I tell my soccer player’s that their preparation touch is one of the most important touches they can make in the game. That one touch can make all the difference. Having a good first touch is vital for young soccer players (and soccer players of all ages).
A lot of the time I see balls bounce of shins, knees, and other various body parts because the player hadn’t correctly anticipated the pass. I am a technical soccer coach and I’m a stickler for the details – the small things matter. Those players who are masters of ball control do the simple things and do them well. Ball mastery in soccer cannot be over emphasized.
This winter I’m coaching my team and we’re doing indoor soccer training. Last week we did short quick passing drills using both feet and I could tell some of them were a little bit unbalanced. They were favoring the ball and trying to receive it with their right foot when the ball was on the left side of their body (and vice-versa). When this happens, the players body movement is unnatural and awkward but that’s what they’re used to doing because they’re most comfortable with the ball on their favored foot.
I think I corrected most all of my players for this, I have very few who are comfortable with both feet. However, once this was corrected, a lot of them were trying to receive the ball with their weak foot, but since they weren’t used to doing it, their mechanics wasn’t right and the ball wasn’t controlled in the right way. In a game, we would have turned over possession and most likely have been on the back foot.
I encourage a positive first touch, always to the side, and never directly in front of them. But, what if the ball is on their weak side and they don’t have room to maneuver the ball onto their favored foot? For example if a full-back or wide-midfielder receives the ball close to the touchline and they aren’t comfortable with taking a positive first touch with their weak foot, we could end up conceding a throw-in in a dangerous area or even worse.
Of course, I concede that there are soccer players who are naturally gifted and ball control comes easier for them. However, I believe that with repetition, and over time, every player can be comfortable taking a positive first touch with either foot. When we practiced last week we used size 4 soccer balls. This week, since the object of the training sessions is to improve ball control, and the mechanics involved, the boys are going to be using tennis balls.
I’ll blog later this week about how the training session went.