We want players to take ownership

of their soccer development. Go touch the ball. Go juggle the ball. Go for a run. Go hit a ball against a wall. All of these are great ideas and tools for player development. But what if they don't know how or where to hit a ball. What if they are not immersed in a culture of soccer? What if they are a first-generation player and their parents have limited experience with soccer? Something as simple as touching the ball becomes a tedious task.

In countries where soccer is life, you are expected to know how to dribble, pass and shoot. The 6/7-year-old is already joining pick-up games with his or her older relatives. That kid better get up to speed if they want to continue joining in the family scrimmage. Technique becomes second nature and most importantly, they learn when to use what skill, or how to get out of a jam using their footwork.

But for the most part, in this country, the culture is a little different. Games against your friends nearby are a thing of the past. For many families, this is their first experience with soccer, and don't feel confident teaching their kids how to work on their technique. Coaches look to train tactics, so they can compete on the weekends. That leaves the players and parents to find solutions on their own.

Parents come to me with a simple question "they can do all these moves; they just can't do them on the field, in the middle of a game. WHY?". That's why to me, context is important. Speed of play is important. Decision making is important. But if we've never been trained to dribble, pass or shoot in the context of a game, how can we expect them to know how to do it. This is where technical training comes in. If you have a good trainer, not only will they teach your player new tricks, give you feedback and make you fitter. They will empower your player with information and resources, for them to go out on their own and take ownership of their development. A trainer should never feel threaten when a player wants more or does more. They should be proud that they were able to grow a player's love for the game and self-improvement. So, while your player is dribbling through cones, notice the trainer. Are they also saying words of inspiration and encouragement? Are they correcting poor form? Are they giving your player the tools they need to succeed? Just like a coach wants their players to continue developing, a trainer wants to see their players push themselves a little further each time. That only happens if the player is given the tools and information to succeed while they are being trained and then apply it, when they are on their own, just kickin' it.

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