By Alan Maher
This same article could be written every summer following pre-season training. I could just change the title and some dates and mail it in every year. Same thing, same problem.
This is the last week of July and various teams are being trained before the season begins, which is August. So I have gone to the park on four different days.
This is what I have seen. Players hopping over low hurdles. Players hopping over higher hurdles. Players skipping from cone to cone. Players jumping over high hurdles. Then I saw them run from corner to corner of a small field. (I left running out of my title.) So I saw hopping, skipping, jumping and running.
I was so upset that I sat down with one coach and asked what was happening. His team paid a trainer to teach hopping, skipping and jumping for two hours every morning for a week. The coach knew me and said that he learned from me when he was in high school and college. I was really taken back by that. How quickly they forget some details of preseason work.
I never saw a soccer ball all week. Try to imagine soccer teams training without a soccer ball. I left in a purple funk, to be sure.
What I Would Do?
I am glad that you asked and the answer is simple:
“I would follow the ‘9-Step Practice Routine’ sequence developed by the FUNdamental Soccer coaching staff of which I am proud member.” That is:
Step 2. (Warm-up) -Every player with a ball
Step 3. (1+1) -All players paired-up with a ball playing Cooperatively
Step 4. (1 vs. 1) -All players paired-up with a ball playing Competitively
Step 5. (Half-time) -Taking a well deserved break J
Step 6. Small Groups of player with a ball playing (Small Sided Games)
I would play 4 v 2 in an open space. I would assign roles related to the position of the ball. Support on the left and right. Get a long axis player open far away. Defenders mark and cover near the ball. Every time the ball is moved all six must move. I would be on the edge of the field demanding movement during Cooperative play and be verbally silent leaving them alone during Competitive play.
Step 7. The team with a ball (Scrimmaging)
Every time the ball is moved all players must move. I would be on the edge of the field demanding movement during Cooperative play and be verbally silent leaving them alone during Competitive play.
Do you think that players would get better with the ball? Do you think that players would become better defenders? Do you think that it would take two hours to do conditioning work with a ball in a game related environment?
Boy, I hope that this summer nonsense will stop. It is time to use the ball to train kids in any and all aspects of the game.
Down with hopping, skipping and jumping. And running!
Next summer I will write the same article. I will jazz up the title. How about “Hopping into the Season?’ Or ‘Skipping Games Without the Ball.” Well, I have a year to just reprint the article and give it a better title.
My season begins in two weeks. You can be assured that we will make use of soccer balls and follow the FUNdamental Soccer ‘9-Step Practice Routine’ sequence!