Football is a sport that requires lots of multi-limb co-ordinations each second of every play. The top players at any level are those that can perform these movements with speed, precision and control. Technical ability and decision making coupled with speed of effective skill execution, is the clearest differentiator between top level players and average players at every level of football. Our concern is that in modern development programmes the emphasis is on promoting the game as the teacher whilst ignoring the importance of ball mastery, skill development and 1v1 domination. Opposed practices are essential ingredient in any development programme as it is the most effective way in educating and developing our young footballers. However, we believe that without unopposed isolated practice we cannot produce creative and technical players. Learning from other Sports, Unopposed technical practice is key ingredient of their development programme. Basketball, another team invasion game, players at the top level will spend endless hours practicing their shooting unopposed. This of course goes hand in hand with opposed practices, the point is one does not work without the other.
At Bedhead, we believe there is third way, one in which both approaches are activated by all group sessions should include game like opposed practices, it is imperative and especially important at the foundation phase that we develop and test individual’s technique with unopposed and passive pressure exercise. As a Club, our coaches, have a responsibility to support the players in fulfilling their potential. If we really want to produce technical, intelligent and creative players they must be comfortable in possession and be two footed and this can only be achievable by breakdown sessions into technical and tactical. The challenge for any club especially at grass roots level is maximising the little time you get with the players. Clubs at grass roots level where if you are lucky you get to train twice a week, more realistically once a week. What should be the priorities as a coach given this limited amount of time.
Should the players spend most of the session in a game like practice?
The answer is of course yes, as it keeps the players engaged in moderate to vigorous physical exercise. There should always however be elements of individual technical work in the session.
However, are the players getting enough technical practice and repetition per session to be technically efficient and perform technical skills under pressure during a competitive game?
The answer is no; as developing technique starts with a deliberate focus on practice and repetition. Footwork, body shape, control, stance, striking etc. — these are not abilities that can be dissected and thought about mid-game. These by-position techniques must be fundamentally ingrained into the player. Technique is a habit and good habits are developed with specific practices and continuous repetition as the brain constantly strives for more efficiency, quickly transforming as many task and behaviours as possible into habits.
Therefore, at Bedhead we would like to introduce a technical programme.
The emphasises will be on technical development, learning to master and then use technique efficiency; particularly turns and 1v1 skills, much of this is achieved with technical unopposed or with passive pressure practice and repetition. This comes hand in hand with wave practices which will focus on decision making and skills execution under pressure.
Below is a brief description of the technical programme: