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Discussion in 'Youth & HS Soccer' started by nandoal28, Sep 18, 2011.
How useful are individual training sessions? Are they worth the extra costs?
I would be suspicious of a professional coach selling individual training sessions, except for goal keepers and general athletic skills. What you can do with only one player is limited compared to a small group. And with a small group you can still give each player a lot of attention. Depending on the age of the player, I would think agility and speed sessions or strength and conditioning sessions would be much more valuable areas for individual training.
Then of course the value of any training will depend on who is the coach.
What age, skill level? Positional or general focus? What are you trying to get out of the indiv. training sessions?
If the coach is good, individual training sessions are very useful. Especially for building technique. Typically it's best to have at least one other player available for the session and in my experience I always liked to have 4-6 players max.
Worth it for a conditioning coach too. 5 or 6 kids Max.
At what age should parents consider individual training sessions?
We started my daughter with individual lessons at the age of 9, once she was sure she wanted to do competitive soccer. The lessons gave her a much needed boost to get her up to speed with the fundamentals as she was already behind the other kids. Once she started getting comfortable with the basics, she moved to small group lessons.
She still does individual training to help improve her shooting technique, get introduced to new skills, and to help work out things she's having trouble with.
I am a skills trainer. Team settings in the US are typically too general to bring kids up in the proper individual skills they need, and unfortunately we organize soccer so early in this country that the early individual fundamentals are very often completely lacking.
I'm nothing special, believe me, but the players I have trained have all grown by leaps and bounds simply because they now have the individual attention, repetition, technique, information, etc...to master the ball on their own much better, and in more intense situations, than before. It's hard to develop composure on the ball when 1. you are never actually shown many of the basics and 2. all situations in which you handle the ball in team practice are generally under some form of duress and you're being told to pass pass pass.
People in the US are convinced that endless passing drills make players better passers, and since soccer is a team game, it must all be about passing.
Realistically, what makes players better passers is individual ball mastery. Read up on the Ajax and Barca academy info, they will tell you the same thing. When you can individually possess a ball under pressure, you can pick your head up, anticipate plays, and find space to dribble OR pass, on YOUR terms, not the other teams. Passing form is rather easy to teach, but if you can't establish control of the ball on your terms under every situation on the field, you will be passing as a last-ditch effort to keep from getting stripped, not in any meaningful attacking sense.
The quality of the instructor counts, of course, but it is the individual attention to the details of ball possession that makes a player better. As long as they are not a complete fraud, there is value to individual work. When you see how the best players play, you can start to judge whether your instructor is good, great or merely passable.
Again, I'm very much still growing as a trainer, but I trained a 15 year old girl this summer who had never had any one-on-one instruction (rather late to start, but again, this is the US.) After her first pre-season practice with her club team, she came back to our next session and told me that the coach asked her after 5 minutes "hey Courtney, when did you learn footskill." So even at an age where most players should have learned to manage the ball, there is still a great benefit to individual attention. The rest of the world views soccer as a sport played by individuals in a team setting, and requires that each player manage their business. In the US we still tend to think of everyone collectively, and think that team practices will provide everything our players need to know and do. Very few American players really play enough on their own, either because they don't truly love the game (I could never get enough as a kid), or they and their parents don't know the value of self-play, or they just don't know what they can do on their own (i.e. all the things they COULD be working on.)
So my job as a trainer is to address all of those issues.
Lastly, my daughter is the best passer on her A level team. How did she get so good at passing? By NOT PASSING. We focused 80% or more on individual touches, ball mastery, possession, 1v1, etc. If she relied strictly on the team practices, and the usual passing drills, then everyone would be as good as she is at passing. So the message is, individual skill helps her entire game. Hope this helps.
p.s. I'd do this for free, that's how much I enjoy it and see a need for it. If kids did it on their own, and clubs encouraged a love for it, I wouldn't be needed. And I'd be fine with that, I simply want to see the ability of our players grow in this country.
I generally agree that there tends to be too much passing and not enough individual skills. But I've got to say that there is a girl on my daughter's team with great skills when it comes to controlling the ball in tight spaces, yet she can't send or receive a pass to save her life. I've never seen that before- it's like all of her previous training consisted solely of 1 v 1 drills. Great holding and beating moves, but a bad first touch and passes that go every which way but where they're supposed to go. Guess it doesn't pay to go too far overboard either way.
