The #1 ELEMENT your players need to find to guarantee better performance is... SPACE.
Space. All great players find it, exploit it and benefit from doing so.
“As an eventual receiver of the ball, you have to look in the open space for a position enabling you to get the football in good conditions. ... It is often a matter of one step more or less.” – Johan Cruyff
It may seem counter intuitive, but if you teach players to play with a deeper understanding of space, they will execute better. The parents on the sidelines and the casual onlooker will think that Johnny or Jane has become so much better technically. Wow, a completed pass. A probing shot. A purposeful dribble.
OK, maybe not the parents who yell “BOOT IT!” but we cannot win over everyone. The most important beneficiary of the productive management of space will be your player. She will dance within that space with confidence. She will find solutions with a fraction more time afforded to her. Your player will not only appear technically better, but also become technically better as she seeks more technical quivers to add to her arsenal of skills. Demand will drive supply.
Ball control void of spatial awareness is of little service to a true footballer.
The greatest masters of the game were masters of so many components of the game. They could pass,
“There’s only one moment in which you can arrive in time. If you’re not there, you’re either too early or too late.” - Johan Cruyff
In the end we must be honest with our children by explaining that there are no shortcuts to success within or beyond football. And to refute my entire article here we should not reduce the beautiful game to guarantees and false promises.
But we can suggest that football is a multi-directional game, a choreographed dance in time and space to be enjoyed thoroughly with best friends, caring coaches and loving parents. And we can go out to train it and to play it as such.
“The ideal space must contain elements of magic, serenity, sorcery, and mystery.” – Luis Barragan