- Freestyle Goals
- Personal Goals
- Performance Goals
- Short Term Goals
- Long Term Goals
- Close Up Shots
- Straight Shooting
- Calling the shots
- Shooting Gallery
- Skills Park
The freestyle goal is to do more, do it better, do it smarter, do it faster, and do it now.
When we look back 20 years at the way that Soccer was coached, we get an insight into what the kids of today are going to think in 20 years time. The goal of the future is to believe in our players and the natural talent that all kids have. The next generation won’t want to wait 10 years for a perfect system to kick in. There’s so much more to coaching than just teaching techniques and tactics so that teams can win games. Soccer is only a game. What’s really important is the long term development of all our Soccer players. We can all do the same but innovation just isn’t the same anymore. It isn’t what it used to be. We need to develop kids who can use their intelligence, initiative and intuition so they continue to learn and grow.
We can stimulate intelligence by asking questions so that kids have to think for themselves. We can inspire confidence by telling players to make as many mistakes as they like so we can discover the underlying cause. We can encourage innovation by letting kids create their own moves. We can give players the freedom to play their own game. We can provide a training environment where kids can practice skills and swap tricks with their mates without being inspected, directed, corrected or protected by well intentioned adults. There are thousands of kids who aren’t scared to fail, lose or make mistakes. They need a chance to challenge themselves and compete with other players.
The ultimate goal for any kid or teenager is to develop confidence
Everyone wants to be appreciated and accepted. That means coaches, club officials, kids and referees. It’s important for kids to feel comfortable with their peers. It’s essential for individuals to feel confident in a team. Fear of weakness makes kids hesitate before they act. Kids who lack confidence laugh when their team mates make mistakes because it deflects the attention from themselves. Lack of confidence accounts for the talented strikers who avoid shooting at goal in case they miss.
The most effective way to develop confidence is to tell kids to make as many mistakes as they like and then watch how quickly they relax. Force is an accurate measure of confidence. Over confident kids are too casual and hit a soft ball. Kids who lack confidence will tense up, rush and try too hard. They juggle the ball too high or boot the ball too hard over the bar to compensate. They need close repetition drills. Freestyle kids are the most confident at school because they have the freedom to think for themselves, make decisions and make mistakes. If you lack confidence, you will never know how good you really are.
Elite kids might get better theory but they need better practice.
Sport should be a challenge. Goals are too big. Strikers need small targets. Soccer kids need short term achievable targets so they can measure their own performance and improvement. The achievement of short term goals is the most effective way to inspire kids to aim higher. Freestyle kids are naturally competitive and always try to beat their personal best. A statistician can use performance measurement to identify skills and talents, strengths and weaknesses, fears, needs and goals.
Coaching should be a challenge. We should look for reasons to try harder, not reasons to give up. Most coaches don’t believe they have the time to measure or record individual performance. Some kids never know if they’re getting better because we don’t measure their performance. It’s not hard or time consuming to evaluate ball skills and fitness levels. It takes 5 minutes for every kid to juggle a ball and write down their juggling figures. It takes 5 minutes to get a whole squad to race once around a training field and record their times. Any coach can take this information home and maintain it on a database. Every soccer kid should be a challenge.
Short Term Goals
Any Freestyle Soccer kid can set their own short term goals. The results need to be clear, immediate, achievable and measurable.
We can improve any Australian Soccer kid in 15 minutes. Actually, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. It only takes 5 minutes to activate the natural ability that all kids have so they can look, listen, think for themselves, communicate, make decisions and create their own moves. 15 minutes just gives us more time to show them the next level. Freestyle kids take the pathway less travelled. They go as far as they can and, from there, they can see a lot further.
Team coaches are guided by a timetable. They allocate specific times and sessions for each skill. Freestyle kids are guided by achievement. They persevere with that technique until they reach the necessary level of proficiency. These kids practice because they want to, not because they have to. They have a reason for everything they do. They always know what they’re up to and where they’re up to. We don’t need to look in a book to improve kids. We need to look at the kid.
Long Term Goals
Some kids look at a challenge and can only see a problem. Other kids look at a problem and can only see a challenge.
There are plenty of differences between ordinary kids and freestyle kids. Ordinary kids practice what they can do and stick with what they know. Freestyle kids practice what they can’t do and discover what they don’t know. In sport, the worst we can be is satisfied. The only problem with a perfect system is when we believe it’s perfect and then we stop trying to improve. The best we can be is challenged. Why would any Australian kid want to be the same as every other Australian kid?
