In very broad terms the art of playing soccer could be boiled down to:
- Technical skills, such as passing, dribbling, shooting etc.
- Physical conditioning, involving exercises for speed, endurance, injury prevention etc.
- Soccer vision training, like understanding what’s going on and developing “an eye for the game”.
Especially in youth soccer the main focus should naturally be on the first mentioned aspect. The world famous Coerver coaching method depicts this foundational aspect of soccer training as a pyramid.
Starting from the bottom of the pyramid they include:
- Ball mastery
- Receiving and passing
- Moves (one on one)
- Group attack
This is a very useful approach, where you go from practicing skills on an individual level to gradually involving more and more players. It is also makes for a very good infographic, as it clearly demonstrates how ball control skills are the foundation of everything. And it is a natural way to simultaneously work on both the second and third aspect of soccer playing at the same time.
However, a soccer training framework can be broken down into even smaller subcomponents.
If you take just one small part of the Coerver coaching pyramid from above, passing for example, it will involve many smaller skills that can be taught and practiced.
“Tom, you pass the ball to Ian over there”, is hardly useful or inspiring instructions for young players who are still learning their way around the pitch.
Are you going to make a simple pass along the ground with the inside of your foot? A slightly lobbed pass across the pitch? A cross into the box from the flank position?
Each type of pass will involve approaching the ball and striking it in a very specific manner. And any soccer player will learn how to do that a lot faster if they receive an actual and proper lesson on how to do it – rather than being expected to pick it up eventually, by doing more complex drills involving passing.
Even the most basic pass with the inside of the foot can be broken down into properly learning where you place your supporting leg, exactly which part of your foot hits where on the ball, following through with your kicking leg etc.
This may sound ridiculously easy to experienced soccer players. But for beginners (sometimes even if they are adults!) it is far from obvious. Many new soccer players more or less run into the ball, as if that would make it go where they wanted.
And here’s the kicker: even fairly advanced players can have aspects of the game where they have never really advanced very far beyond the beginner’s level. For one player it may be headers, for another shooting with their weaker foot.
Any other part of soccer training can be broken down into smaller elements in a similar fashion. For example, your soccer fitness training regimen could be broken down into (in no particular order): injury prevention, coordination, speed and power, soccer specific training, nutrition and wellness and so on.
In my experience thinking about soccer training and soccer drills in the above manner isn’t only of academic value.
Quite the opposite.
A clear road map of what you are doing and where you are going can be immensely useful both for you, both as a player as well as a coach.