Athlete’s Built in Stress Reliever

An Athlete’s Built-in Stress Reliever – Episode 6

Alan shares advice for youth soccer players, parents, coaches, and fans of soccer during these “Minute with Merrick” episodes.

Alan Merrick is MOTI’s Director of Soccer Content. Alan’s professional career began in England, where played for West Bromwich Albion as well as the English Junior National Team. He played for 10 years in England, before moving to the United States in 1976 to play for the Minnesota Kicks. His career as a player also included playing for the LA Aztecs, San Jose Earthquakes, Toronto Blizzard, and for the US National Team – Team America. He coached the in-door NASL Team Minnesota Strikers for 6 years, and the University of Minnesota Men’s Club Team for over 20 seasons. Alan helped start the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association with others, held youth soccer camps across the upper Midwest, and has been a guest clinician for USSF coaching school courses for over 40 years. Alan holds coaching licenses in England, the USSF A License, and the Canadian Coaching License.

Watch Minute with Merrick Episode 7 here

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How simple can a practice be? How effective?

Young players need Structure

Young players need structure and an environment that allows them to succeed in their soccer skills development.  

Small practice areas – more touches

Therefore, Coaches need to set up small playing areas or grids. Coaches should use cones or pinnies/vests as boundaries, that give players visual reference points. This will reassure them of their surroundings.

The use of smaller working areas ensures players get as many more touches on the ball as possible. Players that navigate with a ball in a smaller area touch the ball more often. Getting all players moving around and being active with a ball is a great starting point. This should be a goal throughout the player’s lifetime participation in the sport.

The correlation between the number of touches on the ball and increased skill mastery is indisputable. The more touches, the better, never forget it.

Keeping it interesting

Coaches should continually change the activities in the grid setup to ensure that the needed ball repetitions do not become boring.

The objective is to have players from the age of 5 through 10 completely familiar with a minimum of 8 skills with the ball. Having them do the basic moves that are required to move, guide, and protect the ball in all directions.

By coaching with activities and techniques that accelerate their players learning curve, this age group can learn basic ball mastery.  

What Skills curriculum must-have?

A Skill curriculum is a must-have set of skills for these players’ foundation within the game.

Inside outside touches of both feet, inside-outside touches that then transfer the ball to the other foot side for continuous weaving of the ball from side to side.

Double touches of the ball on all foot surface going outside, outside to inside, inside, repeat on the other foot side.

These simple foot skills produce all the ingredients of great dribbling skills and ball manipulation.

Changing direction to either keep the ball in play or turn away from opponents is hook turns with the inside and outside of the foot.

The sole of the foot can produce a drag back motion to turn or control the ball. The sole of the foot can also produce lateral motion. This is useful to move the ball into passing lanes or preparation for clearing or shooting a ball.  

Teaching this Age Group the correct foot positions and shapes of the body is a must in ball manipulation.

Correct muscle memory and focused body movements are crucial for performance.

Where to spend training time?

Athletes who spend the time and effort learning these foundation ball skills will have the necessary level of proficiency to thrive in the game often making it a lifetime team sport.

Therefore, players who do not get these foundation skills will pass up on the more difficult aspects of the game. They often leave the game frustrated and despondent at the age of 13 and 14. You will see them as solitary joggers on the park trails or side of the road later in life.

Where players can practice?

Players can and should get 3D Animated foot skills for their Mobile devices and practice the plyometric foot movements of ball mastery at home.

Coaching Smarter saving Time

Smart coaching can be as simple as becoming better organized before the season by mapping out your practice plans for an entire season. Having a practice plan for your sessions gives you coaching content that can be easily accessed and ready for delivery to your team. Being organized and having a plan saves anguish, frustration, and failure in producing the quality training experience you want to give your players.

Consistency of content throughout the training season is key to instructing and demonstrating to players to become knowledgeable and engaged as a squad. Parents will appreciate the coach more when they see the organization, energy, movement, and meaningful activities. Players are having fun doing them.

Preparing practice sessions on the fly. i.e., in the car in transit to the practice is not a good idea and does not produce a meaningful experience for players, their parents, or the coach. Having some structure and purpose within your plan allows for productive coaching moments and growth, all within a calm and calculated learning environment. Hectic behavior from a coach in a learning and instructional situation does not resonate well with a squad of impressionable players.

All of these adverse situations can be avoided with Soccer Training Platforms in an App. Coaching content, coaching points, coaching concepts, and coaching ideas are available in your hand. They can be communicated through a set of earbuds when you need them most on the pitch. A volunteer parent coach or the young former player turned coach can deliver a solid practice plan with a positive outcome.

Board Members, Coaching Directors of Clubs Competitive and Recreational programs, sports administrators in Park and Rec, YMCA, YWCA, and small Soccer Clubs can now eliminate the dreaded 2 by 4 across the forehead after a season when they hear from parents and players that the coaching experience was less than stellar.

