21 July 2008
Soccer Coaching Tips – Practice Using a Mini Ball
One of my most read pieces so far has been a little ditty I put together after I finally figured out how to do an “around the world” with the soccer ball. So that got me thinking a bit about other ways to share what has and hasn’t worked for me over the years.
With that sentiment, and with over a decade of coaching experience and a lifetime of playing experience, this is a segment to impart some of what has been helpful to me.
The foundation of any great player is ball control. I’ve considered and employed many different techniques to build ball control skills. One such technique is to incorporate the use of the mini ball, essentially a size 1 ball, in to your normal drills.
Because of the decreased surface area, the mini ball requires pin point accuracy of touch. Shooting, trapping, passing, heading – all become exercises on precision. The tendency for most young players is to substitute skill with power, but the mini ball doesn’t necessarily reward power – so the player has to stay focused on touch.
At a recent futsal camp at Street Soccer Indoor in metro Atlanta, former Atlante and Colorado Rapids defender Antonio de la Torre, almost exclusively used mini balls to work ball control, passing, and shooting drills with his young attendees. The rationale is simple. According to de la Torre, “if you can master the control of a ball this size [referring to the mini ball], then playing with a regulation sized futsal or outdoor ball will be that much easier.”
Players - start practicing your juggling skills with a mini ball as well as your regulation ball.
Coaches - consider incorporating mini balls in to some of your precision and ball control drills. I think you will find this addition to your regime incredibly beneficial.
Pictured: the Adidas Euro 2008 Mini Soccer Ball