The art of the keepy uppy

This week during lockdown we’ve set up a league at our club where boys in age groups challenge each other to beat the keepy uppy record – keeping the ball in the air with different parts of the body but mainly the foot. It helps to get them to try to do as many as possible because they want to win the league.

Keepy uppies can be frustrating but there is no doubt that if players persist and get better at it, it will help their ball control skills, and that helps them on the pitch. It also gives them a bit of competition and forces the ones who refuse to try and get past one or two to concentrate their minds and get them kicking a ball.

So what I tell my players to do is to bounce the ball between kick ups, then when they have mastered that to bounce the ball after two kick ups then three and so on. Not all the players can do them but at least most of them put the effort in to try it.

A plus point for the players is that they get to send in a video of themselves doing the keepy uppies which again they love to do and will be happy to send in as many video clips as I want!

Develop ball skills

Keepy uppies have been used for years by players in a coaching sense to help them develop their ball skills and yet it is such a simple thing to do – all you need is a player and a ball. You can even do it in bare feet or use a piece of fruit like an orange to show off your skills.

There is no pouring over diagrams to set it up and it is something you can take into your coaching when you have your players back. I get my players to show their skills for 5 or 6 minutes at the start of training just to get them to concentrate on the ball and get feet warmed up for passing or shooting.

Charity keepy uppies

And it is even good for charity. During the last lockdown an 11-year-old girl did an amazing challenge to reach 7.1 million keepy uppies, one for every UK key worker, to raise money for a number of charities.

Young footballer Imogen Papworth-Heidel, from Hauxton near Cambridge, did the last 3,000 keepy-uppies at Cambridge United’s Abbey Stadium and raised more than £10,800 for nine charities

Papworth-Heidel completed a total of 1,123,586 keepy uppies during an unbroken 195-day run, reaching more than 7,000 a day during lockdown and the summer holidays. The remaining 5,976,414 were donated by around 2,000 people who took videos of themselves joining in the challenge – among them the England and Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford.

That is something else! I don’t expect my players to do that many, some can do three or four but others are up to 30. It’s great fun, but I won’t tell you how many I can do!

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