July 01, 2010

soccerscience.net Skill Assessment Protocol

Aims
Our overriding aim is to determine how individual players perform on specific skills tests. We design each test to focus on a skill that's important and relevant to match performance, and which requires adherence to correct technique to execute. The skills we highlight are some of the most commonly used during games at each age level, from junior to senior competitions - from our basic descriptions below you'll recognise important components of soccer performance.

Because we require players to use particular techniques, our tests can also be used as training tools. Repetitive practising of each drill will enforce the use of the correct technique and will result in improvement in both the specific drill and match performance.


Logistics
We've designed our soccerscience.net Skill Assessment Protocol with efficiency in mind. We can test approximately 24 players during a 2 hr session. The performance of each player is assessed in 12 different skill tasks, and players are rotated through each task in pairs. A total of 10 minutes is assigned to each task so that players have competed a task and are ready for the next within the allotted time.

Would you like to know more about the skills tests we use? We've summarised our testing protocol below.

Overview of skills tests

1. Short passing performance 
The most commonly used skill in open play is the short pass between team-mates. This test assesses a player’s ability to receive a pass by a) bringing the ball under rapid control and then b) executing a subsequent pass with both precision and accuracy. We emphasise both the correct body shape during this drill and kicking with the appropriate foot, ensuring the ball is always protected from opponents when passing the ball at 90 degrees to the angle of ball reception.

2. Short first-time passing drill
The rapid first-time pass between team-mates is a skill that's often used in open play. This particular drill tests a player’s ability to play a quick one-touch pass whilst using the correct body-shape and kicking foot, to ensure the ball is protected from an opponent. The first-time pass assessed in this drill occurs at 45 degrees to the angle of ball reception.

3. Short wide-angle passing drill
Players require the ability to receive a ball from a team-mate, turn with the ball through a wide angle and play a subsequent pass to another team-mate. This technique is crucial for rapid ball distribution through the mid-field area of the pitch, and high performance in this skill allows players to open up the game rapidly using technique and vision. Thus, this particular drill tests a player’s ability to receive a pass by bringing it under control rapidly whilst turning with the ball and then executing a subsequent pass with accuracy. We emphasise the correct body shape during this drill and the use of the appropriate foot to ensure the ball is protected from opponents before being passed on to a team-mate that is at 150 degrees to the angle of ball reception.

4. Dribbling Speed
Dribbling with the ball is a skill required by all players but is especially effective for those attacking players looking to break open a defense by running at opponents through tight spaces. This drill tests a player’s ability to dribble the ball rapidly through a marked circuit, where good performance relies on close ball control and the ability to maintain control during rapid changes of direction.

5. Passing accuracy (20 m)
Passing the ball accurately is a critical skill used in open play and is important for players in every position. This particular drill tests a player’s ability to pass a ball accurately and allows coaches to analyse and critique a player’s skill level with both left and right feet.

6. Passing accuracy (30 m)
As for Performance Test 5 but assessed over 30 m.

7. Passing accuracy of moving ball
Accurate passing of a moving ball is a critical skill used in open play and is important for players of all positions. This particular drill tests a player’s ability to pass a ball accurately when the ball is moving towards them, thus simulating occasions when a player must play a rapid first-time pass. This drill also allows coaches to analyse and critique a player’s skill level when executing left and right footed passes.

8. Lofted Passing accuracy over 40 m
Long passes are commonly used in open play as mechanisms to move attacking play rapidly, change the direction of movement whilst in possession, and to play a rapid ball to a team-mate that is in free space when the player in possession is under pressure. This particular drill tests a player’s ability to play a long-ball (40 m) using the correct technique (using the laces) with accuracy. This drill allows coaches to analyse and critique a player’s skill level with both left and right feet whilst using the

9. Heading accuracy
Headers are commonly used in open play to direct elevated balls down towards team-mates and through gaps during attacking plays. This specific drill tests a player’s ability to deal with such an elevated ball by heading it towards a target. The drill also allows coaches to analyse and critique a player’s skill level using the correct heading technique.

10. Volley accuracy
The ability to direct an elevated ball towards a team-mate using an accurate volley pass is an important skill that is routinely required during a game. This drill assesses the ability of a player to pass balls when in the air using the side of the foot with both accuracy and precision.

11. Juggling ability
Although juggling is a skill rarely executed during a game, the ability to kick the ball with precision and delicate touch whilst moving at pace is frequently used during a match. This drill quantifies a player’s ability to maintain delicate control over a ball whilst running.

12. Shooting Accuracy and Power
Shooting from the top of the 16 yard box is one of the most common methods of scoring. The ability to execute this technique with both power and accuracy is one of the most important attributes that a player can possess for attacking play. This specific drill quantifies a player’s ability to shoot across the face of the goal from the top corner of the 16-yard box into the bottom opposite-corner of the goal.


If you'd like more information about our testing protocol or would like to become involved in our research, please contact Dr Robbie Wilson or see our Contact Us page for more details.

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