Written by Yael Averbuch, Techne Founder and Gotham FC General Manager
I fondly recall the many hours, days, and years that I devoted to my individual training. In fact, I still do it. I credit this training with enabling me to have a wonderful and satisfying soccer career, and a deep connection with the game that I still enjoy.
Soccer is a team sport, but individual training is an essential component of success. As a soccer coach or parent, you have a crucial role in motivating and encouraging your player(s) to engage in individual training. I had great coaches and mentors who challenged and empowered me to improve on my own.
Here are some tips on how to talk to your soccer players about individual training:
1. Explain the benefits of individual training.
Before getting into the specifics of individual training, make sure your players understand why it's essential. Individual training can help players improve their skills, fitness, and tactical awareness. It also provides an opportunity to work on weaknesses and develop strengths, which will make them a better player overall and more confident in their preparation. It addition, it cultivates a level of confidence and discipline that are key to both on and off-the-field success.
2. Set realistic goals.
Help set realistic goals for your players' individual training. Goals should be achievable and specific, such as improving their juggling record or increasing their stamina. Encourage players to track their progress, so they can see the results of their hard work. Emphasize consistency and quality over quantity. I was taught to keep training journals and to view each day of work as cumulative in achieving a longer-term objective.
3. Make it fun.
Individual training should be enjoyable and inspiring. Encourage your players to come up with creative ways to practice, such as using cones or setting up obstacle courses. Make it a game and set challenges to keep them motivated. Older players can listen to music while they train or train with a teammate for extra motivation and to keep it fresh.
4. Lead by example.
While I may have spent so much of my time training on my own, I was rarely alone. That’s because I often had the company of family and/or friends for support, whether just to watch, serve as timers, or toss me balls.
As a coach or parent, it's essential to lead by example. Show your players that you believe in the importance of individual training by joining in to help or doing it yourself. You can provide encouragement, and/or guidance and feedback to help them improve. Even if it's not through soccer, show them through your actions how to set goals, make a plan, self-evaluate, and stick to it.
5. Provide support through resources.
Provide your players with the resources they need to succeed. This could include access to training facilities, equipment, and/or instructional videos. Encourage them to ask for help if they need it. The Techne App is a great resource to help players know what to do, how to do it, and to keep track of their improvement.
6. Celebrate success.
Finally, celebrate your players' success! When they reach a goal or show improvement, acknowledge their hard work and dedication. This will help build their confidence and encourage them to continue with their individual training.
When I reflect on the best moments of my soccer career, I acknowledge the thrill of winning, championships, world travel, and professional opportunities. But more than anything, what endures are the simpler moments—the fun and satisfaction of simply having the ball at my feet, on my own, or casually with others. Those memories don’t fade. And individual training is how and when I built the foundation of my game.