Players looking to develop themselves and progress further along the NWSF pathway are encouraged to complete ‘extras’, in addition to their regular team training, in order to further develop their individual skills and DNA qualities.
Below are some tips on how players can enhance these extras to support their development.
Know your X-factors
X-factors are specific DNA qualities that distinguish individual players from others. Sam Kerr’s X-factor, for example, is that she is a highly skilful finisher. On the other hand, Grant Cornwell, Spirit FC’s Mens First Grade captain for many years, is extremely tribal.
Players should reflect on and consider their X-factors. What makes you a great player? What attributes set you apart from others? How do you make the difference in the game?
Accordingly, try to then complete extras that enhance and develop these X-factors. Individual training can be specific to improving what you are already good at, so it becomes an X-factor.
Practice both feet
The ability to use both feet (being ambidextrous) is a particularly useful X-factor for players. Coaches value players who can use both feet as it means they are unpredictable, can play on both sides of the field, and can be more tactically flexible.
Therefore, you may like to dedicate an ‘extras’ session to using your weak foot. This may even stretch into your team training, where you choose to focus on it during a session.
Mix it up
When doing extras, you will often do lots of repetition of the same skills. Repetition is fantastic as the more you practice, the better you will improve. However, it is important to note that you should like to repeat a similar skill in a variety of ways. This could mean, for example, varying the distance and speed if you are focusing on passing, or practicing finishing from different positions in the penalty box.
Integrate your mentality framework
When doing these extras, this is also a great opportunity to practice your mental skills. As part of being a ruthless and resilient person, you should have a framework that helps you stay confident and focused during games, including an A-Game. An A-Game is a set of describing words and a role model that serves as a verbal & visual reminder of what you look like at your best. As you practice your skills, try to bring this A-Game to life, by actively embodying your key words through your body language and football actions.
Use your environment to your advantage
Sometimes, when doing extras, you may be on your own. Try to be creative in these situations and consider use of equipment such as walls and natural barriers. These can be used as a reboundable surface, where, if you are smart, you will be able to vary the ‘service’ and practice your weak foot, as discussed above.
When using a wall, try not to limit yourself use to ‘rebounding back’ against it, but instead, incorporate some sort of turn, dribble or finish to enhance the realism of your individual practice.
If you are injured, or just tired, then watching football is a great way to become more smart and improve your understanding of football. There are millions of highlight videos on social media, including YouTube, but one way to enhance your development further is to watch player compilations or player cams. These allow you to study a player or position in more detail to analyse specific skills, techniques and movements that you can carry into your own game.
Even better, you might go watch an A-Leagues match, or one of Spirit FC’s first grade teams. When watching live football, focus on how players move off the ball as well as what they do on the ball.