All posts by Ernesto


Futsal Course Education Level in the United States

I recently attended the US Youth Futsal Level 3 course in Akron, Ohio. The course was instructed by none other than coach Keith Tozer, who is the US Men’s National Futsal team coach. Keith was great as always. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and learn from him on three different ocassions. He has delivered every time! He has such passion for the game that it’s difficult not to love Futsal after you leave one of his clinics. His knowledge about the game is obviously astounding. He is one of oimagesnly 2 persons in the United States with a highest possible FIFA license. I can go on and on about his accolades, but you get the point, coach Tozer knows his stuff.

For two long exciting days, I had the chance to learn from the best. This opportunity is not going to be around for long, so I figured that I would take the course now.It’s not that I don’t think the course will continue, but I don’t think coach Tozer will be able to keep up with the demand and coach every course, pretty soon someone else will need to start instructing. I already knew a little about Futsal coaching before going to the class, but I was still overwhelmed by the amount of information they packed. From the history, to the formations, tactics, and player development, we got to see it all.

We also got a chance to work with many of the Great Lakes Regional Youth Futsal players trying out for the US Youth Futsal National teams. It’s still astonishing how underdeveloped Futsal is in the United States. Living in the information era, when we can speak to anyone in the world with a simple internet connection, yet we are still trying to explain Futsal to soccer players and parents who have played their entire lives!

With coach Keith Tozer at the helm, Futsal in the United States has a good start. I hope to continue working close to coach Tozer and learning from him. Since finishing his course, I am now capable of understanding the tactics used in Futsal. More importantly I am capable of instructing the systems of play, the techniques, the movements, and patterns. From the Futsal 3-1, 2-2, to the Argentine’s 4-0. Another way the course had a huge impact on my Futsal education was on my continued educational development. I am not able to view videos, listen to other coaches, and watch Futsal matches, and understand the patterns and techniques.

From speaking to coach Tozer, he obviously hopes that Futsal continues to grow in the US. Although the US Soccer Federation has yet to offer any futsal courses, coach Tozer has been offering Futsal Modules in A and B USSF licenses. It’s only a matter of time before Futsal explodes in the US. The quicker we start preparing the coaches for this sport, the better off we will be as players, coaches, and as a soccer nation.

Futsal across America is also helping to bring Futsal courses. I believe they have translated a course from the Spanish Federation. I hope to get the details and report them to you.

Any feedback or comments, please reach me at




YSE 12: Soccer Coaching Tools, with Chris Gluck, from Posession with Purpose

In the 12th episode of the Youth Soccer Evolution Podcast, we welcome a very special guest, Christopher Gluck from Chris has a unique soccer journey, which we love here at YSE. He was an American who started a club in England. He started the Burnham Bulldogs, which had about 150 kids before he had to step down due to leaving the country (he was in the military). He explained how training and development was different there when he coached his two sons, and how he never traveled more than 10-15 miles at the most for games.

Chris was kind enough to share an hour with YSE and discuss his “Family of Indices that measure the ‘bell curve’ of strategic activities that occur in a game of football (soccer)”. It is soccer coaching tools at its best. He goes into detail on how coaches can use the formula to improve not only as soccer coaches, but help improve the performance and training and development of players.

Chris Gluck,

Chris Gluck,

The formula is so successful that Chris was recently asked to present at theWorld Conference on Science and Soccer. You can see the entire presentation by clicking on the link.

After listening to the Episode 12, if you still are having a hard time understanding the possession with purpose formula, you can read his Revised Introduction here. In the Revised Introducation, he introduces

“The Family of Strategic Indices”

Attacking Possession with Purpose (APWP): How effective a team is in performing these six process steps throughout the course of a game.

Gain possession of the ball
Move the ball
Penetrate the opponents defending final third
Generate a shot taken
That ends up on target and,
Gets past the keeper

Defending Possession with Purpose (DPWP): How effective the opponent is in performing those six process steps, throughout the course of a game, against you.

Composite Possession with Purpose (CPWP): The mathematical difference between the APWP Index and DPWP Index.

After reading the Introduction, you can use the same tools he uses to evaluate your team. You no longer have to measure wins and loses to evaluate your team’s performance. You can use the same tool, which is trademarked, that Chris uses. Here is how you can do it all for FREE!

Listen to the Podcast and then read this blog post Getting Better as Youth Soccer Coach. 

Here are the steps you will need to master, but read the post to learn how to evaluate them. If you decide to put this into practice, I would love to hear about it. Send me an email at  and let me know your thoughts. Chris explained that there not any youth teams doing this right now.

 Split the pitch into thirds and place one parent at the entry point into your own defending final third and one at the entry point into your opponent’s defending final third.
 Next, place two parents at the middle of the pitch.
 Then place one parent at or near the end line on your defending side of the pitch and then one parent at the same position on the opponent’s defending side of the pitch.
 Give each parent a clipboard and pen (waterproof if necessary) and have them begin to count and keep track of certain ‘team’ data points.
 The two parents in the center of the pitch are to count and document (all) passes attempted and passes completed for each team (throw-ins and free kicks included) across the entire pitch. If you have four parents then have two track passes attempted and two track passes completed, one for each team.
 The two parents at the entry to the defending final third are to count and document passes attempted and completed(within and into) the defending final third for each team. This also includes all throw-ins, crosses, corners and free kicks that are not specific shots taken on goal. If you have four parents/guardians then have one each track passes attempted and passes completed separately for each team.
 Finally, the two parents on the end lines are to count and document shots taken, shots on goal, and goals scored for each team.

