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Are you a fan of tennis?
If you are, then you’re likely to have seen some athletes on television practicing their return swings and rebound volleys with a tennis ball machine.
However, the use of these gadgets is not just limited to this sport.
This is because similar technology – called a soccer ball launcher – also exists for soccer players to make use of!
So, let me clue you in on what I’m talking about.
A soccer ball launcher is a machine that is specifically designed to deliver a multitude of different soccer ball spins at great speeds and levels of elevation. It is able to accurately simulate long- and short-range passes, flat and deep crosses, along with a number of different shots types like knuckleballs and curves.
Now, let’s dive deeper into the things that a soccer ball launcher is used for.
What is the purpose of a soccer ball launcher?
These gadgets are great for skill refinement as they come equipped to launch several soccer balls within a short duration of time.
So, instead of having a partner try to curve a soccer ball towards you or even throw one at you with their bare hands, you can replicate a much wider range of match scenarios through the flexibility that a soccer ball launcher provides.
Here are a couple of areas that this fine piece of equipment is able to help with.
1. Improving the technique of outfield players
As a midfielder or striker, you’re required to score goals or at least have some sort of influence on match proceedings that take place within the opposition third of the pitch.
Which means that you need to be ready to step up in situations where:
- A first-time volley is required to score a goal
- Chest control is needed to retain possession in advanced areas
- One-touch passes would effectively disrupt the defensive organisation of the opponent
The great thing about soccer ball launchers is that you can easily practice for all of the aforementioned scenarios with them.
2. Set piece practice
Admittedly, one of the best ways to practice set pieces within a team training session is to perform roleplay.
You’d simply gather a group of players and split them into two categories – the attacking and defensive units.
In addition, a designated corner kick or free kick taker would be appointed to whip the crosses in from wide areas.
But what if you’re training with just one other person and you don’t have the numbers to mimic a real set piece environment?
Well, this is where a soccer ball launcher steps in.
The machine is fully capable of stepping in as the set piece deliverer.
From there, all you need to do is have your partner operate the machine by adjusting the type of delivery.
You can get them to try all sorts of things, such as:
- Curved crosses
- Flat crosses
3. Goalkeeper development
Another area that soccer ball launchers can be of great use is when it comes to goalkeeping.
Guarding the goal is no easy feat, and goalkeepers need to take the time to practice the following elements:
- Reflex saves
- Ball handling
- Cross claiming
They will get great use out of a soccer ball launcher too, as the device can play the role of an opposition forward.
A launcher offers the repetition and consistency that are important factors that help athletes improve their performance levels, so a goalkeeper stands to benefit immensely from honing their ability to save shots through consistent soccer ball delivery.
How does a soccer ball launcher work?
I’ll give you a good example.
Take a look at the video below:
You can see that this soccer ball launcher has a detachable 6-ball feeder where all the soccer balls are supposed to be piled and positioned as they wait to be launched in the direction of the player.
So, to operate it correctly, the first thing that you need to do is get a stable base ground for the launcher so that it can rest without wobbling from left to right as it releases the soccer balls.
The next thing you’ll need to do is load up the launcher with a number of fully inflated soccer balls – they can be size 3, size 4 or size 5.
Once that is done, you need to take control of the remote that comes with the launcher.
Using this device, you can tweak all sorts of settings.
For example, you can change the launch height, which will adjust how high or low the soccer balls will travel in the air once they set off.
Another thing you can alter is the launch interval.
This will determine the time period between each launch, and that can be great for goalkeepers because if you want to practice reflexes you can set a much shorter interval as their position requires quick reaction off of their feet.
Other areas you can adjust include the angle in which the soccer ball should travel as well as the degree of spin and the amount of speed that should be applied for each launch.
All of these different settings free up coaching time, as they can focus more closely on monitoring the various aspects of player performance as opposed to doing less important tasks like gathering up soccer balls from different pitch areas and manually kicking them.
Where can you buy a soccer ball launcher?
There are a couple of options when it comes to purchasing one.
You can opt for the Ball Launcher trainer that comes with an automatic ball feeder and a 12-month warranty just in case anything goes wrong with the product.
Even Amazon has a few choices, such as the:
Although the only issue with the bulleted options is that they are out of stock at the present time, with no indication of a return to availability any time soon.
Soccer ball launchers are great pieces of training equipment that you can use to elevate so many different aspects of your technical game.
But these gadgets aren’t really complete if you don’t have a great soccer ball to use them with!
They’re also quite expensive items, which is a shame because it puts them out of sight for most of the causal players who would actually stand to benefit from them the most.
Oh well, we live in a capitalist society and so the price that you have to pay isn’t really something that you can argue with.