Saturday, April 02, 2011

Soccer And Deliberate Practice

So I finished the book Talent is Overrated wherein the wonders of deliberate practice are described in great detail. I've begun to apply it with my daughter's soccer workouts and after only 4 sessions, we've seen great results.

I started by watching her carefully at her last game. I noticed that she frequently shanked the ball badly when it came across in front of her, left to right, perpendicular to the direction she wanted to kick it. I took 100 pennies, 3 cups and we went down to the local handball courts. There, I rolled the ball in front of her, left to right, and her goal was to kick the ball into the handball court so that it didn't hit the side walls. We used the pennies and cups to track reps, hits and misses.

On day 1 we did 76 reps and day 2 we did 58 reps. Her success rate was about the same each day, but her misses were closer on day 2. On day 3, we did 75 reps and she did significantly better. At her team practice that day, every part of her game seemed better.

Today we started a new skill - tapping the ball out in front of her with her left foot and then kicking it with her right. This is another skill she'll use over and over in her games. We did 50 reps with right footed shots and 50 reps with right footed passes and by the time we were done, her footwork was right on the money. In the past, her plant foot was all over the place and she had the tendency to pull up after she kicked instead of following through.

Tomorrow is her first game since we started deliberate practice. I'm looking forward to it. I'm sure we'll see a big improvement in her play and also be able to pick out some new, basic skills to work on next week.

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