As experts of football coaching in Dubai we have produced this guide to give you as parents some tips to help your child to maximize their potential in football. The first thing that we must recommend is that your children take regular coaching classes under the guidance of a qualified coach. We recommend children take 1 or 2 classes a week in a group environment where children can learn amongst children of a similar age to themselves.
The goal of this article is to arm you as parents with all of the knowledge to help your child to maximize their potential. If you have no knowledge of football don’t worry, this article is intended for you so that you can guide your child in the way that a parent with previous footballing experience which will be of great benefit to your child.
Some of these activities can be done at home indoors, for the outdoor activities that require more space if you have a garden then great, if not we recommend spending some time after classes with your children or visiting any of the below parks or beaches that offer great open spaces where you can take the kids to develop their skills.
Right let’s get straight into it, this is the contents of the article so that you can jump right in to whichever area interests you and your child the most
- Speed, Agility and Quickness
- Moving With The Ball
- Juggling To Develop Amazing Touch
Speed, Agility and Quickness
The hallmark of a high quality modern football is the ability to move at speed and also change direction quickly. Here are some highly adaptable exercises that your child can use to get the edge over the opposition with fast bursts of speed.
Overspeed Training: Getting children to run faster than they ever have before through the use of elasticated speed bands or running downhill will increase your child’s stride rate to take them to the next level in running.
Plyometric Training- Plyometric training refers to drills where children have a short contact time with the ground. Drills utilizing ladders and quick succession jumping are great for these kind of activities to help develop explosiveness.
Use Agility Based Drills With Reaction Times: Fun cone based drills that mirror the Illinois Agility Test are great way to improve reaction times and also help children to develop fast speed off the mark due to the nature of these activities. Top Tip: Trying these activities on the beach will introduce further power!
Moving With The Ball
When moving with the ball children should develop a great close control keeping the ball close to their feet whilst moving at slow and fast speeds using both feet. A great way to help your child get comfortable moving with the ball is to take a football on family outings like a walk along the beach or in the park. A 1 hour stroll will result in 1000s of touches of the ball and result in your child being way more comfortable walking, running and changing direction with the ball without breaking their stride or losing control of the football.
In modern football being comfortable with the ball at the feet is a requirement for all players even the goalkeeper. Making the ball your child’s best friend on family outings is the best thing that you can do to help them to develop into natural footballers.
Here’s some dribbling based progressions that can be used to develop your child’s skills further with the ball at their feet. With each of these exercises be sure that your child moves with there heads up, a great way to do this is to have them call out things that they can see in front of them as they dribble with the ball.
Inside and Outside: When moving with the ball use little touches to move the ball with the inside and outside of the same foot for a period of 10 to 20 touches. After this is completed switch to the weaker foot- the more time spent on weaker foot the better to help your child develop into a two footed player.
Military Dribbling: Dribbling alternatively with both feet left, right left, right is a great way for children to get into a good dribbling rhythm and also builds a lot of confidence with weaker foot. Start slowly and increase speed, this is a great exercise for all ages of children.
Toe Touches: Using the bottom of the toes to control the ball is a great way to develop close control and the ability to stop the ball in a small space, a great skill that every attacking player should have in their toolkit. Encourage children to take small and light touches and keeping the ball as close to the body as possible.
Bursts Of Speed: Adding a burst of speed every hundred metres is a good way to develop sharp acceleration with your child’s dribbling. For these short sprints touches should become longer with the ball further out in front of the player encouraging stride length to increase so that fast running speed becomes possible.
Football has seen many great dribblers and skill artists over the years but the two stand out ones in recent years are Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Have you child watch the two videos and notice how Cristiano uses bursts of speed and skills to beat defenders and Messi keeps the ball close to his feet at all times and deceives defenders by dropping his shoulder and fainting.
Juggling To Develop Amazing Touch
The best for your child to become a natural football player a develop great control and touch is through juggling practice. This can start off with something super simple like dropping the ball from the hands and kicking it back up. The progression from this can then do to do two touches before progressing to a series of 10 plus touches. When juggling encourage children to alternate between feet and to make two consecutive touches with their weaker foot to encourage your child to become a two footed player who is comfortable on the ball with both feet.
