Monday, September 16, 2013
New in the American soccer marketplace is the availability of lightweight size 4 and 5 soccer balls.
They are the same circumference as regular soccer balls of those sizes, but not as heavy. Now that has some intriguing possibilities for youth soccer player development.
Young players whose ball skills are still primitive could use a larger ball. The larger ball has a bigger "sweet spot" and it’s easier to track its movement, especially when bouncing or in the air. These facts are especially true for the U6 and U8 age groups. The problem with them using a size 4 or 5 ball is that it’s too heavy for them to dribble for very long or shoot at the goal from far away, much less to make a pass. With that in mind we have been using a size 3 ball for the two youngest age groups in organized youth soccer.
With the lightweight ball young players could expand their ball skills at a quicker rate. Take the U10 and U12 age groups for example. With a lightweight size 5 ball they could have that larger "sweet spot" but also be able to play longer passes, shoot from farther away from the goal and make crosses to the far post. With the lightweight size 4 or 5 ball players in these two age groups could add the air game into their repertoire sooner in their developmental timeline. The lightweight ball might alleviate some children’s anxiety with receiving the ball out of the air or to head the ball. Skills such as chipping and volley shots become more realistic for the U12 player using a lightweight ball.
There may be one pitfall to the lightweight ball though. Because many players will be able to hit the ball farther it may encourage them, and some coaches, to fall deeper into the abyss of kickball style soccer. Kick-n-run soccer is not in the best interest of the American player.
Whether you use the lightweight soccer ball in just your training sessions or in your matches too, I encourage you to give the ball a try as another component of player development.