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U12s use both feet in training but on match days only use stronger foot?

I coach an under 12s team and although in training we do lots of passing and shooting drills, using both feet, when it comes to a game situation (in training or on Sunday) they all go back to only kicking using their stronger foot.

They have to start 1) to be fully aware they are doing it 2) to take the initiative no matter how weak their foot is to keep trying to use the weaker foot to kick 3) keep practicing it. The only risk is that the weaker foot ends up becoming the stonger foot. I had this problem when I was playing and my left foot which used to be my weaker foot ended up becoming my stronger foot I think. I have been trying to train my grandson from the age of 2yrs he could run & kick the ball with his right foot right across the park and no matter how much I tried getting him to use the left foot at the last minute he changed to his right it used to be funny but he was only 2 so I was forced to be patient. He is now 4 and uses both feet for passin, ball control and kicking.

it will come eventually to most of the players,, the situation will present itself and the mind will take over and they will attempt to kick with their weaker foot, be ready to praise a lot about them using it when it happens and especially if it goes wrong.

Well, you are just banging your head against the proverbial wall if you just say "use your other foot" whether left or right.

Its the decision making that must go hand in hand with using the other foot when appropriate so its more about expecting young players in the pressure situation of a match to use the correct foot for that moment than just getting them to use the other foot just for the sake of development.

In your SSGs, its more beneficial to use Challenges and Rewards to get players to use the weaker foot.

i.e. If a player scores with the non dominant foot counts 3 or for the first X number of passes, use the non dominant foot or only goals scored with the non dominant foot count.

Remember, its all well and good getting players to use the 'other' foot. But if they get so obessed about that than using the correct foot for that situation then no development is taking place other than increasing the level of errors in play.

So the real trick is to have players use both feet equally so their motor responses become on a par whichever foot is used.

*               oB *   

*  Ao                  *

In pairs ball each. At the same time each taps the ball towards the empty cone in front and instantly shuffle left to receive other ball. Each controls the ball on the inside of the left foot across sideways back to where they started and then repeat the whole sequence on an on.

30 secs then start with the ball on the left cone first.

Progress:

*               oB *   

*  Ao                  *

Now, start off as before but after the first tap and receive the other ball instead of repeating the sequence again there is a further tap back to the left then repeat but from the other side first:

i.e.

*1              oB *3

*2 Ao                    *4

A = Tap ball to 4 shift to 1 control ball from B from 1 to 2, tap back from 2 to 1 then tap towards 3.

Meanwhile, B taps towards 1 shuffles to receive ball from A at 4 tap the ball back to 3 another tap back to 4 then tap the ball forward to 2. This is all done in a rhythm so both balls are moving at the same time but at opposite sides.

A bonus of this is the transition from Anaerobic to Aerobic work while working the technical skills of both feet.

I wouldn't worry too much about it to be honest. This might be controversial but I've yet to be fully convinced of the benefits of being a really 'two footed' player. I'm not sure that all the time practising kicking on the weaker foot is really worth it when there are so many other aspects of the game, including improving the stronger foot, that coaches could be focusing on. There are so many one-footed professional players around that barely touch the ball with their weaker foot during the game. They can manipulate the ball so well with the stronger foot that the weaker one becomes pretty much redundant and is only really used for the simpliest of skills. If anything I think it's possible for the brain to get so confused about which foot you should be using that it complicates things, especially in kids. If you started using your weaker hand to practice writing, in an exam you'd instinctively pick up the pen and crack on with the stronger hand no matter how much practice you've had with the other. OK bad example but you get my point. Even though I'm not entirely convinced, I think you're doing the right thing making them practice with both feet but exactly how much time the weaker foot warrants as opposed to other things, I'm not sure - e.g.; do you make the do every drill the same number of times with both feet or do you make them do it more times with the weaker foot or do you make them do it 10% of the total number of times with the weaker, because only 10% of their touches in games need to be with the weaker foot? I'd welcome any comments.

Hey pal,

It is important your players, learn to use both feet, because it will enhance their ability, regardless of what other coaches say.

I've been and have spoken to coaches many times regarding the situation in which you find your players aren't transfering the skills you teach in training to the pitch. The solution is Goal setting. Set the goal for your players to use their weaker foot more. For example:

'Lads I want you to use your weaker foot to pass the ball at least 7 times during this skills practice'

Or

'goals scored with your weaker foot during our end game earn more than 1 goal'

Again for match days, challenge your players and set a pre-match goals e.g.:

'As a team in the first half I want you to 'try' and make at least 6 passes with your weaker foot' etc I'd usually suggest that you set these goals during friendlies to start with and build your players up to a genuine match. This way you gradually prepare them.

The important thing is you want to make these team goals on match days. In training, set individual goals to use their weaker foot, similar to those of match days, But make sure again, you enthusise these goals in your SSG's and skill based practices.

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