I was recently sent this video and asked for thoughts. The video is from FC Barcelona’s youth in training.
The video is staggering because the boys appear to be 7 years old or younger and they are executing the movements and drills nearly flawlessly. The actually look a little robotic. I know many might criticize the video (and FC Barcelona) for training kids that are so young. But I don’t think it’s fair to criticize for that because we don’t know the entire context. It appears to be a highlight video of sorts. And some kids legitimately are driven from early ages. That said, I hope that they are doing this of their own choice and are enjoying themselves. It’s impossible to tell from the video if that’s the case. I’m a firm believer in establishing good motor skills early while also allowing kids to be kids and be physically active in a variety of sports and movements.
Beyond all that, I think one thing that is fair to criticize and something that seems to be all too common in soccer training, is the over-reliance on gadgets and gimmicks. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with mini-boxes, mini-hurdles, ladders, and agility poles but if all you did was watch YouTube soccer training videos you’d think that soccer fitness training couldn’t possibly be done without these ‘tools.’ In reality, these training ‘tools’ often limit the actual training stimulus and confine movement patterns to highly predictable, patterned movements with minimal emphasis on force application to the ground (which is the primary determinant of speed and the ability to change direction).