The answer is almost always, ‘not enough reps’

As a coach, I’ve noticed that too many coaches and parents vastly underestimate the amount of repetition required to gain competency in the sport’s core skills and tactics.

They seem to think that if a kid practices something a few times, they should be able to do it competently from then on.

I’ll admit, I was once in that camp.

But, I learned fairly quickly that when a player is flubbing a basic, the answer is almost always that they haven’t had enough quality reps, usually by several orders of magnitudes.

A lot of people knowledgeable about the sport miss this because they don’t remember all the reps they put in over the years.

The better kids on the fields are usually the ones who have accumulated the most reps.

Some have had the benefit of coaches that knew the right reps to work on and focused on those in a reasonable order.

Some have benefited from having family, friends, siblings or neighbors that helped provide quality reps — mainly through fun activities that they didn’t really think were reps — like simple games of catch with a baseball or OUT with a basketball.

You can tell a kid a million times to get their shoulders over the ball, instead of reaching in, for a tackle and they will still reach in. It’s sort of like telling a kid to do calculus instead of algebra. It doesn’t work, unless they have the right preparation.

The only way I’ve seen to correct reaching in is lots of repetition on basic foot skills like inside-insides, passing and dribbling, because all these train players to keep their feet and shoulders in a rectangle — the athletic position — and use their full body to control the ball, instead of just their feet.

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