PERFORMANCE ACADEMY FUNDAMENTALS
The “Performance academy” is a soccer program designed for players who enjoy challenges and competitions, love The Game, and place a high priority on soccer.
On the field, these are players with “field smarts”, the ones playing even when they don’t have the ball. They are thinking about how to get open for a pass. They anticipate the movement of teammates and the ball, not just react to them. When they have the ball, their play demonstrates composure much more often than panic.
These are not necessarily the players who appear to dominate on the field at the younger ages. That recognition tends to go to the biggest and/or fastest players, who are often biggest and fastest simply because they are the oldest in the age group.
These traits listed above are valuable to current effectiveness on the field, but are less reliable predictors of future success than the personal qualities of these athletes, demonstrated not just as players, but in everything they do.
These boys and girls will show determination – to get better, to learn all they can, to try things that are new, different, and challenging. They will be persistent and be the kind of athletes that will work on their game, not just in training and competitions but on their own “when no one else is watching.” They will have a competitive spirit, and perhaps a splash or two of guile. This combination of qualities (which together we call “wantitude”) is the primary consideration in evaluating candidates for placement in the PA.
Start with the End in Mind
Players who do not get a thorough grounding in soccer’s essential skills at the younger ages – by age 13 or 14 – are being cheated out of their futures in The Game. The Coerver Colorado curriculum is designed to develop players who possess:
> A Dynamic First Touch – the skill and vision to place the ball with the first touch with either foot to a spot where it can be played again quickly and productively. This is trained in every session and is a focus of the preparation that players are asked to do between sessions.
> Accuracy and Power – the ability to use several surfaces of both feet to control, pass, and shoot the ball.
> Superior 1v1 Skills – the ability and confidence to take on and beat an opponent in a one-on-one situation, the poise to keep possession of the ball when under strong defensive pressure, and the skill when individually defending to shut down the crafty attacker. Using combinations of one-on-one activities in every session produces players of remarkable skill and confidence, when facing the individual duels that so often determine the outcome of a match.
> Mastery of the Small Group Situations (2v1, 3v1, 3v2, etc.) that are the building blocks of team play.
> Mastery of the Great Soccer Habits, the little things great players do that make a big difference on the field and form the basis for a player’s Sense of the Game (a.k.a. “game smarts”.)
> An Appreciation of the Competitive Process – learning to give maximum effort at practice and games, to make yourself better and to challenge your teammates to be at their best every session.
By the age of 14, these players will be exceptionally skilled – poised, confident, creative, and BOLD with the ball as well as making excellent use of the fundamental elements of team play. They will “see the game” and regularly anticipate the coming movements of players and the ball. They will demonstrate the ability to make good decisions about the mix of individualism (“I can beat you myself”) and team play (“or with the help of my teammates”). And they will always demonstrate the Qualities of Great Athletes on the field and in all other aspects of their lives.
Coerver Colorado’s Curriculum, How It Works
Learning involves four levels of competence. The top, Perfection, is of course unattainable. However, if you chase perfection doggedly enough you’ll catch a healthy dose of Excellence in the process.
The focus of most of our training is on developing Proficiency (“I can do this”) then Mastery (“I can use this”). Automaticity (“It just happens!”) is the level of mastery where skills get used before there’s a conscious decision to use them. This develops in our program through the aggregation of trivial improvements that occur with practice.
The team that wins the majority of the 1v1 duels in a game wins the majority of those games. Being Coerver, player’s competence and confidence during those encounters is something we work on (via foot skills, ball moves and 1v1 activities) in every session. It is with the 1v1 play that we first focus on encouraging players to be “spontaneous and daring” and to develop a “Go-for-It” mentality. Developing strong 1v1 skills is wonderfully empowering, giving the player control over game situations that another who can only pass the ball will rarely enjoy.
Our multi-level Juggling Progression “makes every touch better.” The first five levels are: 1. Any Touch. 2. Feet Only. 3. Weak Foot Only. 4. Progressive (a pattern alternating between right and left foot use.) 5. Body Parts. We have found that nothing makes a player better faster at a younger age than completing the Weak Foot Only level. (Those at that level normally improve at least twice as much as those who are not yet there in test/retest situations of weak foot service for power and distance.)
Learning to juggle is difficult. It takes a lot of practice, a minimum of 15-20 minutes 3-4 times every week – tens of thousands of touches at each level. There are many failures and frustrations, but each is an opportunity to grow resilience, perseverance, and persistence – Life Skills that will be far more valuable and enduring off the soccer field than on.
We also want players to develop an Ability to Use the Weaker Foot that approaches the ability of the dominant. We teach striking the ball (passing and shooting) exclusively to the weaker foot. That learning transfers to the stronger foot; it rarely does in the opposite direction – teaching to the dominant foot. We also look for other opportunities where players can be required to use that weaker foot (ex. moves, crossing, and dribbling). The result is that over time players reach over 90% proficiency with the weaker foot as compared to the dominant in tests of serving balls for power and distance.
