Differential Learning (difference- differential…I feel like Sherlock Holmes), which is a training theory in part owed to FC Barcelona, Thomas Tuhel (PSG coach), and Jurgen Klopp’s success. If repetition is the mother of skill, differential learning is your college professor. Developed by Professor Wolfgang Schöllhorn from Mainz University, “differential learning” also contends that players do not learn by repetition, but by making adjustments to their technique to solve new problems. Part of the effectiveness of Differential Learning is that it simply makes things harder. Shooting the ball with your arms grasped behind your back will throw you off balance and require other muscles to function in new ways.
When it comes to assessing how fast an athlete is, in the American football world it is all about the 40 yard dash. Since the rest of the world doesn’t base things on yards and instead uses meters, enter the 30 meter sprint. The 30 meter sprint is actually 32.8 yards, so it is a bit shorter than a 40 yard dash. Track coaches like the flying 10m and flying 30m as well because most events in track and field are won by the athlete with the best top speed or peak velocity, not the athlete with the most explosive start .However, in soccer, we rarely reach our top speeds and most of the time the ability to accelerate well over shorter distances is what will determine success. That is not to say i don’t believe soccer players should not train their top speed- I definitely do and think every soccer player should include top speed sprinting to train the hip flexors, hamstrings, and develop overall athleticism and coordination. Plus, rarely will someone have great top speed and a poor start anyways. But, starting speed is much more trainable and again, more relevant in the sport of soccer. To get even more specific, in soccer we often sprint on a curve and have to do it relative to the context of the match such as the other 21 players and the ball. I am all for including curved sprints and all the like, but if you’re not fast in a straight line then you won’t be very fast on a curve. Furthermore, we are talking about something that all kids and competitors like- an objective way to measure performance.
The way a team passes the soccer ball is the hallmark of team play and describes their philosophy. As we saw in the 2018 World Cup with teams like Spain not having much success, simply keeping possession of the ball for a high percentage of the match doesn’t necessarily equate to success. This study by Robert Rein out of the Germany Sports University of Cologne shows more about what makes passes truly effective.
I recently finished an English version of the DFB-UEFA B Course in Berlin. 24 “American” coaches traveled to Germany and took part in 2 and a half weeks of learning followed by exams. I put “American” in quotes because other than myself and the one female participant who live in Germany, one Polish guy who lives in England, and a Brazilian who lives in Brazil, the rest of the coaches who live in American were mostly not from America.
For athletes, the concept of overtraining might seem odd. You understand a high training load is needed to adapt and get better (known as “supercompensation”). However, too high of a training load with too little recovery is a poor way to achieve proper gains. Recovery is when the actual training adaptations occur, not during the training session. In fact, sometimes overtraining may not even be evidence of training too much, but recovering too little.
Below are 3 soccer moves that will destroy defenders and look cool at the same time. Like all good moves, they require change of speed and change of direction. The sole of the foot single leg hopping backwards is the cool part. It frustrates defenders who will then dive in and then you break them, wreck them, shake them, and humiliate them. Just exaggerating. However, my friend as a club player who used to do the first move in the video would always brag about how stupid he made defenders look in the car after our games. Try them out and leave a comment about what you think!
The best players in the world see where pressure is coming from and use their first touch to escape. This is a good soccer skill using timing and body feinting to create space from the defender. It works particularly well when a defender is closing you down as the ball arrives on a pass. I am not the smoothest with this technique, but I will keep practicing.
As much as I love talking athleticism, soccer is a skill sport and we need reps and reps to get better. Like the legendary stories about Ronaldo and David Beckham taking free kicks after training, all of the best players I ever played with would come early or stay late to training and get extra reps on things like long balls, finishing, dribbling moves, etc. “Repetition is the mother of skill”, so get out there and make it happen. In your next soccer game, you will be pleasantly surprised.
If soccer players want to run quickly, then they need to be producing a lot of force against the ground. There are two ways to do this; firstly, we can produce this force via our muscles when our foot is on the floor, or, secondly, we can have our foot moving at a very high speed once it hits the floor. For elite sprinters, it is, of course, a combination of the two. So, ideally, you want to have a large range of motion in which to accelerate the foot towards to ground (requiring good front side mechanics); you want to be able to accelerate the foot downwards (requiring good hip extensor strength); you want to contact the ground in the optimal position (requiring good sprint mechanics), you want to be able to absorb and reuse much of the force you apply (requiring good foot and ankle stiffness), and you want to be able to produce force quickly (requiring an optimal level of strength and power).
