. First of all after a few reps they would get bored with it and their technique would go down hill. Because of the same reason their timing would be off, they would not stay on their toes as I always instruct them and their effort would not be there after a few reps. Most importantly as all of the above would happen they would have to start chasing the ball, because their focus and concentration would not be there any more causing them to mishandle the ball and have it roll away from them. As a result of that we would waste quite a bit of time to get the ball, get back in position start all over again and have it happen again and again.
Well since we started using FutPro I do not have to say anything anymore. In fact they fight over who is going to go first. They have a great time while doing it, their footwork has gotten much better and we do not waste as much time any longer. We just ordered one for each player so everyone has one. They use it at home and bring it at practice. Best of all they show off to their friends not realizing, that as they do that they are always working on their footwork.
I asked them why they like using it so much and based on their answers I compiled a list of 10 things why one should use FutPro in their training as well as home.
1 Have Fun With An Easy To Do Game Like Unit and Training System
2 Increase Touches On The Ball, Build Better Footwork
3 Work On Every Surface Of Your Foot, Inside, Outside, Laces
4 Better Body Movement, Build Agility
5 Increase Cardio, Build Your Stamina
6 Better Your Technique On The Ball
7 Build Muscle Memory
8 Increase You Aerobic Workout
9 Great For Every Sport Footwork And Body Movement
10 Separate Yourself From The 80% That Lack Footwork
To watch videos of players in action using the FutPro clickHERE