January 15 Update:  All sessions are on as scheduled.


EMERICK 1: 1:00-2:00 (K-1st graders)

EMERICK 2: 2:00-3:00 (2nd-3rd graders)

EMERICK 3: 3:00-4:00 (4th-5th graders)

EMERICK 4: 4:00-6:00 (6th-high school)

LOUDOUN COUNTRY DAY: 5:30-7:30 Fridays starting January 13th.

1.  What does my child bring to class? Athletic clothes, shin guards, non-marking indoor shoes (most sneakers will be fine), water bottle, and inflated soccer ball.

2.  Will I be able to stay and watch my child?  There are bleachers for parents to observe training.  Please no coaching from the stands.

3.  What about inclement weather?  The schools have the final say about opening the facilities.  There is always a risk in the winter and we have reserved one makeup week in case we do have to cancel a class.  The first step will be to check my website blog at if inclement weather is an issue.  If I have time I will send out an email, but checking my website is the most efficient way to get update information.  If the school officials open the gym we will most likely hold the classes.

4.  Final instructions:  Arrive 5-minutes early so we can start on time.  Remember we are indoors so wear proper shoes (sneakers will do).  There are bathrooms and water fountains available.  Have fun learning.




Traits of a Champion

Take an hour with your child and watch these series of videos.  A picture is worth a thousand words.  I call it visual imprint training.

1.  Great Goalkeeping:  In soccer, the goalkeeper is the most important position.  Along with having to make the incredible saves in close matches they must make the routine saves, start the counterattacks, command the defensive organization, and use their foot skills as a relief outlet or to switch the point of attack.  Watch the following videos even if you do not play goalkeeper so you might understand and respect the position.

2.  DEFENSIVE FORTITUDE:  Bravery, Timing of the tackle, and pure determination to stop the opponents are very important ingredients in all championship teams.  Notice how many times in the first video the defenders cover the back of the goalkeeper and save the ball off the line.

Defenders also find themselves with the occasional opportunity to shoot.  This video shows some great goals scored by defenders,

3.  COUNTERATTACK:  The transition from defending to attack is a critical part of championship teams.  On some occasions the opponent has sent too many players forward and are vulnerable to a quick counterattack.  When the opportunity presents itself a full commitment to a team counterattack will create goals.  The following video shows the importance of dribbling to open space with speed, quick combinations to move the ball to open space, and the willingness to run at full pace to get behind the defense.  Along with watching the ball, please watch the off-the-ball running of teammates and their total dedication to join the counterattack.

4A.  KEEP THE BALL MOVING:  Teams that can keep the ball moving to open players in open space always control the tempo of the game.  False possession is keeping the ball without a purpose.  Watch this little U11 game how they move the ball while attacking goal.

4B:  ONE TOUCH PLAY THROUGH MIDDLE:  Watch these goals and the passing and moving.

5:  1v1 DRIBBLING SKILLS AND INDIVIDUAL BRILLIANCE:  Sometimes you have to go for it and beat players on your own.  The final 1/3 of the field is where great players and teams take risks, beat players, and go to goal.  Most of the moves used involve sharp cuts of the ball (change direction), a bit of deception (possible fake shot first), and change of speed.  Slow down to execute a beat move and speed up to finish it.

6:  Goals:  Since younger players really don’t head the ball to goal the following clip shows how to strike volleys.  You will be amazed and hopefully inspired.


Barcelona 6-second rule

Here it is.  Barcelona, known for their incredible skill, possession, and movement off the ball in attack are actually one of the most consistent defensive teams in Europe.  Owning 65% of the ball in most games prevents opponents from creating chances, but the speed and determination to win the ball back is impressive.  The following clip demonstrates the 6-second rule, where the entire team converges on or near the ball after being dispossessed.  They consistently try to win the ball back in the opponents half and squeeze all of the short passing lanes at once.  As the video explains, if their press is broken, and the opponent keeps the ball 6-seconds or more, Barca fall very deep into their normal shape and prevent the penetrating pass behind their back-line.

I believe more teams will adapt this strategy in the 2012-13 season.  The objective is to apply enough pressure to force a stray pass, not lunge in and tackle the ball.  The problem youth coaches have in implementing this defensive approach is the total commitment of players away from the ball to leave their comfort zone and press the passing lanes closer to the ball.  You can’t make the field smaller without every field player pressing the opponent.  The second problem youth teams will encounter is solving the problem when the ball is stolen back.  Barcelona show extreme patience and will reload the attack to their center backs which allow time for the team to expand into a more attacking shape.  This transition from compact pressing to open attacking soccer is difficult to implement with the direct style of play being taught to most youth players.

Winning the ball 35 yards from goal and then starting the attack over with a drop to the defenders is not taught.  It takes about ten seconds for the flank players to expand to the full width of the field after the ball is stolen.  In order to keep possession that long after winning it in a crowd, teams would have to go backwards first on most occasions.  Since direct soccer involves going forward, it would be difficult to retrain the mentality of our youth players.  Most likely they would win the ball and force a play right back into trouble.  Instead of teaching 1v1 beat moves to all our players, and think we are helping them develop.  Coaches should teach our youth to dribble out of trouble and use supporting players as their first outlet.  These players behind the ball need to provide proper depth in their support quickly after the ball is won back from the opponents. They will need to be soccer players also and not just defenders.  More to come.