Clicking toward success
By Lance Eber
Having attendance issues at your trainings? Parents complaining about playing time? Players wondering why they are not getting better? Wondering about the effectiveness of your training sessions?
Use a clicker.
We’ve all seen them. We go to a sporting event or theatrical performance or even Costco ® and the person allowing entry has a clicker in his/her hand counting how many people are entering.
You can use this little gizmo at your team trainings.
At your next training session, hand a clicker over to one of your parents. Ask that parent to click each and every time his/her child touches a soccer ball with any part of their body other than their hands.
Yes, that’s right. Every single time. Offensive or defensive. Dribbling or passing. Shooting or juggling. It does not matter. If your training session is 120 minutes, ask the parent to guess how many touches of the ball that player will get: 100. 300. 600. Maybe even 1,000.
The results will astound not only you but also the parent and your players.
The first time that I tried this, the selected player touched the ball 675 times. “Wow” was my first thought. That was higher than I expected. At the next training session, I selected a different parent/player combination and set a goal to top that previous mark. At the end of the training session, the clicker was at 812. Incredible! In a two-hour training session, I was able to get an under-13 girl to touch a ball 812 times!
So, what did I do with this objective, statistical information? I used it several ways:
- When a player missed a training session, at the next training session I would tell her that her teammates are 800 touches ahead of her. I would then ask her what she plans to do to catch up.
- When a parent wondered about playing time, I would consult my attendance sheet and count the number of absences and then multiply by 800 and respond, “Your daughter missed four practices last month; times 800 that equals 3,200 touches on the ball. She has a lot of catching up to do.”
- When a player wondered why they were not developing their skills as fast as others, again, I would consult my attendance sheet and do the math and then share the result.
- Most importantly, I used it as a standard for planning my training sessions.
Depending on the theme selected each night, I made it a point to adjust the
‘FUNdamental 9-Step Practice’ structure sessions to assure as many touches on the ball as possible. Starting with the warm-up; through 1v1; through small-sided games and ending with full team/field scrimmages.
Missed training sessions are missed opportunities to touch the ball. Standing in lines, listening to lectures and running laps: These are further missed opportunities to touch the ball. When players get lots of touches on the ball, we know to expect positive outcomes. Their confidence increases. Their skill increases. Their love of the game increases That is why they choose to play soccer anyways, right? To touch the ball.
Give it a try and see how many touches on the ball your players are getting at your training sessions. Are you providing opportunities for your players to touch the ball?
Or, are you missing opportunities?
Lance Eber coaches youth soccer in California and is a FUNdamental SOCCER editorial staff writer. For more information visit www.fundamentalsoccer.com
University of Tulsa football coach Philip Montgomery shares his practice exit strategy to help bolster players' mindsets and build confidence
The quiet eye and predictive control: how they impact performance
Understand these stages – cognitive, associative, autonomous – to help lead your young athletes to greater performances
Three-time Olympian Leah O’Brien-Amico on helping young athletes take ownership of their efforts and perform at their best