Aerial Control

Bounce Juggles and Aerial Manipulation

Beckham Juggling the ball with his Head

Bounce Juggles can be very beneficial to the players as this involves one of the main issues which surrounds youth football as a skill.What is meant by this is that it is very important for children to learn how to bring the ball out of the air as quick and as efficient as possible in order to win possession for they’re teams. I have found in my experience that youth teams that are able to do this have a much higher chance of victory than if they cant.The strange thing is this is a neglected area in the sport even with its importance to the match, it is one of the most annoying segments of watching a game that I’m coaching and it is one of those things that grinds my gears when I see a goal kick and the ball flying in the air and the ball approaching the ground with a youth player attempting to track the ball, missing the ball again and again and again and again,the ball bouncing three or four times before a player brings the ball under control.It is a frustrating issue to have due to how different a teams fortunes could be with the simple ability to control the ball out of the air and look for a pass and sadly it is rare that I see a coach spending any time on this especially here in England although i did see it more often in the USA.

The one excuse i have heard a lot when i have asked coaches about how much they work on this is that there isn’t enough time to work on this or prioritize a session to controlling the ball out of the air.This is wrong as you don’t need to prioritize a session towards this if you have committed your plans to work on something else but you can use time where there are delays and gaps to use this and also times of the session where the coach needs a minute to change one or two things.The main time where this can be implemented is the beginning of the session,as explained in the Skills Squares section in the U8 category the children will never all arrive at the same time so i put them into skill squares but there is no law against which skills or techniques you use in those skill squares so why cant you have one of the squares to practice control out of the air or even a few, you could even prioritize some weeks to having 5 minutes at the beginning of the session before you move onto the main objectives of the session to practice this.As you can see just because you don’t want to commit to train sessions on this there are ways to implement the technique without disrupting the nucleus of you’re sessions.Another way of nurturing this technique is to change the way you give them the ball back in play in practice, instead of passing them the ball with you’re feet ,start to underarm throw the ball in the air to them to force them to bring the ball under control.

Clint Dempsey of Fulham controlling the ball out of the air

The Bounce Juggles are pretty self explanatory.Have the players stand with the ball in their square and ask them to throw the ball in the air just in front of themselves.At first you want them to have that first bounce so that they can train their body to judge the movement of the ball and coordinate they’re reaction time with that movement so maybe you would start with a target of three bounce juggles so once that ball bounces can they use the laces to juggle the ball back into the air and judge the movement of the ball in order to juggle a further two times allowing the ball to bounce.Once the players are used to this make it more difficult.

  • can they achieve 20 bounce juggles ?
  • just how many can they do?
  • can they bring another part of the body into it ?
  • Can they attempt 3 bounce juggles leading to two thigh touches ?
  • The challenges are limitless

 Once you have seen improvement and the players are comfortable with the movement of the ball when it is falling from a greater height you can then start to challenge them by using they’re laces to bring the ball down into they’re running path so maybe you would have them thro
w the ball higher and further into the distance so they have to move to the target and have them practice trapping the ball using timing as the key influence and the laces bring down which keeps the ball in control but moving to keep the flow of the possession of the ball and over the weeks that they get more and more developed with this technique you can start to add the other parts of the body like you’re chest and the head.
The options and different ways of doing this are endless, I just wanted to give you an example of how these techniques can be achieved without much effort over time.These are based on my experience and observations in Youth Football where it generally tends to be the teams that can manipulate the ball out of the air and have a great knowledge of the different supporting runs to coincide with that.

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