Most players have poor footwork.
Even the seemingly best players at a young age have poor footwork. Rather than explain what foot work is, it may be better if you see it at its very best by looking at:
He is not big, super fast or strong. So what makes him so effective as a player. When you consider that he doesn't really have any physical attributes which stand out, you could argue that he is possibly the most technically gifted player that has ever played the game.
If TST could produce one player. Iniesta would be that player.
How good would Iniesta have been if he had the physique of Ronaldo, or the speed of Messi?
Footwork is not just about the touches a player has when on the ball. It is about how efficiently and intelligently a player moves with the ball, how precise their touch is on the ball, and how balanced they are while on the ball. The ball should be an extension of a players body, and to a player it should feel completely natural to have a ball at their feet and moving a ball around their feet.
Whether a player takes 1 touch on the ball or 10, footwork practice will make every touch a player has (regardless of the type of touch) better.
At TST we use cone work in very specific ways (using deep practice principles), 1v1 practice and small sided games to develop footwork. It may look like we are teaching players to run with the ball, but in truth we are improving the precision and weight of touch for any scenario, as well as developing general foot dexterity. Great footwork will make first time play more successful, but at the same time it will ensure that playing in tight spaces is not a problem either.
Cone work gets a bad press sometimes. There is a school of thought that believes that doing any technical practice outside a game is futile due to a lack of transfer and that cones don't serve a purpose as cones don't occur in games.Coaches who don't believe in cones may be very limited in their understanding of how they can be used, and believe all cone work is the same.
TST disagrees with this school of thought.
We ask you to use common sense and instinct to answer this question. Can you look back at when you learned something complicated. Did you get thrown in the deep end and learn it on the run. Or did you try to break it down it into simpler components and practice these, and then slowly join all the different components back together in increasingly difficult environment until you got to stage where you forgot that you ever learned the technique in the first place, while you applied the skill effortlessly in practice.
It is impossible to truly learn extremely advanced skills which require a level of precision way beyond what is natural without DEEP PRACTICE. Read The Talent Code for the science behind this.
And you would also be surprised at how static good footwork can make defenders. Good footwork can turn players into almost cone like statues.
We could give a player a different footwork problem with a different cone set up every day of the year if necessary, so it would be impossible to give a full picture of what footwork means;
To sum up cones are simply a constraint on time and space, and put a players touch, balance and footwork under pressure, and make deep practice possible when working on footwork.
However also BEWARE:
There are lots of footwork (ball mastery) videos on you tube which any keen player could practice at home. However, there is the issue with many of this techniques;Namely - GAME FUNCTIONALITY. If you use you-tube videos then please analyze every single ball mastery exercise and ask this question; Would the footwork pattern be used in game? If not, do not practice it !!!
The brain will use what it learns. If it learns useless non game functional ball moving techniques then this is what it will do in games. This is particularly damaging for young players who think in very concrete ways. If you teach them a ball mastery skill then their brains will not work out that it may not be a game functional skill, and will use it anyway. Please see the videos below which highlight what are mostly useless and dangerous ball mastery exercises.
Only learn ball moving patterns which you can see have a direct relevance to the game!! This is the TST way.