Should Youth Soccer Players Dribble More …or Less?

Should Youth Soccer Players Dribble More …or Less?

Dribble more and the kids have a better touch on the ball and more accurate passes when they do release the ball.

Dribble less and the speed of play increases with more movement on the pitch.

It’s an age old debate amongst soccer coaches, players and even parents. One group shouting “pass it” while the other is yelling “control the ball”.

Certainly this is all conditional and in some cases you want your team to pass as quickly as possible and in other cases you want them to slow things down, to control the ball and dribble more and pass less.

I’ll tell you what I’ve learned from hundreds of hours of SocrPro.com video analysis and 1st hand experience in our SocrLabs technical development center.

“Youth soccer players pass too much”

In the majority of cases, youth soccer players are passing too often and too early and soccer coaches should encourage their players to dribble more and pass less.

Let me explain why I take this position and then see if you agree or disagree.

A. 1-Touch Passes are Inaccurate – Passing quality and accuracy spikes up dramatically when players take a touch, a dribble or 2, and then pass the ball versus 1-touch passes. Settling the ball with a touch removes 3 of the 4 variables every player needs to account for when making a pass.

B. Listen to Pep G – Ball movement needs to move the defense. Dribbling and passing are both necessary to force the defense to move and when players pass too early, the defense is allowed to sit back and look for the pass interception. I want players to draw the defensive pressure to them and then pass past this pressure. I want defenders to commit and then need to recommit and I want to maximize the distance they need to move in a game to wear them down as much as possible.

C. Players Will Self Regulate – I’ve never met a player that likes losing the ball while dribbling. When players dribble too much, they will lose the ball to the defense and they will get tired of having the ball stolen and will start to pass more often.

D. Video Fixes the “Non-Regulators” – Some players learn when to pass “slower” than others (I call these “ball dancers”) but you can easily show them in video game review that they are holding the ball too long. It’s a lot easier to show a player when they lost the ball while dribbling than it is to show them that they lost the ball because they passed too early.

E. Mindless “Hot Potato” – Passing for the sake of passing with no real purpose or intent. The last time I read the soccer rule book, there are no bonus points for having the most passes in a game yet there seems to be a pervasive mentality that a team that makes the most “quick passes” is the best team. I’m not a fan of this idea.

Those are the main reasons I think youth soccer players should dribble more and pass less… do you share my opinion and have other ideas?

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