There is a huge debate in the youth soccer community between the value of unopposed training versus opposed training.  I believe both have extreme value but are best implemented when coaches and parents follow the below progression.


Soccer games are fluid and unpredictable.  This means that training must also be fluid and unpredictable at times.  The below progression is just a framework. In reality, the coach and club must cater to the specific developmental needs of their players.


The Anytime Soccer Training, program focuses primarily on the first three pillars ranging from mastery within an unopposed to opposed environment.  Players who demonstrate a high degree of mastery in those settings are the most prepared to excel in games.


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  • Pillar #1 Mastery within an Unopposed Individual Setting

When it comes to demonstrating mastery in an unopposed setting, many players and coaches overlook a crucial element.  You must measure the player’s performance.


Think about it, would you eyeball a player’s improvement in the 40-yard dash? Of course not – you would track the player’s time.  The same goes for ball mastery and dribbling. However,  to come up with a consistent measurement, the player must touch the ball with every single step.  Read the ebook The Most Important Skill in Youth Soccer to learn more.


  • Pillar #2 Mastery within Changing Situations

Not to be confused with “decision-making” within a game context, this is where the coach changes the conditions of a drill to force various reactions from the player.  Players who can comfortably accomplish their objectives while navigating changing situations are prepared to deal with pressure.


For example, after the player becomes proficient at juggling the coach introduces partner juggling with the objective of traveling 20 yards.


Read Why You Must Practice Freestyle Dribbling + Drills


  • Pillar # 3  Mastery under Pressure

Still within a controlled environment, in this phase, the coach should add varying degrees of pressure by introducing other players.  Players can come from different angles and at different times depending on the drill.  Check out the below 1v1 Battles video as an example of practicing skills under pressure.



  • Pillar # 4 Mastery within Game-like Conditions

Coaches should create game-like drills that realistically simulate an actual game situation.  Providing game-like conditions in a controlled training environment allows the coach to continuously replicate situations that the player may face – as opposed to waiting on the random chance that it happens in the game.  It also goes without saying that the players typically enjoy game-like training over drills.


  • Pillar # 5 Mastery within the Game

This is the ultimate test for the player.  Coaches should evaluate decision-making and the player’s ability to execute the club’s philosophy.


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