Ball rebound walls help during the development of a child in sports

micova stena_rozvoj_ditete_sportMany coaches and parents underestimate the potential of ball rebound walls and consider them only as something tennis players use for increasing tennis stroke confidence. Ball rebound walls are a totally unique and irreplaceable resource for the development of a child. In terms of Kameveda, they are considered as one of the priorities of development from the age of five, whose importance actually increases with age.


I would like to highlight to parents the enormous development potential of ball rebound walls (BRWs) in this article, in a whole range of sports. In my opinion, BRWs should have a permanent and long-term place in technique development as well as specific physical preparation for systematically sporting children. I will try to support this conclusion with some information and my own experience. I will leave any additional steps to your discretion.

BRWs can be systematically used on a long-term basis in the following sports:

• soccer
• tennis
• volleyball
• hockey
• floorball
• basketball
• team handball
• foot tennis

Parents can verify the genuine interest of their child in a particular sport through the use of a BRW in the initial period of development and learning of the listed sports. If he/she swats the ball twice and gets bored right away, it's a sign of a low level of interest. Such a low level of interest is usually the cause of an unwillingness to train diligently and set high goals, resulting in the ending of the sport during puberty at the latest. You can pay an expensive trainer, go to all the tournaments, buy the best possible sports equipment, but it is still very likely that the child will quit everything one day because of the lack of interest in the activity.

Working on technique on a BRW is fairly demanding and tiring. You could say with exaggeration that it "burns up large amounts of the motivational energy of the child." Therefore, it is very well suited for the purpose of verifying the interest in a given sport. When playing against the wall, every error is discovered. It's a type of training which reveals the true nature of a persons playing technique. After all, the wall never makes mistakes. It is just the training athlete who does. The wall returns every ball, so it is the best and most objective sparring partner for training. When a child hits a ball to the trainer or parent, they initially correct his/her mistakes, which the BRW does not do. Therefore, it is appropriate to begin using the BRW from a certain technical level, when the child can handle sports equipment at least in a limited scope.

BRWs and soccer

I conducted an interview on this subject at the end of March 2017 with a successful former soccer player Ing. Jan Nezmar (a member of the league cannons club, holder of three Czech and one Slovak league title, who played in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup and now occupies the position of sports director of FC Slovan Liberec).

Without being a commonly seen phenomenon in Czech soccer stadiums, the ball rebound wall is a regular part of the development of children, young hopeful players as well as first team players at FC Slovan Liberec. The wall is roofed and extends along the entire length of the stadium, so that the entire training team can use it at one time. The existence of this wall and its easy accessibility plays an important role both in training philosophy and the methodology of the whole club in the development of Liberec soccer players.

Jan Nezmar: the benefits of training on a BRW:

  1. A soccer player learns by himself on the wall what is otherwise difficult to explain to him/her. To transfer the weight of the body on the front of the foot and bend your knees. The whole body assumes a position from which you can quickly take off in all directions and respond to the movement of the ball. Players who do not learn this in time, and stand on their heels for most of the match, then react with a delay and come late to most battles. Therefore, they often do not have a chance to make a play on the ball or they are forced to foul.
  2. A large series of kicks with both feet can be played on the wall, whereas achieving such a high number of repetitions in a different kind of training is tough. Players gradually gain a perfect feel for the ball, and the ability to play the ball in the right direction even in difficult positions. Over time, the number of errors is eliminated.
  3. This is a convenient way of training one's "weak foot", balancing the kicking technique potential with both feet can be worked on with a high level of progress.
  4. On the BRW, it is easy to regulate the exercise intensity by increasing or decreasing the force of kicks when approaching the wall up to a meter and a half.
  5. At a minimum distance from the wall, you can train reflexive procedures and ball hits, which is important in traffic in front of the goal, and for reflected balls, where one can easily score with any part of the body except the hands.
  6. For training on a BRW, a player only needs a ball, and enough energy and will to train and improve. Technical progress can quickly be seen on players. They decrease the number of air shots, inaccurate shots or over-kicking the goal.

According to Jan Nezmar, using BRWs is not particularly widespread in the Czech Republic. But he himself places emphasis on its regular inclusion in training on account of his own experience, where he trained on it for many hours as a player. If you think back on his ability to score from almost every position as well as his excellent head play, perhaps we have just revealed a little secret that contributed to his sporting achievements.

