10,000 Touches – Follow up

I’ve had lots and lots of enquiries about this programme.
The most frequent questions are about what does the programme do.

So.. here’s a little more information. It’s a lengthy explanation but one I hope is beneficial. (slightly changed for clarification from the original email)

In football, there are several key factors to being a successful player.

  1. Speed of Action – quickness of technique and decision making.
  2. Accuracy in Execution. and
  3. Speed of Movement (especially over the 1st 3, 5 and 10 metres).

There are more, but elite players stand out because they are superior at these three.

Speed of Movement is developed as a player matures with greater emphasis placed on developing speed after 18 years of age.

The 10,000 Touches programme is concerned with the Key Factors 1 and 2. Speed of Action and Accuracy in Execution.

From my reading, testing and observation the conscious mid can only hold one thought at a time. (click here for an excellent description)
You can imagine how much brain power and time is used to consciously think about controlling a soccer ball as it moves toward you, then the thoughts required to do something ‘with it’ on the initial touch.

As an example.. try this right now.. Consciously control your breathing. Think about Breathing in and Breathing out for 5 seconds. Bet you didn’t think of much else while you did or found it hard to think of other things.

So… Elite players have elite touch, average players have average touch and poor players have poor touch. The question is why. Well the simplest answer is that elite players have many skills performed by their subconscious mind, not their conscious mind. Elite player have (subconscious) unconscious competent skills. These skills are faster, more reliable and free the conscious mind to think about other things.

The 10,000 touches programme will begin the process of developing subconscious competent skills based around 1st touch, so that when complete, the player can act more quickly and free up the conscious mind for thinking of other things (this is the important point). An added benefit of this process is the Accuracy of Execution since many repetitions improve Foot / Eye coordination and the mind’s control over the spatial arrangement of the body to the ball. In other words, the player intuitively (subconsciously) knows where their body is in relation to the ball so the player’s actions are more accurate. (they hit what they aim for!). This player can also, consciously,  make better adjustments on the fly (say.. a badly hit ball or bumpy ground) because their conscious mind isn’t cluttered.

If you’ve followed along so far.. you may still be asking.. How does this help a young player since they still have many years to learn how to play?

The answer is: the vast majority of players never develop elite 1st touch and struggle to improve beyond the average. This applies to professionals as well (average professionals – see lower EPL teams). It’s no secret that the very best players (generational players*) have superior skills and superior game intelligence.

My belief is that the potential to develop extraordinary game intelligence is linked to having many ‘1st touch’ and dribbling skills controlled by the subconscious and the greatest players developed this control by 1000’s of hours of individual practice at a very young age. This then freed up their conscious brain to begin the process of learning game intelligence many years before their peers.

In other words, young players with subconscious 1st touch skills have the advantage to start the process of becoming a smarter, game intelligent player, years before their peers. So.. better control and being able to out-think your opponent… this will make you stand out!

Since we live in the modern world and our kids are not on the streets kicking a football for 4 – 6 hours per day. The 10,000 touches programme is a proven way to shorten the 1000’s of hours of experimentation with 10’s of hours of activities that directly improve touch. I have personally run this programme many times and the results are always the same… vastly improved touch.

And the great news is… any player can develop it, no matter their current level of expertise. Think of that… a beginner with an elite touch… kinda boggles the mind.

For all those that asked about the programme, I hope this helped.

Even better would be feedback from parents on their thoughts and or experiences. I’m sure we have many professionals who may have experience in this field. Many minds make better solutions.

A few books to research if you’re really interested in mastery.

Mastery – George Leonard
Talent Code – Daniel Coyle  (start here.. it’s fascinating)
Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
David and Goliath – Malcolm Gladwell
Talent is Overrated – Geoff Colvin
The Inner Game of Golf – W. Timothy Gallwey (yes golf)
How Children Succeed – Paul Tough
The Power of Mindful Learning – Ellen J. Langer

Thank you for your time.

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*Generational Player – A player who comes along every generation or so. The player is so good they stick out like a beacon from others.

Pele, Maradonna, Best, Messi, Garrincha, Puskas, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo (both), Xavi, Banks, Zidane etc… There are more but not that many. Probably 20 or so that fans can name as being great. These players can lift whole teams to win trophies and championships.

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