Last week I put up a post referring to an article by a soccer coach named John Townsend who also has this article on skill development.
I'm never at training with my team because of work commitments but I do know that we spend a lot of time on zone defense kick out scenario's, when we are defending the kick in.
There might be 8 - 14 times this happens in a game which means it does need to be addressed in some form but I hear we do this A LOT.
With 2 - 3 hours of training per week, this is a lot of focus on such a small aspect of the game.
What John Townsend saw was that players as young as 8 - 9 years old doing extra training away from team training duties, getting up to 10,000 touches of the ball each and every day for various drills, all at game speed.
They would sets of 100 - 200 reps ans rotate through different stations, something similar to what I've suggested before on this blog somewhere (I cannot remember where - maybe it was one of my past training manuals?).
If a high skill session of short duration skill drills such as running out picking up the ball and kicking to a teammate will last 3 - 5secs per rep, makes you breathe harder then most running drills then it shows your skill deficient and that to execute game skills at game speeds costs a lot more energy to do, then the slight jog and kick you do at regular footy training.
This means that you will be getting poor, if any, transference from training to games and that you simply won't have the capacity to have the high skill level required when you need it the most.
It;s great of you can run 2kms in 6mins, but it's better of you can hit a teammate on the chest 9 out of 10 times - it means you won't really need that running ability in the first place.
Teams at all levels of football need to make skill mastery a demand, not an exception where some players have it and some players don't.
I would love for a coach to try something like this to see the results, I really would.
On-field performance will improve with fundamental skills and game actions trained correctly and consistently where the repetition results in initial complex skills becoming simple over time.
To try this out on your own or with your team the few rules to go by are:
- Each drill is a progression from the previous drill
- Start with basic drills which might be stationary kicking, push back and kick and handball drills (Western Bulldogs style).
- To progress from there you might add running kicks to a teammate leading in and from various angles
- Finish off with game simulation/speed drills and team tactic drills
Here's a soccer video of a 10,000 touch workout and you can see how the actual drills are very specific aspects of actions from soccer - they don't need to be full footy actions for this such as long kicks, running skill drills etc.
I think that's where a lot of coaches go wrong, trying to be efficient and mixing everything in together (running with balls) and not really excelling at any 1 thing, rather improving slightly at a lot of things, but overall making little difference come game day.