by Coach John A.
Well, soccer season has started again. We had our draft this week, teams assigned and equipment distributed. A very good turnout of 109 girls signed up this year for U12 so we will have 8 teams of 13 players with 5 teams with 14 players and a few more girls expected to trickle in. Since they have given us permission to get started, we had our first practice yesterday! School is not yet in session in our area, so only 6 of my 13 players were there, but it was good to get the girls out playing again.
This year I actually have 5 of my ex-players on my team again, which is very rare. With two of them there yesterday, it actually made my practice very easy. My two ex-players showed the others how to lay out the cones at the beginning for the figure 8’s, demonstrated the dribbling move we introduced yesterday (the step-over move), set-up for the 1+1 and 1v1. I hardly had to do any work, and of course the ex-players loved showing off their knowledge.
This is pretty typical first practice even for an older age group. Most players struggled with the cones and figure 8’s, getting around them at a walking pace because of the difficulty they encountered in using the inside and outside of their foot effectively. The opposite foot was of course even slower. Although I’m used to it now, it’s actually pretty amazing considering many of these kids have now played 5 and 6 years, yet they still
don’t have the FUNdamentals. Contrast it with my ex-players who went around the cones like they were nothing. It’s a really dramatic difference to see.
Juggling was similar. My ex-players were all in the 7-8 range (which will undoubtedly improve as this was the first practice), most others were 2-3. Many people would argue that number of juggles is meaningless, that it doesn’t translate to real play, but I would argue exactly the opposite. You could probably even run a tryout with juggling alone, as the best players can juggle the most and the beginning players have the most difficulty.
That’s why I ALWAYS use it in the warm-up phase, and in addition of course it’s fun!
By the end of the 1+1 and 1v1, the team was shot. Everyone welcomed the half time break as they were really tired. By the end of the final scrimmage, hardly anyone was moving. Wow, imagine that. By having an efficient FUNdamental ‘9-Step’ Practice, one can wear out the team without having to run laps or do calisthenics, and getting tired while having fun! That’s the best of both worlds. Overall, a very good first practice session.