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
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Till next time