Freestyle kids look outside the goal square. They constantly break away from retro coaching ideas and explore different challenges so they can discover what works and what doesn’t work. Nobody knows the effects of a 2 hour shooting session with 100 balls if they’ve never tried it. Coaches teach everything they know about soccer. Freestyle kids discover everything they don’t know.
Freestyle Soccer kids have been using rubber safety cones as small targets for 30 years. Anybody could have done that.
Soccer kids don’t know how to shoot because coaches don’t know how to score goals. Some kids arrive at the oval on match day and the first thing they do is blast a dead ball over the bar from 30 metres out. Most coaches have no idea how to develop shooting power. They get kids to shoot as hard and as often as possible from outside the penalty box, in the hope that the keeper will make a mistake. The average striker spends 15 minutes each week learning to kick straight at the keeper and they become really good at it because the keeper wears bright clothing.
Networking is a 2 hour shooting session with 100 balls. Freestyle kids use networking to develop marksmanship. They develop timing and control before they increase their power and they repeat the same drill until it becomes second nature. Freestyle kids aren’t affected by fear of failure. They learn how to score because they know how to miss. They know what to do, learn how to do it and understand why, so they can decide when and where to do it while other kids hold back.
Close Up Shots
Freestyle kids learn how to finish because they know where to start
Simple steps are the key to marksmanship. Kids start shooting inside the 6 yard box and gradually increase momentum. Skills development should be progressive. Shooting sessions can last for two hours and use up to 100 balls so Freestyle kids don’t expect too much too soon. They develop timing, rhythm, balance and coordination before they increase range. Scoring is a specialist skill needing specialist practice.
Close up shots are short and simple, slow and steady, smooth and safe, and begin with two touch control on the ground. A good shot looks good, feels good and sounds good. The ball makes a deep sound if the timing is perfect and a high slapping sound if the timing is off. As players develop a feel for the ball, they gradually increase the distance, speed, height and intensity of their shooting.
Ordinary kids follow the basic rules of kicking Soccer balls. Freestyle kids discover different ways to bend them.
Ordinary Soccer kids are very straight forward. They run straight forward and kick straight forward. They stab at a ball and kick ahead. Their shooting drills always involve running down the centre of the pitch. These kids spend years learning to strike through the centre of the ball so that it goes straight every time. They learn real skills.
Freestyle kids learn unreal skills and practice different kicks until they become intuitive. They don’t always kick straight. They slice the ball, lob the ball, chip the ball and bend the ball. Anybody can learn to kick a ball. Freestyle kids learn to control a ball. They learn from everything they do whether it’s right or wrong. They improvise so they can understand the aerodynamic forces of a round ball. Freestyle kids have fun with a Soccer ball and they put a different spin on the game.
Calling the shots
If we lower the bar any further, nobody will be able to score goals.
In a game determined by the number of goals scored, most teams spend the minimum amount of time at shooting practice. 15 minute sessions each week for the whole squad reduces scoring ability to a game of hit and miss. Strikers need to revolutionise their training.
Shooting practice should consist of a 2 hour session using at least 100 balls. Scoring drills should include rapid fire and power shooting from every angle and range. Kids need to practice close repetition ballwork in pairs so that they get hundreds of touches and switch effortlessly between control and support. Instead of feeding every group drill, the coach should be able to stand in the centre and monitor training pairs. Extended shooting sessions enable kids to establish a firm foundation of footwork, vision, timing and rhythm (cognitive level), gradually increase the velocity, speed and distance of the shots (associative level) and finish with rapid fire power shots from outside the box (intuitive level). Confidence comes from finding the eye of the bull without hitting anything else.
Freestyle kids learn to receive and strike the ball at any angle, range and height.
The Horseshoe is an intensive shooting drill designed to assess one player’s ability to position themselves and control 30 balls in 60 seconds from varying angles. The feeder provides high balls starting from the left hand post and moving around to the right hand post.
Some strikers will start near the right hand post and finish in the same spot becoming more entangled and awkward. The freestyle kid is used to shooting from all angles so they will intuitively improve their position. Kids often go through the motions without thinking. Some attackers ballwatch and get caught offside. Some defenders ballwatch and miss the blind side run. Some strikers follow the fullbacks when they move out of position and they mark them. Kids soon improve as they learn more about vision and space. Every kid can benefit from individual shooting practice
Kids will achieve their goal when they stop looking so hard for it. The top players learn to relax under pressure.
The Rainbow is a totally intuitive drill that enables the coach to assess the footwork and vision of all players. Using 100 balls and up to 8 players, the average striker gets about 12 shots in a 60 second drill. The aim of the exercise is to make shooting automatic so that kids can shoot on the run without stopping to think. The key to scoring goals is familiarity. Too many kids panic because they lack regular practice.
