Why mistakes help player learning

At training I use possession games like rondos that are competitive enough to make it hard for the players to keep the ball without making it too difficult for the pressing players to win it. It’s a question of making sure the size of the rondo/area you are using is the right one and making adjustments as the session continues. Last night I played 5v2 for half an hour with stops to show what it was I wanted the players to do when they were either trying to play the ball or working in pairs.

They make lots of mistakes and lose the ball even though I change the size and overloads to suit the players but that doesn’t matter. Each time they make a mistake they are learning the game. Even when they take what they have learned into matches they will make mistakes and this is also acceptable. As long as they are trying to use a skill or make a decision then they are learning the game and that is a huge part of their development.

It helps players develop team and individual skills – individual skills are vital to player development so let them make mistakes.

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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