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I recommend parents doing a test that I underwent a long time ago. The best is to get a picture of the suitability or inappropriateness of the use of BRWs in the training of your child by taking a ball yourself and trying to practice. You will experience the same feelings that your child will afterwards experience. Try to play a few balls on your weaker - mostly left leg. They will be uncertain and imprecise. Try to stay the course and do a few dozen, or better yet a few hundred kicks with your weaker leg. Try not to miss and always keep the ball moving, using only one touch of the ball. You may be surprised at what fast progress you make.

These are some other reflective elements for young soccer players that can diversify training, but you also need to consider the effectiveness of such investments from the perspective of the family and the family budget: 

The silhouettes of defenders for the training of penalty kicks and high kick techniques are also important: 

BRWs and tennis

When a child of wealthy parents is in a sports club, he/she usually only has limited time options. When as a coach I can choose whether to assign him an hour with a trainer or an hour on the wall, I would be going against myself because I would lose an hour training session with a wealthy client able to pay well. This is one of the reasons why coaches sometimes do not recommend this to their clients. In addition, parents sometimes have a problem getting their children to train in a way that is not so much fun, so they prefer not to get into some "unnecessary" conflicts with them.

It is true that the one child - one coach training system works best when establishing the right stroke technique. However, BRWs enable doing millions of strokes in a number of ways, to improve coordination, the accuracy of hitting the ball with the center of the racket and also what tennis players call invisible technique. This is the ability to correctly and accurately guide the racket, accelerate or, on the contrary, fix the movement in the last fraction of a second. Simply said, this means striking the ball so it goes the way we want it to more frequently and not some other way. The ratio of these successful and unsuccessful strokes is the basic indicator of the quality of each player. Petr Korda stated that he was able to train up to five hours a day on a BRW in his book, Ivan Lendl even more. He was in search of a formula there for some types of strokes that he did not first know how to deal with during transitions to different types of surfaces.

Tennis players who were willing to work long hours in their youth on the BRW do not exhibit much better quality than their rivals during warm-up. However, when a match comes, they manage to put invisible techniques to excellent use.
On BWRs, tennis players can train very important stroke confidence in a short time and at a minimal cost. I personally believe that letting a child play too much time on the BRW is a mistake, but a bigger mistake is not to use it at all. It is simply a piece of traditional and good tennis education, whose importance does not decrease with the passing of time. It's something every young tennis player should go through to make it really difficult to play against him.

Perhaps training on the wall can appear tedious at first glance, but if you increase the force of the stroke to the maximum, or if you go to the net, you will get under pressure that is similar to the pressure of an opponent during a match. It's not possible to train anticipation because the player in front at the wall knows what stroke and with what force he is playing it and counts with it ahead of time. But it is necessary to respond to uneven terrain and surprising rebounds, which is also excellent training. I can recommend using your imagination and playing some virtual games with some kind of story on BRWs. This can make the training more interesting.

The advantage is that we can follow our feelings and play exactly the game and the strokes we need to improve during this kind of training.

One more remark in conclusion. When you see your child zoned in on persistently hitting hard strokes on the BRW, your face will light up with joy, as you are on the best road to future tennis laurels.

BRWs and volleyball

BRWs can have a very wide range of applications in this sport. Especially when smashing with both hands, where a state of getting a feeling for the ball can be created, when you manage to master the timing of the strike and overall coordination through thousands of repetitions. You can smash the ball both standing and after a jump and intersperse everything with a series of balls played with the fingers or with digs at the wall. If a player is alone, it is more appropriate to practice serving on the wall than in the yard. Just one ball is enough. On the BRW, it is also possible to begin building "two-handed" volleyball players. The weak hand's potential can be gradually brought to the level where the player is able to play with their left hand in an emergency. If the playing hand is injured, it is then possible to undergo partial training with only one hand, to increase its potential and thus not lose contact with your sport and with the team - the return is easier then.

