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Dribble Up Soccer Ball Playlist Tips

How can you use the Dribble Up soccer ball for your team? There are a few ways a team can use the smart ball for training that don’t require every player to buy a smart ball. One of the ways is to have a Dribble Up station at team training that players can use to work on their foot skills.

How many times have you told players who are sitting out of a scrimmage to juggle on the sideline to get more touches? How many of them actually juggle and for how long? With Dribble Up you can get those kids wanting to work on their foot skills or their juggling and even keep track of it if you’d like.

Last week we had a 3v3 tournament for our team and ran Dribble Up soccer stations for the kids who weren’t on the field. Here are some lessons we learned when putting together the DribbleUp playlists that will make your session more effective.

1) Create Multiple Progressive Sets of Drills
We got a little carried away with the first playlist we created. It had 10 drills we thought were pretty fun but we figured out pretty quick on our first test that was a mistake.

When you’re introducing players to a new training tool it’s a good idea to ease them into it. The principles of coaching youth still apply – set them up for success and then build on that success as the session goes on.

So we changed our approach and created multiple playlists:

  • Mini Messi
  • Messi
  • Super Messi

The Mini Messi only had 3 simple drills that pretty much all players have done and introduced them to using the ball. The Messi added another 2 drills which were a little more complicated and the Super Messi added an additional 3 drills that also increased complexity.

One thing we’re used to about coaching is that you can adjust your drills as you go depending on how the kids react. When you’re using technology like Dribble Up it’s harder to make those changes in the middle of the session so it’s best to prepare more options ahead of time.Along those lines we created another set of drills

  • Mini Ronaldo
  • Ronaldo
  • Super Ronaldo

We followed the same progressive approach where each playlist built on the previous one increasing the length and complexity but used different skills than the Messi playlists.

Turned out it was a good thing that we had a few variations because some of the players were struggling with the last drill in the Messi playlist so we switched over to the Ronaldo instead and they both scored better and enjoyed the playlist more.

 

2) Lead With the Strong Foot
In the Dribble Up drill library you have some drills that use both the left and right foot in the same drill and others that have 2 variations. For example the “Left Foot Roll Tap” and the “Right Foot Roll Tap”.

Since most of our players have their right foot as their strongest foot we always led with the “Right Foot….” drill first. That way they got comfortable with the skill using the foot they’re most comfortable with and made it easier when they moved onto the “Left Foot…” drill.

Obviously not every player is right footed so how do you handle that? Right now DribbleUp has no way to indicate which foot is a player’s strong foot. I think it would be helpful if a player could indicate their strong foot in their player profile. That way in the playlist you could lead with “Strong Foot…” and follow it with “Weak Foot…” and the app would adjust based on the player.

3) Save After Adding Drills
As you’re building the playlist in the coaches dashboard be sure to save each drill after you add it. There were times when I went in and added a few drills and forgot to save them. If you go back and try to save after adding several drills you can run into issues in the dashboard.

Suggestions – Add the ability to easily re-order the drills in the playlist.

4) Do a Trial Run
When you introduce a new drill at practice you don’t always know how it’s going to work out. You can diagram it and plan how you’ll introduce/demonstrate it to the team but until you actually get out on the practice pitch you’re not sure how it’ll go over.

The nice thing about the Dribble Up playlist is that it’s not as complex as team training so you don’t need the whole team there to test it out. You can run one player through the drills to see how they handle them.

As I mentioned earlier we initially created just one longer playlist but after running my son through it I realized several mistakes I had made setting them up. Definitely do a trial run of your playlist when it’s easy to tweak it. Don’t wait until you’re at training to discover you need to change it.

Even if you’re not running the playlist at team training and you’re just assigning it for homework it’s good to do a trial run before pushing it out the team.

5) Don’t Rely on Wi-Fi
The DribbleUp app doesn’t need to be connected to the internet to use it but there are a few features that require connectivity to work.

For example, if you create a custom playlist and assign it to the team for homework the device needs to be connected to be able to access the homework.

A good test is to set your device to Airplane mode before you do your Trial run and make sure everything works as expected. If it doesn’t then you can

6) Disable Updates
After you do your trial run and get everything worked out it’s not a bad idea to turn off your updates until after you use Dribble Up at practice. For an iPhone you do this in Settings:

  • Swipe up to iTunes & App Store
  • Find Automatic Downloads
  • Toggle Updates off

Our team session went great but then 2 days later I brought the Dribble Up stations to a coaches event to demo how we use them. In between there was a Dribble Up app update and the interface and a few other things changed. It was definitely an improvement but I wasn’t used to the new version of the app so it was trickier to show other folks how to use it.

