One of Dani’s favorite things to do here in Hungary is to play soccer. He plays with a club that meets at his school 3 afternoons each week for practice (In fact, he is there right now)..
The practice typically begins with some exercise drills. Running, running backwards, running on your toes, etc.
The majority of the time is spent on skill drills. Dribbling through cones with the inside of the foot, dribbling with the outside of the foot, repeat. Both feet receive equal attention. At the end of the practice, there are usually a couple of games. There are about 14-16 kids, so they are split into 3-vs-3 or 4-vs4 games.
I have to say, Dani’s skill level has increased tremendously since he’s been here. I’ve thought a lot about why and there are a couple of factors at play:
1. The other kids around him have a lot of skill. When he started, it was clear that he was less skilled than the other kids his age. The kids here just grow up around soccer much more. If you go to a park, you will always find kids (even 2 year olds) with a ball at their feet, either playing with their friends, or parents, or grandparent (mothers and grandparents have a surprising amount of technical skill, Dora included).
2. The emphasis in the clubs is very different. In the US, Daniel’s soccer team practiced some, but mostly just played games against other clubs. Here in Hungary, Daniel has no formal games, just practice 3 days each week. The club, which has groups at several different schools in the district does have teams for the best players at each age level, but this is not applicable to the vast majority of kids.