If a volleyball player spikes on the wall with such power that it forces them to leap for each ball in order to smash it right in front of the wall, it is also physically a very demanding exercise that gives players a volleyball-specific fitness. It is one of the ideal ways to gain fitness, because we have to respond to the ball track during it, evaluate the visual perception, and then coordinate the movement of the whole body properly in a fraction of a second, so it is a very suitable and complex developmental exercise, whether volleyball is the target sport or just an auxiliary development sport in our family educational strategy.
You can see the smash training methodology HERE.

The greatest advantage is the quality of the individual training. If a player includes it regularly and for a long time, it can become an important element which he/she can also perform against other players and therefore improve faster.

BRWs and hockey/floorball

If the bottom part of the wall is fitted with a strong plastic (for example, from which high-quality cushions are produced), it is also possible to use it to develop hockey player skills on the smooth plastic surface. Sometimes players use reflective triangles that hurl the puck back using a stretched rubber band, but practicing on the wall enables a much higher degree of training intensity. In addition, you can practice more than just shots and passes on the ground. The puck can be replaced with a wooden or plastic ball, or a golf, floorball or tennis ball after a while. Not only do you practice the release of the puck from the stick with different techniques and with varying force, but also its processing, thus giving this exercise a touch of complexity.

It is possible to practice many elements endlessly in a similar way. Every sebetrival element in the puck control category is easy until we get closer to the boundaries of the player's technical capabilities. At that moment, if the child exercises with such difficulty for a certain time, myelinization of his brain, improvement and hence the growth of potential, occurs. And that is the main goal of the overall effort.

Training where the player practices with minimal difficulty, does not make mistakes, gets bored, occasionally looking at his watch to see how long he will have to train, does not bring anything new, and it's just a waste of time. On the other hand training, which the child enjoys and he or she is focused on and extremely engaged, in which they make mistakes, but with a bent stubbornness, tries again and again to overcome the challenging element, which is thus far beyond their possibilities, is the most powerful substrate for a fast performance boom.

With the BRW, you can practice demanding skills that you will not learn during normal training. There is usually no time for it. For example, firing a puck near the BRW towards the wall and at the same time away from oneself with the forehand, where the player is forced to throw his hands up with the stick behind him, pick up the puck from the backhand side, swiftly moving it between the legs forward, take two quick steps and repeat - this is a drill that can be used in a game when a teammate addresses a pass to the heel and the situation can not otherwise be successfully resolved.

It is also possible for a right-handed player to take the hockey stick for a left-hander and play at the wall for some time on the opposite hand. This partially compensates for the long-term unilateral load, it develops unused brain connections and increases its overall coordination potential.

The same is also true for floorball players who can practice specific technical elements against the wall in a similar manner. Other technical features and flexible reflecting devices can also be used.

BRWs and basketball

We can also use BRWs to teach basketball skills, to practice bounce passes as well as chest passes. To achieve a high degree of ball feel and confidence in ball control, it is necessary to perform a high number of repetitions, even for very simple facets with which the young athlete is not satisfied and wishes to improve. BRWs are an excellent tool for this purpose.

We can draw a few targets on the wall and train the accuracy of passes. You can increase the level of difficulty by moving away from the wall and increasing the force of the passes. After simpler types of passes, practicing back-heel passes with both hands and a high intensity drill in these skills is in order.

It is instructive for parents to try simple exercises on the wall with the basketball, to ensure that little throws can be done at first, that everything has been technically done correctly. Exercises on the BRW are nice to alternate with dribbling and shots into the basket, so it's advisable for the training basket to be as close as possible to the BRW. It depends only on the enthusiasm and the will of the child, how much effort can be developed, how many additional hard workouts every day he/she is able to put in.

In addition to BRWs, other technical reflection elements can be used for team handball and basketball training 

BRWs and team handball

With handball, you can practice all sorts of passes and catching passes with both hands and one hand on the BRW, and you can also practice both right and left hand shooting very effectively. A really engaged team handball player plays a few meters away from the wall, dribbles with the ball, and after a few seconds passes or shoots the ball on the wall, then handles catching the ball and continues to practice skills.

A handball goal of exact dimensions is drawn on the wall, and then it is possible to train shooting from different distances, direct shooting and with bouncing off the ground. In individual practice, it is advantageous that the ball reflects back to the player, since the ball would otherwise remain in the goal and the training would be held up while shooting for the goal. Thus, a greater number of repetitions can be achieved.

