Posts Tagged ‘dominant foot’

Soccer’s Magic Cube

March 1, 2010

A lot of young players today rely on only one foot to do all the work. Oftentimes, I will see young players run around a ball just so they can stop it with their dominant foot. I strongly believe that at a very young age coaches and parents should encourage and work with their players and children to get comfortable using both feet. Much like learning a second language or a musical instrument, it is much easier when a child is young. This can also apply to learning to use both feet.

To help in this endeavor, I have created the ‘Magic Cube’. It is soccer’s equivalent to the ‘Magic 8 Ball’. It helps teach and remind a player which foot to use to stop a ball.

The Magic Cube has three main colors (see below). They are:

  • Light brown represents the side of the body the ball is passed to (pass).
  • Red represents which foot should be used to stop the ball (stop).
  • Blue represents which surface of the foot should be used to stop the ball (side).

The cube also has four letters. They are:

  • L’ for left
  • R’ for right
  • I’ for inside-of-the-foot
  • O’ for outside-of-the-foot

With the help of the Magic Cube, remembering the proper technique for stopping a ball is simple.

  1. When the ball is passed to a player’s left side, he/she should use the inside of the left foot to stop the ball (LIL).
  2. When the ball is passed to a player’s right side, he/she should use the inside of the right foot to stop the ball (RIR).
  3. When the ball is passed to a player’s left side, he/she should use the outside of the right foot to stop the ball (LOR).
  4. When the ball is passed to a player’s right side, he/she should use the outside of the left foot to stop the ball (ROL).

Feel free to download and assemble your own Magic Cube. In other posts, I have mentioned fun practice alternatives. Assembling Magic Cubes would certainly qualify as a fun practice alternative. All you need to bring to practice are some 2-dimensional cubes and a few glue sticks (depending on the age of the kids, the cubes may need to be pre-cut and scored). Once the cubes have been assembled, demonstrate the proper stopping technique. Young players will remember the sage wisdom of the Magic Cube for a long time. During the year, coaches and parents can always refer to the ‘Magic Cube’ when the players need some assistance.

I added dots to each face of the cube so the Magic Cube can also be used as a die. If a player uses the Magic Cube more than once, its message will have a better chance of sinking in. To open and print out the Magic Cube shown above (complete with instructions), click here. To check out Magic Cubes in several color schemes, click here. Choose your favorite. I will also be happy to create a custom-colored Magic Cube. Just let me know.

The sooner a young player feels comfortable using both feet, the better.

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Are You Right or Left Footed?

October 12, 2009

The instructor for my E/D coaching license was Hans de Graef. Great guy. Must have been in his 60s at the time. He was recovering from knee surgery caused by a parachute accident. But he was still out there. I guess very little kept him from the soccer field. But I digress.

One of the questions he asked each coach during the course was whether he/she was right or left footed? I, along with most of the other coaches answered right footed and like most of the other coaches, I was wrong. The correct answer was, “both”. To this day I still remember that question and pose it to every player I coach.

Whenever I ask the question, a lot of kids will argue that ‘both’ was not an option. Had it been, they naturally would have chosen ‘both’. This may be true but on the soccer field, when young players are given the option of controlling or shooting the ball, they will often choose to play the ball with their dominant foot.

It is critical for youth soccer players to develop proficiency and a high degree of comfort with both feet. This means:

  • Practice juggling with both feet
  • Not running around a ball to play it with the dominant foot
  • Shooting the ball with the weaker foot
  • Playing on the left side of the field when the preference is the right side

Players will always have a dominant foot and that is OK. But good players will easily be able to play any ball with either foot (or leg). If you want to be a good player, always remember the preferred answer to the question, “Are you right or left footed?”

“Coach, I am BOTH.”