Ball or No Ball-THAT is the Question

This thought provoking post about whether or not you always need to have a ball included in every aspect of training is from our friends at Soccer Fit. The folks at Soccer Fit are on the cutting edge of the latest soccer conditioning science so their perspective is worth listening to.

Today’s post is by SoccerFIT partner Tristan Tillette. Tillette serves as Director of Performance at Elite Sports in Birmingham, AL and On-Line Training Director of

It’s an exciting time for SoccerFIT – our membership is growing everyday. We are gaining popularity in the youth soccer community and some of our staff even have positions with a couple of dominant clubs. It seems like many coaches are beginning to play the SOCCERFIT WAY! Exciting as it is….there are still a few challenges.

One of the most significant obstacles is the notion that “everything should be done with a ball.”  This is a common thread among coaches in today’s U.S. youth system. At SoccerFIT, we understand the importance of technical skill and place a great demand on the assessment & improvement of the technical component in our players. Our position is “almost everything should be done with a ball.”

We begin our speed & coordination programs without the ball and gradually integrate the technical when the players are comfortable with the movement skill. Our agility & fitness programs work similarly – master the pattern…then use the ball.  Here is the question that solves the ball vs. no ball dilemma – “Do they move well without the ball & what is the intent of our drill, session, etc?”

If the intent is speed with the ball (and even speed with a ball vs. another player); then the player must have developed some level of athleticism without the ball. Adding a ball into a “speed or reactive based” drill with underdeveloped & underpowered athletes only decreases the players’ rate of success. As coaches, it is our job and duty to our players to place them in situations where they can succeed…this only comes from proper integration of physical & technical and the refinement of those skills. Anything less than that, and WE have failed as coaches.

The SoccerFIT sessions are not focused on developing soccer players. They are focused on developing “good soccer” players. “Good Soccer” is a beautiful but delicate balance between technical brilliance and physical dominance. Not enough of one – can’t get the ball. Not enough of the other – can’t keep the ball.  Seems like a “lose-lose” situation. Our mission at SoccerFIT is to find the disparity between the physical & technical skill and bridge the gap enabling players to play good soccer. Challenge your players to level of their abilities, and when ready nudge them a little further. Good Soccer is just past the horizon!

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