Most elite footballers, past and present, share a common beginning: countless hours of street soccer. Imagine them playing with friends after school, using jackets as goalposts until their parents call them home. These prodigies shine on Saturdays and eventually catch the eyes of professional football organizations. Their progression leads them to become the legends we admire.Read more: The Secret Ingredient Behind Top Footballers: Street Soccer
The Power of Street Soccer
Rinus Michels, in his book “The Soccer Learning Process from Team Building: A Route to Success,” asserts that street soccer is fundamental to football success. He emphasizes that street soccer often lacks adult-led drills. Instead, players naturally learn team tactics. The senior street players guide the younger ones, enriching the learning process.
What Makes Street Soccer Unique?
Sure, the countless hours kids spend playing on the streets make a difference. However, I’ve always been intrigued by the cognitive process in these children’s minds. Delving into literature, I discovered an interesting study.
In 2011, Tim Garbett researched dual-task performance in Rugby. Dual-task requires athletes to execute cognitive and motor tasks simultaneously, like juggling a ball (motor task) while reciting multiplication tables (cognitive task). If they can juggle without thinking, their actions are automated. In soccer, these include basic techniques like ball control and dribbling. Players who master these basics can strategize their next move without overthinking their current one. As gameplay intensifies, the time to decide dwindles.
Revisiting street soccer: these confined spaces demand quick decisions. Should they pass or take action? How to regain possession? In the absence of a coach, they rely on cognition for solutions. This constant cognitive engagement inadvertently hones their basic skills.
The evolution of street players ties directly to the time spent playing and their competition. There’s no doubt that small-sided games (street soccer) significantly benefit football training, especially when viewed from a cognitive standpoint. Echoing Rinus Michels: youth players unconsciously refine their technical, tactical, mental, and physical prowess through trial and error, all for the love of the game.