The golden fleece of soccer skill set is to posses ambipedal ability. Ambipedal is to feet what ambidexterity is to hands. When both your legs posses lethal shooting, passing and defending skills equally you are unstoppable as a player. The top ten “double footers” as they are called in soccer perform head and shoulders above the rest of the league. Their salaries and notoriety increase as well. What new physiology might begin to mix towards creating world cup quality double footer footballer’s or soccer players as we refer to them in the USA? Let me explain one idea I have. Perhaps then you and your family may want to join in to become some of the first participants in discovering how youth soccer plus skateboards may lead to a significant increase in double footed super stars in soccer.
There certainly is no mystery as to how to get closer to possessing ambipedal skill. Dedicated focus and hard work at keeping the execution frequency of each leg equal for each activity is key. Shooting drills, passing drills, evasion and defensive drills need to be practiced evenly on both sides. Beyond that no one in soccer seems to know more. Nor have many researchers examined what other physiology might work beyond the repetition of traditional soccer skills. There is across the board acceptance that ambipedal occurs naturally in soccer. It seems to be well under 18%. This number varies as low as 3% depending on where you source. You either have it or you don’t and folks seem to have tossed their hands in the air with acceptance of the “naturally occurring” theory and become comfortable with the idea that it can’t be generated any better than it has to date.
The majority of ambipedal skill is a neurological development. The neurological pathways needed to execute with precision require steady and repeated firing to establish control. On a soccer pitch, once the shot is taken so too stops the neurology path way from working. All the connections suddenly stop and the “ambipedal motor” shuts down. Optimally our non dominant side needs as much firing as possible to keep firing and never stop firing so it can catch up with the skill set and frequency rate of the dominant side.
No drill on the soccer pitch is constant however like swimming, skiing or running strokes. I speculate that a steady and never ending ambipedal stroke for hours at a time might assist in creating much more powerful ambipedal abilities. Shooting passing and blocking last only factions of seconds. The shot takes a moment, the pass less than a second. What kinetic stroke movement exists that could engage non dominant neurology path ways for longer periods at a time in the legs? What stand alone endurance stroke driven sport delivers steady ambipedal stroke? Ice and inline roller skating backwards in hockey when turning activates ambipedal skill set but it does not by any means allow athletes to practice for hours straight, firing ambipedal stroke neurology. Only one sport has this quality . Switch kicking on a skateboard is ambipedal and it is constant and for hours.
The switch kicking movement has yet to be examined by researchers. Mostly because there has been no significant race competition with skateboards at a world cup speed skating level. There is no world champion ships of skateboard marathon’s practiced by millions. Only seriously raced sports become examined thoroughly by human performance phd’s. However that should not stop us now from beginning some new and very exciting research into this really exciting field. We need only put youth age’s 10 + into unstructured switch kicking practice and structured soccer practice for a few years and we will begin to find out much more.
Don’t let the new terminology confuse you. Switch kick stroke is as simple as the name implies. Switch kicking is the act of kicking a skateboard forward equally with right and left leg while maintaining any balanced cadence you desire from one to thirty strokes to either side of the deck.
Traditionally skateboarding athletes of all stripes have themselves never concentrated much on developing switch kicking skill sets either over the last 50 years. Human propulsion on the board has never been the central focus of skateboarding. Speed has traditionally been attained with gravity. Skateboarders have to date as a whole been downhilling and acrobatic athletes exclusively.
It has not been until the last decade that a few, a group numbering as low as 25-30 athletes world wide, have attained precise, powerful and seamless switch kicking stroke proficiency. These few have participated in using this stroke to compete in 26.2 marathon races. I am one such athlete. I hold a world record at 26.2 miles for age 40 plus. However the skateboard industry and marathon, ultra and stages racing clubs that do exist (they number in the single digits) have themselves never begun to teach nor promote switch kicking widely. There is no NYC weekly meet ups for switch kicking practice. Until now. Central Park Longboarder is dedicated exclusively to switch kicking endurance, recreation and commuting training. It’s all I do. Just think Olympic speed skating on ice only with a mega dose of constant ambipedal skill set.
Watch this video and see if you can pick the dominant side of the athlete. This athlete is 51 years of age. This athlete was a one side dominant athlete his entire life. At age 46 this athlete began ambipedal practice with switch kick and now the action is so flawless you will be unable to detect his non dominant side. This athlete is me. The introduction of ambipedal switch kick in conjunction with structured soccer ambipedal development is simply unknown. Imagining that a child’s mind is in full bloom and developing one has only to assume it will trigger more powerfully and more effectively than that of a 51 year old.
I have to speculate there must be a big upside to such training. Standing on a board, let alone kicking it straight is as tall if not a taller order upon the neurological path ways of the mind than kicking or passing. If you have some doubts put on your protective gear, all of it, hold on to a fence or a rail and step up on one leg on a skateboard using your non dominate leg and you will feel and begin to know exactly how much ambipedal skill set is required. The best part of it is that it can all be acquired safely, sanely and securely by never focusing on anything other than stroke development. Imagine road cycling. They never jump, fly or radically go for it. Switch kicking is the same idea. It lies in the endurance theater of sport, same as road bikes and same as BMX trick bikes live in the daredevil world. I teach endurance and endurance only. No trick, flips nor radical is ever engaged in. The target is a long straight line for miles of stamina training with a steady ambipedal development.
The last issue to consider closely of course is that of cross training. The prevailing science all points to the incredible progressive and universally recognized characteristics of cross training. However it seems so many parents and coaches can’t bring themselves to believe the science behind “make the athlete” then “make the specialist/sport specific/champion.” Singular dedication and focus to one sport at incredibly young ages is at an all time high sadly. LAX, hockey all are sadly becoming year long sports!
If you are a parent in NYC with a child age 10 plus that loves soccer call me to begin cross training in an unstructured and fun way with SWTICH KICKING development at any time during the year. I can assure you they will have fun and they will be learning a skill set that has use well past age 50. They just might become double footers in soccer as well. Here is a hint as to how ambipedal skill set in a three year old begins, yes it can begin that early. The scooter! Yes indeed. The scooter is the beginning of all switch kick. So if your kids love and have scooters. Begin to encourage them to keep equal cadence while kicking! Goal!