I became a goalkeeper on a Tuesday morning back in 1989. We had a 15 minute break at school so we all rushed outside onto the concrete playground with a tennis ball, set up some teams, and started playing. I found myself at the back next to the wall with the faded weird rhombus chalk outline of the goal posts, the ball bounced across the horde of 9 year olds over to Russell, the best player at the school, who volleyed the tennis ball towards me. I remember just throwing myself to the left and tipping the ball over the wall. I got back up with trousers torn and arms and legs bleeding and my friends shouting praise at my save and disappointment that we might have lost the ball. These scenes would then be repeated at every chance we got for the next ten years. A group of friends, a ball, and a space to play was all we needed.
If you ask our coaches they will likely tell you similar stories of hours spent every day kicking a ball around at home, at school, and in the park, often playing against kids of all ages and abilities. They will tell you that it was these unstructured ‘kickabouts’ that sped up their technical development and they will also reflect with a tinge of sadness that they don't see the younger generations spending their time as such. While there are a myriad of reasons for this discrepancy, there are plenty of ways to get players kicking a ball around in their own time.
At home players can challenge their friends to see who can perform the most juggles, they could spend a day only able to move providing they are dribbling a tennis ball with their weak foot, or they could simply practice their passing and first touch against a wall. For more game-like practice there are plenty of local pick up games, particularly at Twin Lakes.