The USSF (United States Soccer Federation) teaches in coaching courses that player development is made up of 4 components: Technical, Tactical, Physical (fitness), and Psychological.
The focus the past 7 weeks (January-February) has been in the areas of technical and physical. There are a number of boys on the team who, at this moment, are consistently strong technically — when they receive the ball they keep control, they can receive the ball and then pass the ball quickly to a teammate with an accurate pass—while other players on the team are inconsistent in terms of keeping possession and making quick decisions.
The main difference between the two sets of players? Time with the ball. Those players who consistently keep possession are routinely playing with the soccer ball outside of training sessions. Those players who struggle to keep a ball at their feet are those who get the majority of time with a ball during formal training sessions. If your player wants to become more consistent with the soccer ball then he needs to be working with a soccer ball outside of formal training sessions.
Below is an example of a 3v1 rondo I like to use in sessions … huge focus on technique as well as fitness:
Physical — again just like the technical side of player development there are a handful of players on the Magic who, if asked, could play the full 80 minutes of a game right now. Then, there are some who are not ready to take on such a challenge. But, again, just like technique … the more one keeps challenging themselves physically the more improvement your player will see.
Psychological — with improved technique/fitness comes confidence when playing … the player knows he will be able to control the ball and keep possession … he knows that as a game goes along that he will be able to keep running and working hard because he is in good shape.
Tactical — this is the understanding of the “big picture” … what style do we want to play, where do I need to be positioned in reference to the ball/a teammate/an opponent, etc. This is the mental side of things. This will be the focus of our training sessions as we move into March.
A weakness in one of the four areas has a direct effect a player’s development. Also, the over-reliance on one area (i.e. having athleticism but poor touch on the ball/lacking tactical awareness/being overconfident) can only take a player so far in terms of development. So, as we continue to work toward preparing your player for HS and possibly beyond … the focus will continue to be to strengthen each player’s 4 areas of player development: Technical, Tactical, Physical, and Psychological.
MSSC Magic 16U boys
For more information on player development, I have included the US Youth Soccer Player Model pdf: