How to become a two footed football player
With almost anything in life, you have to be intentional about achieving a desired goal. In football, one of those goals should be to master the ball with either foot, otherwise known as being a two footed football player.
Watch almost any toddler playing football and you’ll find them favouring one side. As a coach or parent, you can give your child the best possible start by getting them to practise with both their left and right foot from the beginning.
Why is it such a brilliant gift for a player to be two footed? Because they are harder to defend against, able to pass with more options, and they can shoot with both feet confidently, increasing the number of scoring opportunities. This opens up the game for them and will result in more time spent on the ball – creating the snowball effect of allowing them to develop more. Football at the foundational youth level is all about a player’s development, so becoming two footed can be a key advantage to getting ahead.
As a parent or coach, there are several ways to help enable a two footed football player. Depending on their age, you can train with specific exercises and tools to master this skill. At IQ Football, we use a neuroscience approach to training. Neuroplasticity is a term that refers to the brain’s ability to change and adapt as a result of experience. We can assist our brains in growing healthy new neural connections to enable new skills to be learnt.
Modern research has demonstrated that the brain continues to create new neural pathways and alter existing ones throughout our lives in order to adapt to new experiences, learn new information, and create new memories. Neurons that are used frequently develop stronger connections and those that are rarely or never used eventually die. We need to help a player’s brain to build stronger neural connections for their weaker foot.
The harder a player struggles in their practise, the more their brain has to change. So the load is important. In the same way that lifting a weight with your arms that feels too easy is not going to help your biceps grow, the brain also needs a certain amount of struggle in order to drive change. Where you struggle most is where you improve the most.
In the words of Neuroscientist, Jeffrey Holt
“Soccer is a triumphant display of the incredible plasticity of the human brain. More than any other sport, soccer requires a brilliance that redefines the cerebral cortex because the soccer player is limited by one simple rule: No hands!”
So we are honing in on our feet and asking our brain to build stronger neural connections for our weaker foot. Despite the initial overload, through repetition, the brain will learn to adapt and create the necessary neural pathways for maximum efficiency in performance output. The result? The weaker foot will learn to be strong.
So, what exercises will be used to do this?
The IQ Ball is a size-2 IQ football, made out of high quality material with a string securely attached to the fabric of the ball. It has shown to improve: attention and concentration, technique, perception, coordination and timing. But importantly, it can help a player become two footed. Why? The IQ ball enables bilateral activity (left/right and forwards/backwards) and practise with his/her weaker foot as much as the stronger foot. The player can continuously switch between his/her left and right foot. The importance of repetition when it comes to the weaker foot is paramount to improving.
Using the IQ Ball will enable thousands of touches in a shorter amount of time. It means the player can practise at home, even indoors walking around the house without fear of breaking anything.
See some basic practise sessions in these clip below.
Coaches can encourage players to do short spurts of simple drills that will encourage players to use their weaker foot. These include:
- Warm ups – tap the ball forwards and roll it back – alternate each foot.
- Skills training – such as doing kick ups, with points only being awarded for touches that use the weaker foot.
- Shooting drills where only the weaker foot is used.
- Players using only their weaker foot for dribbling, passing and shooting in a small sided game.
When it comes to technique, players generally find it more awkward and less natural to execute basic skills with their weaker foot. Going through the basic steps can help you develop proper technique. For example, shooting is an important skill that can be broken up by the following steps:
- Opening your shoulder on the side of your striking foot
- Placing your non-striking foot next to the ball
- Locking your ankle
- Using your laces as the contact point with the ball
- Making a full arc with your striking foot
You can read more about this in depth in this post on how to get more power on your shots. Players must practise more with their weaker foot to master these skills.
Three tips to remember before embarking on the exercises:
- The harder you struggle in your practise, the more your brain has to change.
- Effort is more important than the result. The process is more important than the victory. Remember that your growth mindset will keep you going for longer and your chances of success will be higher.
- Positive thoughts = positive emotion = better concentration.
Players who are two footed have a much greater advantage over those who aren’t. It is a skill that can be learnt. Be intentional about using your weaker foot and eventually it will become as strong as the other.
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