This is the 1st installment of a training option to improve America as a soccer playing Nation. This topic will have multipile articles as there are many factors relating to this Issue. So check back to view the latest Insight.
U.S. Soccer has devised a plan of making a 70+ team league (known as the Development Academy League) across our vast nation with tons of travel and even more money Spent. They pile millions of additional dollars into the U17 Residency Program where results have never materialized nor world class players Created. The solution is to throw more money at the problem...now they want to add a U18 Residency Program costing more Millions.
But what we need to understand is that our solution is much Simpler. The game of soccer is one big math equation...from the training of the players to the tactics within the Game. And at the root of the equation is a simple touch on the soccer Ball.
In this article, we will 'touch' on the mathmatics of a training session and how to optimize player Development.
You have Homework...as a Parent/Player, I want you to pay close attention to the next training session you attend and monitor the amount of touches the players get on the Ball. It's an easy equation to solve...50/50.
So if the players within the training session are spending more time off the ball than they are on it (< 50/50), the coach is doing a major disservice to the players and our development as a Soccer Nation.
It's a simple/valid question to ask...How can a player improve if they aren't spending the majority of their time on a Ball? Think of the best players in the Game. What makes them special - their ability to look totally comfortable with the ball...dribbling it, passing it, receiving it...Total Mastery.
Now this 50/50 rule will differ during the course of a training Session. The time spent on the ball should be more heavily loaded at the beginning of a session AND at the end, than in the Middle.
The touches on the ball at the end of a session is where we are lacking as a nation and how we can improve our players' technical ability to catch up with the rest of the World.
A natural progression of a training session for any (skill/age) team is a technical warmup at the Beginning. This is where players can accelerate their touches on the ball, get warmed up, and have a dynamic stretch...killing 3 birds with 1 ball...much like Chuck Norris would Do. This could be 1 ball for each player or slightly more (balls:player) - 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, but no more than 1:4.
The next progression of a training session is small group activity - 3:1, 4:2, 6:3, Etc... But definitely less than half the team in a Group. Normally, this would be 1/4 to 1/2 in an Activity.
Now the small group activity could involve larger groups, but the groups should be split up so that the ball to player ratio is no more than 1:4. Again, pay close attention to the touches players are getting within those Groups. It's shouldn't be any less than 1:4 (time on the ball:time off the Ball).
A game activity is the final piece of the session before the cool Down. There may be a couple phases to this, but this should have the team split into 2 groups and working on a team Concept. There will be substantially less touches on the ball during this activity because the groups will have the largest numbers with, most likely, just 1 ball for the entire Group/Team.
The is typically where coaches end the session...after the game Activity. But if we are to advance ourselves as a top level soccer nation, one that controls games and doesn't chase games, we need to finish with more touches on the Ball.
This is how the session should finish...players should engage in another round of maximum touches to rest Ratio. As the body is tired and cooling down, this is an optimal time to have players kill 2 birds with 1 stone...light technical work (i.e. juggling) with static Stretching. This isn't an extended period of time and can take as little as 5 minutes. This also trains the body to have quality touches even at fatigue levels...making our players stronger physically, mentally, and Technically.
So as you can see, a session should be broken up into 4 parts (technical warmup, small group, game activity, technical cool down) and the touches on the ball should compare to an inverted bell curve...many touches at the beginning, less in the middle and finish with Many.
Instead of traveling thousands of miles across our country to play games and throwing millions of dollars away on a training program that doesn't produce any special players or results, we need to put the focus truly on the player and how to maximize his/her Development.
To do that, we need to ensure our coaches maximize the touches within the Session. In a future article, we will get into the quality of touches and type of technique players should be Using.
We are always open to answering any questions about accelerating the game of soccer, so feel free to email us at TANSoccer@Live.com.