Quick Tip: Learn How to Bend the Ball
Being able to bend the ball is not only fun to do, it also makes you a more dangerous passer and scorer. However, bending the ball effectively takes practice. Here are three iSoccer Skill Videos that are a simple, effective progression for learning how the bend the ball!
Step 1: Find a wall, a friend, or a parent and get comfortable volleying the ball with the inside of your foot.
Step 2: Standing sideways, focus on creating spin and hitting the ball cleanly. As you establish a rhythm, hit the ball harder and move further out.
Step 3: Create spin with the inside of your foot, and practice hitting a stationary ball off the ground. Once you are comfortable striking a clean, bending ball, set up a target and challenge yourself and your friends to a game. Get creative and make up the rules!
As a young player, David Beckham used to hang a tire from the corner of a goal and try to curl it in for hours. Later he was able to do this!
Learning basic, yet important skills like bending the ball with the inside of your foot is all about repetition. You can use the iSoccer Skill Videos to work your way up, and then keep it fun and interesting by creating challenges for yourself, such as bending a ball through a tire!
The iSoccer Team
Feel free to forward this to anyone who loves soccer as much as we do.
Quick Tip: 3 Juggling Skill Challenges
Here are 3 iSoccer Skill Videos that you can use to make quick, fun skill games this summer. Challenge yourself, or your friends, and see how many you can do!
For Beginners: Once you can do the 1-2 catch, see how many more you can do in a row. 3? 5? 10? Right and left footed.
For Intermediate Players: This one is great for learning proper foot angle for striking a clean, driven ball. Complete as many as you can with either foot. Remember – no backspin (a little forward spin is even better).
For Advanced Players: How many can you do in a row while knocking the ball as high as you can followed by a small control touch? The higher you knock it, the more skill is required. And remember, only use your laces!
Coaches, We Need Your Help to ‘Raise the Level!’
Please take 10-15 minutes to complete this survey, and we will match the results with the hundreds of thousands of quantitative assessment results already gathered to better understand how:
1 – Technical skills correlate to in-game performance.
2 – Individual achievement has impacted player motivation
As a way of saying thank you, complete by Dec. 1 and you will automatically be entered into a drawing to win a $100 Gift Certificate from Eurosport.
Thanks in advance for your willingness to help us make iSoccer as effective a motivational and player evaluation tool as possible!
By Scott Leber, iSoccer.org – This fall, thousands and thousands of hours are going to be spent training to improve a young player’s technical ability. And a great question to ask is, “Are we making the best use of that time?” Across the country, players are getting a lot of touches on the ball – however, they may not be training at the speed or the sharpness that is required in games.
Coaches often ask players to dribble in a box or allow players to have less than perfect touches. But in a game, we are not dribbling in a box and the ball turns over every time there is a lazy or poor touch. When we don’t provide enough pressure, a time constraint, or a space constraint, we may not be challenging our players to develop the proper tools to solve the problems that the game demands.
Therefore, as much as possible, we need to train in game-like setting when working on our individual skills.
So how do we do it?
First, we have to ask the player to be deliberate with every single touch. Try and isolate a specific skill or skills to leave no room for interpretation – the coach and player knows exactly what is being asked to perform and players can really see where their weaknesses are. If the first touch has to be with the outside of the right foot and at a forward angle, demand it. If you want the pass to hit the right foot, demand that type of accuracy. If you want a quick outside right touch and then an inside right foot touch past the defender after the scissor, demand it.
Next, we can limit the time they have to do the skill and keep score. When placing a time constraint and a score to a skill, we are requiring players to perform the skills at their absolute maximum speed for that time period. You will be amazed when the work rate jumps 15 to 20 percent! Players will consistently want to beat their old scores while wanting to compare themselves with their teammates. Building a healthy sense of competition in practice can be motivating and fun for all the players.
Finally, when you add deliberate training + time constraint + score keeping, we are applying the best pressure we can to an individual player – the pressure to be better than yourself. Players can now set their own goals and see their own improvement. Individual achievement in a team setting can be very powerful. The strongest and weakest players on the team can score and improve at their own rate without being dependent on anyone else.
So let’s make the most of this fall! Be deliberate with every touch. Perform the skill at game speed. And always push yourself to improve your score!
Scott Leber is the Founder and CEO of iSoccer.org. iSoccer was founded in 2008 with a single objective: How to motivate players to train harder and increase their technical ability. Check out iSoccer.org to learn more about the iSoccer skills test, tracking tools and age group technical standards.
