Often, players or coaches wonder why a very talented athlete has trouble “finding his feet” on the soccer field.
The skill work is just as important as the physical attributes. Great coaches who realize this foundation and value of a great touch on the ball will start training players early on. So how do coaches improve the touch on the soccer ball of their players?
Simple: repetition, repetition, repetition.
So what is the secret?
Touches on the soccer ball – lots of them. The main form of training all revolves around players getting literally thousands of touches on the ball daily. This allows players to constantly improve all basic physical attributes with the ball at the feet:
running with the ball
turning cutting passing shooting dribbling
The intention behind the process is to allow players to attain muscle memory so that the focus can be more on tactics and positioning.
If coaches can save precious practice time by focusing, for example, on where to pass instead of how to pass…they can maximize their squad to the full potential faster. This is why players that typically train outside of practice are more suitable for a starting position due to their readiness of not needing to focus on the ball at their foot; but where it must go.
This is the difference from “average” to “excellent” players. How can we calculate a training program to scientifically produce results? The objective is to find the desired goal, and then plug in the number of touches on the soccer ball needed daily or weekly.
If an under average player wants to be able to compete with his current team, he needs to shoot for 1,000 touches a day. If an average player wants to accelerate his game to the next level of play, he will need to shoot for 2,500-5,000 touches a day. If a player wants to hopefully play at the highest level one day – professionally and at the National Level – they will need 5,000-10,000 touches a day. These numbers are averages compared to the statistics of European counts as well as number that we have seen inside the Next Level Facility. It is all about the numbers! In closing, next time you run a training session or are practicing at home, track the numbers. See where you are as a team or individual in relationship to the averages. If your team is struggling to keep the ball at their feet, try to implement more touch work during training and encourage it at home. This will take weeks and months to see improvement, but it will result in players improving in many different areas of their game.