I had a major “aha” moment the other day.
As I waited in line at the grocery store checkout, I glanced at the tabloid stand next to me, only to see the usual cover page shenanigans:
- “11 Ways to Burn Fat”
- “77 Ways to Kiss Your Man”
- “409 Ways to Please Your Man”
Instead of opening them to find out more, I contemplated to myself, ‘why is everything so damn complicated nowadays?’
I mean…come ON: 11 Ways to Burn Fat?
I can think of 3: move, sleep, and don’t be a pig.
And 409 Ways to Please Your Man?
Again, 3 that work well: give him morning sex, make him a sandwich, and don’t gossip as much.
Fuck outta here with the 409 ways.
KISS = Keep It Simple Stupid.
Not that I’m calling you stupid, but KISS is a mantra I live by in my professional and personal life.
But humans are funny: we make simple things complex. Nevertheless, I can think of many things beyond the dating scene that we over complicate: weight loss, nutrition, self development, and training.
As a soccer performance coach, I am exposed to a lot of complex fluff, namely, in the technical skills training landscape. Here’s an example of what I see when I peruse my Instagram feed:
It’s worth mentioning, however, that I’m not trying to berate technical trainers who do these drills.
If I want to get super spiritual, there’s no right or wrong, given what you’re trying to do.
Let me explain: It’s not “wrong” you’re having kids dance through agility rings. It’s not “wrong” to have them tap their feet in ladders. It’s not “wrong” to have them perform a scissors move and tap their feet in agility rings some more.
But let me ask you this: what are you trying to accomplish from the session?
If you answered you’re trying to develop a dancer, then your training is “right.”
You see, technical training should have game carryover.
Moreover, we should ask ourselves the tough question: are we developing soccer players or social media celebrities?
Mind fuck, I know.
As an example, I’m a hardcore #11 (left winger). Had I been trained in this complex way growing up, sure my ball mastery may have improved, but I’m not so sure I’d be able to move off the ball, hone my speed, take a clean first touch, and take space while scanning the field with my head up. To that end, I’m not so sure I would’ve developed into a high level player who has field awareness, can move off ball, and play quickly:
That reminds me, when I hired a technical trainer at age 15, she knew the demands of my position perfectly.
So what did we do the entire 60 minute session? 1v1s, repeated sprints, finishing, first touch, and 1 and 2 touch passing technique. She always told me, “sophisticated players play 1 and 2 touch and move off the ball quickly.”
So. Freaking. True.
And to get nerdy, looking at the data, players only have the ball at their feet for less than 10% of the game. The rest, all movement off the ball and decision-making.
I’d argue that technical training must incorporate these.
A scissors move, for example, is only useful if a player can execute under pressure.
But master it FIRST.
Master the mechanics, the angle, the pace, the acceleration.
Then, start to add pressure (no need for agility rings, really).
In fact, this reminds me that I rarely post videos of my technical training lessons to Instagram because I’m fully engaged in the session, with my phone in my backpack.
And more often than not, I’m stepping in as a defender so kids can get the pressure and decision-making component:
Usually, this results in me either 1) getting hit in the face 2) tripping over myself or 3) getting turf in my eyes.
All worth it, though.
To that end, technical training should be kept simple, but with game carryover.
We don’t need to have kids juggle while solving a Rubix cube. We don’t need to have kids tap their feet in agility rings with their eyes closed. We don’t need to have goalkeepers holding a medicine ball wall diving and solving math equations.
With that said, I challenge you to provide more simplicity as well as *context* to your technical lessons:
– Why do we teach turns? To get away from pressure and get opponent off balance.
– Why do we teach a scissors move? To get past defender and to be less predictable as attackers.
– Why do we teach first touch a certain way? To get forward quickly and open the hips to go to goal and be able to see the field.
It’s all about game context.
I urge you to ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish in your skills lessons. Remember, there’s no “right” or “wrong” given what you’re trying to do. ;-O