Beating defenders 1v1 comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes its running at speed, while others we are in a more static situation like in the corner or when we get closed down immediately upon receiving a pass. Either way, beating defenders is one of the most fun and effective parts of the game. When we eliminate one defender, the whole defense gets unbalanced. That is why guys like Mbappe, Ronaldo, Messi, Salah, etc. get paid the big bucks.
Team players gets a lot of acceleration, start&stop and change of direction stimuli in the team practice in general… small sided games in particular. The problem though that it develops a rather restricted movement patterns and poor sprinting mechanics. You often see 12-year-old soccer players moving better than 22-year-olds. Fore obvious reasons, I suggest some time is spent doing linear sprinting of various lengths and intensities at all ages.
The best soccer players in the world are not just killers on the ball, but they are sneaky buggers off of it as well. Research shows that ore goals are scored when the defenders are positioned farther away from the shooter. That sounds pretty obvious, but creating space on the soccer field is getting harder and harder in today’s modern game. Of course, having a ton of speed helps because you can literally just blow by defenders. But the best, like Leroy Sane and Sterling from Manchester City, Mane from Liverpool, Son from Tottenham, all use intelligent awareness and timing in addition to their speed to unravel defenses. Aguero isn’t the fastest guy in the world, but he knows how to hide behind defenders or draw them to one area and then move to the space left. Check out the video I made below to see some examples. Try these runs and ideas at your next practice and watch how you are getting more crosses from the wing and more shots on goal.
A lot of the greatest soccer players are not just skillful and athletic, but they have strong minds and bodies that are resistant to fatigue, quitting, and settling for anything less than their best. They don’t just handle the pressure, the live for it. But what if we are not naturally tough, can we make ourselves tougher? Absolutely. In the last article called “Stop Being a Pussy: Real Talk On Developing Toughness” we took a deep dive into toughness, one of my favorite topics. In this article I will give you some things you can do starting TODAY to get the process going. They are not fun in the short term, but on the
Don’t mistake me with Freud or any other trained psychologist, but I think its safe to assume that people’s past experiences shape their reactions to similar experiences in the future. A simple example is a player who decides they don’t like soccer anymore because the parent or a coach was overly critical. The negative experiences create an avoidance behavior. Some of these issues can creep up again later in life when we least expect them.
Few things are more frustrating than having several minutes go by and not touching the ball during a training match (including possession) or a game. We all want to feel like we are contributing to the outcome of our team’s performance.
Scoring more goals in soccer requires good vision and passing combined with smart positioning off the ball. Learning how to get to the blind side of defenders will be a massive way to get more passes and increase your chances of being considered a dangerous player. At the highest level of elite soccer, it comes down to the little things.
Physical performance is a key part of the modern game of soccer. France had blazing speed and athleticism. Russia had crazy outputs. How important are certain physical qualities for success in soccer?
KPI, or Key Performance Indicator, is defined as "a quantifiable measure used to evaluate the success of an organization, employee, athlete, etc. in meeting objectives for performance". The first time I heard the term KPI was in a talk by Olympic track coach, Dan Pfaff. While track and field is an objective sport based on distance and time, soccer is often interpreted as a more subjective game. Sure, a striker's goal count can be easily tracked, but coaches may like the way one midfielder plays more than another and it is hard to quantify which player is indeed more effective. All of this is changing, as technology advances and becomes more integrated into world and youth soccer.
Soccer performance demands and development are on the forefront of research these days and within the last year there have been some huge studies. Not every study is done perfectly, but I think when they use large enough sample sizes like they did in the cases below, there is a lot to learn and it would be dumb of me not to use this valuable information to help players and coaches. So, lets get nerdy and dive in to the science.
Being a great passer goes way beyond playing the soccer ball to the person you want. Here are some things to consider when thinking about good soccer passing
In their publication "Foundations of Sports and Exercise Psychology," Robert Weinberg and Daniel Gould explain the critical factors contributing to early withdraw from sports are a lack of enjoyment, excessive pressure and an overemphasis on winning. In fact, if you ask young soccer players for reasons why they enjoy playing soccer, “winning” isn’t even in the top 10 most common answers. As adults, we hijack their experience to satisfy our purposes.
All too frequently, games represent the “big stage” and are overhyped by parents and coaches. For instance, listen to pregame “pep-talks” and you’ll too often hear coaches saying things like: “This team is really good, you guys are going to have to bring your A-game if you want to beat them.” Or, “Remember, if we don’t play smart out there, they’re going to punish us.” Or, “If you don’t work hard, I’m going to sub you out.” Or, “Last time we played them, they beat us on a bad penalty call. We owe them this time!”
The great majority of young soccer players already want to do their best; they don’t take the field with the plan of playing poorly. The research is clear: these types of pregame talks actually inhibit young players’ performances by pushing them beyond their “sweet spot” level of arousal.