Depending on your schedule and the season, there will be times when the days are short. When you do have the extra time, the best way to get more ball touches is training at home. Everyone has to use different spaces, but if you can dribble and pass the ball in or outside of your house it will help big time. Note: This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
How to keep up your ball-touch in Fall/Winter
Even though our athletes do train year-round, parents often ask how to keep up in the winter time with fitness & ball touch. Kids simply have less hours to be active in the winter and more time before skills, practices & games is spent in warm-up. This year why not try these 3 tips for getting more ball touches with shorter days?
Soccer training at home
Training Tip #1: Home Training. In the Summer, kids have so much time to play soccer on their own or with their buddies. I often times see boys just playing pick-up games at the park where I train. The sun goes down at close to 9 p.m. so kids are out there playing from 7:30 p.m. until dark on most days.
With shorter days, especially from October – February when it gets dark around 6 or 6:30 p.m. (& most places don’t have lights), means no pick up games in the Winter at the neighborhood parks.Most technical training can be done in a small space. So whether it’s in the garage, living room, hallway (if mom says yes), yard or driveway, the kids need a place to practice alone at home. The kids with the best skills are usually the ones who practice on their own doing the right things, not just kicking a ball in a net every 30 seconds. There are too many ways to get more touches then that. You have to learn to manage your time.
More ball touches at home, park or school
Instead of kicking the ball into the net & having to go pick it out (or even worse shag it from missing) use a wall. The wall can be a fence, the side of a brick house, school building, a rebounder, fireplace, couch. All depending on parents rules of course. I can tell you the kids that are allowed to play inside the house have a big advantage. Growing up as a kid, we had a nice couch but I used the back of it for wall passing:-)].
A friend of mine set his back yard up putting wood to the inside of his fence which made the ball bounce back solid & fast. I want to say it was plywood nailed to the bottom of the fence about 3 or 4 foot high. Hey – did it look great? No it didn’t, but our kids are only this age for so long.
Kids need something they love to do at HOME. Give them ideas! Also, GFT has a YouTube channel or you can search from over 250 blog articles. You’ll notice that videos in my blog are not public on the YouTube channel. The reason is because the blog gives you more info and is easier to find. Content get lost on the social media platforms, which is why I post more videos on the blog. Then if you are the type who doesn’t have a ton of time, but wants to work on the right stuff get my online ball control courses.
Soccer skills challenge using technology
Training Tip #2: Technology (Skills Challenge). With phones today everyone can film their skills & challenge buddies to see who can do each others’ skills.
Take advantage of the tools available. You do see people taking advantage with the YouTube viral hits like the high school girl who wanted to get noticed more by the college softball coaches. She made a tricky video of herself doing some crazy cool trick with a baseball, bat & a tee.
I think we are seeing more of the American football players do this stuff with their jumping or catching ability. I’m not saying I want my students to be spending lots of time doing some crazy tricks that they never perform in a game. I’m just saying you can think of ways to get more touches. It’s good to use your imagination in creating new drills or skills. This imagination will help you become more imaginative in the game as well.
Speaking of viral hits, check me out on YouTuber Fangs, (over 1 million YT followers). In this viral video, I help Fangs with some dribbling and shooting tips where we “crack the crossbar“.
Show up early to soccer practice
Training Tip #3: Show up early to practice. Show up 20 minutes earlier than usual & set up a fun game of soccer tennis with a buddy or with mom or dad passing or doing volley drills. At the same time, don’t think that just getting more ball touches always helps. You also have to get proper ball touches.
After experiencing 15 countries playing pro soccer, I found 2 common things teams did before practice. A light session of rondos (monkey in the middle) or juggle 1 ball between the group. The rules of ‘monkey in the middle’ were all a little different. In some places they would play & be serious. Some groups of teammates would try to mess the other guy up by playing a hard ball. Wherever you play, I recommend you adapt to their way even if it’s different.
How the pros get more ball touches
Before practice starts teams have a culture to do some kind of fun exercise to get touches. When I played in Singapore with Geylang United they would laugh all the time & be silly (which I didn’t like) but once the coach called us in the players got serious.
With Vancouver Whitecaps or F.C. Dallas it was more an attitude of “let’s play good passes” & if you mess up you mess up but play nice passes, do some fancy ‘no looks’ or ‘flicks’ to show. Try to embarrass the player in the middle, but at the same time things are more serious. Also, some would play close together with 1 defender & some would spread out the grid & use 2 or 3 defenders.
The bottom line is that kids need to stay sharp with their technique. Shorter days make things more difficult, but with some creativity you can get a lot done. Parental support also plays a huge role. Whether it be providing kids with resources or allowing kids to play at home. Kids who train at home usually come out ahead.