This is definitely outside the norm from my experience, but there are always outliers so I'm sure you're not misrepresenting her. Perhaps just an issue of not maturing to the point where passing has become "important" to her? Kids fundamentally (i.e. brain development, etc...) are not capable of really absorbing the team concept until they hit 9-10, at the earliest. So harping on them any earlier is just a frustrating exercise for all involved. Use the early years, and the self-centeredness, to your and their advantage. I think this girl may simply be developmentally on a slightly different schedule in this one respect. No worries, it will come around, and when it does, it will only add to her individual ability. We tend to force kids to pass so early that they never develop the individual ability, or certainly not the confidence/initiative, to take players on, and their first choice is always to look to get the ball off their foot. Precisely why we have such trouble producing special players here. Overwhelming odds are that this girl WILL catch up on her passing skills just fine, but will the others develop enough individual ability? That to me is where we have always paled vs. the rest of the world . Interesting observation though. Kids are amazing.
(And of course, passing still needs to be taught, but like I've said, it's easier doing that with the individual ability first, rather than teaching passing first before they're even thinking about anyone but themselves, then trying to teach ball mastery later.)
How old is she?
She's 11. I can understand not getting the hang of passing yet, but I would have expected her to have a better first touch given her ability to control the ball. Not to mention that she's formed some bad habits with passing that she now has to unlearn.
That first touch on the ball is one thing that my daughter really worked on during some private lessons last spring. As you mention above, it gave her the ability to truly possess the ball and make a conscious decision about what she wanted to do with it next.
My daughter really lucked out with her first team. Her coach really emphasized small touches and ball control skills, lots of 1 v 1 drills, and worked on proper passing technique. He did not emphasize passing at all in game play and didn't do a whole lot of passing only drills, but he absolutely insisted on proper technique when they did pass so as not to allow the kids to fall into bad habits. I should mention that this was a boys team.
The girls team did almost all passing drills. No 1 v 1s, no foot skills, no technique at all. I don't know why the girls training was so different from the boys, but by the end of the year, my daughter was way beyond the other girls despite having started with no skills to speak of. And the rest of the girls still couldn't pass in a straight line.
The whole post is great and very telling, but the key to me is what I've underlined. Passing drills = maybe 100 touches in a practice, ballwork = maybe 500 touches. Estimates, obviously, but the ratio is probably close to correct. Passing drills done with players who have no ballskill foundation are an absolute waste of time at any age, and yet we start right in at 6-7 years old demanding that our kids pass.
I had a parent on my daughter's team tell me last weekend that his 7yo boy got pulled from a game for "beating a couple players and scoring" rather than passing (to one of the many teammates he had already told me could do nothing with the ball.) He was fine with it, because "it's a TEAM GAME!!!" At 6-7 years old the average team has exactly 3 players: me, myself and I.
Your other point about the fact that the girls drills were so different from the boys is absolutely true in most settings in this country, and it's why the US women have fallen behind other nations. The style we play is direct and we train to support it. We won't bother to train any other way because it would be overkill for the style we play. So it's a vicious, self-fulfilling cycle. Our system is win the physical and stamina battles, wear teams down, use speed and keep testing teams with long balls until there's a defensive breakdown. Women's teams can be pretty undisciplined internationally (this is changing however) so we get a lot of second-ball opportunities from close in. Don't really need lots of footskill to do that. But look what France and Japan did to us with footskill. And imagine what they'll do when they actually start putting real money into their development (and Brazil, where they STILL frown on women playing the game.) Somewhat apropos, you may have heard the stat that there are 25,000 registered female soccer players in Japan. There are 250,000 in California. Skill over numbers any day, baby.
I will say, that on my daughter's U12 A level team there are some really bad passers on the order of what you described with this girl, girls that can't keep the ball on the ground, are always hooking their toe around the ball, etc.. and they've done the endless passing drills that most girls teams do as you indicated. So passing drills do not good passers make. They can make good passers into better passers.
I'm convinced this girl is a little too enamored of her footskill and hasn't moved on to the application of it into her passing. I'd say it's probably attitudinal and not physical. Still frustrating, no matter the reason.
Props to you and your daughter for seeking out what I think is the right path for improvement, and for putting the work in. You've seen the results. And again, if kids in the US were steeped in the skill culture that kids in the rest of the world are, there wouldn't really be any need for me or other trainers.
Hope your season is going well. Cheers!
I disagree. What was telling was the absence of any work on dribbling (I assume that was what was meant by "no foot skills") for the girls team. You are making too many assumptions. If I was training U8s, I would some spend time on striking and receiving. And 500 touches is what I would be aiming for in the first 20 minutes of a training session. (With older kids I would aim for 700 during the warmup.)
The estimates were exactly that, estimates. But based on what the average uninformed American coach might do (and what I've seen far too much of), they might be closer to reality than we'd like to think. Your numbers are certainly closer to what I'd hope to see.
I should clarify that I put passing a ball between two players (sometimes three) into the category of ball work. It's all about form, technique, there is no tactical purpose to it.
