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

Follow me on Twitter @SeanDArcy66

Till next time

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7 thoughts on “Making Two Footed Players

  1. How about replicating game scenarios where ” the other foot” could have been used, for example last night our right attaching mid who is left footed (we use 4-2-3-1 formation) had a thru ball played to the top corner of the box but instead of taking a forward touch which would have given him a clear unopposed shoot on net he decided to cut back to his “preferred” shooting left foot unfortunately a defender gained position forcing him to take one more touch to his left where a second defender applied pressure as well forcing him to play back to another teammate.
    At our next practice I’m planing to replicate the scenario with the whole team as it would be a great way to show the attacking players the possibilities of using the “other foot” and for our defending players to see what the right things the opposing players did in the situation, although it is a tricky situation as we want to avoid putting the player in an embarrassing situation in front of his teammates thus I usually have a talk with the player prior and explain that is not about a “mistake” on the field but a learning experience where the whole team can learn from.
    I’m coaching a U16 boys team but I think if proceed properly it could work on younger teams as well.

    Julio.

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    • As my training sessions are based around small sided games I hope I do replicate game scenarios constantly.
      I think this helps to make players two footed because that scenario were a chance to score is lost or a chance is taken that you mentioned is repeated regularly and with some players they discover what to do simply by how many times they are put in that situation. Others may need some guidance.
      Thanks for getting in touch.

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  2. On match days do players have individual goals they are working towards? Perhaps the players who use other foot in training but dont transfer learning can have clear goals in lead up to match which may assist transfer? Perhaps link the achievement of these goals to something they would like, such as choosing the next learning topic etc. Also, what are the players thoughts on the topic? Do they think they are using the other foot during matches? You dont know what you dont know and all that! Perhaps film a short clip and playback with them to educate them, raise awarness and see if that impacts on learning.

    …or just have them stand around for photos instead 😉

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    • I agree with what Mark said…. Aaahhhh memories.
      The players do have individual goals and sometimes these players are given goals specifically about using their ‘other foot’ if possible. I believe there is possible parental influence there that affects ‘game days’.
      I like the idea of choosing next topic. I have had success in training with rewards for using ‘other foot i.e goal with ‘other foot’ worth 5.
      The one you mentioned last time about players totalling up times they used ‘other foot’ on a board was excellent too.
      I have just purchased a new video camera to try to use video review a bit but so far not got around to these players.
      I always stop them playing to take photos and get them to either stand in lines or near a banner with a logo on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Try flipping onus to a positive parent influence?? Give the parents a checklist that that they can tick off whilst watching thier child, all based on positives e.g. succesful pass, shot on target, use of other foot. That way they can see an area that might need developing. Tally up over a few weeks and present data back etc. try and get it a priority with them and they can help encourage child. Parent reaction probably an inhibitor on those who are doing in training but not in matches, so if they are encouraging child less likely to be afraid of trying.

    Or if not, get shiny new whiteboard out that has never been used and let them doodle.

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    • Yes definitely think the ones who do in training but not matches are from parental influence. Will give that parents doing ‘analysis’ a go.
      White board is in awful shape they lasted a lot longer a few years ago.

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  4. Pingback: The PE Playbook – June 15 Edition | drowningintheshallow

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