For all sports players young and old the reliance on a proficient established technical skill set is an essential part of being able to play the game. From a very young age children that play sports are always learning more and more technical ability as they grow up and familiarize themselves with having a ball at their feet. There is a whole variety of basic technical skills that players need to be proficient in, but giving children the best opportunity to learn these skills as early as possible will give them the best possible headstart to becoming a sports player that is comfortable and confident every single time they take to the pitch. The teaching of technique to players takes place from the first moment they come into contact with the ball and never ever stops – the greatest players are always honing different parts of their technique, making sure that the teaching of the basics for young children is an absolute must. Here’s how we can set these things in motion:

For children of a very young age that are still developing their fine motor skills, their attention spans, their ideas in terms of themselves, will all manifest themselves in the ways in which they play and the way in which they try to access the game. For children of a young age teaching technique is all about varied fun exercises that are designed to give the children as much exposure to the ball as possible whilst also cementing their love for the game. Having children initially discover the game and their ability from there is the first step on the ladder to sports greatness. Plenty of passing, controlling, shooting and running with the ball need to fill these sessions and be accompanied with much encouragement and praise so that if they find certain aspects difficult (as they inevitably will) they do need feel despondent. This stage of discovery will lead the way to children being ready to start honing the basic skills as they progress.

Boys at soccer training, exercising free kick, Munich, Bavaria, Germany

What do we mean by the basic skills? Effectively, it is the skills that children will be using most of the time that they are on the pitch and they provide the foundation to his or her technique. The set technical skills include being able to control the ball which can be practiced easily and very effectively by just juggling the ball and passing between teammates. Next, we must look at running with the ball. Before a player can go on the sort of blistering run that Ronaldo and Messi are capable of players must familiarize themselves with the movement of the ball and their own comfort with it at their feet by swerving in and out of different obstacles as well as opponents. Next we must be teaching kids the correct ways to pass and keep possession of the ball as well as sharing between teammates. Passing can be practiced in any number of scenarios, but advanced children should be doing this with multiple players all advancing forward together. Finally, children need to learn shooting and the ability to select the right type of shot for each goal-scoring opportunity and how this is best achieved.

The teaching of body shape and how to manipulate the football according to how one lines up their body will no doubt play a big part in showing children how best to develop a successful style in regards to their technique. The coach will need to lead by example when doing this and explain specifically how one’s balance and coordination can affect a player’s  technique. These explanations are obviously different for slightly older children but younger ones can start by seeing perfect example from the coach with a little over extenuated in order to demonstrate. Coaches can also show clips of players doing certain things as visuals are a good way of stimulating and varying a child’s learning, whilst instilling the right movement styles.

All of these technical aspects to a child’s developing  technique are dependent on one thing – repetition. The repetition of skills will cement them into a child’s brain so that eventually they simply come as second nature. Coaches must be aware of children having less of a part than others and make sure that the exercises are inclusive of every player and most of all be fun and enjoyable as well as increase the challenges each time. This way the children will be able to notice their improvement as well as enjoy their learning. Encourage children to play with a sports ball outside of training as well, so that their learning is not simply restricted to the playing field. Every moment with that  ball is a learning opportunity!!

Good luck out there!!