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Game Savvy Skills for Soccer
Developmental Assessment for Skills
The foundation for the proper development of player skills is not their chronological age, physical size or even what books on coaching soccer say they must learn first. The foundation for teaching skills is an assessment of the developmental age of each player to determine what they are capable of learning during each season during their development.
Johan Cryuff, who developed later physically than many of his peers, tells us that: "When I was 15, I couldn’t kick a ball 15 meters (16.4 yards) with my left foot, maybe 20 (21.8 yards) with my right". Johan matured into one of the best players in the history of the game playing and later coaching the Netherlands National Team, at Ajax in the Netherlands and with F.C. Barcelona in Spain.
A study of players in central Europe, from age 12 to age 22, found that 6 out of every 16 players who signed contracts with teams in Europe's 5 elite professional leagues by age 22 were late developers not selected by most coaches for their age group. Only 3 of every 16 players who signed with teams in Europe's 5 elite professional leagues were among the 40% of youth players selected as early physical developers by their youth coaches.
Schools teach and athletic teams train children by dividing them into chronological age groups based on when they are born. Recently, based on recent research on late developers, some soccer programs in Europe now recommend:
Research has documented that within any chronological age group children are either:
Players develop fastest, feel more successful, show greater progress and continue to play far beyond the average age most players stop playing when they are challenged to learn at their own rate and are able to achieve. The following developmental age group assessments are provided to assist in determining the developmental peer group best suited for each player.
Developing Both Sides
Seems most coaches and spectators are always asking if a player is "right" or "left" footed and they are talking about which foot the player uses to touch the ball most of the time. Of course it's easy to know which foot a player will use to usually touch the ball if you watch them before games or when arriving at a field or gym.
In soccer, the majority of players have one "dominant manipulative foot" they usually use to touch the ball. Their body language usually tells you which foot they prefer to use to manipulate the ball. It's usually the foot that:
All players also have a "dominant balance foot" they use to balance and support their body while their other foot manipulates the ball. Their body language also tells you which foot they prefer to use as their dominant balance foot. It's usually the foot that:
The traditional method for getting players comfortable with using either foot to manipulate the ball in games is based on the same rote training repetition used in schools to teach match tables. Can work, but all too often requires a lot of time and many players don't develop both feet.
Based on research we found a new first step that makes it faster and easier to get players to use either foot to manipulate the ball in games. See Developing Both Feet.