What is tested in Topic #2: Juggling
Juggling consists of 3 skill assessments, each 20 seconds in length. The first is Preferred Foot juggling: How many times in a row can you juggle, using only your preferred foot, in 20 seconds? Now try it with your Non-Preferred foot for the second juggling assessment. Last but not least, try it with your Head. No matter how good you are, it’s always a challenge to get just one more touch.
MLS Player Taylor Graham of the Seattle Sounders joins the National Standards Project!
Why do we test the Preferred and Non-Preferred foot separately?
When you’re juggling, every touch sets up the next. One bad touch makes the next one that much harder. Alternating feet or juggling with the thighs allows players to compensate for possible bad touches with good touches from their preferred foot. Isolating each foot
separately provides a more realistic assessment of their ability and encourages the player to focus on improving both of their feet.
Why do we limit the time for juggling?
Soccer is a game of doing simple things very quickly and accurately. Therefore, we wanted to create a test that challenged players to improve the speed and accuracy of their touches, not just the quantity. This forces players (like the boy in the video above) to have complete control over every touch, which is much more difficult than simply keeping the ball in the air for an hour.
Maintaining and improving a personal juggling record is definitely a great idea as well, however, juggling at pace, under pressure from time constraints, and isolating different surfaces, can really accelerate the rate of improvement for a young player.
Check out this video where Robinho beats a player on the end line. He uses the sole of his foot (Toe Tap) and then pushes the ball with the inside of one foot to the other (Foundations). Sometimes the most incredible moves are built off very simple concepts, they are just done at an amazing level of accuracy, speed and timing.
What is tested in the Topic “Comfort”
The two “Comfort” assessments are the most basic of all the sixteen skills tested. Toe Taps and Foundations can be performed by players as young as five but can still be challenging for the oldest player. 20 Seconds. How many can you do? Check out the video to see other players around the country doing the test:
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What is Ball Comfort?
Ball comfort is touching the ball consistently and efficiently with different parts of the foot. Comfort skills are typically performed within a very tight space and in a repetitive sequence to build maximum comfort.
What does Ball Comfort Help?
Ball comfort helps a player build confidence in touching the ball with different parts of the foot. Typically you won’t see exact comfort skills performed in a game, but you will often see players touching the ball with all different parts of the foot. And the more comfortable you are to move and direct the ball precisely where you want it is the mark of any successful player.
Check out this amazing video done at the Region IV Girls Camp last week in Idaho!
Video includes interviews with Jerry Smith (Head Coach of Santa Clara), Jen Klien (Head Coach of UNLV), Lisa Sari (Asst. Coach University of Portland), Allison Gibson (Head Coach of Idaho State) and reaction from some of the players!