With 12 shots each, it’s easy to video the drill and analyse the vision of each player as well as the marksmanship. Kids can see their own results. The aim of this drill is to watch the eyes of the players. Most kids don’t check the target before they shoot so shots go wildly astray. Rainbow provides a great workout for any enthusiastic goalkeeper.
Kids need a training environment where they can think for themselves, create their own moves and make their own mistakes.
The vast majority of enthusiastic Soccer kids arrive at the oval on match day, place a dead ball on the ground 20 metres from the goal and proceed to blast it over the crossbar without any preparation. Each shot becomes more erratic and powerful as kids become more frustrated. Soccer kids have no idea of the importance of warming up their muscles before physical activity. Their enthusiasm outweighs the consequences. Shooting efficiency depends on muscle memory.
Every Soccer club should provide a shooting gallery in one isolated corner of the oval where kids can meet on match day and practice close ball drills before they begin to shoot at goal. The kid who gets 200 kicks and 20 shots at goal before kickoff will feel a lot more confident than the kid who stands around and hasn’t even been told what position they’re playing.
A skills park provides an unsupervised learning environment where self motivated kids can think freely, talk freely, move freely and adapt freely.
Surfers have their beaches, skateboard riders have their parks, BMX riders have their own tracks, basketballers keep their own court. These sports understand teenagers and provide outlet for their energy.
Every junior Soccer club should provide a Skills Park, like a skate park, where freestyle kids can meet once a week to learn new skills and swap tricks with their mates without any adult supervision. Every club should recognise and support those kids who have the motivation to practice ball skills without being told. Kids can’t achieve their full potential if adults make all the decisions for them. The key is to make kids responsible for running the drills so they learn what to do, how to do it and why. The Skills Park is a training centre run by kids for kids. Australian kids want their ball back so they can play their own game.
Top Gun Academy
If kids knew how to shoot they’d take more shots and if coaches knew how to score goals they’d run longer shooting sessions.
Every major Soccer region in Australia should provide a Top Gun Academy where the best strikers from each club have an opportunity to train with their peers. A group of kids competing to blast the ball over the crossbar for 15 minutes every week is just a turkey shoot. Crossbar challenge doesn’t help. It’s the net result that counts. Serious strikers need a 2 hour scoring session with at least 100 balls.
Strikers need the same support system and specialised coaching that keepers have. In a game determined by the number of goals, it would seem more positive to focus on scoring them as much as stopping them. There are kids who can strike a small target 9 times out of 10. There are others who can drive a low shot from 30 metres out and ball players who can float a high ball towards the far post away from the keeper. If we put these kids together, they will create something new and can improvise their own shooting drills. We already know what the older generation can do. It’s time to discover what the next generation can do.
Psst! No team coach can improve a kid as quickly and effectively as a Personal soccer skills trainer! They know what to look at and what to look for.
A team coach teaches techniques and tactics so that teams can win games. They don’t have the time to take control of the personal development of individual players. They can’t see what players are doing off the ball. They correct mistakes as soon as they see them so they never discover their underlying cause. There are 17 year old soccer players who spend years missing open goals because they take their eyes off the ball when they kick and coaches never look at their eyes. In the ten years it takes to coach the average soccer kid, nobody can spare 20 minutes to learn about each kid and discover what they need to improve.
When a kid becomes serious about reaching the top, they need to consider the advantages of individual coaching. A personal trainer can establish a player profile and identify the peak skills and weak skills of each individual. They can provide a full assessment of potential in a couple of 2 hour sessions. Australian Soccer needs personal trainers. We’re overlooking too much talent because we can’t see the players for the teams. A personal trainer isn’t distracted by match results. They can give kids their full attention.
50% of Soccer kids look at the ball when they shoot and 50% look at the goal and team coaches don’t have time to look at their eyes so these kids stay the same for ten years.
In the 10 years it takes to coach the average Australian Soccer junior, nobody will spend 20 minutes with that kid to learn about them, identify their talents, analyse their weaknesses or just inspire them. 17 year old kids are repeating the same mistakes they learned when they were seven but now they can do it without thinking. The role of an individual coach, personal trainer or mentor is to develop character, stimulate intelligence, activate talent, generate energy and inspire confidence.
An individual coach observes kids making mistakes and identifies the underlying cause. Some kids struggle to strike a ball because they’re flat footed and stab at the ball awkwardly instead of kicking through it smoothly. Some kids struggle to strike the target because they take their eyes off the ball when they kick it. We see what we want to see. Two opposing coaches will watch the same incident and one will see a blatant foul while the other will only see a perfect tackle. Experts see what they’re trained to see. An individual coach just observes and learns.
