Oldham Soccer Club

Importance of Technique

January 2014

The Importance of Technique in Soccer

 

The winter and summer months, or ‘off-season’, are the most important months for any young soccer player, and are without doubt my most enjoyable from a coaching perspective. It is where we can really focus on individual technique and ball-work. It is common knowledge throughout the US Coaching profession that US soccer players need to become better technically, from the US Men’s National team right the way through to youth soccer.

It is common knowledge throughout the US Coaching profession that US soccer players need to become better technically

Soccer is a sport that requires lots of multi-limb co-ordinations. The top level players are those that can perform these movements with speed and control. That technical ability, coupled with tactical awareness, is the clearest differentiator between those top level players and average players.

Technical ability, coupled with tactical awareness, is the clearest differentiator between those top level players and average players

You often hear us coaches talk about the importance of technique. So how do you become a more technically gifted soccer player? Well, kind of like anything in life, through deliberate/focused practice and repetition. The ability to handle the ball is a habit that the body has learned and trained to do from childhood. If you think about it, during a game a player doesn’t have time to think about proper technique when turning away from an opponent, he/she simply does what the body has been taught and programmed to do, from practice. The repetition of the skill/technique during practice will eventually lead to being able to perform it more efficiently and subconsciously.

The repetition of the skill/technique during practice will eventually lead to being able to perform it more efficiently and subconsciously

It is important to understand why technical training is so important with the younger age groups. It is claimed that 90% of technical ability is acquired before the adolescent period. In the younger age groups (U6-U12) it is FUN and TECHNIQUE that are the two high priorities. The other aspects of the game can come later. There are many techniques to master in soccer; striking the ball, receiving the ball with either foot, passing the ball with different parts of the foot, turning out of pressure, dribbling the ball at speed, controlling the ball from the air to name just a few. I recently borrowed a book from University of Louisville Men’s Soccer Assistant Coach, Mario Sanchez, written by former Italian international Gianluca Vialli. In the book he quotes Sir Alex Ferguson…

 

“To some degree we can list the attributes of a successful footballer; technical, tactical, athletic and temperamental. The trick is to identify a child’s potential and help him reach it. Clubs are trying to create foundation through basic technical skills and practice. You have to have that first. It’s like if someone gives you a bag of tools and there are only a few tools in it. Even if you are a trained electrician or plumber, but you only have one hammer and a few screws in your tool bag, there isn’t much you can do. What we at Manchester United believe in is getting kids who have the full bag of tools before they come to us at sixteen. Then it’s up to the coaches to put the footballer (soccer) part into it, the tactics and all that.”

What we at Manchester United believe in is getting kids who have the full bag of tools before they come to us at sixteen

As a club we have evolved. I remember 3-4 years ago when I first got involved with OSC, the winter months were seen as a period where we send the players away for 3 months and hope that they return for the Spring season as good, or more realistically, nearly as good as they were when we finished in the Fall. Nowadayswe see these months as a major part of the soccer year. In the winter alone an OSC Thoroughbreds player has the opportunity to train for up to 46 hours with us, through various programs (Winter Indoor Training, Futsal, Striker School, Midfield Maestro, Defending Clinic). This can only help in our quest to produce top quality, technical soccer players.

Simon Bird
Director of Coaching, Oldham Soccer Club
thoroughbredsdoc@yahoo.com