Part 8 - Putting It All Together

Part 8 - Putting It All Together

This is the eighth and final installment of my series; The Playbook - My Strategy (So Far) for Raising an Elite Soccer Player. In this post, I illustrate a sample training session that my son does before school.  In a previous post entitled Before School - How to Turn 15 Minutes Into 40 Hours of Training, I explained the benefits of establishing morning routines that include a little academics and a little training.

More specifically, my son does a morning soccer training session similar to the one featured below (during the school year) on Mondays and Wednesdays.  He does 25 minutes of school work on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the school year.  Fortunately, school, which is five minutes away, doesn't begin until 9:15 am - so that gives plenty of time for me to hit the gym from 6:30 -7:30 before waiting up the boys to get started. We take the summers off from any morning work.

In a previous post entitled Part 4 Training Methodology I explained that I divide our technical sessions into three primary groups following a 90/10 rule. The groups are:

  • Juggling/aerial
  • Skills of the Week
  • Follow-along Videos and Phone Apps
Juggling/aerial Warm-Up - I normally begin and end each session with a juggling warm-up and cool down.  I vary the length of time and difficulty depending on the situation.  Check out my post entitled Part 5 Juggling Training Methodology to learn more.

Below is a video example of the juggling warm-up. The numbers are the result of a Corrective Constraint that I incorporated into the session. Check out my post entitled Preserving a Positive Parent-Trainer Relationship to learn more about Corrective Constraints.

Skills of the Week - Next, we jump into the Skills of the Week portion. The Skills of the Week make-up the ten percent of teaching and learning while the focus for the other 90% is mastery through repetition and routine. Check out my post entitled Part 6 - "Skills of the Week" Training Methodology to learn more.  During this particular session, my son does two Skills of the Weeks:

  1. Left-foot V Triangle using the Dribble-up Smart Soccer Ball Check out my post entitled Recommended Videos and Phone Apps to Learn More 
  2. Right-foot only cone weave. Notice that he started with a review of the previous week's Skill of Week which was Left-foot Only Cone Weave.

Special author's note - My son has become very spoiled with Daddy's "No talking rule". Afterward, he told me that I was talking too much during the Dribble-up portion.  I like that sort of feedback.

Soccer Videos - In soccer, repetition is the key to mastering difficult techniques. As a parent, I am mindful that giving too many verbal instructions will frustrate my son. Implementing soccer videos that he can follow provide instruction, a solid training routine and almost eliminates the need for my feedback. I strongly prefer plug and play videos and apps because videos provide excellent demonstrations and instruction that he can follow along with.  Moreover, my son knows exactly how long the session will last. It's sort of like he is taking a Ball Mastery Soccer Aerobics Class. During this particular session, he does the following video.

Even my younger son will join his older brother sometimes - albeit he is definitely ready to go.

Juggling Cool Down - We end the session with juggling.

The total time for the session was 22 minutes, which is a significant achievement considering the amount of content we were able to pack in.  The longest sessions are 1.5 hours with the average being between 30 and 40 minutes.

  • Juggling/aerial
    • Warm-up 8 minutes
    • Cool Down (1 minute)
  • Skills of the Week
    • Dribble-up (3 minutes)
    • Cone Weave (1 minute)
  • Follow-along Videos and Phone Apps
    • Fast Feet Video (9 minutes)

Special author's note - If you child did only ONE of these areas consistently, their technical skills would improve significantly.

Thank you - Thank you for reading this series. I really hope that it was informative for engaged soccer parent-trainers who want to help their children excel in competitive soccer.

My Inspiration - I was inspired to write this series because I have seen all too often instances where parents (who mean well) drive their children crazy and turn them away from a game they once loved. At the same time, I found that the I Love to Watch You Play or Great Players are Born crowd offer little practical advice on helping prepare your child for competitive sports. This series was dedicated to nurturing both the mental and physical side of your child by providing a framework which allows the parent to step back empowering the child to own their own training over time.

What about letting kids just be kids? There are many exceptions, but middle-class American kids spend the overwhelming majority of their time being kids. In fact, through sport, I am just trying to reclaim a small trace of the experiences that molded honest-hardworking people of generations past. And let's not forget; they are playing a game they love. 

In conclusion, please remember that my best advice is to limit the verbal commands (and that includes sideline coaching), incorporate mental and physical breaks, start slowly and never forget free-play.

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