SureFire Soccer Introduces iSoccer!

Surefire Soccer Newsletter – Jan 2011

It’s the start of a new year and we at Surefire Soccer want to make a commitment to you.  In 2011 we will provide you with practical information and products that you can use to raise the skill level of your players.  The Surefire team has been researching literally hundreds of products and soccer related web sites and will only recommend the best to you.

These past few months we have connected with iSoccer and want to use this newsletter to share the principles and techniques that our staff is applying to the teams they are personally coaching.  Our coaches are seeing remarkable progress in the technical skills of their players and we encourage you to learn how to teach your players the fundamentals of soccer and how to motivate them to get better through connecting with iSoccer.

This newsletter will provide you with an overview of the foundations you should be teaching to develop your players, the seven areas of technical ability you should be looking to improve in 2011, and then we will give you three specific areas that you can train and test your players.  There is also video links to the iSoccer web site so you can see the drills and assessments being taught to other players.

For 2011 we encourage you to join with 1 million other US Soccer coaches and players in participating in the National Standards Project.  We want you to:

MEASURE the technical ability of your players.
ESTABLISH national standards by testing your players and reporting the results to iSoccer.
and together we can IMPROVE the overall level of soccer in the US!

The National Standards Project is the first step in a multi-year initiative to raise the level of soccer in this country. By assessing your players, teams or your entire club, you are helping set the National Standards and contributing to the betterment of the game in the United States.

Let’s keep the momentum and excitement of the Men’s World Cup 2010 and Women’s World Cup 2011 going. Collectively we can make a difference for the next generation of American players.

Player Development…five founding principles

There are Five Founding Principles which have guided the creation, development and implementation of the iSoccer training philosophy.  Surefire Soccer endorses these principles.  They include:

o    Technical development should be the primary focus for youth players.

o    Technical ability can be measured.

o    Technical improvement is dependent on the amount and efficiency of training time.

o    Setting and achieving tangible goals builds confidence and reinforces positive behavior.

o    Competition motivates players to train harder.

These principles are based on our experience as players and coaches, as well as input from experts not only in the game, but in the psychology behind development.

Training Methodology

It is important to make sure your training methodology focuses on developing the individual player.  A team is only as strong as the players that make up the team, and you need to be dedictated to helping each player maximize his or her potential.

Your training methodology should Assess… Analyze… Target… and Train. This systematic approach and is the most efficient method to improve technical ability.

Assessing a player’s technical ability is the cornerstone of individual player development.  If you do not how well you can do something, how will you ever know you have improved?  To empower the player and team so that they know how good they are technically and know their base level, iSoccer developed an assessment test.  The assessment is comprised of 16 skills across a range of seven topics.  Each skill represents the most basic and fundamental ability required for a player to have a strong technical foundation.

The assessment results provide insights into a player’s technical ability helping to identify specific strengths and weakness towards which training can be targeted.  Over time, historical data highlights the efficacy of training efforts and provides a roadmap for ongoing development.

A player’s technical level is the basis for setting goals and designing an efficient and effective training program. Deliberately focus your training on the areas where you need improvement while continuing to develop your strengths.

“How much soccer training is it needed to become a top player? It depends on the efficiency of your training routine. Setting long and short-term goals is a must. When planning out a soccer-training regime, one must strive for realistic and consistent program that will diminish specific weaknesses. Broad versatility of soccer skills is the Nirvana of every dedicated trainee.”  Pele

This is when a player needs to get outside and make it happen.   Armed with the knowledge of his or her unique strengths and weaknesses, each player can maximize the efficiency of their training to see the greatest possible improvement in their game.

The vision of a champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion when nobody else is watching”  Anson Dorrance, UNC Women’s Head Coach

This training methodology is a cyclical process that should be constantly repeated.  Assess, Analyze, Target, Train…and repeat.  Each cycle should show tangible improvement and measurable progress toward a player’s technical training goals.

The Seven Areas of Technical Ability

The following Seven Individual Topics make-up an individual player’s technical and physical ability. Each of these topics must be targeted and developed to become a well rounded, fundamentally sound player.

Comfort “Touching the ball consistently and efficiently with different parts of the foot.”

Ball comfort is the most basic of all the seven topics. Comfort is defined as touching the ball in a specific sequence as quickly and as accurately as possible. Comfort skills can be performed within a very tight space or can be done in an open space. Let’s look at Toe Taps. Toe Taps can be done with a stationary ball and requires very little space. Toe taps can progress to moving with the ball, such as, toe tapping the ball forward and backward. Lastly, Toe Taps can be done in an open space where players are required to weave in and out of each other while touching the top of the ball

Examples of Comfort Exercises:
Basic: Toe Taps, Foundation
Moderate: Rollies, V Pull
Advanced: L Pulls, Heel Toe Double Touch

Juggling “Maintaining the ball in the air with different parts of the foot and body.”

