NO MATTER how many hours you devote to practising kicking the ball, you should not overlook how important it is to choose the right ball to practise with.
It often surprises us to see teams training with “training” balls that bear little resemblance in size, weight and quality to the balls they reserve for matches.
No wonder that direct free kick struck so sweetly at Thursday’s practice hardly clears the defensive wall on Saturday!
We realise many teams and clubs have to manage within tight budgets but where possible, I’d encourage coaches to use the same type of ball at practice as for match days. Even if you just keep one match-quality ball to the side for practising things like set pieces (corners, goal kicks, free kicks etc.)
And if you are planning to buy a ball for a youngster, find out what type of match ball is used by his or her team and try to buy one the same.
For many years, England star David Beckham famously stayed late for extra practice at Manchester United’s training ground, perfecting his long range free kicks. Not only did he insist on using identical balls to those used in matches, he also ensured they were pumped to exactly the same air pressure. No wonder he was able to place his shots within centimetres of his target!