Playing Soccer in College

If you are a youth soccer player in America then you may be looking for a way to play soccer in college. Getting recruited to play soccer in college is a lot harder than you might think. The most important part of getting recruited to play college soccer is getting yourself on a premier youth soccer team. There are several reasons as to why getting on a premier youth soccer team is important. If you are not on one of the best youth soccer teams in the country no college coach will be interested in seeing you play. College soccer coaches want to know that you are playing in one of the best leagues in the country.

The best league for youth soccer in the country is actually the US Soccer Development Academy League. If you are currently playing in the US Soccer Development Academy League then you have a very good chance of playing soccer in college. The US Soccer Development Academy League is a league that the US Soccer Foundation started two years ago to help improve the level that youth soccer is played at in our country. Each year hundreds of players from this league end up being recruited to play soccer in college.

After you are on a good youth soccer team, you need to move onto the next step for getting recruited to play soccer in college. You should try and have someone record every one of your regular season games. After that, you should create a highlight reel that you can send out to college soccer coaches. Having a highlight real allows college soccer coaches to get an idea of what kind of player you are. Obviously, you should only put clips of yourself playing well in this college soccer highlight reel.

After that, you need to make sure you take the SATs and keep your grades up. If you truly want to play college soccer then you are going to need to do well in school. Being good at soccer is only half of the equation when it comes to getting recruited to play soccer in college. Throughout the entire process of getting recruited to play soccer in college you should always be optimistic. There are tons of opportunities out there to play soccer in college you just have to look hard for them and remain optimistic. Just remember, hard work always pays off when it comes to soccer!



How to Kick a Soccer Ball

Any soccer player will tell you that they started out kicking the ball with their toe. But they quickly learned that there was a much more effective way to get the soccer ball from point A to point B. If you ever consider playing soccer at a somewhat high level, there are a few things you should know first about how to kick a ball. Here are a few different shots that will help perfect your game.

The Angle Spot Kick

When trying to perfect this kick, the one thing you should know is that the sweet spot for kicking is a little bit above the big toe. Due to its sound nature, it is a good base point for any striking motion. Now, when you actually make contact, it is necessary that you have your foot at a slight angle in comparison to the ball. If you need help visualizing, imagine your foot at around the 1 o’clock position as it meets the ball. This means that while your foot is passing through the ball, it should be pointed down and out. This “sweet spot kick” is probably the most used throughout your soccer career, so it is very important to make sure you have a sound understanding. A mid-fielder will almost always use this trick when trying to feed the ball to a forward. Corner kicks are another good example of this kick.

Straight Kick

Let’s start off by visualizing what actually has to happen. Stand up straight and move your foot so it is directly in front of you. Then place a soccer ball right over your foot. When you release, the ball will hit perpendicular to your foot on the very top. This is where the straight kick will make contact. The reason it is called a “straight kick” is because everything about it is straight. When you are preparing to make this shot, simply remember that all of your laces (not just part of them) have to make contact with the ball. This requires you to keep your foot in a fixed position and not to move it at an angle like previously mentioned in the angle shot. Also, it is important to remember that your leg should almost be like a pendulum in that it will move directly back and forward in a straight line. After the kick is made, you can tell if you did it right because your leg should not wrap around.

Volley Kick

A volley kick, also known as a “straight” volley kick, is very similar to the straight kick as mentioned before. All the rules will hold true when it comes to striking the laces to the ball, but one main difference is that you can make this kick without breaking stride. There should be no hesitation while making this shot, and after the contact is made, the ball should, in theory, travel straight ahead at a low angle. This is by far probably the least taught shot because it is really something that comes with time. After you are comfortable with the soccer ball, you will begin to progress and be able to kick and dribble in full stride.



Do Soccer Players Have to Play for the Country Where They Were Born?

Choosing which national soccer team to play for is not as simple as playing for the country where you were born. While national teams sound like they should have players from that nation, the football (soccer) association FIFA has rules which almost make it possible for players to choose to play for any country they like.

When do players have to decide?
The decision can be made at any age, and delayed until the player gets to the senior national team. Players can be on the Under 17 or Under 21 teams for a country, but until they play for the National Team, they still have options. The decision is final when the player steps foot on the field as a national team player. When a talented young person with ties to several countries starts to get some attention, everyone begins to ask, “Where will he or she play as an adult?”

Players can choose the country of their birth, but there are plenty of other options, such as the country where parents or grandparents were born, where they have been raised, or where they have chosen to live.

Making the choice can be hard for some players.
Which players in the current World Cup had choices about the national team they would choose? With current rules, most of them, but there are some who have closer ties which made the decision more difficult. According to the announcer on ESPN, 17 of the 23 players on the Algerian team were born in France, which makes it almost the second string French team. France is generous with citizenship for those born in their colonies and territories, so they have a lot of choices. Patrice Evra of the French national team was born in Senegal, but as the son of a diplomat, was raised in France.

