Are you getting ready for the summer? What activities will you suggest your players practice?
The summertime can be a great opportunity to play pick-up games, practice new skills, and enjoy learning to control the ball in fun, creative ways. Learning advanced ball control skills brings joy to the player as well as those around them. Get ready, I have 4 video clips this time to point out some differences in training! Watch a bit of each to get a feel for the differences.
We flew in Esteban Pantera from Mexico for an event in California and surprised the students at an elementary school with an unexpected exhibition. The school has many talented, young soccer players, and they had the chance to see one of the top 16 in the world.
Why freestyle soccer?
How often have you heard a coach tell players to practice their juggling because it “is good for their ball control” and then tell them to work on reaching a target number? I’ve heard players tell me that their highest juggling record is 400, even 2,000. But just how much ball control are they really getting by repeating the same touch over and over? How many parts of the body were likely used by a player trying for a juggling record? It pains me to see young players aim for juggling records in the name of “improvement” only to see something along these lines:
Now don’t get me wrong, I applaud the effort and dedication that went into this, however, WE CAN DO BETTER for our players. Notice the stiff posture and the lack of a range of motion. We can lead them down a better path to ball control if we challenge them to more than “most number of touches”.
Now let’s take a look at SISM’s Andreas (video below) as he practices freestyle juggling. It requires the basic juggling to setup your next move, it requires planning ahead, connecting skills, and a level of agility you just won’t get with highest juggling records. The result is a wider range of motion, a refined touch from various parts of your feet, and a level of satisfaction that goes beyond normal juggling! And we’re only scratching the surface here, there are lowers, uppers, sit-downs, etc. to practice. Do you want a young player to watch progress to see what this age range is capable of? Subscribe to Andreas’ page and follow along.
Now let’s come back to Esteban who you met at the beginning. The elementary school students saw a talented freestyler at their school. What they wouldn’t have known is that these skills have taken Esteban around the world. Here he is competing in the World Championships in Prague this past summer!
Next time you challenge your players to practice their juggling, challenge them to learn the Around-the-World, Hop-the-World, or the Cross-Over. But in order for us to know what to challenge them with, we have to learn a bit ourselves. It’s too easy to say “keep the ball up”, it takes a little effort to learn what to challenge them with. So there’s a challenge for you coaches, learn some of the names of the freestyle tricks so you can give them fun challenges to aim for.
We’ll help you out in next month’s article!
Louie and the SISM team