In an earlier blog post entitled, 15 Extra Minutes, I talked about the importance of doing a little extra training before and after practice. For the serious soccer player, there is an opportunity to improve even more.
- Establishing proper morning routines is an invaluable life lesson for children.
- 15 minutes a morning equates to over 40 hours of seamless training per school year.
- Using idle time wisely is a life lesson that applies to anything you want to excel at.
I grew up on a farm in a small town called Clover South Carolina. Despite working a full-time job, my dad raised over 50 head of black Angus cows, ran a lawn care business and grew almost every vegetable known in North America. It wasn't a glamorous lifestyle, but it put food on the table and sent my brothers and me to college.
If you grew up on a farm too, I know that you are no stranger to hard work. As kids, there was never a morning where something didn't need to be planted, picked, gathered, fed, built, chopped, moved or fixed. Even my friends were afraid to come over out of fear of being trapped into forced labor by my dad!
For better or worst, life is a lot different for children these days. My children think that food comes from a magical Walmart app on my phone. Therefore, I am choosing to use educational excellence and sport as a means to instill some those values that my parents instilled in me.
Idle Hands are the Devils Workshop - While waiting at the bus stop with my son, I noticed that all the children were sitting around doing nothing. If you have ever met a member of the Crawford/Johnson family; then you know that we are not big fans of nothing.
I thought it would be a great idea, for my son to spend this time reading a book to me. In addition to enjoying the family time, I did a simple calculation and determined that 15 minutes of extra reading equated to over 40 hours during a typical school year. As he became more serious about soccer, we began alternating between reading and a doing a juggling training session.
I have seen tremendous growth in a short period of time. He is reading two grades above grade level and can juggle up to 50 times using both feet. His improved juggling skills leave time to also incorporate ball control and agility training into the routine. Believe me, you can get a lot done in 15 to 20 minutes.
IMPORTANT LIFE LESSON
Does he always want to do a morning session? Of course not; just like I didn't want to cover corn seeds at 6am before the frost hit. Yes, we take days off, but I am teaching him that being great at something requires great sacrifice.
SAMPLE JUGGLING SESSION
Below is a sample session that I do with my son. Juggle Catching is a great way for young players to build the strength and coordination needed to master juggling. This video demonstrates the juggling catch.
- Juggle Catch with Same Foot Once (20 reps each foot)
- Kick the ball once and catch.
- Juggle Catch Both Feet (5 reps starting with right and 5 reps starting with left)
- Kick once with right and then left then catch.
- Juggle Catch Same Foot Twice (10 reps each foot)
- Kick twice with same foot then catch.
- Single Foot Juggle (25 cumulative on each foot juggles adding on every attempt)
- Juggle with right foot only and then juggle with left only.
- 100 alternating foot juggling (100 cumulative juggles)
- Alternating between left and right foot. Do not use same foot repeatedly.
- Advanced Alternative 100 Alternating Foot Juggling (Optional)
- Start with 5 attempts cumulative. If they don't get to 100, begin again, at zero with 10 attempts. Repeat by adding 5 attempts until they can get to 100.
- For example, with 10 attempts the player needs to average 10 successive juggles.
SAMPLE DRIBBLE SESSION
No need for a soccer field or even a back yard. This session can be done in the home or on a small patch of grass. The best part is that you just hit play and allow the player to follow along.