Our club recently established a set of benchmarks for how many times the players should be able to juggle at a given age. Here are those targets:
U8 - 10 with feet only - 10 with thighs only - 4 with head only
U9 - 20 with feet only - 20 with thighs only - 6 with head only
U10 - 10 with feet only - 10 with thighs only - 12 with head only
U11 - 80 with feet only - 80 with thighs only - 24 with head only
U12 - 100+ with feet only - 100+ with thighs only - 50+ with head only
Unfortunately, most of our players in the club are below these standards so we'll be working to improve that this year.
When you talk about juggling with coaches you usually get one of two responses: important or unimportant waste of time. The comment from those that feel juggling is unimportant when they see someone that juggles well is, "Yeah, but can he play?" I don't think that the ability to juggle is a directly reflection on the quality of the player but juggling does show some important soccer abilities: touch, balance, ability to control balls out of the air as well as focus and commitment. The last two may be the most important.
The one thing that you have to do to become a better juggler is PRACTICE! I tell my players that juggling is not a talent you are born with, it's a skill that anyone can develop. Juggling is one of the easiest skills to practice at home. It only requires the player, a ball and a bit of space. As long as the basic techniques of juggling are understood, the more you juggle, the better you get. So it's very easy for a coach to see who is juggling at home and who isn't. That's probably why I like to give juggling as homework and why I think setting targets for juggling can lead to general player development.
In the end, I want young players to enjoy juggling because if they do then they'll spend more time doing it. If they're spending more time with the ball, they're more likely to become comfortable and confident with it.
Do you use juggling with your teams? Do you do anything different that works for your players?
Have a Great Day,