The Perfect Touch

Soccer these days has been largely influenced with the thought of power and strength. In order to score goals, one must use all the force of their leg to get the ball past all the defenders and the goalkeeper to get it into the back of the net. Playing three times a week and watching clips on the internet, I see a lot of players focused on two concepts: power and velocity. Whether it be while taking a shot, going for a free kick, or making a cross towards the goal. Every time I see something like that happen, it frustrates me just slightly. Sure, sometimes it’s my teammates that do it, but there are a lot of others that do it as well. Why though? Because it’s not always necessary…When someone learns the game, they think about trying to kick the ball as hard as they can. Doesn’t matter the direction or the reasoning, it just has to go somewhere. As their skills develop, their skills become more and more refined. They develop a better sense of the game and how to move with the ball: dribbling, trapping, juggling and so forth. While these skills are being developed, they also have better control of their own power and strength with the ball. As I watch others play, I notice their focus being towards powering their passes to their teammates or just forcing shots or crosses or so forth with that brute strength. But what is lost or not in their mind is putting the right touch on the ball. It seems start losing its appeal and become more and more like a lost art. While powerful shots are impressive and putting a lot of velocity on the ball to get it to one of your teammates can be mesmerizing and impressive, it’s the perfect pass and touch on the ball that really dazzles and shows the true beauty of the game. We can easily get overexcited about our own physical strength. In doing so, we screw up what would have been easy plays to complete. A shot where all you have to do is place it well becomes hit wide or over the crossbar. A cross that could have been placed in front of the player now is being chased after to the point where it goes out-of-bounds. A through ball that requires just an easy pass now rolls into the path of the goalkeeper to control and possess safely. It’s so easy to think about putting all our force and power into the ball that we just overcompensate and lose control of the ball to the other team. Power is a great resource. But it doesn’t make soccer what it is. It’s about the touch, the control, the movement, the artistry of the ball about the field. While developing the ability to have that perfect touch can be difficult and challenging, the rewards for having such a skill are endless. Many of the best players in the history of the game aren’t known for their power and strength, but their touch and mastery of the ball. Pele, Zidane, Maradonna, just to name a few. It’s something to keep in mind as we continue to play this beautiful game. It’s all about the touch.

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