I want to thank Chris again for coming on the show and demonstrating his soccer coaching tools. He has given us so much to think about and ACTIONABLE steps we can take TODAY with our team and improve the player development process.

If you like what Chris is doing, make sure you support his blog, on twitter @chrisgluckpwp, or with his other work at the Columbian where he writes about the Portland Timbers,

You can also read his work on or at



8 Tips to succeed as a Youth Soccer Coach

bangkok-july-13david-moyes-100183960Have you ever thought about becoming a youth soccer coach? Soccer is the sport that is played the most by kids under 8. At some point the majority of parents in the US will have a son or daughter playing soccer. Many parents hesitate to coach due to a lack of experience with the game of soccer. They think that coaching a young group of kids will be too much for them to handle. It is not as complicated as you may think or as others like to make it appear. Soccer is a simple sport that is made difficult by the defense. You should also know that “the game is the best teacher”.

Here are some tips to help you get started in becoming a youth soccer coach and coach your first young team, U5 – U8.

1. Let them play! At this age the kids are looking to just have fun. They are not interested in your organized tactics. They are there because kicking a soccer ball is fun. So you may want to keep your Barcelona Soccer Drills at home. I am a huge proponent of “Free Play”, in case you haven’t realized that yet through my Podcast. You can easily find a ton of soccer drills, try them all, your kids may like one or two, but don’t focus solely on that.

2. Chaos is part of the game. Don’t expect every activity you try with the kids to be perfect. They are going to run around because they don’t understand the activity half of the time. Do not take this as a sign of incompetence on your part. You must understand that they have a difficult time understanding soccer tactics, no matter how you explain it. Also remember that chaos is part of soccer, don’t expect playing-soccer-10058170everything to be perf. It’s not Football where everyone lines up and gets set before each play. Soccer is a game of transition, back and forth, with teams getting organized and attacking or defending. It is rare that you get set pieces where you can restart play in soccer.

3. Forget Soccer Tactics. As mentioned earlier, the kids are not interested in winning or losing. They may ask if they won or lost, but they are not training to beat the next opponent. They are there to kick the ball around with their friends. Don’t waste your time trying to teach kids tactics at this age. You have to understand that tactics can only be learned after they have mastered the dribbling, passing, receiving, and shooting. You can spend a year explaining tactics to a 5 year old, but when the ball is passed to his feet, if he can’t control, there is nothing he can do and you just wasted a year of development.

4. Focus on Soccer Player development. If you truly care about any players you coach, and you want them to be successful when they get older, then you must assist in developing them. If you take this approach, you are not necessarily “coaching the team” but rather “developing players”. Your wins will be every time a player can dribble with the ball close to them, or pass and receive with the inside part of his/her foot. That’s how good coaches of young players measure success, by the development of players. It does not help if your team is winning every game because there is one player that runs past everyone and scores all the goals. The rest of the kids have to develop as well, but they can’t do it by just watching, they have to get involved.



5. Practice is more important than games. Many parents think that the actual game is what helps develop kids and what will make them good players. You must understand that their development happens during practice and free play. It is during practice that each child can have a ball and play with it, compared to a game with 14 kids and only one ball. Remind parents about the importance of practice if they care about development. It would be better to miss a game instead of practice. Unfortunately, parents will miss practice first before they miss a game.

6. Drills are overrated. Don’t look at soccer drills as a way to optimize player development. Remember that too much structure is bad. One of the funnest games or activities that I have found that kids enjoy is just plain old keep away or 3 v 3. They each get a ball and the big bad coach tries to take it from them. It’s just that simple. Remember that before we decided that we could manufacture players, there were already great players. Where did they learn to play? They learned to play at home and on the streets. Remember that most of the big names you know of today, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Messi, Ronaldo, were all very poor kids growing up. They did not have great coaches, equipment, clubs, teams, or drills. They all had a passion for soccer that was developed through their environment. Through their passion to play, they playtime-10033434developed into great players. They all started playing at very small clubs, and eventually sold to larger clubs.

7. Create the nurturing environment. As stated earlier, all the great players were part of a great soccer environment. They were not trained by Mourhino or Pep Guardiola, they were trained and developed by their environment and their passion. This combination is what creates great players. As a coach, you want to create the best environment for players to develop. You want the young soccer players to keep playing after they leave your team because that’s the only way they will continue to learn and develop into good soccer players. Development is a process and will end when you are done. But you need to either plant that seed or keep nurturing it so that it can blossom. The environment for young soccer players should be positive, all inclusive, and fun.

8. They look up to you. Remember that kids this age look up to all adults. They don’t know weather you’ve played professional soccer or can’t even spell soccer. They won’t discriminate, they just want to have fun. Be confident and show them a good time. Whenever they do something special, they are looking for reinforcement from you, make sure you praise them.

How to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator

How to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator

Do you need help implementing this program? Email me at [email protected]


How to Improve Soccer Dribbling Now!

soccer-ball-on-green-grass-100152346 Do you want to improve soccer dribbling today? Dribbling in soccer or football is one of the most important characteristics of a good soccer player. The ability to control the ball and then dribble into space, or better yet, take a player one on one to score, is crucial. Many people consider dribbling to be selfish, but just look at the best football players in the world, what do they have in common? They are all great dribblers and can control the ball with their eyes closed if needed.

During the past 15 years, I’ve worked with thousands of kids on dribbling. I have also implemented all of these steps to my own routine and saw major improvements. Today I will share with you what I learned from my peers, coaches, and kids I’ve trained.