The aim of a Troubleshooter is to help kids who have trouble shooting. The aim of a Skills Coordinator is to help every kid coordinate their natural skills with their Soccer skills.
Every junior Soccer club should provide a skills coordinator whose sole responsibility is to identify, develop, measure and record the skill levels of every individual Soccer kid. A team coach needs to focus on match results and doesn’t have the time to observe individual players or discover their strengths, weaknesses, skills, talents, fears, needs, limits or goals.
A club specialist can visit teams at training and liaise with the team coach to identify specific kids who need help and certain team skills that need expert drills. They can observe games and focus on players without being distracted by the pressures of the match. Once they identify the underlying cause of mistakes, the specialist/coordinator can develop a personal training program relevant to each individual. Every junior club should have a kids helpline.
There are coaches who try not to lose instead of trying to win. There are strikers who pass the ball so they don’t have to shoot and miss. There are players who blame the referee for every loss.
From the smallest kid to the biggest organisation, there are only four obstacles to achievement. These are ignorance, laziness, selfishness and fear and they come from within us not without us. They affect the way we run the game, the way we coach and the way we play. There are coaches and players who look for reasons not to push themselves. Freestyle kids are different to ordinary kids because they assume responsibility for their own improvement. They conquer adversity by developing their intelligence, motivation, character and confidence given the choice, they always take the hard way out.
An inferiority complex holds us back from believing in the talent of kids or listening to any ideas that are new or different. We can’t compete with the leading football nations of the world by playing it safe and avoiding competition or side stepping failure. The aim of Freestyle kids is to constantly challenge themselves to reach the top. The ‘in’ words for Freestyle Soccer are initiative, innovation, intuition intelligence and integrity. Instead of being the last country in the world that still needs to copy other football nations, we could be the first country to pioneer a soccer learning program to identify and develop what every kid needs to achieve their full potential.
Ordinary training produces ordinary players. Extra training produces extraordinary players.
If you really want to achieve your full potential, you don’t need to wait for someone to tell you what to do. If are a Freestyle Kid. You can get fit and you can develop a high level of ball skills on your own. You can achieve anything you want if you believe in your own talent. All you need to do is embrace change and challenge. Do you really think the old generation know what the next generation can achieve? They ain’t seen nothing yet.
The most important subject you can learn about is yourself. Look at your strengths and weaknesses and identify your natural talents. Find other Freestyle kids who have the motivation to do extra training. If you really want to achieve your full potential, you need to improve your natural talents and discover your limits so you can extend them. You are the only one who can decide how far you can go. Think for yourself! YOU are the most important reason for this website. There are skills just waiting for you to discover them. There is only one person who can stop you from reaching the top. You.
Players Of The Future
The future of Australian Soccer is great because there’s so much room for improvement and so many different ways to improve so many talented players.
If we’re serious about competing with the leading Football nations of the world we need to discover kids who are naturally competitive. We need to look for Freestyle Soccer kids who can think for themselves, speak up for themselves, express themselves, see for themselves, push themselves and believe in themselves.
If coaching is too good, we create players who stop thinking and leave the responsibility for their future to their coach. There are skilful kids who are happy to train when they’re told and do what they’re told. There are elite players who prefer to wait in the car till the coach arrives. These players become great observers and followers of the game. You can pick the Freestyle kids. They juggle a ball as soon as they arrive at the oval. Freestyle kids don’t wait to see what happens. If we learn about players we can pick the ones who make it happen. It’s nice to have players who can do what they’re told. It’s better to have players who can do it without being told.
We need to look at what we do and wonder why. And then look at what we don’t do and wonder why not. We need to open our eyes or we won’t see the talented kids and innovative coaches.
Each generation is smarter and more talented than the last generation. That’s evolution. We already know what the older generation can do. We need to learn about the innovation generation. Kids are the key to innovation because they’re willing to look, listen, ask questions and learn. Kids keep going because they don’t know what they can’t do. Adults give up too easily because they know what they can’t do. If it’s all the same to you, then it’s time for a game changer.
We should never impose our own limitations on future generations. The next generation doesn’t want to stand around waiting to be told what to do, how to think or where to move. These kids want to be challenged so they can understand the joy of discovery. We need to look at individual coaching, teenage mentors, goal scoring academies, shooting galleries, individual assessments, performance measurement, 2 hour shooting sessions, motional intelligence, DNA profiles, 200 ball touches, Close Repetition Drills, Skills Parks, 10 Key Elements, Buddy System, Natural Skills, Lighten Up and Freestyle Kids.