Skills win games – so let them make mistakes

It’s the bit we all love to see over and over again. A great player gets nutmegged or left behind when the ball is swiftly moved from one foot to the other. Attacking excitement is built on this kind of play – but do you allow your players time to master the skill?

These are the moments that can turn games in your team’s favour… and thrill the watching parents and siblings. But coaching it isn’t easy – we have to allow the players to make mistakes … over and over again. But it is worth it and it does help to develop players and give them the confidence to use the skills in matches.

Individual skills can change a game making the winning difference on match days. I love to see my players shielding the ball, playing through passes into dangerous areas creating exciting moves in a match and ball skills like step overs and movement in different directions. Try the different types of skill below to get your players being more creative in matches.

Can your Under 9s shield the ball? Use Shielding the ball (Under 9 game) from my curriculum to get them shielding and keeping possession in key areas of the pitch

Putting through passes into attacking areas is a great attacking skill to have. Playing killer passes needs clever work to create space and to see the pass. Line breaking passes is a good example to show your players, then get them to put players through on goal with the session Running onto a pass.

Introduce tricks such as step overs or drag backs, which can help wrong-foot defenders and give them a clear run through on goal. Encourage your young players to use a skill to get past a strong defence or to beat a goalkeeper when they’ve been put through by a killer pass. One of my go-to games is Double jeopardy which pits the striker against the goalkeeper.

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