One of the biggest misconceptions of one to one football training is that it cannot be taught with realism. Just like your regular team coaching sessions, your coaching methods will dictate how realistic the training is.
It upsets me how quick some coaches are to totally disregard the use of one to one coaching to supplement their current coaching methods. Don’t they realize, many of the great players you see today spent many hours kicking a ball against a wall improving their passing and receiving or ball juggling to improve ball control? As simple as this might sound, just continually practicing them alone will improve you as a player.
A lot of coaches tend to forget that although football is a team game, it has many individual moments where the player has to do the following;
- Receive the ball in tight spaces.
- Take fast touches on the ball, especially when in tight situations.
- Scan for options, when in possession and out of possession.
- Making good decisions with the ball and without.
- Penetrating spaces with the ball.
- Dribbling with your arm out.
- Turn, check your space, Then leave your arm out.
I could add much more, but as you can see from the few points above there is a lot player must learn as an individual before they can work well within a team structure.
In this post, I will first discuss how to teach a player to stay with the ball.
Quick Feet in Tight Area’s
For me, helping a player to become comfortable on the ball in tight situations is one the first things that should be looked at. In football, there are many situations where the player will be confronted by the opposition and will need to learn how to look after the ball in limited space.
For beginners, instead of getting the player to dribble in a straight line (unrealistic) encourage them to take small touches with the ball using the inside and outside of the foot in the small area. When they get used to it, you can add other movements such as rolling the ball with the sole of the foot or dragging and pushing the ball. Never forget to keep testing their awareness by either using two different cones for them to call out whilst they are dribbling or asking them to spot how many fingers you are holding up.
The video below will show an example of this, just remember to test their awareness as mentioned earlier.
For better players, I would reduce the space and have cones scattered in the area encouraging the player to take fast touches on the ball. During this, we are still testing their awareness with either cones or fingers. To progress the session, add pressure so that the player has to be aware of you and protect the ball.
Again the video below will show an example of how this can be done. Apologies for the poor sound quality.
Dribbling With Your Arm Out!
A very important aspect of dribbling is to dribble whilst keeping your arm out. I see many coaches forget to teach this time and time again and wonder why their players struggle to stay with the ball under pressure.
First, you must teach the player to keep the ball on the safe side when under pressure. The safe side is when the player moves the ball to the side which Is away from the defender. When the ball is on the safe side, the player must protect the ball by leaving their arm out where the opposition is.
A simple way of teaching this is by just getting the player to dribble the ball within an area of 5 by 15 and the coach should add pressure while they move the ball in the area. The player should always move the ball to the safe side and keep their arm out depending on which side the coach is. The coach/parent should change sides occasionally, testing the player’s awareness of where the opposition is and when to move the ball.
Attacking Spaces Quickly!
Have you ever wondered why Lionel Messi is so effective when he dribbles the ball? Having quick feet does help but also recognizing the spaces to attack quickly with the ball also gives him an advantage. Other players such as Aguero, Iniesta and Hazard are also very good at spotting opportunities to attack the space quickly.
Running with the ball into spaces and across defenders frightens opposition because it causes overloads in areas that create problems for the other team. when teaching individuals this skill you want them to first recognize the spaces early then decide quickly where they want to dribble the ball.
To encourage individuals to perform this skill you could set up a 15×15 area with gates marked inside. The player starts with the ball in the area dribbling in any direction, looking for opportunities to run with the ball through the gates quickly. Every time the player dribbles through a gate they score a point and they must shout ‘running in’ when they go through or it doesn’t count.
Progress the session by supporting the player on the outside of the area. The coach/parent should link with the player by receiving passes from them, then look to pass the ball back once they have found good space. When the player receives the ball from the coach their first touch should be a soft one into space which they have chosen to attack. The player should look to attack a gate quickly as soon as they receive the ball.
When, Where and How to Use Tricks!
It is important that our players learn a variety of tricks that can be used in a real game situation. Moves that can beat a player will give them the ability to go past others in one on one situations. Bear in mind, it is not essential that they master every trick that you show as some of the best players only tend to use two or three tricks on a regular basis. What is important, is their decision on when, where and how to execute the skill. If you watch Messi, he doesn’t use many tricks. Messi uses the body feint with almost every move he uses to beat a player. The body feint along with a quick change of feet can be more devastating then using 5 or 6 step over’s. It’s the exaggeration that makes the trick so effective and this is one of the area’s I tend to focus on.
A simple practice would be, to set up a 10×10 area where you place two long cones in various parts of the area. The player must dribble in the area, looking to perform the tricks you have shown them whenever confronted by the cones. While the player is dribbling the ball the coach should look to test their awareness by holding a cone in the air, which they must call out.
Progress the session, by occasionally adding pressure to the player inside the area. The player must decide if they need to either use a trick or protect the ball and look for spaces to go into.
Check Your Space When Turning!
Finally, I often see young players turning without knowing if there is space for them to turn into. Teach your players to check their shoulder before they turn to encourage them to recognise space early.
To help teach this, you could set up a similar session to the one where we taught tricks, only this time the theme is turning. Show the turns you want the players to perform (not all at once) mentioning that they must remember to do the following;
- Check the space before they turn.
- Exaggerate the turn.
- Leave their arm out when they turn to ensure the opposition can’t recover.
Again as before, we must be ensuring that the player is keeping their eye’s up by using either cones or fingers. Progress the session by occasionally adding pressure, forcing the player to turn away from you.
Football Training Conclusion
As you can see, it is not very difficult to add realism when working with players in an individual training session. Here are the main things to think about when adding realism in a one to one coaching session;
- Are you still testing their awareness?
- Are the techniques/decisions being used relevant to the game?
- Is the session realistic? (in lines in and out of cones).
- is the player solving a football problem?
- Can you add real pressure to progress the session?
When teaching young players, you always want them to learn good habits and make better decisions on the football pitch. This is why we must never lose that element of realism from our training sessions, because if we want our players to learn they must be confronted with real situations, that can happen in a game on a consistent basis.
Let’s Play the Game Ltd is a provider of excellent one to one and team football training in Birmingham, Walsall, Dudley and Sandwell. For those who would like to try our services don’t hesitate to contact us. Don’t forget to subscribe below to never miss any of our posts. You can also like our Facebook page or subscribe to our You Tube channel for more football coaching tips.
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