Juggling is a very effective method for a player to enhance their control over the ball that is in the air.  The ability to consistently touch the ball by keeping it in the air teaches the player the proper technique and the proper strength to apply when controlling the ball.

Examples of Juggling Exercises:
Basic: Sitting 1x and Catch, 2x Catch with Laces
Moderate: Laces no spin, Inside of the foot
Advanced: Outside of the foot, High to low

Dribbling “Moving the ball with accuracy, speed and balance.”

Dribbling is the most fundamental skill in the game of soccer.  Being able to effectively move the ball on the ground in a controlled and quick fashion is paramount for a player’s progression in soccer.  Moving with the ball in all directions is a very important aspect of a player’s game.  Soccer is played in a 360 Degree area.  When a player has the ball, they have the option of moving in any direction (assuming an out of bounds line is not near them) and being able to effectively and quickly move into open space is critical for any player.  Every player is going to be in situations where they will need to be creative to successfully retain possession of the ball when under pressure.  The topic “Moves” allows a player to perform a very basic, but effective move to either retain possession or to beat a player when attacking.

Examples of Dribbling Exercises:
Basic: Inside/Outside with one foot, Dip and Go, Pull Back
Moderate: Inside/Outside two feet, The Roll, Stepover
Advanced: Chop Behind, Double Scissors

First Touch and Passing “Deliberately controlling the ball and performing an accurate, well weighted pass.”

Being able to quickly receive and pass the moving ball is an extremely important skill.  As the level of soccer increases the ability for a player to play an effective one-touch pass when necessary is crucial.  The weight and accuracy of the pass are both very important.

Examples of First Touch and Passing Exercises:
Basic: Pin the ball, Outside of foot control and stop
Moderate: Glance over shoulder, 4 passes and stop
Advanced: Pull Turn, Short to long one touch

Aerial Control “Quickly and effectively controlling the ball out of the air.”

In soccer, the ball is frequently played in the air and having the ability to control and strike a ball before it hits the ground forces the player to have an efficient first touch and a solid strike of the ball for the second touch.

Examples of Aerial Control Exercises:
Basic: Thigh and volley, Pop chest and catch
Moderate: Head to volley, Outside of the foot to volley
Advanced: 10 meter two touch game, Step Over to volley

Ball Striking “Accurately striking a ball when finishing, crossing, switching the field, or knocking a long ball.”

Striking a ball accurately over a long distance is crucial for more advanced players to open up the game on the field.  Having the ability to switch the field or strike an effective cross the level of play to another level than striking a ball and hoping it goes where you want.

Examples of Ball Striking Exercises:
Basic: Laces volley, land on kicking foot
Moderate: Inside bend, outside bend
Advanced: Side volley, Bicycle kick

Speed, Strength, Flexibility “Becoming faster, stronger and more agile.”

Soccer is a fast game with and without the ball.  Players that can get to the ball quickly and can outrun opponents have a definite advantage.

Examples of Comfort Exercises:

Basic: Leaning forward to spring, legs up, knee push-ups
Moderate: Squats, Body bridge, regular push-ups
Advanced: One legged squats, triangle push-ups

Let’s Look at Some of the 16 Specific National Assessments

National Assessment Topic #4: Passing

Wall Passing is Critical to Development

Excerpts from Claudio Renya’s Book “More Than Goals”

“Dennis Bergkamp, the great Dutch striker who scored and set up hundreds of goals for Ajax Amsterdam, Arsenal and the Dutch National Team, said that when he was a young player at Ajax, they had little three foot high walls. He would knock the ball against it for hours. Every time he hit the ball, he would know whether it was a good touch or a bad touch. He would do it over and over, trying to establish a rhythm.”

“I would also hit the ball against the side of the house… Hitting the ball with both feet, seeing how long I could return the walls passes without losing control. I found out later that so many pros spend lots of their childhood doing that.”

Take the Test and Motivate Your Players
Use the iSoccer National Assessment to not only know your players’ passing levels, but also to motivate them to train against a wall more often. And if for some reason you cannot find a training wall, please pick your head up and look at every solid surface around you. Training walls are all around.

Immediate Feedback
The wall never lies and does not play favorites. It provides immediate feedback that is 100% honest. When you knock a nice pass or driven ball into the wall, the ball comes right back to you. When you do knock a nice ball into the wall, you will know it right away. Are you moving from side to side or is the ball bouncing too high? These are all indicators that you can sharpen your passing skills.

