Before you think that getting thousands of touches, make sure you really understand how to improve ball mastery the right way. Social media and YouTubers will make it look like getting 1,000 or 10,000 touches is the best thing, but it’s not! Getting touches is good, but be careful what you think is good or not. Think about if you are working on first touch out of the air… You won’t get many touches, but you will improve in an important element of the game. Some of the most basic things are the best, so don’t think that the cool fancy stuff is best. Below you’ll read how in the Netherland youth players work on the basics at a very high intense speed. This is important. The attitude in how you train and what you work on is the key.
Spending time on your own with the ball
The article below by Jon Townsend is something that every parent and child involved in soccer should read. The key to improving as a soccer player is constantly touching the ball, even if it’s the most simple drills at home or on the pitch. Same with a pro basketball player spending 30 minutes a day working on free throws. A 7 year old can make a free throw, so why does a million dollar athlete spend hours working on the most simple skill? Because these are the things they will do in competition the most, that’s why.
Is it possible for young players to take 10,000 touches a day to improve ball mastery? I remember 5 years ago I was curious to see how many touches I could get my players. In a 1on1 or group of 2 I was able to get players 1,000 touches in 1 hour and then in 40 mins and then 20 mins. You can do a bunch of stationary skills or you can simply have players just dribble down the field and back, while taking touches every step. More important that just getting a lot of touches is your attitude in how you do it and also what you do. Sometimes the most simple things are best. Jon Townsend analyzes the Dutch theory that could develop technical ability at all levels.
Age & mechanics are important components
At GFT our classes are mostly 60 minutes, which makes it impossible to get 10,000 touches in the session, especially when we are working with ages 11 and under. At this age we need to make sure they are getting the mechanics right not just go full speed at every drill. Also if you are working on shooting and finishing you are going to get way less touches. This is why I don’t want you to think you have to get thousands of touches to improve.
Team practice compared to solo training
In a team practice most players probably get 500 touches in the 90 minutes but if the coach doesn’t focus on skills that focus on touches, than those players might only get 100-200 touches. A team or group that goes to practice and works on passing drills and then scrimmage every week will not get many touches due to having to share the ball with 1 or more players. There is so much to work on and so this is why I am always motivating players to practice at home.
I’m not saying this is bad by any means because passing is one of the most vital skills a player needs & scrimmages are most fun, but if the coach is not working on footskills then players are not improving that element of their game. So at Global Futbol Training we maximize the touches at the beginning of practice to knock out all the touches early, which also warms the muscles up, & then we can focus on passing, shooting & game like drills.
How many touches should a soccer player get in practice
Depending on what you are working. If you are wanting to do all dribbling then you can get 1,000 touches in the first 20 minutes. This is not easy if you’re doing good stuff (not just simple drills).
If you are working on ball striking or finishing you are not going to get near as many touches. Does this mean it’s not as good? Of course not! When it comes to getting touches, you want to mix it up from doing things slow and smooth and then working on the speed of it.
Go full speed at the simple things
That’s why if you read the article from Jon Townsend you will see that those Dutch players go full speed on even the most simple drills and they don’t get bored because their mentality is right and they know this is what it takes to get to the next level of their game.We try to get them 1,000 touches in the first 20 minutes. - Jeremie PietteClick To Tweet
Pro players try to do the simple things perfect
I can promise you that the Pro Players in the MLS and Leagues around the world focus on the most simple things that they do most in a game. I remember my first year as a pro I was training with the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting KC) before I got drafted by Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas). A big name player – Roy Lassiter, who was the All Time Leading Goal Scorer in MLS History at the time & who is currently ranked 9th All Time, was training on his own before practice started.
He was doing some of the most simple things, but things he does all the time in a game situation. He was a left footed player so he had a pile of balls about 30 yards out on the right side and would dribble towards the goal, cut it with the outside of his left around the 18 and slot a left footed shot low into the back post.
If you Google his goals scored you will see that most of his goals we like this. I also remember when I was went to Santiago, Chile with FC Dallas and watching Eddie Johnson (#8 All Time US National Team Goal Scorer) working on a certain finishing drill with one of the coaches at the end of our practice… I remember thinking, “Wow! I never thought I would see a Pro working on such simple things” but at the same time it made total sense!
Teaching youth soccer players pro drills
To this day I train my students the same way;) Well there is no way that a player can score lots of goals in a team setting compared to private individual lessons so if you need work on finishing you need to get with a trainer, friend or parent and work on the right things. If you can find a brick wall or any hard wall you can do this. I used to train across the street from my moms house at a school which had 2 walls facing different ways. So this was perfect to be able to trap [control] the ball and then pass it to the other wall. The two walls makes it like you have 2 people working with you.
Training like Eddie & Roy
Do you want to know what drills are the Right way like Eddie Johnson and Roy Lassiter? In our Online Courses you can see what drills are best to work on with a trainer, friend or parent. The reason I recommend my Online Course is because my trainee’s play for some of the best club teams in America and they are not taught what I teach. Now if my training wasn’t good or was the same as what their team coaches do, I would go out of business. PLUS the course is taught by someone who has been both a player at the pro level & a trainer who has produced professionals – me! 🙂
This is why we challenge our students to work with the ball at home on things like juggling and dribbling because for these skills you don’t need a coach – all you need is your ball.
A soccer training secret
Want a Striking/Shooting Secret? Don’t just go take your ball to a field and shoot on goal! Take it to a wall so it comes back to you and you can get 10 shots in the time you spend getting 1 shot on goal and then having to go retrieve it from the net or behind the goal if you missed. Motivate your kids to work with the ball at home as much as they can. Some days it might only be 10 minutes which can equal 500 touches, but some days they will spend hours with the ball and at the end of the day, week and year they are getting thousands of touches to improve their skills and confidence on the ball.
Players lose the ball because of skill not speed
If you watch a soccer game at any level 90% of the time they lose the ball because their touch is not good enough, or they get nervous and can’t deal with the pressure. Very seldom is it because they were not fast enough or strong enough. Soccer is not something that just comes natural, at least for 99.9%. All the best players are always working on their touch on the ball on their own, with a friend or trainer.
Sad news is many people think to get serious in soccer you have to get strong. Last year I had a parent tell me, “O my 11 year old son knows that to improve, he needs to work hard, so he is doing crossfit.” There is no reason an 11 year old needs to be doing crossfit. Next time you watch a game, notice how and why players lose the ball. I bet that 90% of the time it’s because they couldn’t get a good pass off.
Getting lots of touches on the ball
To get thousands of touches you need to work on stationary and moving footskills/dribbling drills. Now don’t think just because you get thousands of touches that is good enough… They need to be quality skill drills, so don’t just get hundreds of Foundations, Bells & Tick Tocks because that is the most simple drill. Yes, it’s good to get maybe 100 but then you need to do something different and more advanced. Use your imagination or buy our Online Ball Control Courses to get tons of ideas and drills.
PS: And hey – if you need to work on passing and shooting you won’t get as many touches, but that’s okay because we need to improve every element of our game, not just footskills.