Motor-learning experts say that the key ingredient in skill acquisition is the number of contacts in a game-like environment.
In the recent World Cup of soccer, two countries, Belgium and England, experienced their best results in many years by reaching the semifinals. Belgium hadn’t gotten that far since 1986, England since 1990.
Their success was not by accident. Both countries, frustrated by poor play in recent World Cup competitions, chose to examine their player development programs at all age levels. Both countries had a similar goal – figuring out how a broader base of skilled players could be developed. Their focus turned to critiquing and altering the training format for players from the ages of 8-13. This led to major changes in how they taught and played the game.