Jose Torres, on the US team, was born in Texas, of a Mexican father and a US mother, and he has been playing professional football (soccer) in Mexico since he was in his mid teens, so when he was ready for the national team, everyone waited to see where he would play and breathed a sigh of relief when he chose the US team. However, he has not had as much playing time as his talent might expect, and one can only wonder if he would get more playing time if he had chosen to play for Mexico.

Freddie Adu was born in Ghana, but moved to the United States when he was eight years old. He had the option to play for Ghana, but chose to play for the US. While he started at MLS DC United, he has been playing for various European teams these past few years. As he was not called up to the US team this year, does he watch the team from Ghana and wonder if he would have had a better chance of playing World Cup games if he had chosen the country of his birth instead?

On the Serbian team, the player Neven Subotic was born in Yugoslavia, but raised in the US playing American youth soccer. He made his choice after he was not called up to play for the US under 20s team. Franco was born in Argentina but plays for Mexico. DeSantos, a wonderful player on the Mexican team has a Brazilian father, but fortunately for Mexico, plays for the country of his birth.

Foreign born players on the German national team.
Some of the most interesting international players are on the German national team. Cacau was born in Brazil, but is a naturalized German. Two of the stars on the German team, Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose, were born in Poland. That left me thinking about the fact that the Poles did not qualify for the World Cup this year, and yet there are two very talented players, born in Poland, but playing for Germany. A little thought to the history of those two countries, with occupations, invasions, and wars, adds to the mix. Some research into the players explained some of the reasons. Both players were born in the area in Poland known as Silesia, a previously German territory. Their fathers had played football in Poland during the Communist years, but left for West Germany. The boys were both raised in Germany, and consider themselves ethnically German. So, you almost need to know the genealogy and family history of a player to make some sense out of which country they choose when they play international football.

In the world today, with the European Union, the French and British recognizing citizenship of those in previous colonies or territories, and the ease of people moving for a better life, a better job, or a more comfortable place to live, it will be increasingly difficult to identify who belongs to a national team.

In the United States, just about everyone either comes from somewhere else, or has parents or grandparents who did. So, if your young soccer player looks like they have potential, and yet may not be quite good enough for the US national team, start checking out the teams where the competition isn’t so tough, and checking your ancestors. Of course, if you have a really good soccer player in your family, especially one who can score goals, we need them here!

Sources: Television commentators, team and player websites.



Preparing for a Soccer Game in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy League

If you are a soccer player in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy then you are extremely lucky. The U.S. Soccer Development Academy is the best youth soccer league in the country. Each season in the development academy is thirty games long and the best teams will qualify for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy playoffs. Each game is extremely important because every time you win you are helping your team get a step closer to winning a national soccer championship. For this very reason, it is important to understand how to prepare for a game in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy League. Many players think that if they get a good nights sleep and eat well they are doing all they need to prepare for a youth soccer game. The fact of the matter is that much more must be done to prepare properly for a game in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.

First, you need to take care of your body from a nutritional stand point. The night before your youth soccer game you should drink as much water as you possibly can. Even if you are not thirsty you should still drink a ton of water. Being hydrated is the key to having a lot of energy come for your U.S. Soccer Development Academy League game. You should drink water until your urine is clear. If your urine is clear it means that your body is completely hydrated. You should also have a complete and full meal the night before your U.S. Soccer Development Academy League game. Most players think that it is important to have a full meal a few hours before a youth soccer game. The fact of the matter is that your pre game meal is truly the meal that you eat the night before the game. The reason for this is that it takes twelve to twenty four hours for your digestive system to convert food to energy. Aside from a nutritional stand point, you should prepare for the game mentally.

The night before your game, you should visualize yourself playing in the game. When you are visualizing yourself playing in your U.S. Soccer Development Academy game you should visualize yourself playing well. There are two different ways that you can visualize yourself playing in your U.S. Soccer Development Academy game. These two visualization methods involve first person visualization and third person visualization. For third person visualization you should visualize yourself playin well as if you were someone in the stands watching yourself play. For first person visualization you should visualizing yourself playing well as if you were seeing it though your own eyes. This visualization will help give you the confidence to play well during your U.S. Soccer Development Academy games!



Mastering the Soccer Kick

Soccer is a very difficult sport to play, regardless of age or fitness level. It requires much out of your body, and the most physically fit will have to dig deep at the end of a game to keep stride with others. Regardless, even the fittest player will not succeed if they do not know the basics of the game. One of the most difficult aspects of the game, oddly enough, is kicking the ball. While this seems simple, it is one of the hardest to master. There are many movements that need to mesh effortlessly into one swift, sweeping kick.

