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Two categories of soccer/football players: ‘marble’ and ‘glue’ feet.

Those who know me a little, know that I define 2 specific soccer/football categories of players:

* the ones with feet made of marble
* the ones with feet made of glue

The ‘marble’ feet, when the ball ’collides’ with their feet, it bounces a few yards away and immediately goes to the other team!

Instead, when the ball reaches the ’glue’ feet, it sticks to them and they can do what ever they want with it, as they are using their hands!

To explain why there are ‘marble‘ and ‘glue‘ feet, I have to open a little parenthesis.

Our planet is 4.6 billion years old. Life, at the bacterial stage, started around 4 billion years ago and the first hominidae came around 15 million years ago. Through various stages, the path that really distinguished us, started a couple of million years ago.

So, for the one who knows that Anthropology, Paleoanthropology, and consequently Human Evolution, are sciences, it will be obvious to agree with the following.

Millions of years ago, when we had 4 hands and we were using them indifferently for climbing or grabbing things, for contingent climate conditions in a vast Central African area, we were forced to come down from trees in search of food that wasn‘t there anymore. And because the surroundings were made of tall vegetation, in order to see where to go or to check for predators, we were forced to begin to walk upright, using the lower 2 hands just to... walk!!!!

During the passing of millions of years, more and more, we used the upper hands as tool makers so, besides beginning our path from instinct toward intelligence, we kept developing great dexterity in the upper hands.

But we kept using the lower hands just to walk or run and the dexterity went away.

That’s why any sport in which we handle a ball with the hands (or tools like rackets, clubs, bats and so on) is very easy, and to do the same with the feet (ex-lower hands) is very hard!

Have you noticed that players from Central America, South America and Africa are, apparently, enormously more talented than players from other continents?

Did you know the reason?

Because, when they were kids, not only did they play soccer/football for hours every day, but also had the opportunity to play on the sand of beaches or dirt. And, unfortunately not having the money to afford soccer/football shoes or because they didn’t need it in the sand, they played many hours a day... barefoot!

Doing that, involuntarily, they brought back the... dexterity of the lower hands!

Try for a few seconds to imagine this: just 1 or 2 hours per week, learn and keep playing basketball wearing boxing gloves!!!!

Besides the little amount of time, how would it be possible to ‘feel’ the ball with the palms of the hands and, much more important, with the pads of the fingertips through the thick gloves?

It would be impossible.

The same happens with the feet (ancestral hands!!!!) wearing soccer shoes and doing that just 1 or 2 hours a week !!!

When our kids 4 or 5 years old, dressed by us as soccer players, begin to kick the ball just 1 or 2 hours a week, wearing soccer/football shoes with a strong, hard point, not only don’t they bring back the sensibility of the ’ancestral hands’ but also they develop the bad habit of kicking the ball with the point of the shoes!!!

And, why they do that, it’s clearly comprehensible. At 4 or 5 years old, by kicking the ball with the point of the shoes it’s much more easy than to lock the ankle and hit it properly with the laces !!! At that age, by kicking like that, the ball goes much more farther away so, apparently, doing that is correct!

But, by doing that, they make the first step to becoming... marble feet!

If instead they learn to play barefoot spontaneously for many hours a day, the first time that they kick the ball hard with the points of their toes, they will yell... “OUCHHHH!!!!!!” and they will never, EVER, do that again (kick with the point, not play soccer !!), properly beginning the long path that will carry them to becoming decent, good, very good or outstanding soccer/football players!

Please notice the emphasis I putted above when I wrote “many hours” a day. If they play barefoot only 1 hour a week (!!!) the only thing that they’ll learn will just be not to kick the ball with the point of the feet but, the feet, will still be made of... marble!!!

Of course, the above is referring just to kicking, but imagine what kind of sensibility could be developed (more precisely, brought back!) by passing or controlling the ball barefoot. They will learn to ’caress’ the ball with the bottom of their feet moving the ball to the side or back and forth! They will learn to ’feel’ the ball with their toes, exactly the same way they handling the ball with the upper hands!!

When, after, they will wear soccer/football shoes, they’ll still feel the ball with their feet through the sole and the leather of the shoes, and they will handle the ball enormously better. Their feet will become ‘glue’ and the ball will stick to them!

I’m always suggesting to my youth (and not!) soccer/football students to do their ‘homework’ barefoot in their rooms.

I strongly suggest to parents and coaches, to have their ’little champions’ do the same and, when it’s possible, go to the beaches and play barefoot (or just wearing socks) like the various Pele, Maradona, Messi, Ronaldhino, Kaka, Pato, Robinho and other hundreds of champions did when they were 4 or 5 years old!

Teams can have practices at the beaches, in particular when the fields are closed for bad weather. (in this Country, fields closed for bad weather, means that, yesterday, a few drops of water fell from the sky!!!)

In the past, I did a few clinics in the sand and many students keep saying that they had great improvements during the few hours we worked hard on the sand. Plus, because it’s hard to walk or run on sand, your legs will get stronger and when you go back to a harder surface, you’ll have the sensation of flying!

And they improved as adults. Imagine if they did that at 4 or 5 years old!

Try to give your ’ancestral hands’ back the sensibility that they lost through the passing of millions of years, using them only to walk or run.

Like for many other things, going backward in time, could be great!


P.S. in case you ask me, why I don’t do anymore clinics for 4 or 5 year old kids during the summer, the reason is very simple. I tried, but because I’m a soccer/football teacher, I was proposing weekly clinics 2 hours a day which, with the correct pauses and rest in the shade, is already enough time.

Parents said: “Thanks very much, that would be great, but we need our kids away from home for 6 to 8 hours a day !”

Unfortunately, I’m just a soccer/football teacher, not a babysitter!

Posted on 05 Oct 2010 by coachgianni
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