It is worth running a refresher session with your soccer players every so often, to remind them how to receive the ball, keep it, pass, tackle and shoot.
It is especially important to do this with young players because bad habits can quickly creep in and, if they are not corrected promptly, they will be very hard to eradicate later.
Key coaching points:
The ball should be struck with the inside of the foot as close to the heel as possible, certainly no further forward than the middle of the arch of the foot.
The foot should be made into a firm striking surface by lifting the toes slightly above the heel as the ball is struck.
The non-kicking foot (sometimes called the plant foot) should be alongside the ball as it is struck and pointing towards the intended target.
Young children often don’t know where they should be looking when they pass. Make sure they are looking at the ball at the moment of impact, not the player they are passing to.
The ball should be struck firmly and the kicking leg should follow through towards the target.
And if your players get it right, make sure they don’t stand admiring their perfect pass.
Children often seem to think that their job is done when they pass to a team mate. Make sure they always move to a supporting position after they pass – they should want to get the ball back!
These are some common mistakes and how to correct them:
- If the ball is struck with power but off target – the player has not pointed their non-striking foot at the target.
- If the pass lacks power – the ankle was not locked when striking the ball, the player is hitting the ball with the side of their toes rather than with the arch of their foot or the top of the ball is being struck, forcing it into the ground, instead of the middle.
- If the ball goes in the air – the player has struck the ball below the centre line.
- If your player looks unsteady (or even falls down after passing) check the position of the plant foot and that the follow through is straight.
Don’t let your players develop bad habits. Continually checking how your players’ perform the basic skills and correcting their errors is just as important as teaching the skills in the first place.