Broadening skills or limiting them?


I posted a series of tweets earlier today regarding a small topic I covered at training last night as I was interested in what other coaches thought of the situation / scenario.

To start the session I set up a standard passing practice for our U9s with a series of gates through which they would pass in their pairs. I allowed them free play before then asking them to control with the sole of their foot and then with the instep, taking the ball in the direction of whichever foot they received the ball on (right instep take it right etc).

What I saw was that players found the latter form of control very difficult and this was a surprise as I haven’t previously observed that they have a difficultly receiving the ball on the floor (in the air is a different story).

This led me to think – am I right to open up new ways of controlling a ball to them or am I restricting them and therefore making it more difficult for them to control the ball?

I thought it was important to demonstrate to them that they can use alternate parts of the foot and that ultimately, at a time when we want them to do a bit better in possession, they need to be able to receive the ball appropriately to keep possession (i.e. away from pressure).

The way in which they found control with the instep difficult was surprising so it begged the question, is it something to continue to work on or do you let them work with a way of controlling the ball in which they are comfortable and let them discover their own ways?

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About Simon
Grassroots Football Coach

2 Responses to Broadening skills or limiting them?

  1. That the kids found the skill difficult: every skill they are introduced to at this age in school is difficult at first. Multiplication, Division, reading comprehension – it’s difficult. At least in the US, kids have become too accustomed to easy and immediate success and are easily discouraged until they learn failure is part of learning.

    Do they also find controlling the ball with alternate parts of the foot while dribbling or in solo ball control exercises difficult? Controlling from a pass is a different application of learning to use the entire foot to control the ball alone.

    • Hi Dennis,

      They generally dribble well and have good control of the ball when it’s at their feet and they also control it well when not directed in a particular way but perhaps it was just because this was (to some) a new way of controlling the ball which is why they found it difficult.

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