How to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator

How to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator

One of the misconceptions about dribbling is that it’s only used to take a player on. Dribbling is also part of possession and defense. Dribbling is essential for even the keeper because every player must be able to receive a pass, dribble into space or away from pressure and make another pass, or shoot, while holding their head up to see the soccer field.

Another misconception about dribbling in soccer is that it has to be flashy or really creative. Just watch a player like Leo Messi. Messi is a player that keeps the football very close to his body, using only feints and small short quick touches on the ball, with quick sprints. He is the best in tight spaces. But if you watch Messi closer you see that he only uses, the inside and outside of his feet to dribble the soccer ball. He does nothing special with heels or scissors or all these other “moves” that are popular among travel soccer coaches. All he does is makes a defender unbalanced by using his body, but his touches on the football are just inside and outside, for the most part. You can dribble just like Messi at the age of 7 or 8, but the key is to increase the speed.

If you understand this, then you can teach a 7 year old Messi’s moves, and they can do them! The difference is that Messi was doing these moves by the time he was 5 years old. So by the time he was about 12, he had already practiced them about 10,000 hours. When most kids were still learning how to dribble, he was working on repetition and increasing the speed. Today he is just too quick with the ball. I tell you this because you don’t need to get fancy with soccer moves; you just need to improve your ability to perform the simple ones at a faster speed. There is no single soccer drill that is going to give you a head start or help you get ahead; you have to practice each touch (inside, outside, sole, etc.). But don’t fall for the trap that there is a single drill out there that can fix everything.

Lucky for you, soccer dribbling is the easiest to practice and you need no special equipment, so there is no excuse. These are the tips I recommend to help you increase your dribbling speed.

You can grab a ball and walk around dribbling it inside your home. This is one of the ways I improved my dribbling. Remember, nothing fancy, you don’t want to break anything in your home, just dribble the ball, inside, outside, soles, laces, etc. You should already be in tight spaces with furniture, walls, and people in the home, make them defenders and don’t let the ball touch any of them, keep it under your control.
You can do chores and dribble at the same time. When I was home, I would go wash my hands while dribbling to the sink, then go back to my room, dribbling, in the middle of doing my homework. Then get a snack while dribbling the ball. You can get about 1,000 touches in one evening doing this without having to go outside, travel anywhere, or even put your shoes on.

Switch back and forth from foot to foot, inside/outside, and change directions. Change things up, always staying light on your feet.

If you have access to a yard or while on the soccer field, try different moves that you find on YouTube if you have the space. Just search for “soccer moves” or “soccer dribbling”. Pick the ones you like and master them! I know I stated earlier that you should not get too fancy, but you have to keep it fun! So go ahead and find a move that you enjoy doing it and then you can practice it against your friends when you’ve mastered it. But don’t spend the majority of your time learning 200 different fancy moves, you need to learn the basic ones, and then master them (inside, outside, laces, soles).

If you are sitting down watching TV, have a ball at your feet. Even just pendulums while sitting down will help. Do these while focusing on the television and they will become automatic. If you are talking on the phone, reading, texting, or on twitter, dribble the ball. You don’t need special equipment or a practice field, just dribble around, wherever you are. If you are at your aunt’s birthday party and bored, grab a ball, dribble.

If you live in a place with good weather, go dribble outside. The surface should not matter. You can do this on grass, concrete, tennis courts, gravel, hill, inside the garage, in the shade, under the sun, on the driveway, front or the backyard. Just start dribbling, you don’t even need your shoes on. The point is to get touches on the ball with the inside and outside part of your feet, and practice your moves. All you need is a small space, go find it.

Additional tips about dribbling, these are crucial!

1. Keep the ball close to you and your feet. You will not be able to just kick and run once you start playing against good players. You need to be in control of the ball, if you let it get away, you are no longer in control and it becomes easier for defenders to take it away. This is huge and one of the reasons that many kids stop playing, because they are no longer successful at Kick and Run. I used to be a really fast kid and could outrun everyone, but found it hard to score. Once I learned to dribble with the ball closer to me, I saw a huge difference in scoring opportunities.

2. Once you’ve mastered a football move or touch, try doing it with your head up without looking at the ball. This will give you the ability to received and dribble the soccer ball against pressure. It also gives you the ability to see the field so you can make quicker and better decisions. Once you can do it with your head up and not looking at the ball, increase the speed or add a defender.

3. Change of direction is another critical factor in great dribbling. Remember that once you’ve reached higher levels of club soccer, or pro, there will be very few chances to take off in sprints. The majority of the time is spent under immense pressure in tight spaces. Anytime you are practicing your dribbling, you need to also practice changing directions so that you are prepared to play against high pressing defenses. Changing direction also allows you to turn and attack at the appropriate time, make a perfect pass to a run, or shoot when you have a lane. I will discuss turning in a different post as well, it’s that important. But in order to master turning, you first need control of the ball, and that is done through dribbling (yes I know there are many one touch turns, we’ll cover those later as well).

4. Make sure you use ALL parts of your foot when practicing dribbling skills. That includes the sole, inside, outside, and laces. Go sideways, forwards, and backwards. Change directions as mentioned earlier, go one way then turn, then explode into a quick sprint, and then turn again. You must be under control at all times and you can use any part of your foot to do this.

