The first touch is everything.
To make it to the very top as a player, one of the key pieces of the puzzle is a great first touch. The ability to have the ball under control in one touch sets you up for a great second touch, which can be a pass or a shot. One piece of advice I’ve taken on board is “You don’t want your second touch to be a tackle”. A bad first touch can sometimes be recovered; however a great first touch separates the very best from the rest.
The video above shows the level of control that Barcelona players have of the ball, where the first touch is a pass weighted to perfection. It has to be difficult for the defence to intercept, but easy for a team mate to receive. The level of technique involved in the video has been developed over time with repetition.
It is our responsibility as coaches, especially of a young age group, to develop the technique of our players. Although it is very important at a younger age, the practice of technique should never be stopped at any age group. A 5-10 minute practice where the basic first touch and passing with both feet is practiced on is extremely beneficial. At the younger age group, it’s all about building the ground work in terms of technique. Spatial awareness and movement will develop naturally as players grow older, but the technique should be worked on continuously.