When your child gets really comfortable with juggling and is able to link together 20-30+ touches you can then start to introduce tricks to further develop foot dexterity speed and balance.
When moving with the football it is essential that young players develop the ability to turn in tight spaces. Turns in games are useful for the following key reasons:
- Getting away from tight spaces
- Shielding the ball
- Eluding defenders
- Turning to open up another part of the pitch where there is more space
Below is an essential catalogue of turns that we develop within in all of young players in our kids football coaching sessions.
Stop Turn: A stop turn is the most basic turn in football. Involving stopping the ball with the sole of the foot, stepping over and then turning in the other direction. This is a great way to turn 180 degrees at a fast speed and is easy for all levels of players to execute.
Inside Hook: The inside hook is a short radius sharp turn that is great for shielding the ball from a defender. This turn allows the attacking player to keep their body between the ball and the defender and shielding the ball with the upper body.
Outside Hook: The reverse of the inside hook, this is a wider radius turn. This is a great alternative to the stop turn for young children giving them a way to change direction without using the stop turn.
Rivelino Turn: The rivelino turn pioneered by the former Brazilian star is a great turn to beat a defender. The move involves pretending to play a pass across your body, stepping over the ball and then shifting the ball in the other direction. This is a great move to give yourself space away from a defender to take a shot or to open up the game for a crossfield pass.
Cruyff Turn: Another faking based turn made famous by Johan Cruyff of Holland in a world cup. This turn can be used to fake a shot or cross with the ball being dragged behind the none kicking foot- a great way to fool a defender.
Ronaldinho 360:The Ronaldinho 360 turn is a great attacking turn where the player stands on top of the ball with both feet simultaneously whilst rotating the body 360 degrees. This is a great way to beat the defender in an attacking situation whilst moving at speed.
The great things about turns is that you don’t need much space to practice them, your child can practice all of these moves in the garden or even in an open space inside the house.
The Brazilian star Ronaldinho is a master of skills and tricks, the montage below is a great compilation of a wide variety of skills that your child can have fun learning:
Passing is the key to playing great football and working well as a team. From our experience of football coaching for kids in Dubai we find that children tend to get so excited when they have the ball that they forget everything that is going on around them. A big key here is for children to develop the ability to play with their heads up, as discussed in the moving with the ball sections.
When you children are able to see what’s going on around them they can then become good passers of the football. This includes developing good passing technique and also being able to select which pass to play at different periods joining the game, lets look at each of these elements in turn.
Good Passing Technique: A good passing technique starts with a balanced position with the non kicking foot placed next to the ball pointing towards the intended target. For shorter range passes the inside of the foot should be used to direct the ball in the intended direction ensuring that the inside of the foot stays pointing at the target all the way through the striking of the ball and follow through. Children should be encouraged to pass the ball along the floor with the ball rolling as smoothly as possible so that it is easy for their team mates to receive the ball.
Choosing The Right Pass: The best way to get children to understand which passes to choose they should learn from the best. Here are a few videos from some of the great passers that the game has seen, there is no better place to start here than spanish football star Xavi. The ex Barcelona legend was famous for his playmaking abilities and is the perfect player for your child to learn from.
Here’s a few things that you should have your child look out for in the video:
- Notice how Xavi uses both feet
- Notice how Xavi finds players in space
- Look at how Xavi always has his head up with and without the ball
- Observe the perfect weight of his passes that allow his team mate to receive the ball in the right situation.
If you can get a group of your child’s buddies together for a play date at the park a game of rondo is a great game for getting children used to all aspects of team play within the game. The rondo is a simple game normally played with 6 attackers and 2 defenders. The 6 attackers form a circle in a marked out area and try to keep possession of the ball by passing it around the circle. The two defenders work to close down space and try to anticipate to intercept the ball from the attackers.