7) Create Dribbling Zones
When players are working hard on these skills and doing changes of direction the ball eventually will get away from them and roll away. We had multiple stations setup so the players could compete and if you do this you’ll want to create zones so the ball isn’t rolling into the other players area and messing up their score.

One way to do it is to space them out or if you don’t have enough space you can separate them with bumpers. At first the players will ask what they’re for and why they need them but then once they get into the playlist and eventually lose control of the ball they see why it’s nice for their score to have their ball not rolling away and not have other balls rolling into their area.

8) Dribble Up is not Rest
When you take your US soccer coaching courses and plan out practices you allow for enough rest periods in between activities. Don’t treat a DribbleUp station as rest. After a player finishes a DribbleUp playlist they’re out of breath. Don’t make the playlist too long, 3 minutes maybe.

We’ve found that 20 seconds per drill has worked out pretty well. Allows them enough time to settle in and get a rhythm going but doesn’t wear them out.

By the end of our 3v3 tournament the kids who were sitting out opted out of the Dribble Up stations because they were worn out from the 3v3 and needed the break.

9) Have Enough Stations
The right number of stations will vary depending on how many kids you have at training and how you’re using it. We had 2 and it went pretty well, I’d say 2 – 4 would be a good number.

Having 3 stations would haven’t worked out with the way were running the competition but 4 would have worked since we could have let twice as many kids go at once. If you weren’t doing a contest and just having players go through the playlist then 3 would be great, or if you had 3 teams that wanted to go at once that would work as well.

10) Teach Players How to Use the App

There’s not a whole lot to using the app. Simply tap the playlist you want and scan the ball to start so it doesn’t take a long time to show them how.

If they’re waiting on you to scan the ball and start the playlist it slows down the flow so definitely make them self-sufficient on getting started once the player before them finished.

Next time we’ll do a write-up on the coaches dashboard and how you can create custom playlists and assign them to your players as homework. If you’re interested in having us come run a dribble up skills session we’d be happy to chat with you about a Dribble Off Challenge or a Dribble Off Soccer Party.

Happy Dribbling!

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Dribble Up Smart Soccer Ball Lessons Learned

One great thing about Dribble Up is that training with the smart ball just a 10 minutes a day can help your foot skills. To maximize your time on the ball here are 10 things to avoid that we’ve noticed as we’ve used the soccer ball for training at home during the off season. We were actually listening to the Coaching Soccer Weekly podcast episode titled “How to Improve Technically at Home” as we wrote up this list. The end of the episode has a great story about a player who worked hard in the off season and her effort paid off when she made the 1st team in the Spring. Hopefully these tips will make it easier for you to practice at home with the Dribble Up ball and put in the time to start off next season with more control and confidence.

1) Settle Into the Drill
Don’t wait for the timer to start before you do the drill. At the start of each drill the trainer will demo the skill before the app starts timing you. Rather than waiting for the timer to begin – start trying the skill as he demos it. This will get you into a rhythm so when the app starts tracking your movements you’ll have settled into the drill. Use that demo period as a warm up for the drill. But what if you don’t know how to do the drill? That leads to the next tip…

2) Preview the Playlist
Don’t start a playlist without first reviewing the videos and trying out the skills. Imagine you’re at practice and your coach is trying to teach the team a new footskill. Is it easier or harder to learn a new move when you feel like the whole team is watching you try?

That’s one of the great benefits of Dribble Up and other tools that help you practice at home. You can learn the moves at your own pace, without the pressure of trying to learn it quickly under the watchful eye of your coach and teammates.

I’m sure we’ve all seen or experienced players struggling with learning a new foot skill at practice and getting embarrassed and giving up on it. Since you’re not at practice, take your time and watch the drill preview as many times as you need to and try it out. I wish there was a way to put the preview video on a loop so it would keep playing while you practiced it.

It’s great that Dribble Up does challenge you by putting you under pressure with a timer and grades you – eventually we’ll all be under pressure in a game situation. But your coach probably wouldn’t want you to go out and try a brand new move in a game. She’d rather you practiced that new move at home or in training and then use it in a game once you’re more comfortable.

Same with Dribble Up. Don’t put yourself under pressure to execute the very first time you learn a new skill, practice it first before grading yourself.

3) Choosing the Right Drill
Don’t worry about whether you’re doing the “right” drills. I’ve had parents ask about which drills their players should be doing and how they know if they’re doing the right ones. One nice thing about Dribble Up is that it gives you different skills to choose from but sometimes when we’re faced with lots of options it makes it harder for us to decide.

