Written by Michael Robson
Touch is Critical to Strikers
We have already stated that the most important element of a great striker is mental toughness and mental attitude. This is closely followed by Touch. The 'magic touch' is critical if you want to be a Golden Boot Striker.
A great touch in a tight situation puts you in control and gives you more time. One to two seconds of extra time may be all that you need to set you up to take on and beat that last defender or keeper. All the greatest strikers have a great touch.
Touch is not just in relation to a pass to your foot. You need a great touch with the
- Inside of the Foot,
- Outside of the foot,
- Highball – using a soft foot approach,
- A ball fired at you, hard, at close range,
- Touch is even involved when running with the ball at speed – in a straight line.
What training does a striker have to do to improve touch? Practice and more practice. It is really obvious to a striker coach, at the beginning of a season, which players have been practicing and which players have not, based on their touch. Even a few weeks of no practice is noticeable.
5 Drills to Improve Your Touch
- Juggling is a good way to begin; start with juggling- standing still, then try juggling while walking - say 60 metres, and finally develop into running and juggling - the target should be over 100 metres.
- Kick a ball up against a wall and when the ball returns practice various ways to develop your touch. Develop your ability to cushion the ball i.e. move your foot backward as the ball reaches your foot, thereby cushioning the ball onto your foot.
- Ask you parent, sibling or friend to fire balls at you
- Running with the ball at speed – in a straight line, is a simple but effective way to develop your speed touch
- Kick a ball into the air to develop your soft foot touch. When the ball comes to your foot, your foot must be very soft and lax. Your ankle must be very relaxed; we often say ‘soft as a pillow’, like a dead fish - all floppy.
Did I say it needs practice? Great touch needs lots and lots of practice, there is no short-cut, you just have to work hard and practice OFTEN. We now know that the practice produces a substance in the brain called Myelin. Myelin grows with practice and provides you the ability to execute skills better, and faster.
So practice, practice, and more practice and you will develop into a great striker.
Speed is Essential
Watching an A-League game will highlight the importance of speed to a Striker, both running speed and foot speed. Speed makes the difference. A striker must push the limits. All the elements of speed can be improved. Faster, faster, faster must be a focus after the technique is established. Each Striker training session must include speed as part of the schedule.