Individual Unopposed Practice

Hello everybody, Hope you’ve all had a great week. This week there has been a lot of stir on¬†twitter about individual unopposed practice and whether it works. PDA Football 1on1’s Founder and Director of Coaching Posted a short clip of his session with Reu Walters. This video was showcasing Reu explosiveness when performing a skill combination, as well to add a fantastic finish at the end.

Now as some of you might know, Saul has been working with various Pro footballers over the summer. One that has started his pre-season particularly well is Tyreece John-Jules. Tyreece John-Jules is an 18-year-old striker who plays for Arsenal and England. John-Jules has been at Arsenal since he was eight and signed his first professional contract in early 2018. Before Arsenal began their tour of USA in the 2019/2020 pre-season. Tyreece spent time with Saul sharpening his individual game before he returned to Arsenal in hope that he would make a big impression to Umri Emery.

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During the early stages of pre-season, Tyreece impressed grabbing a brace off the bench against Boreham Wood saving a 3-3 draw. Since then he has continued to feature consistently for Arsenal in their pre-season in the states, setting up Eddie Nketiah’s late winner against Bayern Munich. Check out his first goal of the pre-season for Arsenal against Boreham Wood below.

Look Familiar?

Now, I am not saying that Saul is the mastermind behind this goal and all credit should go to him. That was all Tyreece John-Jules quality around the box. However, this video does show that individual unopposed practice has a place in football training. The hours spent with Saul, receiving and opening up his body, then a clean strike across the goal into the bottom corner, gave him the “blueprint” to execute the skill accordingly. This work away from the team training environment prepared John-Jules for the situation above. Ensuring that the individual work is positon specific, at high intensity and quality allows for players to transfer the skills across to a match environment.

Here we’re talking about marginal gains at the elite professional level. This is where all the tiniest details can prove to be the difference between winning or losing. And in this case, scoring or missing. There was no doubt that Tyreece was more than capable of performing those skills, otherwise, he wouldn’t be a professional footballer. It’s not about skill acquisition but more about skill refining, becoming more efficient and explosive with your movements.

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I understand there are a few sceptics out there saying you can’t replicate the pressures of the game or the intensity/realism. This is true, you cannot. Although you can push the athlete as much as you can, it’s not a game situation. Unopposed individual practice is all about that individual technical excellence. Mastering that football and becoming efficient and comfortable with the football-specific movements. You lose some realism and take away the pressures of a game, then you build it back up. Master the technique of the movements with no external factors then you increase these this buy adding a shadow player or a time limit. This then allows for a more gradual transition to a match situation.

Coaches commonly say “the game is the teacher”. However, I believe that the ball is the teacher. If a player is unable to perform the skills in a controlled environment then how are they going to be able to execute the skills in the random chaos which is gameplay?

Master the ball, then master the game.

Take your game to the next level.

Owen Stubbs

Operations Manager

PDA Football 1on1


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