w w w . Y P T u s a . c om

This article is a must read written by Gregg Thompson who was a 1984 U.S. Olympian, 1985-86 U.S. National Team (12 caps).

I brought 4 boys from our club to a soccer camp featuring Pepijn Lijinders from PSV Eindhoven, one of the premier developers of youth talent in the world. After the final day of camp, I discussed with him why Europeans are so much more comfortable with the ball than Americans. The answer was simple...touches on the ball. He said at the younger ages, the top American players are fairly even with the European players but as time goes on, the Americans fall further and further behind.
Once I got home, I did some quick calculations on my calculator and Pepijn's point really hit home. I approximated the touches the players received at the soccer camp during Pepijn's 90 minute session and compared them to the number of touches players receive at a "typical" 90 minute soccer practice I see every day of the week.

In 90 minutes, Pepijn's practice consisted of approximately:
    -15 minutes: Individual fast foot work warm up - 900 touches
    -15 minutes: Fast foot work with passive defender - 500 touches
    -20 minutes: 1 vs 1 competition - 400 touches
    -20 minutes: 2 vs 2 competition - 200 touches
    -20 minutes: 3 vs 3 competition - 100 touches
Total number of touches in 90 minutes = 2,100
In 90 minutes, a "typical" American practice:
    -15 minutes: Running/stretching without the ball - 0 touches
    -15 minutes: Running around the field with a partner and passing the ball - 150 touches
    -20 minutes: Shooting drill / 2 lines toward a big goal - 125 touches
    -20 minutes: Shooting / Crossing drill...1 player crossing, 2 players attacking goal - 100 touches
    -20 minutes: 7 vs 7 scrimmage - 50 touches
Total number of touches in 90 minutes = 425 touches

Assuming 3 training sessions per week and a 9 month season:
    Number of touches per week:
        -PSV team: 6,300
        -Typical American player: 1,275
    Number of touches per month:
        -PSV team: 25,200
        -Typical American player: 5,100
    Number of touches per season:
        -PSV team: 226,800
        -Typical American player: 45,900
In just 5 years, the PSV player or similarly coached players will touch the ball nearly 1 million more times than the American player. Tough to argue with those numbers!

Granted most coaches don't have the knowledge of a PSV coach; however, if volunteer coaches at the rec/select/competitive levels just focused on touches on the ball, our players would be way ahead. To take a step back and ask our coaches not to worry about drills and to just play games of 1 vs 1, 2 vs 2, 3 vs 3 and 5 vs 5 at practice with little instruction, there would be a tremendous increase in number of touches and a corresponding increase in player development. The small sided competitions unintentionally/naturally teach the game to the players with little input from coaches.






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