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Do you or your athletes get enough touches? Or are you practicing too much?

by Taylor Tollison

Soccer programs based on playing games can actually hinder a youth player's growth. Let me explain why.

Let's say you have a bunch of players who have different talents and weaknesses.  One player has a great right footed shot but is unable to shoot with his left.  Another player is a great one on one player but lacks the ability to pass well. A third player is amazingly fast on the pitch.  This has left the player lacking in basic fundamentals.   He's relied on his speed to get advantages in games.

Put all these players in a game situation and each will favor his strengths while possibly avoiding his weaknesses.

Here are some hypothetical numbers for player one.

7 shots a game-7 with his right foot and 0 with his left.

Having too many games and not enough practice puts young players at a disadvantage. If player one is exposed to too many games and practices where touches are not at a premium his development will be hindered.

This of the player who relies on speed. For a time pure athletism will allow this player to flourish with some amount of ball skills. A fast player can cover up a lot of weaknesses by simply having the ability to run by someone who is slower. But really, who cares if your player is great at 6 or 7 or even 10, 12 etc. Give your players the best chance to succeed by maximizing touches and working on weaknesses. Games are great. But they are not the best place to work on weaknesses.

Games situations allow you to implement what you learned and practiced in the week or weeks leading up to the game. Trying to shoot with a horrible left foot is not a recipe for winning. I propose that players should have more practice time and less playing time so that technical abilities can develop. Over the years this can give players tens of thousands of more touches. Players will get better technically and be able to better compete on a world wide level. And if world wide is not their goal thats fine.  They can excel at the high school, or youth club level and maybe even college.

Watch this video that explains US Youth Soccer new push for youth development.

Move to minute 33 of this video to get to the cirriculum. But I would watch the whole thing.