What I mean when I say "passing" or "passing drills" is 3-5 players, one ball, passing largely in prescribed sequences (short-short-long, the "dreaded three-man weave" as my USSF instructor once said), etc...when the technique is completely lacking. These drills jump the gun because they require technique that isn't there and the drills fall apart at the first bad touch, of which their are many, and, therefore, so does the drill's tactical purpose. And that's considering there wasn't much tactical purpose to begin with because the sequences were all pre-planned.
My U12 dd's coach last night demanded the girls never speak their prior coach's name because he "ruined them for the last three years." What did the prior coach do for those three years? Overly regimented passing drills, very often the same 4 each and every week.
The current coach has them doing much more 1-2 person work, and all the passing is in fluid SSG's with various restrictions that build up the concept throughout the practice.
I think you and I largely agree, probably more so after I clarified above.
We do agree on coaching, completely. I use very little pattern play and agree that it is a bad choice to teach technique.
And I am not talking about paid individual sessions with a coach. These are extremely beneficial.
But what is even more important that one on one training sessions with a coach is one on one training sessions by yourself.
If a player isn't willing to spend at least 30 minutes a day on their own time improving their skills, fitness, and understanding of the game. Then they are not willing to do what it takes to become a top level player.
I have a website dedicated to players who are excited and serious about putting in the work on their own time. Take a look here.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9R2Fux-ajMc"]Become A Better Footballer[/ame]
Spot on. I wish more parents and coaches would realize this. I got so much heat from my parents at U10 because players were too "individualistic". But, as you point out, it's the foundation of passing—ability to hold the ball individually.
If you can't get that incoming loose ball or pass under control and into an area where only you can get it, AND have no fear that someone can try to take it away from you then the player will never become a very good passer. All of this so you can simply pick your head up before and after the incoming pass and have a clear head.
Bingo. And if you've got a TEAM full of players that can all manage their own business (i.e. their space and the ball), there is no pass that you cannot attempt, because 1. You know YOU can make the pass 2. you know your teammate will trust your ability to make that pass 3. YOU trust your teammates ability to receive that pass and 4. your teammate will make more cutting runs because of the first three points.
Barca's playing style is short 1-2 touch, but it's all done quickly, without hesitation, and with total commitment and belief. But it's all done with the purpose of getting the opposition on "the carousel" as we've all heard it termed. Then, the dagger pass comes swiftly and certainly.
Barca absolutely could not do any of this without individual ball mastery, and ball mastery won't happen by intentionally passing the ball away at the early ages. That's the eventual progression of it all, but it absolutely is not how it starts.
We trained my little U8 advanced rec girls team to do nothing but master the ball individually, and told them no matter where they are on the field: collect the ball (don't boot it), possess it, pick your head up, and attack any space you can find. And if you're under pressure, beat the player, then beat the next one. Way down the list was the idea of passing (at least tactically). 60% of our training was one person/one ball, another 15% or so was two people/one ball (receiving, directional first touch, etc..) that emphasized the receipt of the pass first, not so much the pass itself (this part came around on its own).
By the end of the season, every kid on our team was absolutely transformed. They all had skill to go to take players on, but they also had confidence, the creativity, they could think for themselves. Bookish little girls that wanted to boot the ball every time it came to them were now blowing by 5-6 players after winning balls in the back and scoring goals.
But guess what? They also started to learn (on their own!) when the moment was closing down and it was time to pass. And their passing form was exceptional, without a lot of time having been spent on it.
Most kids in this country never get to "own" the game. Every kid on our team owns the game, and they all had moments during the year that just flat out had my jaw on the floor, either because of great skill, great understanding, or simple gumption to try something.
What other reason is there to be a coach, really? (To the people who will say: well, the reason to coach competitive sports is to win, I would disagree. But if you insist on making that the issue: by the end of the year, we were winning, and beating local club teams who only entered the advanced rec league for extra games.)
Nice de Kromme, that was refreshing to read, someone who gets it.
DeK, great post. I've watched my DD make some amazing passes, even though her training experience has been mostly ball work and uncoached games, no specific passing or tactics.
My kid has also benefited from individual coaching. After a couple individual sessions, she asked if some of the time could just be fun games with the ball.
When we talked to the coach about it, she said, "Thank you! Often parents sit on the side during practice and yell at their kid to focus, and before practice let me know they expect 'results'. I'm happy to take fun breaks!"
This coach really helped my daughter regain her confidence after a previous disappointing soccer experience.
Alright, I need to plead ignorance on the above. I've seen it used numerous times by different posters.
What does "DD" stand for?
I don't get where this came from either.
You get the idea. Why not just say "daughter/wife/son"?
Must be message board speak. :shrug:
I can't say where this poster picked it up, but "texting" has created a whole new abbreviated language. The ultimate manisfestation is broadcasting texts at the whole world (twitter)! I detest the whole kudzu culture.