For example, if you go into the Drills library you could spend a lot of time looking at all the skills and deciding which to work on. The key is to just pick one and get started. There is no “right drill” but a sign of a “wrong drill” is that it’s too easy for you. That’s probably a sign you need to select the Medium or Hard scoring level or maybe move on to another drill. Which brings us to our next tip…

4) Challenge Your Feet & Brain
Don’t get discouraged when you’re doing a new drill and it feels like your feet can’t keep up with your brain. If you try a new drill and it’s tricky it can be tempting to go back to one that you know well. Don’t avoid a drill just because it seems difficult. Your brain and feet might not line up right away but keep at it – the more you do a playlist the better you’ll get at it. You can look back in time at the Progress tile and see your skill improving.

5) Don’t Worry About Your Score
Don’t worry about getting a low score when you’re doing a new drill. Think about it in terms of grades at school. First you learn something, then later you’re tested to see how well you understand it. In Dribble Up, the first time you do a drill you’re learning it and the 2nd, 3rd, etc. Although you’re given a score each time you shouldn’t expect it to be good right off the bat. It’s kind of like a pre-test in school. Your instructor doesn’t expect you to ace it, rather it’s to set a baseline to see what you know. What’s important is that you focus on understanding the move and doing it well and over time your score will improve.

6) Don’t Speed Through
Don’t try and go full speed through each drill. Pay attention to the details of the moves and things like the body position of the trainer and speed will come over time.

Take the Left Foot L Turns drill for example. After you pull the ball behind your body with your left foot the job of the right foot is simply to roll it with the sole back to the left to setup the move again.

The whole focus of the drill is executing a crisp L Turn so do that part quickly. Think about how you’d use the move in a game situation. You want the turn to be as quick as possible so focus on speed there but your right foot roll is really just to set the move back up.

7) Don’t Count Only on Dribble Up
Of course the ball has helped our kids and many others improve their foot skills but it’s only intended as a supplemental tool. There’s a lot about the game you won’t learn from Dribble Up that’s critical to be a well rounded footballer. Using a smart ball to train is what’s referred to as “unopposed” training. There’s a debate in the soccer coaching world about which is better opposed vs unopposed practice our opinion is that both are good when used in conjunction.

A common scenario for many players is that team training is more tactical so they don’t get a ton of touches on the ball. If a player is part of an Academy they might have an extra night of technical training but if not then they’re possibly not getting enough touches on the ball each week. That’s where tools like Dribble Up and Techne come in, getting players more time on the ball each week. Some players work with personal trainers to get in more ball work and this makes a big difference but the two downsides of that approach are cost and scheduling.

The nice thing about Dribble Up is that is has the trainer built into the app and you can work on it whenever you want. One possible approach is to start off with Dribble Up to get more comfortable on the ball and to supplement team training. Then once they’re farther along technically they could progress to small group or personal training – at that point the coach would be able to do a lot more with the player since they’d be more technically proficient.

8) Consistency Counts
Don’t focus on being perfect, rather focus on being consistent. No player is perfect, even professional players make mistakes. You can’t expect yourself to be perfect but you can challenge yourself to be consistent. This means training regularly and also focusing on technique. As we touched on earlier don’t worry about your score and don’t speed through the drills. Instead focus on getting into a rhythm and executing the move properly each time. This builds muscle memory so when you have the ball at your feet in a game you won’t have to think about controlling the ball and your brain can think about all the other aspects of the game.

9) Don’t Use Your Email Address
When you sign up for your Dribble Up account don’t user your email address as your user id. If you do everyone will see it in the leader board. I suppose if you want people to be able to email you then maybe use your address but often times the players using the smart ball app are younger kids and don’t want to share their address out to the world.

10) Don’t Train in Socks
Dribbling in socks is bad news. On hard wood you’ll slip and even on carpet the ball can slip right under your foot when you go to change direction. This isn’t as big a deal if you’re using bumpers but it messes up your rhythm. We’d say wear shoes but sometimes you’re kicking around the house and want to do Dribble Up and you’d have to run and put on your shoes. Don’t create reasons not to train, you want to remove obstacles from getting in footwork. In that case it might be best to just lose your socks and do it barefoot.

One good time to get your footwork in is anytime you spend just waiting around. For example, if you’re riding the bus to school and waiting for it to show up you could get in a playlist or two- you already have your shoes on an ready to go!

Dribble Up Success

Hopefully some of these tips were helpful for your training. Remember, the Dribble Up ball isn’t meant to be the only thing you train with but using it can help improve your game.

An example we’ve experienced is the “Strong Roll” drill that’s part of the “Left Foot Advanced” playlist. Over the off season we’ve been working on the weak foot so my son’s done that drill quite a bit. The other day at training the coach used him as an example for that move, which is definitely a confidence boost for any player. The coolest thing though was to watch him use it successfully in a game last weekend.

That’s one example of how tools like these can have an impact on your team training and also in your games.  What drill will be the one to make a difference in your next game?

Happy Dribbling!

 

DribbleUp Smart Soccer Ball