Why Kicking The Ball Away Hurts Development
Kicking the ball away with no thought does not contribute to a player’s development or improvement in soccer for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, it fails to promote the development of critical skills such as ball control, passing accuracy, tactical decision making, and understanding of game dynamics. These abilities form the basis of high-level soccer and are essential for individual growth and team synergy. Secondly, mindlessly kicking the ball doesn’t encourage players to consider their positioning, the positioning of their teammates, and the overall game situation, which are crucial elements of strategic gameplay. Lastly, such an approach can lead to the reinforcement of poor habits and a lack of self-confidence on the ball. In contrast, encouraging thoughtful, purposeful play nurtures a more nuanced understanding of the sport, cultivates a range of skills, and aids in the creation of more complete, adaptable, and resilient players. Below are 8 reasons how Kicking the ball away hinders player development:
8 Reasons Not To "Kick It Away"
Only Practicing 1 Skill
When a player consistently kicks the ball away, they limit their opportunity to develop a wide range of soccer skills. This narrow focus on a single skill can hinder their overall growth as a player, as they do not practice essential techniques like dribbling, passing, or ball control. Furthermore, this habit can lead to an imbalanced skill set, making it harder for them to contribute effectively to their team’s success.
Low Decision Making
Continuously kicking the ball away prevents players from exercising their decision-making abilities, which are crucial in soccer. By not evaluating the game situation and considering their options, they miss out on developing essential cognitive skills like spatial awareness, game understanding, and tactical acumen. This lack of decision-making practice can result in slower on-field reactions and a limited ability to adapt to various game situations.
Lower enjoyment when they don’t have the ball: Players who habitually kick the ball away often spend less time in possession, which can decrease their overall enjoyment of the game. Soccer becomes more fun and engaging when players actively participate by controlling the ball, making decisions, and collaborating with teammates. Kicking the ball away reduces these opportunities, leading to a less fulfilling experience on the field.
Low engagement in the game: Players who consistently kick the ball away may become less engaged in the game, as their limited involvement could make them feel disconnected from the flow of play. This disengagement can affect their motivation, focus, and willingness to put forth effort, which can be detrimental to both their individual performance and the team’s overall success.
Stops Team Attacking
Hinders team’s offensive capabilities: Kicking the ball away without any intention or purpose often results in giving possession back to the opponent. This not only puts pressure on the player’s team defensively but also limits the team’s ability to create goal-scoring opportunities and build up attacking moves.
Undermines teamwork and cohesion: Soccer is a team sport that relies on effective communication, understanding, and cooperation among players. Continuously kicking the ball away can disrupt team dynamics, as it hinders the development of chemistry and trust between teammates, making it harder to execute coordinated plays and strategies.
Can't Exploit The Opposition
Inability to exploit opposition weaknesses: Players who constantly kick the ball away miss the chance to capitalize on gaps and vulnerabilities in the opponent’s defence. By not assessing the game situation and making calculated decisions, they forfeit the opportunity to create scoring chances and put pressure on the opposing team.
Reinforces Negative Habits
Reinforces negative habits: Repeatedly kicking the ball away can establish a negative habit that becomes difficult to break, especially as players progress to higher levels of competition. This habit can be a significant barrier to their long-term growth and development, making it harder for them to reach their full potential as soccer players.
How We Can Help Our Players
The main thing we can do to help our players is to emphasize the importance of possession and decision-making during games. Encourage players to control the ball, assess their options, and make informed decisions rather than kicking it away. Reinforce this message consistently during practices & games. Stop telling players to “boot it”, “kick away” or “get rid of it” every time they are in a situation with any pressure.