Implement this program into your kids’ youth soccer player development routine. It’s easy and everyone should be doing it. YOU MUST understand that practicing twice or even three times a week with your travel soccer team is not enough. I don’t care if you are at the highest level or with the greatest coach, YOU MUST practice outside of formal training hours! Even adults who want to get better at soccer can do this and will see results. There is not one single drill or coach out there that will “immediately improve” your soccer dribbling in one day. It takes time and practice. Sorry I have to be honest with you because I want you to get better. You have to put the time in, there is no other way around it. Messi and Ronaldo did not find a secret drill or great coach around them; they just played every day of their lives since they were 2 years old. I’ve interviewed many professionals for the Youth Soccer Evolution Podcast and they all agree that it takes dedication to reach those levels. They also state that they played many hours outside of formal soccer training sessions.

Would you like a demonstration on how you can implement this program into your child’s routine? Email me for instructions as I am working on a step by step video. [email protected]


5 Reasons Youth Soccer Tournaments are killing development

Youth Travel Soccer Tournaments are a big business in the United States and across the globe. The idea behind soccer tournaments was brilliant, get the best players and teams together to see who is the best in a weekend or week. It still is a brilliant idea today. However what has happened, like much of soccer, is that someone has decided to make the youth soccer players, play like adults. Everything adults do, the youth must do. This has also occurred with training and development aspect of soccer. Kids as young as 5 are being placed in training programs for adults.

Today the Youth Travel Soccer Club scene is over saturated with tournaments ranging from local 1 v 1 games to full fledged trips to Europe or the US. Parents are paying up $5000.00 for a single tournament. The cost of these tournaments is not only money, but the kids are physically paying the price as well as their player development. Today we analyze the impact of Youth Soccer Tournaments on the youth soccer player development model.

danny-welbeck-manchester-united down-1001844261. Too many games in one weekend is physically demanding and stressful on their young bodies. This overplaying and training increases the number of injuries on the kids. When going into a tournament, the coach and team should have plenty of substitutes for the long weekend. The part to understand is that we are asking kids to play 3-5 games in a 2-3 day span. This is physically demanding on their young and developing bodies. If the games were just for fun, the kids would not be going at full speed for very long and would take themselves out when they got tired. However the problem is that the kids are under pressure to win and stay in the game for as long as possible. They over work their muscles to the point of injury. It is a fact that the body requires a resting period in order to rejuvenate, but if you keep playing just as hard the following day, you don’t give your body enough time to recover.

To avoid problems, take as many substitutes as possible to every soccer tournament. Don’t put pressure on the kids that they have to win. Limit the amount of tournaments you attend. One or two tournaments in one season is plenty, especially for younger teams in the U11 and lower divisions.

2. Too much emphasis on winning today. If you have joined a travel soccer team to develop or improve your soccer skills, the clubs will make you believe that tournaments are necessary. There is no single tournament in the world that can help develop players. The tournaments are mainly used for competition play, where teams can measure themselves up against other soccer teams in a different part of the nation or world. When traveling to a tournament, the teams want to win, and who can blame them. Every team has paid their fee, paid their traveling expenses, worked hard on the training grounds, and now are ready to see how much they have improved. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be the best or the desire to want to beat the best soccer teams. The problem is that many clubs and teams will go to 3-4 soccer tournaments in a 2 month span. They are looking for wins. When a coach is looking to win, development takes a backseat and the players suffer.300by300pixels_logo

Player development is one of the main reasons that kids get involved with travel or club soccer, so why do they travel to so many tournaments. At the tournament, only 22 kids can play at a time with one soccer ball. That leaves about 20 other kids on the bench watching. The 22 kids that are playing only have 1 ball, so the amount of player development that happens during soccer tournaments is almost zero.

I would rather have the kids attend a 4 team scrimmage where kids can relax a little, but also get a few minutes of full speed training. The coach is not under any pressure to win or put the best kids in the game because ultimately, the results don’t matter.


3. Travel Soccer Tournaments bring unnecessary anxiety and pressure to kids, parents, and their environment. Have you ever been to a travel soccer tournament? The amount of tension is remarkable. Every player, every parent, every coach, and every team wants to win every game. This puts an enormous amount of unnecessary pressure on the kids and creates an environment filled with anxiety. I was once at a tournament and a group of 8 year olds were running around kicking the ball (it was obvious they liked playing soccer). The coach came around and started yelling at them to go sit down and rest……. He said that they had another game that day and needed to be ready. The whole point of being involved with soccer is to play. That is all these kids wanted to do was play soccer. However their coach had other goals for that weekend. He wanted to win every game and take home the trophy. This is completely backwards and it’s one of the main reasons why players quit or fail to develop, because we put winning first.

4. Youth Soccer Tournaments are expensive. On average the cost of a one weekend tournament, for 3 games guaranteed, will cost about $750.00. So when you do the math, a youth soccer team could pay up to $250 for one game! Think about this, a team of 18 players will travel at their own expense for 3-4 hours, to play a soccer game for 80 minutes. Can you see how all of our money for player development is being utilized improperly? Can you see why so many lower income kids will never have the opportunity to play? We have the money, we have the resources, the fields, the coaching, but the infrastructure and environment is not even close.

The tournaments make too much money for too many people and for that reason, they will remain part of the youth soccer travel culture. It is true that many clubs get much needed funds from hosting tournaments, but the price we are paying is ruining the development of the players. There are other ways that clubs can develop players, but it should not be at the expense of player development.

