The Four Cornerstones of Soccer
Alan Sale, Advanced Placement (AP) Coordinator and former President of Stow Soccer Club, discusses the four cornerstones of soccer and how they can be used at various age levels. This feature focuses on the Munchkin program. Watch for additional age levels to be featured in the near future!
It is the goal of the SSC, from its Munchkin through its U16 program, to define a structured progression with clear parameters in order for its coaches to train its players in the game of soccer.
There are four cornerstones that are evident at every level of the game of soccer… psychological, physical, technical, and tactical.
Clearly there should be different emphasis placed on each one depending on the age and ability level of each player.
The following general outline is the suggested progression on how to effectively build on the four cornerstones throughout the different levels of Stow Soccer.
The only psychological goal at this stage of development is to have fun.The coach has to be patient and enthusiastic so that the players receive an exciting and positive introduction to the game of soccer that will ensure their future participation in the years to come.
At this stage any fitness will come as a result of the players having fun and being active. Through soccer games and activities the players will improve their balance and coordination. No special attention need be given to this area.
At this age level we introduce the basic skills necessary to play the game of soccer. Description of the four basic skills follows. It is important that we teach the proper technique, as we will be building on this foundation throughout the remaining levels of Stow Soccer. Soccer technical skills are a learned habit and the more times a player touches the ball, in the proper manner, the more confident the player will be on the ball.
- Use small controlled steps keeping the ball close.
- Use the inside of each foot.
- Keep the head up as much as possible.
- Use inside of foot in lock position.
- Balance foot placed directly beside ball with toe pointed at target.
- Concentrate on striking middle of ball.
- Use inside of foot.
- Concentrate on hitting middle of ball.
- As ball touches foot, pull foot back to soften touch.
- Strike ball with laces.
- Balance foot placed directly beside (or ahead if rolling) ball with toe pointed at target.
Absolutely no emphasis should be placed on tactics at this level. Emphasis should be placed on playing in groups and having fun.
Training Session Breakdown
Small-Sided Games 20 mins
- Warm-up 10 mins Always start with a fun and enjoyable activity. Each player should have a ball and get in a few hundred touches. Try to prepare the players mentally and physically for the rest of practice.
- Fun Skill Games (Technical Focus) 30 mins These should be high energy, fun activities that reinforce the basic techniques.
Each practice should always conclude with a small-sided game. Let the players have fun with minimal rules.