In past articles, I have emphasized the importance of training with the ball. Every player should have a ball and constantly practice with it. Skill and fitness go together. Both can be improved through prepared, interesting practices. A quality one-hour practice is much better than two hours of uninteresting work. Coaches

The players, by their reactions, will tell you if the session has been a success. Remember, repetition over long periods of time can be boring and nonproductive, so vary your practices. Following are three different types which will improve skill and physical and mental quickness.

12 cones, 5 a side/ 6 goals Regular Soccer with conditions

1, Man-for-man marking. Each player has the same opponent.

2, A goal can only be scored in direction of arrows.

3, Goal is scored as shown in (a) on diagram. 01, in possession, passes the ball through the goal and it must be touched by 02 (a teammate) before the goal is official.

The game continues with 02 now looking to attack another goal (same goal cannot be scored in consecutively. The game is constant, fast-moving and should emphasize change of direction and support for teammates. Eight minutes on, short rest, then repeat.

Player O has the ball, X defends. O's objective is to play a "give and go" pass off Y1. Y1 can move along the end line to take up the best receiving position. O's options are: to dribble past X then use Y1, or to passt the ball past X and take up a receiving position as shown in the diagram. On completion of the move, O then changes direction and uses Y2 and so on.

If player X dispossesses O, then X becomes the attacker and O the defender. (five repetitions-two minutes on).

One point given for each successful completion. Y1 and Y2 must play the ball first time.