The Assessment: 4 Specific Tests

Stand 2.5 meters from the wall, how many passes can you complete in 20 seconds?
Watch the Assessment Videos! –
First Touch and Pass (Preferred Foot)
First Touch and Pass(Non-Preferred Foot)
One Touch Passing (Preferred Foot)
One Touch Passing (Non-Preferred Foot)

When you are taking an assessment, make sure the distance is exact and that you only give each player 20 seconds to complete the test.  In order to make sure you have accurate and measurable results, you need to be consistent.  Have the players then work out on their own and report to you their progress.  When they are ready for the next assessment, you can record their “official” scores or, if you join with iSoccer, you can enter their scores online and compare them with other team members or players in their age from around the country.

National Assessment Topic #5: Aerial Control

The Importance of Aerial Control

Controlling crosses, goal kicks, throw-ins, flighted passes, corners – there really isn’t a part of the game where aerial control isn’t immensely important. Look no further than the World Cup Final a few months back. A misplayed trap by the Dutch leads to a bouncing ball that Iniesta calmly controls with the side of his foot perfectly 3 feet out in front of him and volleys it home… The rest is history.

Becoming Comfortable Controlling Balls in the Air
Taking the ball out of the air effectively is not as easy as the pros make it look. Years of practice have enabled the pros to place the ball precisely where they want it with practically any part of their body.

There are many young players across the country whose natural instinct is to just ‘boot it’ when faced with a tricky situation on the pitch. By making a concerted effort to practice aerial control from their youth, players will feel more confident with their control, and will learn to override their instinct to just ‘boot it’.

Two Touch Aerial Control Game
Like passing, a wall is a great training tool. So let’s have some fun with it. From 1, 2.5, 5 or 10 yards away from the wall, see how many consecutive times you can control the ball and volley it into the wall. The ball is only allowed to bounce once and that is on the return from the wall. Other than that, the ball should be kept in the air. For younger players, catch the ball after every touch until you comfortable enough to try it without the catch.

Partner Aerial Control Assessment

Now, get a partner and stay 2.5 yards away from each other.  Have one partner toss the ball to the right foot.  The other partner takes controls the toss with his right foot and passes it back to the chest of his partner.  The partner then tosses the ball to the left foot and the process is repeated.  Next, the toss goes to the right and then left thigh.  The player then controls a chest pass and passes back with the inside of his right foot and then left foot.  Finally, the toss goes to the head and the pass goes back, first with the left foot and then the right.  If a player can get six balls out of the eight back to the chest of the player tossing, then they step back and stand five yards apart and repeat the process.  See how many each of your players can get out of 16 total points.

Teaching the skills needed to control the ball out of the air are critical to train over the course of many years. A player does not all of sudden learn how to take the ball with the different parts of the body – it takes time and plenty of bad touches to finally get to those good touches. The iSoccer Aerial Control assessment is a great tool to target weaknesses and monitor players’ improvement.

Free iSoccer Videos
2.5 meters and 5 meters from you partner, how many can get out of 16?  Watch the Aerial Control Assessment Video!

National Assessment Topic #6: Ball Striking

Excerpt from Beckham, Both Feet on the Ground
“All the strengths in my game are the one Dad taught me in the park twenty years ago: we’d work on touch and striking the ball properly until it was too dark to see. He’d kick the ball up in the air as high as he could and get me to control it. Then it would be kicking it with each foot, making sure I was doing it right. It was great, even if he did drive me mad sometimes. ‘Why can’t you just go in goal and let me take shots at you?’ I’d be thinking.”

The Most Common Coaches Response
“I could not believe our players inability to strike a ball clean. From only the 18 yard line (and 12 yards for younger players), very few of my players were actually striking the ball into the net. If they did hit the net, it was mostly a chip and not a driven ball. Far from a clean strike. And their non-preferred foot effort made it clear we need a lot of work. Overall, the ball striking assessment made it very clear to me and the players we need to really focus on this.”

Simple to Understand, Hard to Perform
The ball does not move. The goal does not move. All you have to do is strike a stationary ball into the goal before it hits the ground from five distances with both feet (6, 12, 18, 24, 36 yards). You start from the 6 yard line. The catch is if you miss the goal or fail to get it to the goal in the air with both your right and your left feet from any distance, you do not get to progress to the further distance. Simple, right?

The iSoccer Ball Striking Assessment
This video demonstrates the Ball Striking assessment in action. This is a great opportunity to work on team communication. Tell your players “to figure out” the most efficient system to have players run through the assessment. How many chasers? How many near the goal? How many ball placers?

The Wall Again is the Best
Like passing and aerial control, a wall could be the best individual training partner. Just like David Beckham, deliberately work on a specific type of strike, not just kicking to kick

Five distances, both feet: How many can get out of 10? Watch the Ball Striking Assessment Video!

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  7. Ronald Apangu Pinya December 15, 2013 at 10:06 am #

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