The use of it is so important in these age groups.
But does ball mastery have a place in training for players of older ages - such as teenagers, or even adults?
The answer to that, in my opinion, is yes, yes, yes.
Ball mastery is so good for players of all ages.
I’ve been practising ball mastery for the last five to six years and my feet have never been so quick, co-ordinated and skilful, even more so than when I was playing.
You can check out my latest ball mastery release here.
I wish I’d done it more when I was playing because I know that it would have helped my game develop greatly. I was a tricky attacking player, capable of playing on both wings and behind the striker. I loved to beat players, using quick feet and dribbling skills to keep the ball away from them.
Ball mastery would have only helped me.
The hard part with ball mastery at older ages though is having the players buy in to it. It can seem like a routine of moves that some older players may get bored with doing and they may even feel that it might not be relevant to them.
But if you use it within certain exercises, that is where we can really get the benefits.
For instance, you, as an individual, or coach of a team, could incorporate it into fitness sessions. Moving the ball and manipulating it while you’re tired is incredibly game like. Tiredness affects players greatly and how often do we see someone with great skills lose the quality on the ball in the final few minutes of the game?
It happens frequently.
Building ball mastery into a fitness drill can keep the player engaged on their technical skills, conditioning them to perform to a high level while they are getting fatigued. At the same time as this it can also help break up the potential monotony of fitness sessions.
Some players love them, but there are many who’d rather not be doing the running.
Bringing the ball into it makes it much more interesting.
And it can also be used in other parts of the session, such as in a warm up, or potentially in a cool down with some extra touches on the ball.
The main thing is realising that the more touches you can take on the ball, the better you’re going to become. It’s all practice.
The more that you practise, the more that you develop your control of the ball, the better you’ll be, especially when you get into pressurised, competitive situations.
Sometimes players who are more developed, of an older age, can be hesitant in practising ball mastery, feeling like there may not be a need to. But anything that helps you improve should always be worthwhile and the number of touches you can take on the ball while performing ball mastery exercises is great. You can regularly take a few hundred touches, if not more, in five to ten minutes.
But what I really love about ball mastery is that it can help build confidence for players of all ages. Every single player out there goes through stages where they just don’t feel right. Their touch may be off, they aim to perform a quick turn and the ball gets stuck under their feet, even though it wouldn’t do before.
As players we all have these moments and it can leave you doubting your abilities, making you feel nervous and unsure about the next time you receive the ball.
Practising ball mastery can help erase these doubts, in a relaxed environment. Whether that be on your own within your own personal training, or at your team sessions. If you don’t feel like you’re doing well on the ball then the best thing to do is confront that feeling, practising so that you can see your improvements.
Once you see these developments and improvement in your touch and close control, the inevitable rise in confidence will happen.
And this is great for all positions, for instance a goalkeeper who has just been dispossessed of the ball, or a winger who just can’t seem to beat their opponent in a one on one situation.
The more that you are taking touches on the ball, the more comfortable you will feel with it. The ball mastery exercise that you use can help you really speed up your feet while improving the control.
Something every player, in each position, should aim for.
So it doesn’t matter if you are a teenager or adult practising ball mastery. It’s not just for the young ones because it can help you too.
The main things is realising that development happens all throughout your footballing career.
Keep an open mind and always aim to improve and there will never be any harm in wanting to become better on the ball, no matter your age, position or level of play.
Try it out, practise ball mastery more regularly and you’ll become more confident on the ball, while developing and improving your technical skills.