Obviously I can’t remember everything I did in training when I was younger but I would say that playing 2-Touch is probably the only exercise that I did as a young player that I still do as a youth coach some 30 years later. All the drills, standing waiting for a turn have been discarded along thankfully with warming up by jogging around the pitch to the shouts of ‘right hand down’, ‘left hand down’ or ‘header’.
Even though I loved playing 2-Touch as a youngster I had my doubts about it even back then. Often moments would occur that I would think but if it was a real game …..
– The wrestling matches that happened when a player had used up their touches. Most referees would simply give a free kick even back then.
– The frustration when you had loads of space but had to pass when running with the ball seemed the best decision.
– The times when you planned your 1st touch and executed it well but due to good defending were stuck with needing one more touch so had to rush a pass or try something unbelievable when normally you would just take one more touch and keep possession for your team more securely.
Even so as a coach I often use 2-Touch as a condition on training games. I like the way it forces players to scan, to think about their positioning, think about what they are going to do with the ball all before they receive the ball.
However I have experimented with some variations that reduce some of the issues I associated with playing 2-Touch while hopefully keeping the benefits intact. I have written some of them out below but would love to hear from other coaches who have used similar or different variations and how much success have they had.
#1 – 2-Touch with preferred foot but as many as you want with ‘other foot’.
#1a – 2-Touch but if you take your 1st touch with your ‘other foot’ you still have 2 touches left.
It sounds foolish but I never realised till relatively recently that by limiting how many touches a young player could have I was making it very unlikely they would risk taking a touch with their ‘other foot’.
#2 – 2-Touch but if you receive the ball in space (Coach defines how much space) you have unlimited touches till the other team touches the ball.
#3 – 2-Touch in own half but unlimited touches in the opposition half
I like how with this variation you get the benefits of 2-Touch as well as allowing players to have more options in attack.
Of the variations above the one that has worked the best for me would Variation #1. It keeps the elements of 2-Touch mostly in place as the players tend play 2-Touch the vast majority of the time while allowing the players to take more touches when needed. It could also be that I am very much in favour of developing players using both feet as much as possible and this variation gives even the most reluctant player a very obvious reward for using their ‘other foot’ in a game situation.
I will be honest I am writing this blog to improve me as a coach. I am not sharing my thoughts because I think I am some sort of top coach or simply for altruistic reasons. I think writing it will make me think deeper about how I coach plus hopefully (this is where you come in) get other youth coaches to offer ideas that will make me think about my coaching in different ways.
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Till next time