We received an excellent DVD recently and I’ve found the information very useful with my team so I thought others might as well.
In my opinion, one of the most under-coached aspects of youth soccer is awareness. We do a good job teaching the techniques of the game as well as the basic tactics of the game but we to often teach them in isolation. Small-sided games ask the players to look, think and react but the situations are ones that they are used to dealing with so they don’t pull the players out of their comfort zone enough to really challenge them.
Developing Vision & Awareness Volume 1 from Soccer eyeQ asks the players to see more, think quicker and player better (as the front of their DVD explains). Here is how they describe it further in the back text description:
“In soccer, almost everything players do and almost every decision they make is because of what they see - and the sooner a player sees something, the quicker they can act. Improving a players “field vision”, the awareness of everything around them, will help them become a much more dynamic and effective player.”
Here is an example of one of the progressions they take the players though.
Players 1 and 3 have a ball each and they are 20 to 30 yards apart, depending on the age and ability of the players. Player 2 is positioned in the middle.
To begin with Player 1 passes to Player 2. As soon as the ball is struck Player 2 looks over his shoulder to look at Player 3. Player 2 then controls the pass and returns it to Player 1. Player 2 then turns and repeats this with Player 3.
Judge the pass from the first fraction of a second after it’s struck
Turn your head quickly to see the player behind you
Adjust your feel to where the ball is going as you look behind you
Focus on a quality first touch and a good pass back to the servers feet
The same passing pattern is used but now the outside players are holding a colored disc cone in each hand. When Player 2 turns to look at the player behind him he must call out the color of the cone that has been raised over head
Don’t hold up the cone until the pass is made (so the middle player can’t cheat and look early)
Maintain the quality of each touch and pass while focusing on the color of the cone
In the next phase only one ball is used. Player 1 passes, Player 2 looks and then turns to receive but now he performs a turn with the inside or outside of the foot and then passes to Player 3.
Turn with one touch and pass with the next
Vary the type of turn you use
The final stage of the progression adds a cone to each side of Player 2. Now when Player 2 turns and calls out the color cone held up by the player behind him, he turns back and takes his first touch around the same color cone before passing to Player 3.
This is only the first stage in a whole series of exercises that are presented on the DVD but it provides the foundation for everything that follows. It’s a good DVD that is well worth looking at.