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Training, Education and Technical Development

The improvement of technical expertise is one of the prime training objectives in the process of creating tomorrow's stars from today's young players.

At the key age of learning, "Zone 1" (5- 12 years of age), much emphasis and work must be placed on technical skills and should take up the majority of the training schedule. At each training session, technical moves should be worked on using specific exercises or games.

Unfortunately, experience has shown us that the teaching of technique is all too often neglected, with emphasis placed instead on the instruction of team tactics and physical conditioning.

Even when work is done on training technical skills, this all too frequently becomes geared towards specific positions, thereby reducing the range of overall skills that the player has in their armory.

Today's game at the highest level calls for tactical versatility, but this versatility cannot be achieved without perfect technical mastery. Gaps can frequently be seen with young players 15 and 16 years of age when they are faced with playing intensive soccer under pressure. They are unable to make the right choice technically, they lack speed in their movements, and they have poor motor skills because they do not have sufficient experience and technical solutions to offer.

Because of the pleasure that young players derive from playing the game, and the creativity that it stimulates, they can acquire these experiences simply by playing soccer with friends.

Some basic ideas to help make technical training more efficient

The time devoted to technical training and technical learning has to be increased:

  • For young players at the "Zone 1" development stage (5- 12 years old), at least 50 to 60 percent of training time scheduled must be devoted to technical instruction and technical development.
  • Two to three sessions (collective and individual) should be held per week, with the main emphasis on technical work, as well as specific sessions geared to the individual to improve both strong and weak points.
  • The number of ball touches per session must be increased, using all the contact surfaces (inside and outside of the foot, instep, both feet, thighs, chest and head).
  • During warm-ups and active rest periods, the coach must include work using the ball.

Technical training must be diversified and adapted to the realities of the modern game:

  • The content and the training methods used need to be adjusted to the age and skill level of the players.

Progress from the simple to the complex!

  • Methodological progression (e.g. for shooting on goal):
    • Shooting with a dead ball (ball on the ground)
    • Shooting after a straight run
    • Shooting after a zigzagging run
    • Shooting after being thrown off balance
    • Shooting after controlling the ball (simple control and control on the turn)
    • Shooting after dribbling and after feinting
    • Shooting after receiving a pass (a long pass forward, a cross-field pass or a pass pulled back across the area)
    • Shooting after a one-two
    • Shooting under pressure (being timed with a stopwatch)
    • Shooting under pressure (from an opponent)
    • Shooting after a sequence of moves (control, dribble, feint)
    • Shooting after a 1v1 duel
    • Shooting in a simulated match situation
    • Shooting in a real match
  • If possible, work on technique-related movements should be preceded by work on co-ordination.
  • Two-footed technique must be improved, especially with regard to receiving the ball and making the first pass (e.g. control with the right foot followed immediately by a pass with the left foot as a means of speeding up play).
  • The learning process starts with the acquisition of the fundamental technical movements (these are the basic motor actions that are characteristic of the game). For example:
    • Getting the ball under control (the player-ball relationship)
    • Running and dribbling with the ball and feinting
    • Controlling
    • Shooting
    • Heading
    • Tackling
  • Players must be given training as early as possible in movement technique; this will allow them to reach rational solutions when opting for the moves to be made in a real match situation. For example: In a passing drill with two players, a third player joins in to provide the other two players with real movement solutions (e.g. a triangular passing move), a choice of style of play, or a choice of move.
  • Technical training work in "Zone 1" (5-12 years old) should not be done when players are extremely tired, otherwise there will be a drop in the players' technical level as well as a decrease in their motivation and their confidence.

"As a technical move, the pass is the very essence of the game on the pitch and of communication between players."

The coach's key role in teaching technical skills

  • With young players, technical coaching work is the most important

Demonstrate – explain

The player must understand how an exercise has to be done and why, but they must also be convinced of its effectiveness; the clarity of the demonstration and the quality of execution are therefore of particular importance here.

  • Organizing and forming groups
    • Use playing areas that will allow numerous touches of the ball and success.
    • Ensure that the groups are even (i.e. in terms of the level of the players).
    • Correct and reinforce.
    • To optimize motivation, constant attention must be paid to the quality and effectiveness of execution.
    • Intervene at the right moment (this is an art in itself!).
    • Give precise feedback relating to the objectives (be calm, reassuring, convincing).
  • Motivating the players

If a training session is well conducted, with the coach ensuring that the players are active, committed and efficient, they will want to intensify the technical work of their own accord. Giving free rein to their technical creativity (e.g. by letting them work out moves on their own) will also enhance motivation.

Washington Youth Soccer

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