Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Why mastery of the ball works

David ClarkeWhat’s the point in coaching skills such as the ‘hook turn’? You know the one, where a player stops suddenly and hooks the ball behind the standing leg.
“I hate watching step-overs so why should I coach my players to do them?” – this was the question one of my fellow coaches asked me last week when I explained that I was doing a ‘skills coaching’ series with my team.
The principle is that you show them a skill, make sure they can do it, then get them to perform it again at the start of the following week’s session. You tell them to practise at home and then see who has progressed most. It works well, and is a fun way to start sessions, ensuring that players are concentrating on the art of the game. But why coach them what some coaches see as tricks?
Well, speaking personally, I do it because I have a great belief that individual skills advance both my players and the team as a whole. The hook turn is simple to learn and my younger teams (Under-9s and Under-10s) love it. I get the boys to use the outside of the foot to turn 180 degrees. I like this turn because it coaches players to use a different part of their foot, and overall the move helps with their co-ordination.
It isn’t just about the actual skill itself. If players learn how to control the ball with different parts of their foot, it gives them the confidence to use those same areas to do things such as flicking the ball or performing half-turns away from defenders. Getting my players to continually vary the point of contact – whilst using both feet – is an ideal way to develop their ball skills. Individual moves like the hook turn are a great peg to hang these skills on, and I don’t get blinkered by the actual turn itself, because as long as they are using their foot and the ball differently, they are learning.
Which takes me back nicely to the step-over… it’s a much maligned move because of the amazing number of step-overs some players do. The simple move is a brilliant way for young players to dummy their opponent, faking to go one way before moving the other. It doesn’t look great to see young players doing three or four at the same time because that takes away from the simple skill itself.
I also believe the co-ordination involved helps players understand about body position and balance, so don’t be afraid to try something out of the ordinary, because sometimes it isn’t the direct benefit of the move that will prove the most profitable for your players.

Dribble and step over and shoot soccer coaching drill


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