Why Do We Teach What We Teach?

The Younger Ones: Developing TECHNIQUE; dribbles, turns, running with the ball; beating players in 1 v 1 confrontations; Individual Development is the Key.

9 Years and Older: Then next to develop their MIND AND THINKING and turn this into DECISION MAKING:


Soccer-awareness “One Touch” training developing its relationship with “movement off the ball” 

My personal views on the game are that there are two themes that are THE most important themes for players to learn to be good at and they actually COMPLIMENT EACH OTHER, One touch play developing the MIND; and Movement OFF the ball.

To see what we are attempting to do here watch Barcelona and how they play the Tiki-Taka:

It is LOOK AND THINK; then pass and move; one touch plays to create a mindful of options.

Xavi Hernandez of Barcelona and Spain (World Champions)

When you arrive at Barca the first thing they teach is:
Lift your head, move; see; THINK
Education is the key.
Think, think, think. Quickly
Lift your head up, move, see think. Look before you get the ball…Pum Pum Pum one touch.

Some need 2 or 3, that’s too many.

Messi, Piquet, me, Iniesta, 1 touch… Fast.

In fact our youth coach, Rexach, used to demand: a mig toc: Half a touch [Symbol] Think quickly, look for spaces…
Space / Space / Space…It’s so hard.  I think, the defenders here, so play it there.
I see the space and pass, that’s what I do.

Awareness one touch theme developmental training incorporating movement off the ball

Let’s establish First:

One Touch Training: Teaches the player WHEN to play one touch; and when NOT to play one touch.

It’s NOT all about One Touch at all; so kill that thought now.

One touch mentality teaches players to recognize the best options; and therefore make the best DECISIONS; BEFORE and in ADVANCE of receiving the ball.

We are teaching players to have a ONE TOUCH MENTALITY.

This means we want players to ALWAYS; AT EVERY MOMENT THINK:

“I only have One touch”; therefore this will force players to always do “THE LOOK” (Xavi calls it THINK, which means the same, we now call it “LOOK and THINK”) before they receive the ball to see several options and pick out their best option, which may be actually to DRIBBLE!!

Better still, if a player can do “THE LOOK AND THINK” two or three times as play is developing as they see they could receive the ball; then any changes in positioning of players that occur; as the ball is travelling; can be compensated for to make the next decision even more accurate.

“One touch passing and moving off the ball”

Many may struggle with this but in time and with patience and practice you will be amazed how much improvement comes in quick decision making using this game.

As each player only has one touch to pass the ball this should improve players movement off the ball to support due to this as they know the player receiving needs immediate help and as many options as possible. The two aspects of play go hand in hand, one touch play and movement off the ball.

Players in 90 minutes touch the ball themselves, depending on their position, perhaps 3 to 6 minutes, so what do they do in the other 84 to 87 minutes?
They must understand how best to move OFF THE BALL in that time span to help their teammates.  Hence why the focus and teaching of Movement OFF the Ball is so vital and important in the greater scheme of things in the game Ultimate aim to teach players:

TO MONITOR PROGRESS, WE NEED PLAYERS TO “THINK and LOOK before they receive the ball”.

Assessing options with much movement of the head and eyes, in front, side to side and behind them BEFORE the ball comes.

As the ball is moving all players should have looked several times around to assess their options so if they receive the ball they are ready.

This is a CONTINUOUS PROCESS that should happen every moment of the game.
So the ball is coming from the right, the player about to receive it should already have looked behind them to see if they can SWITCH THE PLAY to the left as this is a main theme of this exercise PLUS to do so means they are moving to the opposite goal to score, so they get an instant reward for changing the point of the attack with a goal…

A ONE Touch game particularly develops this ability.


A method to assess this is for the coach to call out every time the player receiving looks and thinks before receiving and doesn’t look before receiving.

So Look and think before receiving (it could be a few times not just once depending on how close the ball is to being with them) is a YES.

Not looking and thinking before Receiving is a NO.

Know that even if they don’t look and think and they get the NO shout; they many STILL be successful with the pass or movement, they saw one option only which was in front of them for example, so that’s good, but perhaps they missed the penetrating pass behind them because they didn’t look around to see it first.

Also even with the YES shout they may give the ball away still, maybe they made the right decision (i.e. they saw the BEST most effective pass or movement), but their execution (technique) of it was wrong.

But this is good; they saw the best option, their decision making is good.

The point is we want them to have the ability to see ALL options, in front, to either side, and behind them BEFORE they receive the ball, so they have a much bigger chance to be success and can pick the best option at that moment.

Watch Xavi; Iniesta and Buschetts of Barcelona; Ozil and Carzola of Arsenal; Mata of Chelsea; Silva and Toure of Manchester City; Pirlo of Juventus; Rooney and Carrick of Manchester United.  Watch them closely, watch their heads and eyes as the ball is moving around them, they are always assessing their NEXT possible options; they are always THINKING AND LOOKING; constantly looking around and away from the ball to be ready when it comes.

The result of this is they are play-makers; they rarely get caught in possession of the ball, or give possession away because they already have a picture in their heads of what comes next.

This game teaches all that and MORE.

All players in all positions should have the ability to do what I have described above.

Finally, what the THINK and LOOK does also is help the players to see where opponents are in advance of receiving the ball; and ALSO help them realize when the time is right to KEEP possession of the ball themselves as that is the best option at that moment.

In Conclusion:

We can’t emulate Barcelona at the level they are of course, but what we can do is try to develop our teams to play a passing and possession style of play similar to them; that is attractive to the eye and effective on the field of play. We all want to win; we should though want to win the RIGHT WAY; and that is the SURF WAY.

 Thanks for your time; Regards, Wayne Harrison