There comes a point when the dual emphases on juggling and eliminating the “weak foot” combine to produce automaticity in controlling the ball. Suddenly, first seen in the small group activities, such players appear to be playing much faster, but it is really because ball control now requires so little time or focus that a player is able to “think ahead.” Practice has given access to new processing capacity (we call it bandwidth) because complex ball control actions have come to require a smaller percentage of the athlete’s available capacity. Now there’s time not only to “look” – where teammates and opponents are, what they’re doing, what they might be expected to do – but to work that information into the decision about what to do now. Play is then very different. It becomes much faster, smarter, and more creative!
It is at this point the pieces are coming together for those “exceptionally skilled” players described earlier. Most young players won’t ever get there, but we are seeing it now among 11 and 12 year-olds who train with us regularly.
Nomination to the Performance Academy
There is one path to admission of the 2019/20 Performance Academy. A coach’s recommendation received from participation in a 2019 Summer Camp. In those settings, senior members of the coaching staff will have evaluated the players by the standards listed in the previous section. The invited players have also separated themselves with top performances in our benchmark skills test we call tXgames.
The first wave of invitation letters will be sent out September 4th to selected players. Invitations go out in waves, so as not to have more invitations outstanding than we have places open in each age group. Each wave has a specific location and “RSVP Date” by which to enroll. An invited player’s place is guaranteed at the designated location until that date. An invited player may still enroll after that date, but acceptance will be dependent on space available as of the RSVP Date of the then current wave of invitations.
We expect this process to be completed and spots fully enrolled by the week of October 1st.
As with all Coerver Colorado programs, we want to place players where they will grow the most. Please sign up for your designated location stated in your invitation. The PA provides separate training for boys and girls, with programs designed to capitalize on their different learning styles and social skills.
Each “team” will have 12-14 players. Sessions are designed for groups that size and do not work as well with groups of fewer than 12. Players in the program (and their parents) must realize the dual obligation that comes with being part of such an endeavor. This was best summed up by 1991 World Champion Tracey Bates Leone: “You owe it to yourself and to your teammates to do everything you can and give everything you have toward your goal of Being the Best”. Neither obligation can be fulfilled by players who are absent; in this program you can quickly fall enough behind to become a hindrance to the progress of your PA teammates.
In fairness to others, we ask that players who cannot commit to attend a minimum of 80% of the 16 instructional sessions leave those roster spots open for other athletes who can.
2019 – 2020 Age Groups
Our entry “Level Seven” curriculum for the Class of 2010
“Level Six” curriculum for the Class of 2009
“Level Five” curriculum for the Class of 2008
“Level Four” curriculum for the Class of 2007
“Level Three” curriculum for the Class of 2006
Performance Academy will take place at two different venues:
- The Foothills Indoor Sports Arena, 3608 S. Kipling Parkway, Denver
- Infinity Park in Glendale, 4599 East Tennessee Avenue, Glendale
- Friday Evenings – 5:15 to 7:15 PM
Please tell your coaches now of the times that your age group will be participating in hopes no other events are scheduled at that time.
The core of the staff consists of Nationally Licensed Coaches as well as Coerver MASTER Coaches. These master coaches have been with Coerver for over 7 years and have a true understanding of the culture, techniques specific to Coerver and the best ways to push players to the edge of their comfort zones establishing mistake- based soccer. While some coach teams at the Club level, our program is strictly “club neutral”. It will not be a venue for scouting or player recruitment, either by coaches or parents. Its focus will be fully on developing the talents of already talented players. As the program has grown, we have brought in some of the best coaches from many clubs, as they had the desire to take our “Skillful Players First” approach back to their home programs. We also use assistants (summer staff members training to be master coaches) and “Big Brother / Big Sister” role models, high school players who have grown up with Coerver® and are on the path to joining our Summer Camps staff.
ESP’s (Exceptional Soccer Parents)
Navigating the youth sports landscape is not easy for families. An important element of our PA involves information and education about how to make the youth sports experience the best it can be for both parents and players. We draw heavily upon the ideas of the Positive Coaching Alliance and the thoughts of some of the great coach/educators in sports. Among the topics to be covered are the importance of rest and recovery, the false promise of early specialization in a sport, “ownership” in youth sports, and how to deal with over-training and other common but potentially harmful practices. (Walking the talk: the U12 and older PA teams will be at Infinity Park on Friday evenings in order to leave the weekend days for basketball, skiing and other sports and activities that will help these players develop personally and athletically.
The cost for a year’s PA program is $ 545.00. This includes the training sessions, an Adidas Coerver® Performance Academy uniform (New Design) (shirt, shorts, socks)
PLEASE FILL OUT CORRECT SIZES ON YOUR COERVERCOLORADO.COM REGISTRATION – to allow for efficient jersey distribution. A $325.00 deposit at the time of registration will hold a place in the program, with the remaining $220.00 balance due December 1st.
A $325 cancellation fee will be processed with any cancellation made before the first day of camp. Any cancellations made after the program begins will not be refunded except in the case of an injury incurred at the camp.
PA 2020 Summer Discount
For being a part of the Performance Academy a substantial extension (through March 31, 2020) of the deadline for our 15% “Earliest and Best” 2020 Summer Camp Enrollment Discount has been made.
COUPON CODE = PA2020
Questions and Comments. Coerver Colorado’s “Performance Academy” is a demanding program and your suggestions are welcome as we want always improve. As it’s said, “Let’s Get Better”. Please let us know what you think by calling 720-255-4911 or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org