Updated: Jul 16
It's a slow build up. Liverpool players have withdrawn to their defensive lines, inside their half. Think three moves ahead, take up a position: centre circle. side on facing the right wing. The ball will come, and it does quickly. As it travels, peripheral vision to the left alerts to Aguero's dart across the last central defender, who is 30 yards out and holding the defensive line.
The ball arrives; no time to waste. This has to be executed immediately to work. Left leg strong in the ground for balance, like a steel rod running from foot to shoulder. Right foot, lift early and cushion the first touch on the ball. Calculate the pace and power of the pass to match Aguero's run. Now execute! Twist the upper body to the left and push through a right-side foot through the centre of the ball. For power and accuracy, follow through and up with the passing foot.
The ball cuts the top off the grass as it slides with pace like an arrow between a two-metre channel of 4 Liverpool defenders. It travels perfectly in time with Aguero’s run; no need to break stride, he is in. Free of the last defender, he rounds the keeper and scores. From nothing, a lull in the play; a piece of magic has occurred in an instant. The vision, timing, combined with superb technique by De Bruyne has cut open a tight defence to allow the forward to score.
This is one example of the many, many control and pass techniques De Bruyne pulls out of his skill kit bag with devastating impact on his opponents. The ability to control a ball with the first touch, to a position away from defenders and then pass with speed and accuracy, is a key skill that Scouts and Coaches look for when seeking talent.
The game at the highest levels is so fast, it's vital to be proficient in this. It is very often a technique that is not broken down, stepped through with youth players and continually measured and improved upon. All teams will practice control and passing to each other but how often is that technique analysed and improved on for the individual?
More than 1v1 skills, an ability here will take a player to high levels of competition. Pro clubs want one and two touch. They need to move the ball quickly to open up space in defences. Just look at Man City under Guardiola. Count how many touches the players have when they receive and pass during a game. It's a good exercise to check out.
Over the past 25 years of coaching players, I've always placed a real focus on 1st touch control and pass technique. It is the base that you build everything on top of. Poor technique ideally needs to be picked up early in the youth stages, corrected and then practice, practice, practice, so it is second nature. The use of video with a Coach review is fantastic in honing the skill and performance.
In our One2Pro online coaching app, 1st touch pass and control techniques are broken down, step by brilliant step for our players to follow and practice in Module 1 (Kick Off). Download to view all skills for just $9.99 (Aus) or subscribe and work with your One2Pro Coach on all 92 skills. FREE TRIAL now available.
De Bruyne's pass described above is on youtube. You can check it out here. It’s pass 8: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HskH1l5ygIw
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