Here’s a video to show you how the Rondo works in theory.
This is arguably the best sport for children of all ages for a variety of reasons, here’s a few of them:
- Passing- passing in such a small space is great for developing highly accurate passing skills in tight situations.
- Close Control- being able to receive and get the ball under control under pressure from defenders is a great skill.
- Tricking The Defender- The use of tricks and turns in a rondo is a great way to deceive defenders and develops skills that will allow children to make space for themselves in attacking situations and score goals in matches.
- Defending- The rondo encourages defenders to press the ball in the most effective way closing down space and defending with a high intensity. All skills that are highly relevant for the modern game.
Here’s a video of Manchester City doing the rondo in a session that you can show your children as inspiration to improve their close control, passing and defending skills through this fun and dynamic activity.
For young children the aim is to develop the ability to hit shots with both power and precision. Before teaching children the two techniques it’s important to differentiate between the two types of shots and where to best use them in a game situation.
Finesse, Accuracy Based Shot
This shot should be used from a closer range with the aim of hitting the corners of the goal, this shot is not hit with power so the key is to hit these shots out of reach of the goal keeper. In Kidster’s kids football coaching classes we teach our children to aim for the bottom corners of the goals which is the most difficult area for goalkeepers to save.
For powerful shots children should us the laces to strike, the none kick foot should be placed an instep away from the ball and children should drive through with their laces and use their none kicking side arm for balance. A great way to help your child develop their shooting is to have a long shot competition. Find an open space and have your child strike the ball using their laces seeing how far they can strike the ball from the starting position. Measure it out with steps and have your child monitor the increases in power through this fun game.
For shooting we recommend that your child role models a player that mixes it up between power and finesse shots. There is no better player to model here than former French International Thierry Henry.
Have your child watch the goals below and identify whether Henry uses a power or control shot for each goal. This will give your child a subconscious understanding of when to use power and when to use controlled shots in different scenarios.
When children learn at a football academy is very important that they learn both of the types of shots in the 4 main situations that shots occur in the game:
Dead Ball Situations: Every child dreams of being the next David Beckham or Cristiano Ronaldo scoring free kicks from just outside the penalty box. Developing the ability to get the ball lofted over the wall or calling the ball around it takes a lot of practice. We encourage our young players to stick around after sessions and get those all important practice shots in to develop this difficult skill.
One on One: Being great at one on one scenarios is all about timing and being able to fool the goalkeeper and this comes with experience. The best way to practice this is to set up 1v1 scenarios where players rotate between being the striker and the goalkeeper. Perfect for if your child has a friend to play and they can hit the garden or the park in a one on one situation with the goal keeper. As a parent this is a great skill for you to practice with your kids at the park laying down a couple of items as posts so that your child can practice their finishing.
Ball Rolling Across The Body: From our experience as specialists in children’s football coaching this is the type of shots that children have the most difficulty with. In these situations the shot will ten to be pulled in the direction that the ball is travelling. To help children calibrate shot with a ball moving across the body pass the ball horizontally towards them and have the get used to timing the shot and also factoring for the curve that will be put onto the ball.
Football is such a great sport to play in a variety of settings so take advantage of the wide variety of drills here to help your child to develop their skills further. As mentioned in the beginning this can be done after sessions, but as well as this if you can integrate football into the family lives and routines of your family this will help your child to come on in leaps and bounds giving them the exposure to the sport that they need to accelerate their learning.
We would love to hear your comments about any of the activities in this article or feel free to give us a message through any of our channels to discuss further.
If you are interested in football coaching for your children you can get started in a 30 Day Free Trial with us as part of our Kidster program which offers unlimited sports coaching in 8 different sports, football included.
Thanks Again For Reading, Stay Active
About Tom: Tom is the director of Kids DXB, an avid sportsman Tom was involved in football, basketball, tennis, baseball and cricket as a youngster before later becoming a PGA Golf Professional. Having lived in Dubai since the age of 15 Tom has a strong knowledge of youth sport in Dubai and is passionate about the development of young athletes.