Making Two Footed Players

Like many Coaches reading this blog I like to develop players to be two footed. It is one of the constant themes running through all the technical sessions I do. This blog is about some of what I have discovered along the way and some of what I am still trying to work out.

Originally my efforts to make players two footed centred around switching the exercise or drill to go the opposite way or move to the opposite side of the goal i.e now can you pass/shoot/control  with your ‘other foot’. I didn’t really get much success transferring this into using both feet in a game but now realise that could have been because of two reasons

1 – It was very drill based and I now believe that games based training is the better way to develop players.

2 – Was I reinforcing in players that using their ‘other foot’ meant failure. Once we did switch it around the quality would drop without fail. When I think back to shooting exercises in particular there was always lots of fun and comments flying around about the quality of the ‘other foot’ strikes. I now believe the exercises I did made it even less likely that some players would use their ‘other foot’ in a game because I further imprinted it upon them that using it meant failure.

When I started coaching I was very caught up in the thinking that the players needed to touch the ball as often as possible. My thoughts were that every touch was beneficial so didn’t consider much else apart from the quantity of touches. I still believe training sessions have to involve allowing the players to have numerous touches but I now consider whether the touches involve the player having to assess their surroundings and make a decision not simply the amount.

Since I have adopted more of a games based approach I have noticed more of the players I coach becoming two footed in matches at the weekend. This season I thought it was particularly noticeable that the new players to the club looked very one footed compared to the players in their 2nd or 3rd year at the club.

Another thing that has changed is my opinion of why a player needs to be two footed. I grew up being told quite simplistically that a two footed player can score every chance that they get doesn’t matter if the ball is on the left or the right but now I see it affecting a player’s entire game not just in moments when they have no other option.

What I mean is I often see players make decisions based more on the fact they have to use their preferred foot than on what they have perceived of their surroundings i.e taking 1st Touch and immediately being tackled despite space being readily available but on the ‘wrong side’. I believe part of my job is to remove as many technical limits as I can from the players decision making so they can make the best decision based as much as possible on where their team mates are, the opposition players are, where the ball and where the space is.

Learning about how encouraging player’s effort rather than success has been beneficial in developing more two footed players in my opinion. Ten years ago I would have just said ‘Unlucky’ to someone who tried to use their ‘other foot’ but failed. Now I will praise them simply for using it or the decision to use it. It can take a long time for players to get success with their ‘other foot’ so if you only praise success the player has to be quite resilient to keep trying without any reward.

Now I regard my next challenges are those players who

1 – Even after many sessions simply avoid using their ‘other foot’ despite praise, engaging them in the activity, offering rewards such as goal with ‘other foot’ worth 5 etc

2- Players who will use ‘other foot’ in training and get success but rarely do in games.

If you can help me with these challenges with some suggestions for what you have done I would much appreciate it. Although I have had some success making players more two footed there are two players in particular who spring to mind immediately who I feel I need new ideas with.

Look forward to hearing from you

Please leave a comment or email me seanthecoach@icloud.com

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Till next time

Even Better Decision Making in SSGs

I set myself a challenge of coming up with a different variation of Line Football after I wrote the blog ‘Decision Making in SSGs’ http://t.co/ZuhvnLXIz2  a few weeks ago. In particular I wanted to come up with a variation that solved some of the problems I mentioned in the previous blog while leaving all the good elements in place.

Pitch with End Zones

This is what I came up with. I changed the shape of the End Zone and made it resemble a penalty box at either end of a 30m x 20m pitch. The players scored by running the ball into the End Zone. I made the End Zone 7m x 6m so the players had the same amount of area (20m) to run over as when they had to run over the end line of the pitch (20m).

I have only used this once and it was with a good quality group of players. The topic was 1 v 1s specifically could you get past your immediate opponent. I added some conditions to force what I wanted

1 – The ball could not be passed across the End Zone. I did this to almost force a 1 v 1 when players were in the corners of the pitch.

2 – Nobody could run into the End Zone unless they had the ball. I did this to make it difficult for defenders to provide cover so encourage attackers to go 1 v 1 because often space behind the nearest defender.

I made the teams 3 or 4 –a-side because I felt the pitch may be a bit crowded with more players as the End Zone is taking away quite a bit of space.

My first progression was to introduce offside into the exercise. After that it just seemed to flow with the players getting lots of practice in a variety of 1 v 1 situations.

The session was filmed and the most obvious difference was that there seemed to be 1 v 1s happening more often all over the pitch. I think because the End Zones are only 16m apart in the middle the defenders felt they had to engage the player with the ball quickly.

Not allowing the players to pass the ball across the End Zones provoked lots of 1 v 1s in the corners. I didn’t particularly like the defenders having to go 1 v 1 near their own End Zone as they were easily shut down and so may next time allow defenders but not attackers to pass across the End Zone.

I thought the End Zone being on the pitch changed the type of 1 v 1 situations as well. Defenders had to defend against players cutting inside as well not just contend with stopping them going forwards. This meant there were 1 v 1 situations at a whole variety of angles.

I collected some data from the video. I had two games going side by side. One pitch was 3 v 3 and the other 4 v 3. The 3 v 3 group averaged just under six 1 v 1 situations every minute and the 4 v 3 just over six. The group actively played this exercise for approx. 14 minutes broken down into 3 periods of less than 5 mins.

In summary I would say I was pleased with it and would use it again without any major changes but I would love to hear the thoughts of other Coaches who have used this previously or have given it a go after reading this blog.

Thanks to all the Coaches who contact me and retweet my blog it is really appreciated.

Till next time