Never Train Your Weak Foot In Soccer?

One of the biggest pieces of advice you first hear soccer parents utter is: “make sure you train your weak foot!”

The typical inexperienced parent who’s just starting their kid out in soccer, will have that as their first line of advice. And it seems like it would be great advice. I mean, you want to be good with both feet right?

Well, let’s get all freakanomics on you.

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Have you ever wondered how random, bizarre things are figured out?  Or how they work?

Well, freakanomics is the study of those bizarre things using Economics, just not the classic “inflation vs. deflation” boring old economics.  No, this is economics on steroids to figure out stuff like: do sumo wrestlers cheat?  Do school-teachers cheat?  Or what caused the massive decline of crime rate in the 1990’s?

And so why not use some Freakanomic mentality to figure out what’s been considered a staple in soccer development for years and years?

Mainly, the idea that your weak foot should be trained just as much as your right foot.

NEVER Train your Weak Foot in Soccer?

Ok, so first off, let’s state why you would train your weak foot in soccer.

Obviously, you would want to be able to play equally as good with the ball on either foot depending on the situation.  So, let’s say you have a shot available with your left foot, yet you have no confidence in it, you’ll obviously struggle.  So, as the theory goes, you should have trained your weak foot (in this case left foot), so you could have shot with confidence and scored.

Or you may need to beat a defender by going left and so you’re forced (at least people think you are) to use your left foot to go left side of the defender.

Or you simply have to make a pass with your left foot cause the ball is on your left side of your body.

And again, people say: “you see Joey, this is why we must work the weak foot just as much as the strong foot.”

Basically it’s that no matter what foot you have to use, you should be just as good with both is how the theory roughly goes.

Ok, but the point of saying all that is what?

The point of making players train both is so that they are better players and maximize their potential right?

Ok, so here’s my ground-breaking, dream destroying, conventional wisdom bashing (at least I think so) question to that:

What if having one dominant foot is better than having two mediocre feet in soccer?  

I truly think I solve %90 of the problem by posing that question.   But, I also know that people never truly change their minds so let’s continue.

You see, most people are mistaken when they think Pro’s are equally as good with both feet.  They aren’t.  You think Messi dribbles with his right foot (his weak foot) often?  No chance, he dribbles with his left %99 (rough math on my part 🙂 of the time and barely uses his right.  So people say; “well how does he go to his right then if he doesn’t use his right foot?”

Well, there’s other ways to adapt and still use your dominant foot.

In the same way you can curl the ball with the OUTSIDE of your strong foot instead of using the inside of your weak foot, you can dribble mostly with your dominant by simply having counter techniques that allow you to continue using your strong foot.

If Messi had truly developed his weak foot as much (or close to) as his strong foot, he would potentially dribble %30-%40 of the time with that weak foot, but it’s not even close!

He MAYBE dribbles %5 of the time with his weak foot…

And so you say: “yeah, but he’s good enough during that %5 of the time.”

Yeah, good enough to use his weak foot as a support foot when he needs it.  (and probably more cause he is Messi after all).

And yes, you would be right, he is good enough with his weak foot to use it when he absolutely needs to.

BUT… and big but here my amigo:

Do you think he would be as great as he is with his strong foot if he had wasted precious time training his weak foot just as much?


He wouldn’t be.  And the reason?  Because if he had balanced out his training, he would have taken away precious time from developing his dominant left foot.  That left foot that has amazed us for years and maybe created the best player ever.

Get that?

If he had trained his weak foot (right foot) as equally as his left foot during his development phases, he would have taken away from turning his left foot into a beast…

He would have lost out on millions and millions of lifetime touches with his strong foot that turned it into the money-maker it is.

A German buddy of mine who has a dominant left foot, and who played pro in Portugal and Germany told me his Dad (a professional coach) once said:

“Why do you need a right foot if you’re dominant with your left?”

And you know what?  This in my humblest of opinions isn’t far from the truth.

Remember this: If you’re strong foot is good enough, you can do almost anything.  Heck, even when you’re in situations where theoretically you “should” use your weak foot, if you’re good enough you can adapt and use your strong foot instead.

I remember playing with an English player who played in the Premier league back in the day ,(not bad right?).

Anyhoo, he was ALL right foot.  ZERO left.  And he was good too dangit.

I mean, even when everything called for a pass with his left, he would instead curl it with the outside of his right foot.

But you know what?  He was so good with his right, it didn’t matter.  He was still the best player on the field.

In fact, look at the youth levels.

Often, the best players are dominant one-foot players.  Cue the Debbie Downers saying: “oh yeah, that’s going to catch up with him later on and he’ll be in trouble.”

Will he though?

Or how about this Freakanomic point of view:

*** Ok, so let’s assume other kids are training both feet equally while this kid (dominant) uses his strong foot %95 of the time.  His one foot is WAY better than the other player’s two feet, and thus he can beat them regularly.  So you say; “yeah but they will catch up.”  (Because, you’ll have a faster start to soccer skills if you focus on a strong foot due to not wasting time on both).  However, people think that the other kids (training both regularly) will catch up eventually.  But, besides the argument that one dominant foot is better than two mediocre (I’ve made this many times above :), by being better right away, you also get way more practice.  It’s a fact that the better player gets more touches, more dribbles, more shots, more passes, more receptions, more moves, and overall more soccer practice.  Why?  Cause they are better… The better player gets the ball more.

So, the dominant foot player gets more practice and in my opinion is developing better anyways.

Again, for me it comes down to this simple point I continue to emphasize:

I prefer a dominant foot over two mediocre feet.  And it’s simple math once again (my famous line).

You may think you’ll eventually develop two dominant feet.  But will you?  It’s hard enough to develop one dominant foot, do you have the time and life-time touches on the ball to develop two dominant feet?

Here’s my solution:

Never try to have two dominant feet.  Develop a dominant foot, that can practically do everything.

And unlike what you’re thinking, I still think you should obviously be able to do these things with your weak foot which does (cue those debbie downers who keep on neglecting to see this part) take practice with your weak foot.

Things such as:

  • Perform a simple pass
  • Clear the ball (if you’re a defender)
  • Tackle with it
  • Receive with it (sometimes if necessary…)
  • Perform a decent shot
  • And finally – act as a support for your strong foot (example: when you’re dribbling with your dominant foot, about %5-10 of the time you’ll need to take a touch with your weak foot just to keep the ball going)

And that’s about it… I like to view it as: develop the weak foot for the necessary things, and other than that, dominate with one strong foot.  

From there, it’s up to you to figure out your math formula in terms of how much you develop each.

Do you want one dominant foot or two mediocre?  Do you have enough time to develop two dominant?

Well, even those that do spend their entire lifetimes touching a ball don’t usually have two dominant, and that is where I base this argument.

Again, it comes down to this: do you have enough time to train like a pro?  If so, sure get lots of touches with both feet and train them to heck and back.

But, just do me this favor, make sure you train one enough to be dominant with it…

Anyhoo, that’s it for this one.  LET ME KNOW below whether you’ve seen this play out before.  Do you think you can develop 2 dominant feet?  One?  Or that you should always train both equally?

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