5. Can’t beat teams in your own area. When I first started coaching travel soccer, I thought I was going crazy because I didn’t see the need to travel out of state to play a U9 game. But parents, coaches, and club administrators at the time looked at me like I was crazy. Why wouldn’t you want to go to the tournament? I don’t know, because I didn’t care how my 8 year old stacked up against other 8 year olds who probably wouldn’t even be playing in 2 years. And even if my 8 year old was the best one, that didn’t mean anything because if we didn’t continue learning, the other kids would catch up in two years. I discussed it with another parent who happened to be very smart, he is a heart surgeon. He agreed with me and said “if they can’t even beat all the teams in this area, why do they have to go to Chicago to find more teams?”. I thought that was perfect. Why do so many teams go outside their area to find more teams, if they can’t even beat the ones in their league. Why not worry about developing players so that they can perform at a high level, then when they are ready to be challenged, take them to a different state or city to be challenged.

How to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator

How to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator

Youth Soccer Tournaments have their pros and cons (click here to read the 8 Reasons Travel Soccer Teams play in Tournaments). You don’t have to follow the norm and just continue this trend. Pick and choose the tournaments to play in carefully. There is no need to attend out of state tournaments at U11 or below. Kids should stay local and play as much as possible for fun. Once they reach the U14 and above age group, then you can start thinking about traveling out of state to play tournaments if they are beating everyone around them.

If you would like to learn more about training and development and how to maximize your child’s soccer development, contact us today! [email protected]


8 Reasons Travel Soccer Teams play in Tournaments

soccer-ball-on-green-grass-100152346Youth Soccer Tournaments are a great way for players, parents, and teams to get together. Soccer Tournaments have their benefits and their drawbacks. This article will outline the benefits of playing in soccer tournaments. I point out the positives in terms of how players, parents, and coaches may look at them. I am not advocating for any of them. This is strictly for informational purposes from my own experience in working with youth travel soccer teams, coaches, parents, and administrators.

I understand that there is a large debate about youth soccer tournaments and if they are appropriate for youth and for the youth soccer player development model. This is not an opinion on player development, if you would like my opinion on the impact of soccer tournaments on youth soccer player development, please click here.

1. Team, player, and parent bonding. Regardless of what anyone says about tournaments, good or bad, there is a lot of team bonding. This includes players, parents, teams, and coaches. Players love it because they get to spend extra time with their teammates outside of training or playing. They get to spend some time at the hotel, on the field while waiting for their game, shopping, or at a restaurant for lunch or dinner. You can also meet new friends from other clubs who may be staying in the same hotel or that you meet during the tournament. Parents on the team traveling to the tournament also get a chance to interact and get to know each other. Coaches and soccer club administrators also get a chance to interact outside the training

2. Another positive aspect of traveling to tournaments is that coaches can evaluate how the team adjusts between games. This is a good way to get a few games in one weekend and get to see players play in different positions and see how they perform in certain situations. Most of this is tactical evaluation, however it helps to analyze the team’s performance.

3. Competition is one of the reason’s that kids get into playing soccer. The kids love attending the tournament, because it’s fun and they know each game means something. Although they may not want to play every single game of their lives under so much pressure, they do enjoy a few games in a tournament. This is especially true for older kids. There are very few U10 players who crave this type of competition, but there are a few.

4. Kids as well as some adults and coaches love to travel. Soccer tournaments offer a chance to get away for a weekend and do a “mini vacation” with the kids. The teams usually play about 3-4 games during the weekend. This allows the players to travel on Friday to their hotel. Play a game or two on Saturday, then another one or two on Sunday, depending on results. Two games can take up to 4 hours, so the kids and family get some time to hang out and possibly go do some sight seeing depending on where you are visiting.

5. Another reason soccer club teams like attending tournaments is because you play other teams not in your area. New competition brings about some exciting times and brings out the best in many kids. Older travel soccer teams usually want to represent their club and area with pride. The youth soccer tournaments allows them to play and measure up against other clubs and teams from other states.

How to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator

What are College coaches looking for in players? How do you get recruited? 

6. There are many “College Showcase” soccer tournaments that allow kids to be looked at by numerous collegiate coaches. These tournaments are a win win for both players and college coaches because they get to see several kids with one recruiting visit. The players get to be seen my coaches who are attending.

College Showcase tournaments are not the only tournamens that coaches attend. There are many other non-showcase tournaments that coaches also attend. The exposure of playing in different states also helsp out kids who want an opportunity to play in college. That being said, colleges and university soccer programs are not the only ones looking for players at soccer tournaments. There are several kids that have been picked up by European clubs during high level tournaments.

7. If you love playing, then tournaments are a special treat for you. During tournaments, you get to play up to 3-5 games in one weekend (2-3 days). Although this could have some negative impacts on your body, the truth is that kids who enjoy playing will get just that, many games in one weekend. Again, this article is to identify some of the positives that some may see and the reason many soccer players, parents, coaches, and administrators love tournaments. There is some research now that too many games in one weekend may be harmful to young players.

8. Finally, many coaches and parents may not want to admit to this, but tournaments all you to win trophies! No one can deny how much kids love trophies. That’s one of the reasons many organizations give out participation awards. They realize how much kids and their parents love the awards. Participation awards are one thing, but many players, coaches, clubs, and parents are out there looking for 1st place trophies! There is no denying this and it’s probably one of the main reasons why kids and clubs are out there. When you win the tournament, you get to take photographs, take a medal or trophy, and you can brag about with your friends. That’s one of the biggest reasons why tournaments are so popular among youth soccer travel teams.

There are also the parents who love living vicariously through their kids, so they want to win every game and tournament. They will travel several hours by car, sometimes even fly, just to play some outrageously expensive tournament that could cost up to $5000 per team.

