Soccer is back in swing here in my neck of the woods. Pre-season team camps are underway this week so I have been out at the fields watching training sessions in attempts to pick up some ideas.
In the span of 60 seconds, I saw three (3) different players opt for using their strong foot when using their weaker foot would have been a better option. Two of the three decisions led to turnovers. Yet none of the decisions by the players were addressed or corrected by the coaching staff. Why?
There is plenty of discussion as to why two footed players are essential in today’s game.
“Being accomplished on either leg is a quality which would be to the benefit of every player, at any level, at a plethora of points over a 90-minute match. As the game continues to move forward, hopefully talents like Cazorla will inspire the next generation into converting a genetic weakness into a learned strength.” -(World Soccer Talk, Oct 2015)
With that said, I didn’t struggle to find literature which argues the other side of the coin. Listen to what Jimmy Gilligan, head coach of the Nike Academy (and former Cardiff, Swansea, and Portsmouth player) who works with players 12 and older:
“Two-footedness is a good thing to have, but the modern footballer manipulates the ball so well now that I don’t think too much attention needs to be paying to it. You wouldn’t necessarily work on things just on one foot. You might do 10 minutes at the end of day playing off your weaker foot…but it is certainly not something I plan in drills…”
“Two-footedness can be taught. But are players going to spend hours on the training ground using their weaker foot? I’d say no. Why do that when you can hone something else that win you a game, such as a match-winning pass or match-winning strike?” -(Four Four Two, April 2012 p. 87)
I am a right foot dominant player who was always told as a kid that two-footed-ness was essential to play at the next level. Therefore, I spent a lot of time striking balls with my left foot. While my left was never my preferred foot of choice, I was confident enough in my left peg that I could use it when a situation demanded it.
Watching these young players today make silly mistakes on the ball which led to turnovers, I felt the need to vent. It continues to be a pet peeve of mine. Let’s go young players – spend some time working on that weak foot.