U11 boys shooting: video analysis

I was working with my U11 boys gold team last night and used my phone to shoot some video. It really is a fantastic tool having a pocket size HD video recorder at training and I plan to use it more and more.

I’ve done these sorts of videos before and I generally preface them by telling those that will be watching them that I am terrible golfer. I don’t golf much and I know I’m more likely to hit rough than fairway every time I tee off. Yet every time I wind up and strike the ball I’m convinced I’m hitting it the way Tiger Woods does. Or used to. It feels flawless. Yet the ball does not go where I intend it to go. It’s only when I see video of myself hitting the golf ball that I realize how much my feet shift and how ragged my swing is.

And for most soccer players it’s a similar story. Until you see how you look when you shoot a soccer ball you’re likely unaware of what could use some improvement. I’ve seen some very good players look absolutely mortified when they see video I’ve shot of them kicking a soccer ball but in the end they hopefully get past that and use those visuals to correct elements of their approach, planted foot, swing through the ball and follow through to improve technique.

Here’s what I shot last night, edited down with a load of annotations informing the players what they’re doing well and what they need to work on. You may need to pause it here and there if you want to read the comments as it’s pretty rapid fire.

It’s interesting how each player is remarkably similar through each of their efforts. They do the same things each time whether it’s good or bad. When you really look at these things closely you realize that any player, regardless of size or strength, is capable of striking the ball with power and direction if they can work towards great technique in their approach to the ball, how they plant their non-kicking foot, the speed they can generate in their swing through the ball, the balance they achieve through the kicking motion and the follow through as they strike the ball. Shooting for me is the most technical of the basics skills players learn so investing some time in giving players visual feedback on what they do well and what they need to work on is time well spent; particularly at younger ages like U11.

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4 Responses to U11 boys shooting: video analysis

  1. cutleron says:

    Nice. But… what do you think of this view:
    I believe we should be teaching them to strike a ball powerfully without calling it shooting. The technique is required for a shot or a long pass or a clearance. Teaching should be done with a one-step approach to the ball. Before they feel solid contact and thus power with NO RUN-UP, the running will only complicate matters and lead to frustration. Depending on the run for power is a crutch that masks poor technique. And they almost never get this kind of approach to the ball in shooting situations in games. I have way too many players (U14) who STILL can’t get themselves to hit a shot quickly from a standstill, planting and striking quickly.
    They should learn how to generate power the way a martial artist calmly approaches breaking bricks: maximum speed at the perfect moment.
    I keep harping on Ben Arfa, but seeing him yesterday (first half) hit a 28-yarder with half-a step approach to the ball was poetry.

    • Gregor says:

      I think you need to build the approach to the ball into shooting/striking exercises because for the most part players are moving on the field when they’re called upon to shoot/strike the ball and they need to learn to adjust their feet as they approach the ball so that they can still have their last stride be longer but placed properly next to the ball.

      Using the run up as the sole source for power is a crutch and you can see some of my players doing that. What they need to learn from the video is that it’s not working for them because they’re placing too much emphasis on generating speed and not enough on foot placement and balance as they strike the ball.

      Pros like Ben Arfa can hit bullets with no run up because their technique is flawless…and they have quads like oak trees.

  2. That’s a an eye-opening video analysis. Thanks Gregor.

    What helps more when correcting the problems after watching the video? Normally, I’d figure you’d slow the movement down, but it seems like the rhythm of the body control involved would require you to work on one aspect of the swing at a time?

    • Gregor says:

      Good question. I think I’ll break it down into three categories when I start working with them on this. Of the ten players, about half of them just need some fine tuning. Their grasp of what they need to do physically when striking the ball is quite good but elements of it could use a bit of adjustment. That’s the easy part. A few more need a fair amount of intervention to correct serious impediments to proper form while one or two seem to really need to be taken back to the start and taught some fundamentals.

      I’ve always said that at least 80% of your success in striking balls over distance or shooting is determined by the time you plant your non-kicking foot. That commits you to a large degree in terms of body shape and balance and those in turn go a long way to determining power and accuracy. That’s where a lot of these players will be instruction.

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