With all these benefits from playing in tournaments, you can almost guarantee that if your son or daughter plays on a travel soccer team, you will end up traveling to a tournament at an early age, sometimes as early as 8 or 9 years old.

To learn about the negative impact that tournaments can have on player development, kids, and their teams, read this article.

If I missed another benefit of playing in tournaments for players or parents, please leave us a comment.


YSE11: How to navigate College ID camps and play Division I Soccer, with Elijah Michaels

Elijah Michaels Courtesy of

Elijah Michaels

How to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator

How to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator

In Episode 11, we had the pleasure of discussing the development of a young goalie, Elijah Michaels, that I first met when he was around 12 years old. The interview was conducted back in May of 2014 when Elijah was still in High School. Today he is at Western Michigan University plying his trade with the Broncos. I want to thank Elijah and Ann for coming on the show.

Elijah Michaels was still a field player, when I first met him, playing on his Red Arrow SC team coached by his mother, Ann Michaels. Elijah continued having fun playing and developing into one of the best goalkeepers in Michigan. He and his mother took some time to discuss their journey which started back when Elijah was about 5 years old. Elijah is a bright young man as you can tell in the interview and I knew he would have a lot of insight into developing as a young goalkeeper.

Elijah goes into detail about the reason he kept playing soccer and why he still loves it today. He and his mother specifically discuss how they were able to navigate through numerous goalie camps and eventually used the College ID camps to their advantage by getting letters of recommendation from Toni Dicicco! They give us many tips and advice on how to navigate this difficult process and why starting early is critical in today’s world.

Elijah also gives great insight into the mind of a young keeper and how they take games, training sessions, and winning and losing. Why he decided to specialize in High School. Why having a terrible memory is good for goalkeeping.

Ann stated that as a parent, she decided to learn and play the sport herself so that she could help her kids develop. I thought this was a great point, because the sport is not as easy as it looks or as easy as parents may think it is.

I am also working on an ebook to help parents and players navigate through the college recruiting process. If you are interested in a free copy, just let me know.


Elijah’s WMU bio Where Elijah met coach Dicicco

Would you like to connect with Elijah or have any questions for him? He gave his email  please contact him.

Unsure about your player development knowledge? Want to make sure you maximize your player development model? Click here for more information. 



YSE10: A Different Kind of Training and Development with Mark Burke, former Aston Villa player

MobtBK_0_400x400 Mark BurkeMark Burke has been described as “sure of touch, calm of mind, he would lope around in seemingly lackadaisical fashion before offering a cute little pass here or a deft touch there. A man with an eye for ball retention.” He enjoyed a promising career in England with Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Wolves. He soon left Port Vale to join Fortuna Sittard and apply his trade in Holland as a 26-year-old in 1995. It was in the Netherlands that Mark began to understand and view the soccer player development process. We were lucky enough to get him on the podcast to discuss player development with us and talk a little about his book, A Different Kind Of Soccer.

Mark knows what it takes to make it in Europe and he shared some of his insights. Additionally Mark shares his visit to Holland and what he learned about player development in the Netherlands. Why the Dutch’s attention to detail and belief in their own system is what separates them from the rest. Why the Dutch have decided to stick to their philosophy and continue developing players. bannerforsite

Mark was a great guest on the show and we can’t thank him enough for sharing his blueprint on developing players. Get his book to ensure that you are optimizing the development of any player you coach or parent. The book will teach you what the game is about, the stages of learning, and how to improve your technique and mental game. There is also insight into the training and development approach. This book is a great tool for the Player, the Coach, the Parent, and the Club Administrator.

And if you decide to purchase the book, make sure you use our link (or click on the banner above) and Mark has graciously agreed to donate some of the proceeds to the YSE Podcast. Thank you in advance!

“In England it’s a totally different thinking. If you don’t follow that run people will wonder what you’re playing at. The Dutch are thinkers. They think more about the game than we do. We have this idea of the Dutch being very liberal but that’s not really true – it’s an extremely regimented and organised culture and the football is the same. It’s organised to the smallest detail.”

“I had a lot of ideas about football before I went there but it was in Holland that I learnt how to organise them. In that first year I found out so much. Pim Verbeek really took me under his wing. We used to drive all over Holland just watching games to introduce me to the different styles and how teams played. It was a real football education”.

If you have a question for Mark or you want to let him know you are a fan of his book or interview, let him know here.

Follow Mark on Twitter

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Case Study on Youth Soccer player development, coaching U11 Girls


In the fall of 2009 I was asked to coach a U11 Girls team. I had just joined the club and was eager to get started with a young team. This would be a newly formed group. My daughter, who had played recreational soccer for the past 4 years, would also be trying out for the team. I knew this was an opportunity to develop young soccer players who were not thought of as “elite”, since most of the bigger clubs had already taken those players at the U8-U10 years. Youth soccer player development was something I was really getting interested in. I had a few years of coaching under my belt and I wanted to see how and/or if I could develop a group of players using my system.

Tryouts: The tryouts were simple. There were only 9 girls that showed up to tryout. This was a small club so we were not expecting many kids. The part that I enjoyed was that I would not have to cut anyone and all the kids that came out would get the opportunity to play soccer. The team played an 8 v 8 format in the league. So I knew we had to pick up a few extra players from somewhere. Luckily the U12 team in the same club was a very strong team in the area and also had 2 other players that were playing up a division, but were true U11 players. After speaking to the president of the club, it was decided that those two players would be asked to play and “dual-roster” with the U11 team to fill the roster. Out of 11 girls on the team, only 5 kids had experience playing travel soccer, so I knew I had my hands full, but was up for the challenge.

