Good close control of the football is very important.
Over the years famous players admitted they were self taught – street footballers seem to be of another generation now but kicking a tennis ball around in the street was often the only route open to would be footballers.
Whatever its limitations, some of Britain’s all time greats probably came up through that route – Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney and Wilf Mannion readily spring to mind and their total control of the ball suggested that street practice never did them any harm.
Recreating the situation they grew up in is now out of the question, but there are practices designed to develop ball control.
In practice (1) a team of players x are all given a ball each, and at a given signal they dribble the ball (using both feet) in and out of the other players all inside an area of 10 metres x 12 metres.
The important thing is that each player must avoid all the others, and must ensure that their football doesn’t come into contact with any player or any other football.
To progress, the area is slightly increased to a 12 metres square – again with all 11 players with a ball each.
Again they have to avoid contact with the other 10.
To speed up the practice and to work on quicker control the coach should now instruct each player they have 45 seconds to run the ball to each line (marked A, B, C and D) stop it dead on the line before moving to the next line. By adding a time limit it ensures each player has to move quickly to each of the 4 lines and in so doing make it more difficult to exert top quality control. Time limit can vary with the technical ability and the age of the players involved.
To progress, 4 of the players now go on to the outside edge of the square leaving 7 in the centre each with a ball.
The 4 on the edge (do not have a ball to start). The X’s in the centre run round keeping close control of their ball until at the given signal they have 30 seconds to pass, and get a return pass from each of the 4 outside players (X1 – X4).
Good passing is essential, and players will have to constantly look up to see which of the 4 outside men is available, at the same time avoiding the rest of the players in the centre.
Now return to each of the 11 in the square with a ball.
The idea now is for each player to try and keep control of his ball, while at the same time attempting to kick one of the other 10 footballs outside the square.
As each players ball goes out of the square so he is illuminated from the practice until there is only 1 player left in possession of a ball within the square, he is the winner. This develops competition and ensures players are taught to look around them while controlling the ball