While on an FA Youth Award course, I came across an interesting idea that makes an awful lot of sense to me.
It was apparently a strategy implemented by Dutch clubs such as Ajax, in which the youth players were given 10,000 touches of the ball every day in the belief that more touches would equal better mastery of the ball. You can read more about the Dutch way in a Guardian article here. It makes sense, although despite Malcolm Gladwell’s theory in Outliers about 10,000 hours being about the number of hours it takes to achieve mastery, I am not totally convinced on the number. What I am convinced about however is that the old adage ‘practice makes perfect’ is as true in football as it is in most walks of life, and so the more touches of the ball a player gets, the more likely they are to progress. I believe that if you give two identical players separate training opportunities, and the first gets 1,000 touches of the ball a week and the second gets 1,500 touches, the second player will progress more quickly.
Pretty obvious stuff really, but it does beg the question should the vast majority of the time you have with your players each week be with the ball?
I see and hear training sessions in which players queue in preparation to carry out a skill or game, and others in which running without the ball in encouraged. On the FA course I was on there was a youth coach from Chelsea who said he’d get shot if his bosses ever saw boys standing around, waiting. So thinking of the 10,000 touch rule at Ajax and the practice makes perfect rule of life, should we be making sure that more minutes in our training sessions are spend actively with the ball?
I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts below, either agreeing or disagreeing, which you can do by just adding a comment.
You can follow me on Twitter @YouthCoachMike if you’d like to hear next time somebody posts, and if you would like to contribute to the blog with an article of your own, please email it to me at email@example.com
Thanks for reading.