As a former college soccer coach, I've spent countless hours observing the highest level high school soccer players at college showcases. This led to coaching many players that went on to play pro soccer or were invited into national team soccer camps. I've seen so many different levels of players with an array of strengths. However, I have given a lot of thought to the technical ability of all the players I've coached and evaluated over the years. This is the one aspect of the game that can be controlled. Speed, height, and athleticism are all things that are to a large extent out of their control. There are many soccer players at high levels still struggling with fundamentals like basic passing technique and first touch.
I can't remember the first time this thought came to mind but it must have been close to ten years ago when I first started coaching at the college level. I remember thinking to myself on the sidelines of recruiting events and games "Why is the pass completion rate so low? Why is their first touch so inconsistent?"
This week, I met with a great group of four high school soccer players in a small facility in Westwood, NJ where for the last seven weeks we've met to "go back to the basics." All four of the players play for top clubs in New Jersey and for seven weeks we've spent an hour working on perfecting basic passing techniques and first touch. I've made them repeat a basic pass until it was completed without a bounce, with perfect accuracy, and the perfect weight over and over. It was this week, at week seven, that I noticed the biggest jump in their comfort level with the ball.
This was a great moment for me...I proved what I've believed all along....Quality practice makes perfect!