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Technical Skills Training in Sport

Technical Skills Training in Sport

Learning the Game through “Feel” and Repetition

by Joanna Tucker, DYSA 9U-12U Director of Coaching

If you were to ask me what the most important component in soccer training is, I would respond in one single word, “Repetition”.

Repetition, in my opinion, is probably the most powerful way of improving technical skills in sport. Performing a single skill or move, over and over again, ingrains techniques in our minds and increases important muscle memory.  The mind and muscle working together allows the body to perform tasks quicker and with higher levels of quality and effectiveness.

Best said by Norman Peale,

“Repetition becomes habit which, repeated frequently enough, becomes an automatic reflex.”

This idea is an important point for players to remember.  Once a skill or technique becomes ‘automatic’, it can be done without thought allowing players to concentrate on other aspects of their game.

Don’t look at repetition as boring, look at it as a necessary and vital tool in the development of any soccer player. As Bruce Lee states,

“I fear not the man who has practiced ten thousand kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick ten thousand times.”

Two, hour and a half team training sessions a week will not improve a player to the best of their abilities.  Emphasis must be placed on players carrying out additional training outside of team practices.  A player doesn't need a coach or constant guidance and supervision to complete extra touches on the ball. Parents and coaches need to encourage players to spend a portion of their free time juggling, kicking a ball against a wall hundreds of times using both feet, controlling it from different heights and angles and learning simply via feel and repetition.  Players need ‘free time’ to practice their own moves, dribbles, skills and ball control without any pressure. It is amazing at how quickly they improve when they do this.  The ball itself is a great teacher!

The goal for players wanting to get better is to spend as much time with a ball as possible. Playing at school, meeting friends after school at a park or at a friend’s house all are excellent ways to work on skills.  If kids are alone, all they need is a ball, a park or patio and a wall – that’s it!!  These hours of imaginative and non-structured play will improve their skills while making them better players.

As little as ten extra minutes on the ball every day can make a huge difference in individual growth! It is the combination of the quality AND quantity in skill execution which produce the most technically sound athletes.  Repetition is the master of all skill.

I challenge players to get 1000 touches on the ball every day for a week.  After the week is over, I want to know how they feel with their comfort on the ball, their first touch, their delivery, their speed, their confidence.  I have no doubt there will be positive progress in all of those departments!

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