At the 3 v 3 tournament

At the 3 v 3 tournament

Practice Begins: Youth soccer player development was a challenge. I had two kids who had been playing at a high level with the older U12 team and they would get frustrated when the rest of the team couldn’t keep up. I realized that the kids lacked technique and I was trying to teach them tactics. Through no fault of their own, the kids had never had specific technical training, and it was obvious. This is an important lesson, you cannot teach tactics until they have good ball control. I modified my training sessions to include 1 to 1 player to ball ratio 60-70% of the time. The rest of the time was split into 1 v 1 moves and 4 v 4 small sided games. The kids were getting tons of touches on the ball every single practice, twice a week. But the reality is that kids don’t practice during the summer months because, according to parents, it’s their “time off” from soccer. The other reality is that the majority of kids don’t play soccer unless it’s structured. So we had about 6 practices before our first game, for a total of about 9 hours of training.

Season Opener: The season opener started with a major defeat, 10-0. The second game, 14-1. I could tell the parents and kids were getting discouraged. The two “dual-roster” players didn’t want to be part of the team anymore. They were used to winning games. I sent out an email to the parents explaining my plan and begging for a chance to work with the kids. I explained to the parents that I was focusing on technique and if they stuck around, the girls would make big improvements, but they had to be patient with me. I also requested that the kids get to the field one hour before the game, to give the kids an extra hour of practice. Parents questioned, “what if the girls are tired by the time the game starts?”. I explained to them that the result of the game didn’t matter, the girls needed one on one time with the ball as much as possible. Surprisingly the parents agreed and followed my lead. They were putting their trust in me to develop their soccer player.

We played the same two teams (that beat us with a combined score of 24-1) towards the end of the season again and lost 5-0 and 4-0, respectively even without the help of the two dual roster players because by that time they were not coming to the games to get beaten. I could tell that the kids had improved from the start to the end of the season. I was overjoyed and sold it to the parents! They bought it, as they should have since it was a major improvement. I was very proud of the kids for working so hard for those 3 months. There had been some significant improvement. We ended the season with a 0-8 record, 48 goals scored against and only 2 goals forced all year long. I was able to keep the team together thanks to very understanding parents.

Here are the results posted on the league website:

Winter 2009-2010: Fortunately for our club we had our own private indoor facility in Michigan. While the rest of the clubs sat at home and played only on the weekends, our team did two training sessions every week and played in an indoor soccer league on the weekend. The team was doing about 15 hours of extra training each month. The training sessions were still mostly technical training, but it was obvious that the players were starting to gain confidence. I taught the girls some street soccer skills, introduced them to futsal, and even brought my computer to show some Messi and Ronaldo videos to the girls for inspiration. I had to make them fall in love with soccer, I knew it was critical that they get inspired by someone or something. They needed to find a passion so that they could start practicing on their own.

The 2010 Spring Season brought the first win to the team, however this was in the B Division. The team finished in the middle of the pack out of 14 teams, in 5th place with a 4-2-2 record. 30 goals forced, 14 goals allowed. We were moving forward and the parents and players were seeing some results.

2010 Fall Season: All of the players came back to tryouts, except for one that was injured. We picked up another 2 recreational players as well. We moved back up to the A Division. This time we finished with a 2-4-2 record, playing the same exact teams that had just wiped the floor with us 12 months ago. Major improvement from the previous year. The girls were getting very confident on the ball and we were starting to work on some tactics. Now they wanted to go to tournaments. I wanted to keep working on development. They saw every other team traveling all over the country for tournaments and camps, I just asked them to keep playing, on their own, with a sibling, or with friends.

Winter 2010-11: Now winter indoor trainings were divided into technical and tactical. The majority of the time we worked on dribbling, possession, and just plain ball control. I also added shooting and some 1 v 1 moves. Defense and Offensive tactics were also taught depending on the day. We also attended a small 3 v 3 tournament where the girls made the Final, but lost to a talented, hand picked, team from Chicago. There was nothing fancy or secretive about it, they just played and played. During indoor games, I prohibited the girls from playing the ball off the wall, while every other team would wait for the ball to bounce back to them. This was not about winning or looking good like the other clubs, I wanted them to develop.

U12 playing vs TKO

U12 playing vs TKO

Spring 2011 Season: By now the girls were starting to learn tactics and implementing them in the game. In the A Division, the girls finished 3-4-1. This was another step in the right direction. The parents continued to believe in what we were doing and were on board to continue the project. We also attended a tournament at the end of the season where we made the semi-final. Their confidence just kept growing along with their development. The most impressive part was that the team had never recruited a single player and the two best players that had started out with the team had left because they saw no hope for this team. We also kept getting beat by a certain team with very athletic players. I kept reminding the girls that once they learned to have complete control of the ball, they would be able to beat this team. The reason was that these athletic teams with no skill would not be able to keep up and would end up chasing the ball. This team kept winning the league (by U14 they couldn’t win any games).

Tryouts Summer 2011: The transition from U12 to U13 is always very hectic for clubs, teams, players, and parents. The problem is that in U12, each team only needs about 11-13 players, since only 8 play at a time. Once they move to U13, they now play 11 vs 11 and you need about 4-5 substitutes. So every team that existed at U12 must now get an additional 5-6 players. The reality is that some teams will cease to exist after this transition. I knew our team had made an impact around the league because I had parents from different clubs calling me asking if they could get on our team. Unfortunately there were some geographical problems since our club is outside a major metropolitan area. I think the fact that parents were requesting to get on our team was a sign that they respected and recognized the work that had been done by the team, coach, and parents. We came out of tryouts with our core group of 12 players, and added two more, for a total of 14. This was enough to get us through the season.

