Emphasis on the development of soccer skills – Article 1


A new team coach has many skills to teach. Which ones should go first? The first skills would be to catch and protect, and two basic kicks. Catching is usually done without emphasizing the protection of the ball once it is caught. These will be detailed later, but a league goal should be primarily discussed and possibly considered.

Any city or town league must have a charter. This league charter should state that the league’s number one goal is to develop skilled players. It must also state that each team at an age level must receive identical training approved by league officials. This training would be specifically detailed on paper and delivered to the management of each team prior to each season’s training. That way, contradictory training techniques can be minimized; and all players will be exposed to identical training. This builds skills and teamwork, for future seasons when these players are usefully mixed into select teams and high school teams. If a town or city wants first-class football in a few years, a charter must be established and enforced.

In addition, information must be conveyed to each coach and manager that the general objective is primarily to develop and reinforce skills; Winning should be secondary internal leagues. It is understood that this is not an easy task to accomplish for any league; but remain part of the letter, at least for the house leagues. If seriously violated, the management of that team must be evaluated for its effectiveness along with the possible future removal of the coach and / or director.

As a general statement, the self-control of each player should be a goal. First of all, an excellent soccer player can be described as having emotional self-control, ball self-control, catching self-control, kicking self-control, positioning self-control, and defense self-control. For a coach of a new team, be it a very young team or an older team, self-control of the above elements should be emphasized and reinforced. This self-control becomes part of each player as the skills learned take hold. Self-control is the opposite of sloppy habits.

To achieve some or all of the above “self-controls”, one must start with standards for coaches and managers. All coaches and managers in a town or city league must receive one day of instruction from the organization. This instruction would be training demonstrations to be incorporated into the new season. Demonstrators must be very skilled and experienced in the game. An extremely important example is that of proper defensive moves, which are often contradictory with different coaches – one is right, the other is wrong.

The normal excuse that is given to allow each coach to train / teach soccer in their own way is that “we lack coaches and we have to settle for what we have.” With this excuse, however legitimate the reasoning, it is shortsighted. Over time, when a league has high standards and teaches and applies the proper techniques, coaches and managers will eventually come in abundance as people naturally gravitate toward a quality organization.

Many coaches have no coaching experience, only game experience. Others may have coaching certificates and little gaming experience. Everyone can make contributions, but all coaching methods must be under league guidelines. Some may not be aware of efficient training methods except to orchestrate the game to win at games. They instruct various skills during practice, but often ignore them during difficult games. This is counterproductive and should be discouraged at all levels.

The two most common areas that confuse or embarrass young players are cheating; and line-up changes, when you find yourself in a losing situation. With catching, it is not uncommon to hear a coach yell in a degrading manner, after a catching error is made, “pass the ball.” This generally involves a “touch of the ball”. One or two touch soccer promotes kickball and is counterproductive. It is a professional tactic, and yet it doesn’t happen consistently during professional games. It has very little use in amateur football. After a catch error, an underperforming player is usually eliminated from the game – this shows that it is not a good idea for any player to try new skills that are taught in practice. The second situation occurs when a coach changes formation and / or exchanges certain players at a time when the game may be lost. This new positioning, which is not taught in practice, only confuses players and rarely produces positive results. Also, it reduces your respect for the coach.

With all that has been said above, it is most likely that there is no current Charter; and the coaches are alone without guidelines. Now we will talk about catching, protecting and kicking – any reasonably skilled player can catch a ball in practice or in a game when there is no pressure from the opponent. Basic foot traps are generally taught in practice. These basic cheats are taught almost universally and are generally all that beginner players need. However, catching without protecting the ball under pressure from the opponent is not always helpful or effective. Opponent pressure often causes a lack of concentration; making it difficult to catch, to say the least.

Effective capture can be relatively easy if another tactic is employed almost simultaneously. That tactic is generally called “Guarding the ball” or sometimes “Guarding the ball.” Shielding is done right after the trap is almost finished. The player, while cheating, begins to protect the ball with his body just as it is being set. Note that to be a fair tactic the player must have some control of the ball first or the shield could be seen as obstructing an opponent. Once the player has protected the ball, he must maintain this protection even when turning 180 degrees while this player is heading in the “scoring” direction.

There are certain shield soccer drills that need to be taught at an early age to teach young players the art of effective catching. One of these exercises is a specific capture and protection exercise called the “Monkey in the Middle” exercise. This drill uses three to four players; each player must catch, protect and pass in a skillful way. They learn not to lose the ball and to make safe passes not intercepted to their teammates. There are other protective exercises, but they are best introduced a little later in the child’s soccer career. The author’s books cover this topic with easy-to-understand outlines and explanations. The books are sold on Amazon.com. And as with any skill, its use should be encouraged and reinforced during play.

Note: When two or more players are kicking the ball back and forth, catching fast passes to each other should become habitual. “One-off” return passes to each other, as is commonly done, should be discouraged for capture to become commonplace. The “one-time” practice is a waste of time.

The other obvious exercises for beginners would be the “Inside of the Foot” pass and the “Under-the-Body-Instep” kick. They are also clearly illustrated (not with photographs) in the author’s books or in any well-written soccer manual. If these basic skills have taken hold, the young gamer is on his way to becoming a competitive gamer. Additional skills will take hold more easily once a solid foundation of proper catch with shield and proper kicks has been developed.

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