Coach, we get it. You have a full time job and afternoon hits. Rushing to the field you think, “What am I going to do with the kids tonight?” You are not alone, and iSoccer wants to help you by simplifying practice! We believe the goals of the season are:
1. Players become better soccer players.
2. Players enjoy competing and want to play next season.
3. Players grow as people and socialize with their peers.
That is it. Lets keep it simple. Winning is of course important, but secondary to those three season goals! Ready? Let’s do this!
The clearer the session is to the coach and players, usually the more effective it will be. This ‘four part’ practice plan tries to give you both structure and progression. Every kid is guaranteed lots of of quality touches, tons of decision making opportunities and a chance to compete every practice! With those three things + energy from the coaches, you are well on your way to making every player better and creating an effective practice session! Feel free to incorporate any drills you already know or ones you find online. This hopefully serves as a framework for an effective, fun session. When you are done with 8 weeks, just repeat! Good luck and you can always reach out to iSoccer at: Support@iSoccer.org. We are here to help you Raise the Level of your Players!
If you are an experienced or professional coach, please forward to any coaches you think might benefit from this practice guide. And if you have any thoughts on this plan for recreational coaches, (how to make it simpler, more effective, clearer) please let us know – We are always looking to make everything we do better and greatly appreciate honest feedback!
Nadeshiko Japan made lots of noise by knocking off host Germany, 1-0, to reach the semifinals, and the team will make history if can beat Sweden on Wednesday and reach the final. You can’t find many people inside Japan these days that are not following their beloved Nadeshiko, which is led by Homare Sawa, the team captain who is scored a hat trick against New Zealand during the qualifying round. Sawa is perhaps the best known Japanese player, having played in five World Cups and three Olympics.
Japan’s current team has been together since the Beijing Olympics, where it finished fourth. And while Japan has a long history in women’s soccer, it has not enjoyed success like this summer’s until recently. Japan formed its women’s national league in 1989, which helped the national team qualify for the first World Cup in China in 1991, and it has qualified for every World Cup. Japan had only advanced out of the group stage once before this summer, when it lost to the United States, 4-0, in the quarterfinals.
In fact, Japan won only one game in its first three trips to the World Cup, but several years ago the Japanese Football Association decided to get more serious about women’s soccer. The J.F.A.’s Captain’s Mission mandate set in motion a better network for identifying players, along with better coaching and the involvement of former national team players. Of note, all though more women coaches have become involved with the game, there is still only one in the country who holds the SQ License, which is the equivalent to the A License given out by U.S. Soccer. She is Midori Honda, who served as Japan’s captain at the first World Cup and was the first woman to pass the difficult exam and receive the license. Honda is currently an assistant coach for Japan’s under-20 team.
Still, not a lot of money or resources are put into the women’s game. Compared with some of the world’s powerhouse programs such as America or Germany, the difference is staggering. I have conducted thousands of soccer clinics for over 500,000 kids over the past 20 years and over all the number of girls playing the game has remained flat. So the pool from which to select players is still very small. However, the organization for identifying and the emphasis on training technical skills at a very young age has been the difference. So although the number of players has neither increased or decreased over the years, better resources and training methods have produced better results.
The woman have the same set up for national training centers as the men. There are 47 regions and each has a training center program. These are not facilities in the physical sense, rather the name of the program. They meet monthly to provide specialized training for select players, and that training culminates in a national camp in December that brings together the best 15-year-olds in the country.
Soccer is a year-round sport where players play 365 days a year, men or women. You can not help but produce good, technically sound players if the content and emphasis is on technical skills.
This is what is happening in Japan.
Tom Byer, the former director of Coerver Coaching Asia, was born in the Bronx. He has lived in Japan for more than 25 years, where he is known as Tom-san, and has conducted more than 2,000 soccer events for more than 500,000 children. He also appears on a nationally televised, daily show for children.
Two words from iSoccer: Love It!
In preparation for the Fall Season, Summer is the time to focus on technical development and work towards Raising Your Level. 15 to 20 minutes a day of focused and intense training will make all the difference. This workout can be done by players of any age at any level…. Technical execution is a very simple concept: How quickly, accurately and consistently can you perform the most basic skills!
Make the commitment today and Lets Raise Your Level!
Click here or on the images to download the file!
TEAM: Anthem Middle School Girls Soccer
- Primarily 4th-7th graders (one 8th grader)
- Other teams had five to seven 8th graders
- Half the team had never played competitively
- Some teams ‘laughed’ at first sight of Anthem’s size (score ended up 8-1)
What did they do in training? How did they motivate players of different skill level? What did they do to win?
