Ball Skill Ethos

Taken from the book “Liquid Thinking”

by Damian Hughes.

As we go through our life, many of the barriers and obstacles that stop us from being successful come from within our own heads. We create and set limits for ourselves and then convince ourselves that it's impossible to go beyond those limits. Once these barriers are proven to be breakable, we often look back and realise that the barrier was self-imposed in our minds. It didn't actually exist in reality.

Homer Simpson understood this truth: “Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that is even remotely true.”

Let me offer you, what I consider, to be the most powerful example of how beliefs can affect results. This was a belief that the whole of mankind held and had become accepted as fact over the centuries.

Since man had started to run and be measured against the clock, no-one had ever run a metric mile in under 4 minutes. On May 5th 1954, the world record was 4 minutes and 1.4 seconds. To run it in under 4 minutes was a barrier that many “experts” felt was impossible to cross. In fact, the British Medical Council “knew” that the human body couldn't run that fast.

The following day, a 25 year old medical student, called Roger Bannister, ran the distance in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds; a fraction of a second below the impossible barrier. What is most amazing about his feat is the story which followed.

Within 46 days of Bannister breaking the record, a New Zealand athlete, John Landy, broke the record by running 3 minutes and 57.9 seconds. By the end of the year, two men Bannister and Landy had managed to break the 4 minute barrier in the same race. Astonishingly, by the end of 1957, just over two and a half years after it had been proven to be a false belief, 16 runners had also gone on to prove it and beat the clock. By 1999, the world record for the distance had lowered 19 times and, to date over 955 athletes have ran sub-four minute miles, accomplishing it on an amazing 4700+ times.

Think about yourself. What barriers are keeping you back?

At the Harrogate Brazilian Football Academy we work on kick ups as part of our training programme to improve our first touch. One of our targets is to reach 100 kick ups. I used to believe that an exceptional player could perform 100 kick ups while still at primary school (year 6). It wasn't possible to achieve it at a much younger age. I certainly didn't believe a child in year 2 at primary school (under 7 footballer) could achieve this feat.

All the children who have performed over 100 kick ups have done so in front of the Head Coach of the Harrogate Brazilian Football Academy and other children and parents at their training session. Joel has performed over 1000 kick ups in front of the Head Coach and other players and parents at his training session.

In 2004 Joel Fireman performed 272 kick ups. He was in year 1 at primary School. In 2005 he performed 1435 kick ups (year 2 at primary school). Since then we have had 10 players achieve the feat of 100 kick ups by the end of year 2 at primary school. In fact 3 of the players achieved it in year 1 (under 6 footballer).

The ability of some of these boys attracted attention from Professional Academies. At the training sessions the boys went to at the professional clubs they were asked to perform 1 kick up and catch.

N.B. The Harrogate Brazilian Football Academy does not select players on ability and the scores above are achieved from a mixed ability intake.The Harrogate Brazilian Football Academy (HBFA) has raised the bar when it comes to juggling a football. As an under 7 footballer (year 2 at Primary School) Joel Fireman completed 1435 kick ups. This opened our eyes as to what can be achieved and we now have many players showing incredible ball juggling skills. It should not be understated the importance juggling plays in developing a footballer's first touch and has a considerable impact on their ability to shoot, pass and volley. It is no surprise that our most competent jugglers are all excellent goal scorers for their teams.

Juggling is an excellent way to develop confidence with the ball. The Harrogate Brazilian Football Academy encourages all players to practice their juggling skills and believes that young players should spend time every day on this activity. You will be surprised how much your all round game improves as a result!