3 Man First Touch Training
It’s so important that young players spend time on first touch training. This is a key element for becoming a strong, confident soccer player. Being able to control the ball second nature allows players to get their heads up to scan the field earlier, allows them to control difficult ball out of the air and on the ground, and increases players speed of play.
Take the U.S. National Team for example. We have some of the best athletes in the world on that team. But when we go to play against the Eastern European (extremely technical), South American and European teams our guys are a clip behind technically. Mind you, they are outstanding…but when you get to play on the pitch with the best in the world and you are a clip off, it shows up.
I will give another example. Super Technical players, who have spent hours on their first touch training, come to MLS to play, but not all of them can find their way because they can’t get away from the athleticism on the field. While they are excellent on the ball, they can’t keep up with pace of the game.
In understanding that, our nation has access to the one component that you cannot develop. Athleticism. You either have it, or you don’t. Usain Bolt was born Usain Bolt, he was going to be fast-no matter what. Because he trains hard, takes care of himself, and is disciplined he rose to the greatest sprinter of all time. So on that notion, if we as a nation have great athletes in the youth soccer environment, the needle we need to move is the first touch training, the ball mastery, and the technical portion of the game. Once we master those aspect, which takes quite a bit of time, then we can start to talk tactics and formations. But first, we need to be able to execute.
Just to bring the conversation back down to earth, first touch training isn’t something you spend 2 hours on in a single practice. I mean you can, but I’ve found that 10-15 minutes at every training as part of a technical warm-up adds up over time and your players become proficient on the ball.
This simple training can be done in 15 minutes in your own backyard, you only need 3 people. The player in the middle works for 1 minute, then you switch. Set the cones up 5-7 yards apart and start working.
1. Ball on the ground, one touch back to server.
2. Ball in the hand, one touch back to server using instep of foot.
3. Ball in the hand, one touch back to server using laces of foot.
4. Ball in the hand, collect with thigh, one touch back to server using instep or laces of foot.
5. Ball in the hand, collect with Chest, one touch back to server using instep or laces of foot.
6. Ball in hand, server plays it so the player in the middle has to jump and head the ball back to server. (Not recommended for player under U12)
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