This solution is available now in a Soccer App that utilizes revolutionary software with Motion Capture 3D Animation depicting Skills & Drills needed to play good Soccer. The brain neurons of young players are lit up when they start to begin visually engaging depictions of skill sets and small-sided game activities.  The visualization players receive on how to make a foot move with the ball is available during an actual practice time or even better as ‘Home Work’ in the back yard, garage floor, basement, or even in front of a full-length mirror in the players’ bedroom. Players can ‘See it, Listen to it & Do It’ then they can replicate the perfect foot skill time and time again.

A well-charted Practice Plan for 6 weeks, 8 weeks, even 16 weeks with either one or two practices a week takes away any of the hectic, panic, or no time often associated with coaching in the youth environment.

With this coaching resource, the coach can share the digital content with players and parents to better prepare them all for the tasks the coach will be instructing them on. Again, any visualization players can see the learning curve. Just think how much time it saves the coach in verbalizing soccer concepts into the squad of players. An offshoot is the education of the parents who now are being exposed to the inner sanctum of soccer knowledge. Because of this, their appreciation of the game is heightened. This results in a changed behavior on the sideline as parents respect more skilled performances from their own players and others within the group.

Time saved because players see the practice activities before setting foot on the field can now be used elsewhere. For more repetitions of correct technique or working through activities already well established in the player’s mind.

Having content properly curated across age groups assists in the learning curve for coaches and players. To become a competent player layers of progressions that need to be worked on are delivered in the correct and orderly sequence of skill and technique building.

MOTI recognizes and is concerned that the statistics on the attrition of players playing organized sports is exceptionally high. 70% of players stop playing organized sports by the age of 14. I attribute that to athletes not being allowed to have exceptional coaching of the best techniques in an ongoing prolonged format early in their technique development.

With an App in their hands, soccer players can practice at home. Practicing the correct techniques with expert coaching prepares players for an enjoyable and successful experience on the field. By using the Apps analytics tool, individual players, coaches and parents can make themselves accountable for counting their steps, their repetitions, their Minutes doing skill moves, even their time spent looking at the content of the current ‘practice plan’.

Coaching smarter with MOTI technology allows players and parents to get a leg up on this shared visual knowledge of the game of Soccer. Technology is leading them to have beautiful outcomes of a successful play.  Helping to build camaraderie with teammates while learning how to cooperate and strive for an increased health activity while enjoying a growth capacity in a complex sport like Soccer.

Learn more from Alan with the Basic Principles of Play.

Single Scissors 1v1 Preview

Single Scissors 1v1 Preview – Technical Training

Learn about another skill: Outside Hook Turn Skill

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Single Scissors v1

Single Scissors Progression – Technical Training

Learn about another skill: Outside Hook Turn Skill

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MOTI Soccer for Android:
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Basic Principles of Play

by Alan Merrick:

Over my years (decades!) of observing competitive older players, I have seen that many often believe that because they played at a higher level as a youth, they will automatically continue (or just deserve) a place in the starting lineup forevermore. However, many of these players lack an understanding of basic principles of play that are a pivotal foundation to the game – and their growth and playing ability are hindered as a result.

Coaches need to do their part to introduce these principles starting with 10, 11, and 12 year old’s. We owe it to this age group to give them appropriate game understanding so that they can fully meet all the demands of the game later.

Principles of Play

A sample of simple principles of play that should be emphasized:

Deny the other team time and space and thus, the ability to play forward passes.

Attack every loose ball and never let the ball bounce. Allowing the ball to bounce gives less aggressive teams an advantage.

One-on-one battles are integral in a team’s ability to rule the flow and outcomes of any game.

Defensive clearances from their goal need to be high, wide, and deep. If there is any doubt, clear the ball and make sure it goes out of bounds, which allows the team to reset their shape and get players behind the ball.

Never clear the ball across your own goalmouth, it creates undue pressure and ultimately, bad outcomes.

Play to feet at every opportunity. Passes that lead a player invariably go to the opponent’s goalkeeper or out of bounds.

Players who can play one-touch stand out and can change the game. They know what they are going to do with the ball before it gets to them and have the vision, awareness, and technical skill to execute.

Always take up good positions for the first pass, anticipate the second and third ball and win them in order to gain and maintain possession.

Forwards should play both ways – they are the first line of defense and can create great goal-scoring opportunities by creating ball turnovers with good pressure on ‘their player’.

Coaches should utilize this time in the “off-season” to introduce these important concepts. Plan some sessions that paint the picture and offer opportunities to start conversations around these principles and help make kids more complete players over the course of their soccer careers.

View a Minute with Merrick – Let the Coaches Coach

WH Box 6v2 Rondo

Tactical Work – WH Box 6v2 Rondo – Activity

Check out another Drill – Rondo with Wall Pass and Overlap

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ReverseV 1v1 New

ReverseV 1v1 – New 3D models

This is one of our new 1v1 Skills with Adult 3D models. These will enable players to the the “how” this skill works in 3D defending the ball, maintaining possession.

Check out this skill with Youth 3D models: ReverseV 1v1 Youth

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MOTI Soccer for Android:
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