HEAD COACH: Doug Pillsbury
Game Day: We Won by Passing and Dribbling Around Bigger, Faster Players
Every team we played was bigger, stronger and faster than our girls. Our central midfielder (a 4th grader) is only 4’6″ – One game she played against a girl that was 6’1″! We had to rely on our individual and team skill to 1) Be able to dribble and get out of tight spaces, and 2) Be able to effectively pass around the bigger players. iSoccer gave us that technical base that really showed up in the games. By the end of the season, my girls were doing give-and-gos and passing the ball around the field. It was great to see how the training came to life in the games! [Check Out iSoccer's Article on Passing and Receiving]
First Four Weeks: One Hour of iSoccer Everyday
iSoccer was the skill development program that we implemented at the beginning of the season. We would train for 1.5 hours a day: One hour of iSoccer and 30 minutes of small or full sided scrimmage. Over the course of the season, we did three formal assessments, while the other nights, we just used the iSoccer Space and 20 second work intervals. The difference in my players’ skill level was ‘night’ and ‘day’ by the end of the four weeks. Our better players were sharper with the ball while our more recreational players went from having basically zero control, to being able to control, dribble and pass effectively. It was incredible! [Check Out iSoccer's Article on How to Use iSoccer in Training to Motivate Your Players]
My Players were More Focused with iSoccer
The 20 seconds and simplicity of the 16 assessed skills helped focus my players. For those 20 seconds, each player gave it their all – Maximum effort with maximum attention. As the weeks went by and I was able to correct the technique of each player, every one of my players kept getting better and better. And the number of touches each player was getting on the ball was amazing. 20 second work rate + high number of touches = My player’s skills were becoming faster, more accurate and more consistent. [Check Out iSoccer's Article on 20 Seconds, Skill Isolation and Deliberate Practice]
My Girls were Fired Up about Raising Their Level
A couple of weeks into the season, I began to offer optional Saturday training that focused specifically on the iSoccer assessment. I was extremely happy when I got a little less than half the girls to come out on Saturday morning to do technical training. They wanted to ‘Raise Their Level’ and were willing to wake up on Saturday for optional technical training! To further motivate players, I gave out an iSoccer Outstanding Skills Award to one player who had the highest score and raised her level over the course of the season. [Check Out iSoccer's Article on The 10 iSoccer Levels and The Psychology of Motivation]
Practices were More Structured and Effective with iSoccer
The first day of training I had 21 girls: Some played competitive club soccer while others had never played at all. I asked myself, how am I ever going to create an effective practice with players of very different abilities? I found the answer in iSoccer. By separating the girls in groups of three, working in the iSoccer Space and putting girls of similar skill level together, I was able to effectively teach and motivate each player. By working in the confined grid, the girls were more focused on beating their own scores, than worrying about what the other girls were doing. This was especially helpful in motivating the girls who were playing soccer for the first time. They could develop at their own pace without the pressure of others watching or seeing how far behind they were technically. [Check Out iSoccer's Article on The iSoccer Space]
Brought iSoccer Reports to Regular Training Sessions
I would print out various iSoccer reports and bring them to practice. One of the reports shows the top scores for each girl on the team. If I heard a score that was higher than their highest score, I would publicly recognize them. This added a healthy, yet competitive element to the session because other girls wanted to be recognized. Being able to quickly reference scores and use them to motivate was very helpful!
iSoccer is receiving feedback from across the country that players of all ages and levels are having more fun, working harder, and improving at a faster rate. Why is the combination of time constraints (20 seconds), skill isolation and score-keeping accelerating youth soccer development across the country?
20 Seconds is the Right Balance
20 Seconds is just long enough to tire most players, but not exhaust them. So when you require a player to focus and put forth maximum effort for 20 seconds, you are asking them to maintain their concentration while slowly becoming more fatigued. They are forced to be consistent and focused for the entire time, and that is when skill development goes into over-drive. Executing at top speed, top concentration – all while becoming increasingly fatigued is a fantastic environment for development.
Skill Isolation Is Refreshingly Honest
Soccer is a complex game and it can be very difficult to know when you are improving or if you truly can perform a skill. By isolating a specific skill, there is no guessing, and that can be (surprisingly) refreshing for the player. This ambiguity is now something tangible and players know they can either perform the skill or not. We believe that all skills, no matter how complex they may appear, are built upon very basic fundamentals. When you can execute each of them in isolation – game situations that require combining different skills will be that much easier!
Achieving a New Score is Awesome
Fist pumps and high fives are fun but when, if ever do you see these in technical development? By removing all outside factors, we are able to isolate individual skills, score them and allow for such fun. When you keep score, players are able to measure themselves and actually see their improvement. Players now have better awareness, understanding and ownership when they achieve a higher iSoccer level! And we have said it before, Success breeds Success. A player who knows what it feels like to Raise His Level is excited, motivated, and wants to improve. And that is Awesome!