Fall 2011 Season: By this time, the team had been training for two years together. They were starting to really communicate and play together. They had developed into smart technical players that could play in any system. Additionally, 4 players had been invited to play on Premier level teams. The team finished with combined record of 6-2 and finished tied for 2nd place in Division A. The team scored 17 goals and allowed only 4.

Winter 2011-12: As soon as the season was over at the end of October, we quickly transitioned to indoor training in our private facility. This was a great opportunity to continue with the Youth soccer training and development. The team also played indoor soccer at the local indoor soccer arena. During that session, the team picked up two additional players that wanted to join our team. On two separate occasions, the parents had asked what I was doing to help the team play so well. I explained to the parents that I wasn’t doing anything different and invited them to train with our team so they could see what we do. I didn’t try to sell them on anything or recruit them, I just offered to help. As a matter of fact, I invited their entire team to join us. I had nothing to hide and didn’t really think I was doing anything special. Since we trained indoors anyway, I invited them to train with us anytime they wanted. Both players attended our trainings and decided that they liked what they saw. They soon got along with the rest of the team and they were asked to join us and dual roster. We never asked either one to leave their team, but if they had the time and desire, they could help us.

Additionally that winter I decided to take the next step in the development process and challenge the team by applying to play at the Elite level. I had a parent meeting and explained the reason I felt the kids were ready to play at that level. There were some concerns regarding the costs, travel, and competition. I was able to convince the parents and the team was accepted into the Elite Division. The cost to play was the same, but the travel was a little longer.

Spring 2012 Elite Division: That season the team not only proved that they belonged at the Elite level, but they were also one of the best teams. They ended the season in 3rd place! We also attended a tournament and received 1st place. All this was accomplished with the same core group of 8 girls that went 0-8, just 3 years prior. By this time several of the players were getting frequent requests from bigger clubs, including my daughter. The next Fall 2012, the team won the Elite Division. I stepped down as the coach due to other commitments with my business and coaching.

We started with 8 core players that stayed the entire coarse. They lost every game with 2 “dual rostered” players that were very good.
4 years later, that same core group had already been promoted to Elite league and won the league. The next season, all 8 players were offered spots on Premier teams, 1 went to MRL team.

I tell this story because it’s remarkable. I didn’t do anything special. youth soccer player development is not that difficult, but there are many out there that make it appear as if it was.
This is what I did to improve the youth soccer player development of each player.
1. Created an environment where they could make mistakes without judgement.
2. Taught them that soccer is supposed to be fun and if you are not having fun, you are in the wrong sport
3. Gave them players and teams to look up to (I would tell my fullback, wow that looked like Dani Alves, and she would ask who’s Dani Alves. The next session i would bring a video of Alves). I would show them a move and say, this is how Ronaldo does the scissors, then show them the video.
4. Had year round training sessions, NOT GAMES, just practice where they could make as many mistakes as possible. The practices were so loose and unstructured, that a parent once complained to me about the lack of structure. I told them YES, they are very unstructured and that’s how i plan them. FREE PLAY!
5. I did not allow them to use walls for support during indoor games or training sessions. I introduced them to futsal, even though a few parents didn’t like it, but it helped.
6. I had to rewire their brain and show them that when we are in possession of the ball, EVERYONE is on offense, including the goalkeeper. This was new to them because they were used to getting yelled at when they “left their position”. Now they all interchange positions without even thinking, which in turn improved their communication. It’s great to watch.
7. Worked on technique, but understood that they sometimes master their own technique. some kids pass really well with their outside. Not everyone shoots the same, ask Ronaldo.
8. I encouraged them to be creative and applauded anytime they tried it, whether it worker or not, winning or losing, didn’t matter, creativity was part of the development process. I would use the word “ole” when we did a good move, so much that the girls started using it as well.
9. I communicated with the parents always respecting their opinion on travel, costs, and tournaments, afterall, these were their kids, not mine.

This wasn’t just my doing, the kids also put in tons of hard work. I think they believed in the process a youth soccer player development and bought into it. They did their part by working hard. That’s the trick, is that they have to make it to practice, work on their own, and then it will pay off. It doesn’t matter if you have the greatest soccer coach, if the player is not motivated, forget it.


YSE:9: Developing Confident, Creative Soccer players through Positive Coaching with Jason Pratt

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn episode 9 of the Youth Soccer Evolution Podcast, Jason Pratt from the Positive Coaching Alliance tells us how coaches and parents can develop more confident soccer players through the use of positive coaching. He also gives us a great tool (also known as Filling Emotional Tank) that can be found on his website that coaches can implement today to improve the positive environment within their team and start improving the confidence level of players.

Jason shares with us how Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), a non profit organization is changing the coaching environment one coach at a time by introducing the tools and resources that are inadvertently being ignored by many coaching courses and educators. The PCA works with other clubs and teams to improve the culture and create Better Athletes and Better People.

Jason gives us a point of view that few coaches and parents think about during training sessions and game days. We dive deep into the player development process, the impact coaches have on players, and why coaches need to provide positive healthy environment to foster player development. Check out the PCA website at to learn all about the Tools and Resources that PCA offers and to learn how your club can get involved with PCA (full disclosure, I am not being paid by PCA, but I do recognize the impact the organization is having on coaches).

You can go directly to the coaches “Tools” link here. 

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