Football Development Schools Practice

In elite sport, across all sports, there is something called the ‘10,000 hour rule’, which says that expertise in any field requires 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.  Breaking this down, this is 3 hours of practice a day every day for 10 years.  In any young players timetable this is near impossible to achieve.  Therefore the practice that players do, needs to be deliberate and also specific to what they will improve most at a given age.  Growth and development play a big part in this, which is demonstrated by ‘windows of opportunity’ which occur as the player gets older and develops.  This influences when skills are learned best, when to concentrate more on strength and when spatial awareness develops.  If the right training is applied at the right age, by tapping into these ‘windows’ the benefits are much greater.

Practice away from sessions is made up of Tap Ups, Individual Skills and Turns, Footwork with the ball, Ladder Exercises, Skipping and Speed Work.  Details of the different activities are detailed below, with the most important first.  The reason they are put in a particular order, is to highlight the priorities we have for the players.  There is no point in asking players struggling with Tap Ups to do all the activities if they haven’t yet mastered the ball.  Once players are working well with the ball, activities without the ball to give extra improvement can be added.  Each player within the Academy will also have different priorities, which is why not all players will be given the same practice at the same time even within age groups.

Tap ups

The reasons for taps ups are that they are quantifiable and recordable so improvements are obvious.  This helps the players’ confidence to improve as they can see the rewards from their hard work.  This type of technical skill is also not heavily influenced by the ability of the player and is more a product of concentration, practice and hard work.  All of these qualities will serve our players well as they progress with their football career.  From a technical point of view tap ups improve touch, balance and most importantly weak foot.  These areas fit well into the long term development of the player as they tap into the ‘window of opportunity’ of physical developments, dictated by the growth and development characteristics of players at the Academy.

Academy players need to set high targets with their tap ups and continually look to improve week on week.

 

Individual Skills and Turns

Players can practice in an area, between cones or against cones, to help improve this aspect of the game.  This work with the ball also provides the fitness and physical development the players need to work on away from sessions.  Here are the skills that the players need to work on.

Individual Skill

Turns

Matthews

Inside Hook

Luis Figo

Outside Hook

Scissors

Cruyff Turn

Double Scissors

Stepover Turn

Revilino

Dragback Turn

Edu

Stop Turn

Ginola

Maradona Turn

Gazza Stop Kick

Socrates

Romario

Zico

Ryan Giggs

Cruyff – Outside Hook

Ronaldinho Scissor

Tostao

Flip Flap

Thierry Henry

Jay-Jay Okocha

Ronaldo

Carlos

Cristiano Ronaldo

Elastic

Beardsley Double Touch

 

Footwork with the Ball

This involves repeated exercises with the ball improving close control, quick feet, co-ordination and weak foot.  They can be done in a small area and also help to develop football muscles.  Each exercise needs to be performed on both feet, and for about 30 seconds for each exercise.  Listed below are the various footwork exercises we use.

Brazilian

Dutch

Single Foot

Single Foot

Roll Back – Laces

Outside-Inside

Pivot

Roll-Outside

Roll Round

Out-Out-In

Pivot – Roll

In-In-Out

Double Foot

Double Foot

Toe Taps

Out-In

Side Taps

Out-Out-In

Roll – Tap

In-In-Out

Socrates – Roll

Out-Out-Roll

Ronaldo – Roll

Socrates – Ronaldo

Carlos – Roll

Roll Back – Laces

Ronaldo – Ronaldo

Ronaldinho

Zico – Zico

Elastic – Elastic

 

Skill Assessment

Below is a table that we use to assess skill levels.  It is designed to develop speed of execution and also drive players on with their practice to achieve the highest levels.

Move

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4

Level 5

Toe Touches(both feet)

20

40

60

90

120

Quick Feet(both feet)

30

50

70

110

140

Socrates-Roll(one side)

10

15

25

35

40

Roll-Back-Laces(1 foot)

10

20

30

50

60

Roll-Back-Laces(2 feet)

10

20

30

50

60

Elastic-Stop(one side)

10

15

20

35

50

Elastic – Elastic(both feet)

10

20

30

50

70

Steopover-Stepover(both feet)

10

15

30

40

50

Pivot(one foot)

15

20

25

35

50

Ronaldo-Ronaldo(both feet)

10

15

25

35

45

All skills are based on how many completed in 30 seconds

Tap Ups 1 foot

25

50

75

100

200

Tap Ups Alternate

25

50

75

100

200

 

Ladder Exercises

These exercises help players to develop fast feet without the ball.  They also provide a good foundation for speed and agility training.  All exercises are designed to be done ‘well’ before they are done ‘fast’.  To be done well, players need to maintain balance and body shape.  The ‘ladder exercises’ can involve sticks, cones or floor tiles as long as the spaces are equal and allow for players to repeat the various movements.

Hopping

Running

Hopscotch

1 foot run

3 Hops – 3 Hops

2 foot run

Hop continuous

Icky Shuffle

Zigzag Hops

2 forward – 1 back

2 forward – 1 back

Sideways 2 in

Jumping

2 in – 2 out

Single

Lateral Twist

Zigzag

Big

Big Zigzag

2 forward – 1 back

Skipping

Skipping is an excellent exercise and works really well alongside the ladder work, speed work and quick feet.  It helps to improve footwork, fitness, landing correctly and spring.  The length of skipping exercises needs to be gradually increased as the player becomes more used to doing them and fitter.  Here are a list of skipping exercises.

  • 2 Foot Jumping – double jumps
  • 2 Foot Jumping – single jumps
  • 2 Foot Jumping – jumping jacks
  • 2 Foot Jumping – split steps
  • 1 Foot Hopping – double hop alternate feet
  • 1 Foot Hopping – single hop alternate feet
  • High Knees Running
  • Heel Flicks Running
  • Crossover Skipping
  • Double Skips

Speed Work

Speed work will be given to certain players and the type of work will differ from player to player.  Before players get to that stage they need to be working on the areas above as this will have big benefits for speed.

Athlete Development

In all of the sports we teach, there is a common theme of focussing on multi-skills.  Multi-skills at primary school ages consist of Agility, Balance and Co-ordination due to the  ‘window of opportunity’ at these ages where these building blocks can be developed more than any other time in a person’s life.  This window refers to nervous system development, which is 80-90% complete by the age of 8!  This highlights the importance of good quality P.E and coaching in Key Stage 1.  By focussing on these building blocks, there is a long-term approach to our philosophy.  We are able to develop these building blocks through the use of Speed Agility Quickness, repetition and graduated skill development.

The 10,000-hour rule

Expertise in any field has been linked to 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. This is the case whether it is playing the piano or playing football. Broken down, that is 3 hours per day, everyday for 10years. The quality of practice that the children do in F.D.S sessions, and how ‘engaged’ they are, is very important.  If we start with expertise and work backwards, then it all starts with good deliberate practice, and places an emphasis on good coaching.

Putting the ‘Physical into Physical Education’

This generation of children is the least healthy for nearly 300 years!  They will be first generation in this time period to have a lifespan shorter than their parents!  The sedentary lifestyles prevalent in today’s society and the associated obesity problem are the route cause of this.  It is vital that something is done to counteract this trend.  This means the intensity of sport that children participate in is very important, in order to make sure they are not just learning the fundamental skills and movements, but that they also work at intensity where they will be improve their fitness as well.