BRWs and foot tennis

BRWs offer a variety of options for practicing individual kick techniques in the case of foot tennis. First, it is possible to send a sharp ball to the wall, to handle the reflected ball with the first touch as a pass for your own smash. The smash must be guided downward, bounced off the ground, handled again, and so on.

A more advanced feature is the use of the wall, in front of which we can stretch a rope at a distance of four meters and at the height of the foot tennis net. You start off the training drill with a sharp kick to the wall, then a high-quality handling of the ball into a pass towards the rope, and finish it off with a smash over the rope to the ground. Ideally, the ball should return back to the space in front of the rope in an arc. Then you need to kick the ball off the wall and pass and smash it again. The player is self-sufficient, he/she can achieve a high number of repetitions, during which they can refine their technique.

You can practice serving in a similar manner. For that case you need to draw a line on the wall at the level of the net and also measure the exact distance of the rear line of the field. This will also allow for a large number of repetitions, increasing force, and testing the appropriate rotation of the ball during serving.

The positive effect of training on the BRW

A balanced development of the athlete can be achieved. This is achieved easily by changing both hands and feet at regular intervals. Ten kicks with the right, ten kicks with the left foot. Ten smashes with the right hand, ten with the left hand. When practicing the tennis smash, one smash can be done with a forehand and the other with a backhand . In everyday practice, every athlete spontaneously relies on their stronger limb, and tries not to use the weaker one, which is logical in view of the immediate effect, but in the long run, there is an ever deeper disbalance and disproportion in the development of the limbs, when one grows stronger and the other weakens resulting in more serious health problems in the future. Playing with both hands and feet has a compensatory effect, but it is also said that if we manage to increase the ability of the weaker (non-playing) limb, then the potential of the main limb will also rise. We have no study done on this, we can only draw on the subjective feelings of the various athletes who have spoken on this subject. Many were able to play very well with both hands from a young age (e.g. Martina Hingis).

It is an inexpensive and easy-to-use means of effectively building a high level of skill, an area in which our athletes in ball sports are losing ground to the best. A more effective training than cycling or circling around an oval is skill training on the BRW.

You can conduct a comprehensive training. I applied this training to my son until he was sixteen years old. During the training session, we played tennis volleys and smashes on the BRW, then kicks, then volleyball smashes, handball throws, basketball and hockey with a ball or small ball. I considered wall training combined with pair training as the most effective training of this kind. For example, kicks on the wall and then ten minutes of hockey with a wooden ball against each other, followed by smashing the volleyball on the wall, and then everything continued with one-on-basketball. It is a training of complex skills in which the whole body is fully trained, not only in terms of the development of the locomotive apparatus but also its management and control. Thus, coordination, balance, reaction and anticipation. In this way, of course, the development of a specific physical condition that is ideal for children engaged in collective sports occurs.

If training on the BRW is done through the alternation of all limbs and changing balls and sports occurs, it is great fun and also a compensatory activity. Each sport develops other muscles and the body thus gradually changes. These workouts are fun and refreshing, and they have far-reaching compensation and developmental effects if we are able to put them into practice at least three times a week. For children under the age of fourteen, this should be the rule under Kameveda. Although using this method of training does not result in the maximum development of skills in the main sport, it very effectively develops a general comprehensive level of motor skills, which in terms of the maximum final objectives of Kameveda, is an area which should be seen as one of the priorities.
In its methodology, Kameveda relies on the use of home gyms from the earliest age. If you get one, one of the windowless walls can serve as the BRW from the age between one and two, even every day. An outdoor wall on the playground or tennis court gives us more possibilities, but the home one can serve its purpose from an early age a few times a day, when it rains, snows or after dusk. Martina Navratilová described how journalists admired her volley in one of her books. She told them that in the living room in the building where she grew up, she could not practice anything else (she trained with her dad tennis-volleys whenever her mother went shopping ...).

If the wall is used by children or you use it mostly to practice the elements of one sport, I would recommend drawing the graphic elements on the wall. For tennis players, it is definitely a line at the height of a tennis net and one or two targets to practice stroke precision. A volleyball player will have them positioned higher and can practice the accuracy of receiving a serve or playing the ball with their fingers for accuracy.

Article from 27 April 2017

JUDr. Pavel Zacha

JUDr. Pavel Zacha
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