In today’s world of football (soccer), we are continually trying to instil game strategies and tactics into our player’s heads. The intensity of the games is so high and physically demanding that they require a high level of fitness, technical skills, psychology, and tactical awareness. Everyone can develop an excellent level of strength, technique and positional awareness, but what does it take to win games at the highest level for every age? How can a player learn soccer skills fast and efficiently? Most importantly, how do we concentrate and execute any skill to win, when we are under stress or pressure in football matches or any sport for that matter?
Somehow, the diverse skills required to play the game are all intertwined, but none more so than the biomechanics first.
Biomechanical alignment, which is the science of the body to produce movements, is vital to getting technical and physical actions right initially so that the execution is precise. The upper body and the lower body must synchronize and coordinate perfectly together. Consequently, it will allow the player to use his/her body efficiently and prevent injuries.
During high-pressure games, we see many mistakes made, and that is quite normal, but also preventable. How do we get our brains to relax and execute without making an error? Most great athletes make it look easy, but their body movements are efficient and working synchronistically perfect for getting the result they inevitably want. Most players can get the same outcome but not at the speed and power required at the top level. It overwhelms players mentally and gives them the belief that they are not quite good enough, or that the opponent was just born with superior talent. The fact is that most player’s brains have not been developed to work at speed with the correct biomechanics, technique and repetitive drills in all the areas of the game and do this using both sides of the body.
My mantra to develop outstanding players, and for them to learn soccer skills fast is “Repetition using the correct technique is the mother of skill”.
Instead of training different exercises randomly, doing something repeatedly for many hours and years sets up neural patterns in the brain, which allow it to work automatically and focus on the tactical part of the game at the same time. Therefore, it gives the player time to think about what he or she must do in certain situations, instead of thinking “there is no way I can do that”. Indeed, this is why people often say that top athletes look relaxed and do things effortlessly. To find solutions, you must do more, and generally, that comes with attaining more skills correctly and applying them for more extended periods under physical and mental duress. The term I use for this training system is “Skill Endurance”, and it’s the winning formula! By doing this, you can perform a skill for more extended periods than your opponent, so that you can wear them down psychologically and mentally, to get them to make more errors. On the other hand, if you repeat an exercise incorrectly, it will be stored in the brain as well. In these cases, I need to “Reverse engineer the player” to remove old patterns and form the correct ones.
As an example of skill Endurance: In tennis, the top players are hitting the ball over 150 km an hour in long, arduous rallies in sweltering conditions.70% of the time the rallies only go for 0-4 shots in total, but when it’s a crucial point, it may go to over 30 shots for a single point, and don’t forget that the ball is going back and forth every 2 seconds, so you have to be concentrated. As I have mentioned many times before,” It’s not only how many goals you score, but also when you score them that makes the most significant difference.”
In this video, first impressions may suggest that you see two people are just juggling a ball, but there is more to it. The concentration levels required to do this are incredibly high. You may ask, is it relative to playing football? Or do you need to juggle well to play football? This exercise develops the mental strength required to play at the highest level from a technical level. It coordinates both sides of the brain simultaneously. It is critical for developing the first touch, and for the player to acquire knowledge on the feel and contact of the ball. If you believe that it’s a circus act, then try this exercise with a teammate to see how difficult it is, not the act of juggling, but to do it for 585 touches without dropping the ball. Therefore, you can appreciate the level of skill endurance that is needed.
A precise touch can result in:
- The necessary pass
- Controlling the ball
- Give you more time on the ball
- Unbalance a defence
- Deceive a goalkeeper
- Stop someone from scoring or scoring a goal yourself
By the way, what’s your level of Skill Endurance?