As a former coach, I have been fascinated watching both Aidan (U9) and Evan (U8) play their matches this spring.
Evan’s Future Academy group has transitioned from playing 3v3 soccer last fall into 4v4 (including a goalkeeper) this spring. The coaches have placed a heavy emphasis on shape, playing out from the back and using back passes to help open space.
When I coached Aidan in U8 last spring, we spent a lot of time trying to get a basic shape established and get the players to see that straight ahead wasn’t the only direction to play the ball. With Evan still two months shy of seven years old, he has learned to maintain shape, play the direction he’s facing, and work with teammates in a pressure and coverage defensive scheme.
Game days are also a dramatic change from recreation soccer experience. Parents aren’t screaming the whole game to shoot and pass. The kids talk on the field. Far less time is spent out of the game waiting to substitute. Even probably spent 60 minutes playing yesterday and 10 minutes waiting to play. Most recreation soccer was a 50/50 playing and sitting mix.
Aidan and his team have really shown improvement as well, both since the start of play last summer and the tournament a month ago.
One of the biggest changes I’ve seen in Aidan is also related to shape, timing and placement of runs. Adan has become stronger at knowing where space is open and looking to be open for the pass.
He’s also taken up a leadership role on the field – looking to ensure that opponents are covered on throw-ins and other dead ball situations. It’s all been really great to see in him.
His level of confidence with the ball has increased versus fall as well.
Academy soccer has been a great experience so far. Both our sons have developed a lot of skill, and become smarter in play. Consistency in training groups and teammates also has allowed them to extend friendships with teammates. More often when they return home from school, they are outside with a ball playing instead of inside on electronics.