About the Surf Juniors Guidelines & Philosophy

Surf Juniors Guidelines & Philosophy
What is Technique?
Technique is the execution of one single performance, like a move, or a push pass, or low driven shot.

What is Skill?
Skill is the ability to execute technique under pressure. One of the most important single factors in competing at a high level is not tactics or formations. It is the quality of individual “technique”. The team tactics are totally dependent upon each player’s ability to execute the technical components of those tactics. For example, to pass the ball diagonally behind the defense to penetrate the back line takes “technique”, to do it under pressure takes skill.

A player who has the tactical sense might see that pass, but if they can’t execute, it does little good. Without players who possess good technique, our time invested in team organization and principles of play will be fruitless. With players of high technical ability, the foundation will be strong to apply those techniques in skillful and tactical situations. Therefore, it is of great importance that we as coaches and an organization understand how quality technique is developed and implement a coaching regimen to challenge our players to a level of technical excellence.

“Practice does not make perfect” rather “Practice makes permanent”. So perhaps a more appropriate phrase might be, “Perfect practice makes perfect”. To reach a level of technical perfection, the technique must be isolated and performed until it becomes habit. Three important components are needed to rapidly develop good habits.
  • Repetition: Repetition is important in developing the motor memory patterns to enable the players to execute each technique automatically, without thinking, so this becomes instinctive. Our training environment should be designed to ensure that each player in our youngest age groups is getting 600-800 touches minimum for our U8/U10’s. Keep in mind, these are minimum numbers. More touches are always better than fewer touches.
  • Consistent Quality: The mechanics involved in each execution of the technique must be accurate and consistent. The coach must be the facilitator in ensuring that poor technique is detected early and precise information is provided to the player to correct the problem. The coach must know the mechanical movements involved in each technique to be able to correct those techniques.
  • Explosive Execution with Pace: As soon as possible, players must practice the technique at a speed that simulates match play. Slow practices will develop slow players and up-tempo practices will develop fast and explosive players. Never sacrifice quality for speed when practicing technique.
Players must understand that ball control/first touch is not a means itself, but more an end to a means. A player must remember the four D’s to a good first touch:
  • Decision-what surface are you going to use to control the ball/take your first touch? Are you going to use the inside of the foot, outside of foot or the laces etc.
  • Direction-what direction will your first touch take you? Will it be straight ahead, to the left or to the right? Will it be back into pressure or away from it?
  • Distance-How far/big will that first touch be? Will it be big enough to get you out of initial pressure, but short enough so I avoid additional pressure?
  • Disguise-Can I keep my first touch hidden as to what surface I am going to use, the direction I am going to go and the distance of how far I go?
At the end of each control/first touch, a player will have four options to act on:
  • Most often the player will control to pass the ball.
  • In attacking third players will control to set up shots.
  • The player may control the ball to dribble.
  • The player may control to run with the ball.
With this in mind, the player should decide as the ball is in flight what he intends to do after controlling the ball, is he going to pass, shoot, dribble or run with the ball? The quality of the player’s first touch will often determine the quality of the action that follows. Many coaches instruct players to “trap the ball” before passing it.

The word “trap” suggests stopping the ball. Young players get into a bad habit of trapping the ball using the sole of the foot every time the ball comes to them. Trapping or stopping the ball with the sole of the foot can cause many bad habits for the player and limit the techniques he/she can use immediately after his/her first touch on the ball. Coaches should encourage players to use their first touch on the ball economically and effectively.

As opposed to trapping the ball with the sole of the foot, players should look to play their first touch out of the body and into a position that will allow them to perform a variety of techniques on their second touch. In general, players should look to play their first touch approximately one and a half yards in front and to the left side or to the right side.

By playing the ball out and in front of the body on the first touch, the player will improve in the following areas: Better all-around vision as eyes follow ball out and up and not focused down at the feet. Less chance of being caught in possession of the ball due to improved vision.

Tying it all together: Once players are old enough to participate on one of our academy Teams, the goals will change. The goals will shift to Selection, Development, Competition and Placement. The Selection phase consists of selecting a pool (20-32 Players) of the top players in a specific age group through a tryout process. Avalanche-01-2The Development phase consists of developing all the players in the pool at the top end as well as the low end to have a better understanding of tactical themes, technical and tactical functional training, and systems of play.

In the Competition phase we will take a select group of players (16-18 Players) from the pool to compete in different college ID tournaments and US Club id2 Regional and National Events. In the Placement phase our focus shifts to getting players placed at the next level.

Our primary objective is the college game. A vast majority of players will play in college. We want to ensure we provide enough information to be successful. The Secondary phase is preparation for placement at the Regional or National team level. This will only affect a small few players, but we feel that developing our top players is important too.
Characteristics of an under 5 year old player
In order to make practices run smoothly and be fun, it is important to have a basic understanding of the intellectual, emotional and physical developmental stage of the players.
Characteristics of the Under 6 player:
• Focused on themselves – reality to them is based on what they see and feel
• Unable to see the world from another’s perspective
• Everything is in the here and now
• Cooling systems are less efficient - need frequent water breaks
• Enjoy playing, not watching. Every player should have a ball in practice
• Limited attention span - keep directions concise and to the point
• Effort is performance – if they try hard, they are doing well
• Active imaginations – utilize their imaginations in activities, and they will love practice!
• Look for adult approval – be encouraging when they say “Coach, look what I can do!”
• Unable to think abstractly – spatial relationships are a mystery
• Typically have 2 speeds -- extremely fast and stopped
• Usually unaware of game scores – keep it that way
Characteristics of the Under 8 player:
• Enjoy playing in pairs
• Are now able to take another’s perspective.
• Still unable to think abstractly – be patient.
• Cooling system still less efficient than adults – still make sure to give frequent water breaks.
• Still prefer playing to watching – keep everyone active during practice.
• Limited attention span
• Have an understanding of time and sequence – “if I do this, then that happens”.
• Some now have a third or fourth speed in addition to stopped and as fast as possible.
• Very aware of adult reactions – be very aware of your reactions.
• Seek out adult approval and need reassurance – be supportive.
• Begin to become aware of peer perception – a social order is beginning to develop.
• Wide range of abilities between children at this age
• Beginning to develop motor memories
• Some become more competitive
• Less active imaginations than U6 players
Characteristics of the Under 10 player:

• Attention span lengthens and they start to show the ability to sequence thoughts and actions.
• They start to think ahead and think “If this, then that”
• More inclined towards wanting to play soccer rather than being told to play
• Demonstrate increased self-responsibility
• They start to recognize fundamental tactical concepts
• Begin to become aware of peer pressure.
• Players affiliate with their team or their coach
• There is a wide continuum of maturity evident on most teams
• This is still a crucial age for technical skill development
Characteristics of the Under 12 player:
• All children are maturing at different rates and are sensitive to that fact.
• Need to warm-up and stretch as muscle pulls and other nagging injuries are common
• Typically understand elemental abstract concepts and hypothetical situations.
• They like to solve problems.
• Peer evaluation is a constant.
• Egos are sensitive.
• Coordination may depend on whether or not they are in a growth spurt.
• Technique still needs to be reinforced constantly.
• Playing too much can lead to overuse injuries.
• Playing too much and not feeling like they have a choice in the matter can lead to burnout and drop-out.
• This is the dawn of tactics!
• Keep asking the players to be creative and to take risks.
• Ask for feedback from them. They will tell you how things are going.
• Try to hand over leadership and ownership of the team to them. They will enjoy leading and it will add to the learning environment.