Off-Season Development

After a long season it is important that players have a break, giving themselves a chance to recharge the batteries and mentally recover from the season that has just passed. However, we do get to a time where the players are ready to get back in to it again. As a player, or a coach, what do we suggest that they do to improve their game and be ready for the beginning of the new season?

Mentally, we believe that it is important players have a break. This period is very important for a player and the mental break will allow players to recuperate and feel ready to begin their training with great intensity again. So what do we do? If structured sessions over the off-season are hard to arrange due to players being unavailable, or just needing a rest, then how do we help players improve their game and be ready for the new season?

The answer to that is lots of individual development and training, which players can do through ball mastery.

Over the two to three months of the off-season it is really important that players keep up their contact time on the ball. How many times do we see players come back to pre-season with a heavy touch, heavy legs and 'rusty' touches? Keeping the level of contact time on the ball is very important in helping players keep sharp technically, and mentally. Ball mastery will provide the solution to maintaining or increasing the players contact time on the ball over the summer months.

What is great about it is the ease at which players can practise ball mastery techniques. All they need is a ball and a small bit of space. Ball mastery will increase the players close control, co-ordination, use of both feet, speed of movement and agility, all in a small area. Players can challenge themselves by attempting ball mastery skills that they may find difficult, or combining ball mastery techniques within a short dribble or turning exercise. Within any ball mastery practise the player is guaranteed to take a large amount of touches on the ball. This increase in contact time will be hugely beneficial, improving the players technique, but also their fitness. At the right intensity, ball mastery can be a difficult workout that maintains fitness.

Below we have 30 Ball Mastery exercises that players can use over the summer months. Some of the exercises will be harder than others, but if a player can go out into their garden, or down the local park and work on these skills then we will see huge development. When we have worked with players over the summer months we have focused on ball mastery training and the development in fitness, technique, confidence, and speed on the ball has been clearly visible at the start of the season.

Even just fifteen minutes of ball mastery a day will help players prepare for the new season. Something which can be quite often over-looked with ball mastery is the impact that it has on a players fitness. Most ball mastery exercises are in small areas and quite often we can think that there aren't many fitness benefits, but the short, sharp and intense nature of the exercises actually provide fantastic fitness and conditioning for the start of the new season. The turning, agility, balance, co-ordination and speed on the ball all allow for great fitness training in preparation for season to come.

Keep taking more touches on the ball, developing your game. What we must do is help players challenge themselves with differing levels of ball mastery exercises that can challenge them and help raise their game to the next level.

Encourage players to use ball mastery over the off-season and watch their game flourish on their return.