Why training matters.
Every soccer player practices..... but true athletes train. And that difference is paramount! Every week on fields across the nation, hundreds of thousands of players put on their shin guards and cleats to go to weekly practice with their teams. They dribble through cones, learn new moves and get the chance to scrimmage at the end to mimic game application. As players get older, their teams may become more skilled, have coaches with years of coaching experience and play against better competition..... but how many of those players have truly trained on their individual technique?
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRAINING AND TEAM PRACTICE?
Team practice is an integral part of developing as a player. With their club, players learn general knowledge of the game; learning foundational movements, foot skills, passing & receiving with teammates, small sided application, team formations and more. Those ARE all crucial to improving as a player; especially in a sport that requires team oriented knowledge. So why is training still so important when players can "just go to practice"?
The problem is the lack of true individual development. While team practice can help players learn general aspects of training, most players do not gain the individual development needed to truly improve. Here's why:
- Comfort Zones - Many players struggle at practice to step outside their comfort zones; usually due to fear of failure (peer or coach related).
- Coach Focus - Coaches focusing on team oriented development with 16-24 athletes cannot give each individual the instruction and help they need without losing focus on others or the team.
- Limited Practice Time - Most teams only practice 2-3 times a week or approximately 4.5 hours. If a teacher asked your child to become proficient in calculus with only 4.5 hours spent a week, that would be unrealistic. Soccer is the same. If you want to become proficient, you must do the homework to pass the test.
This is where technical training becomes critical to improvement! Athletes are able to break down each of their individual strengths and weaknesses in order to improve. Training helps athletes to develop mental focus & determination, improving small but important technical details, and, most importantly, is a venue to work on creativity. Many players lack creativity due to fear of failure or feeling like they have to accomplish "exactly" what their coaches tell them. Soccer doesn't do well with "by the book" players. It is not forgiving to players unable to think outside the box and be creative when needed. Adjust!
"90% of soccer is technical adherence. The other 10%? You have to critically think on your feet; using instinct and creativity!"
Great mentors will push your athlete to step outside of what they think is possible. Additionally, great mentors will push your individual development to reflect the ideas taught in team practice; allowing for a seamless merging of development at practice and in games.
WHY IS THIS A BIG DEAL?
To become a completely developed athlete, you must focus on every aspect of your skill set; both individually and as a teammate. That includes:
- Individual technique
- Individual & team tactics
- Physical conditioning
- Mental awareness
- Decision making and critical thinking
- Knowledge and understanding of the game (formations, team tactics, etc.)
If players focus on the team aspect of development, they will not develop fully as an individual. On the other hand, if players only individually train, they will not be able to adjust to their team required demands of the game. Team practice and individual training go hand in hand. Think of it this way:
Individual Training + Team Practice = Complete Athlete
If one part of the development equation gets out of balance, the end results does not happen. In order to become the best player you can be, you must spend time both with your team and as an individual.
SO WHAT IS PROPER TRAINING?
Simply put, training is working on aspects that directly affect your sport. You must make sure that the exercises and drills you work on reflect what soccer demands from athletes. There are many personal trainers that utilize drills from their playing days or that are "flashy" in their training sessions; only to have players not able to execute to translate to their gameplay. The problem is soccer is constantly evolving and requires proper training to reflect what is needed; not just what "looks cool". Not all soccer training is created equal.
At Own Touch, our training approach is 100% built on developing players completely so they can take their lessons directly to the field. We make sure our athletes not only know how techniques work but more importantly understand how and why to apply them. Whether mentally, physically or technically, players must fully develop in order to succeed. Players are only as strong as their weaknesses but if you can push your development to be constantly improving, you may be surprised how proficient you can become! With technical proficiency comes a deeper understanding and love for the game as a whole. We strive to not only build technically sound soccer players who make an impact at their clubs, but develop a strong cultural foundation that fundamentally changes youth soccer for the future.