One of the most important things to remember is that all of these movements must be put into one continuous motion. Firstly, you must eye your target. This will help you train your foot to follow your eye. It will take practice, weeks at best. This dedication though, will give your kick deadly accuracy. Secondly, after you improve your accuracy, then start making your kick less predictable, start trying to curve the ball. Importantly, you must learn to keep your head down now when shooting. This will help keep the ball on target, instead of shooting it over the post. Then, kicking the ball to make it curve will take practice too. To curve inward, sweep your foot towards the inside of the ball, and follow through your kick. Also, the same approach should be taken towards an outward curve, except kicking the outside part of the ball. Also, when you become proficient in this technique, try kicking the ball closer to the top and bottom, trying to create topspin and backspin, respectively. This will cause the ball to rise for more distance, or drop drastically for a precise cross or putting the ball to the post.

Mastering these techniques will take time, but, along with having speed and endurance, this added skill will make your game exponentially better, and the goals will start flying immediately. Also, it would be a great skill to show off to your friends as well.



Soccer: More Than a Game

Like military men, they toe the line.
Each with only one mission in mind.
Pass the guards and let the ball roll,
one last dodge to the right,
defense hold!
Bruised and battered,
ankles twist.
Fallen Defender, replace him quick!
Lost position, try something new.
Fast break down the middle,
let it go through.
High in the air, the ball seems to float.
All eyes on it and finally…….goal!



Soccer Coaching Tips

After many years of coaching youth soccer teams, I’m convinced that there are a small number of sure-fire tips that will lead to a winning team. Basically, if you practice right, position your players right, and push-up in games, your chances are good. It all starts in practice.

A good practice is all about the touches.

No, that doesn’t mean high fives or group hugs. It simply means that you need to plan your practices to maximize the number of ball touches each player has. There’s nothing more boring at any age level than having 10 players stand around watching 2 players dribble a ball between a long line of cones, or having 1 line of players lined up to each take a single shot before chasing their wayward ball. Worse than boring, these drills are ineffective. There are countless resources available for a rookie coach – both on-line and in bookstores, but the best drills are ones that maximize touches. For example, instead of setting up 2 long lines of cones and having players take turns dribbling through them, set up a 20-by-20 square, put an equal number of players with a ball on each of the 4 sides, and have them dribble to the opposite side and back a dozen times, all at the same time. Each player is engaged, each player quickly learns they need to dribble with their head up to avoid collisions, and you can teach the same dribbling techniques in traffic, which is the way they’ll be dribbling in games.

A good practice is also fun.

Kids at all ages enjoy games and competition, and better yet, the lessons they learn in competitions are understood better than those learned from a repetitive drill. So instead of a solo dribbling drill followed by a passing drill between two players, make it a single competition. Set up a relay race among teams of two players each, with only two cones for each team. Each player will dribble from their first cone to their second cone, perform a specific turn or move around the cone, followed by a pass back to their teammate. Each player will soon learn that a bad pass will put them behind in the race, and that a bad “reception” will do the same. They police each other to do better at the fundamentals so that they will do better in the race. Recognize the teams that do well. Then mix up the teams and do it again. But choose games that work on multiple skills at once.

A winning team is positioned well.

In basketball, no matter what level, you never see the most awkward kid dribbling the ball up as point guard, or the shortest kid playing center. In football, you don’t develop your offensive line by putting your five smallest guys in to block at the same time. It just doesn’t make sense. Yet in soccer, I see it all the time.

So the tip to soccer coaches is simple – learn the attributes of good players at each position, and then position your players with a purpose. So what are these attributes? Well, a defender doesn’t have to have the best ball skills and he doesn’t have to be fast. He does, however, have to be brave and aggressive. If you put ball-shy, passive players at defense, your goalie is in for a long day. A goalie, meanwhile, needs to have decent hands and not be afraid of the ball. A center midfielder needs to be able to run and get to the ball. A forward should have ball skills and be able to shoot.

Now that you know the basic attributes, you need to match them up with your players, and as usual, you can do this in targeted games and competitions. For example, you can identify your brave, aggressive kids by playing a few games of Sharks and Minnows, where 1 “shark” enters a circle filled with all your other players (the “minnows”) and tries to knock as many balls out of the circle within 45 seconds. Keep track of how the sharks do, and you’ll get a good feel for the kids who naturally will be able to attack the ball on defense. Do the same thing for the other positions and their attributes, and keep running those games and drills from practice-to-practice, looking for development.

For development, depending on the age, you’ll want to move the players from position to position in games, but always try to pair up the less-experienced player at a position with an experienced “mentor”. For example, if you want to develop a defender, pair him/her up with a good defender and play them together. That gives the new defender a chance to learn in game situations, while also giving your team a chance to be successful. Similarly, put your inexperienced goalie behind your more experienced defenders, who will limit the quantity and quality of shots that the new goalie will have to face.

The bottom line is, if you want to be successful in your games, you need a single line of strength all the way up the field … 1 solid defender, 1 solid mid-fielder, and 1 solid forward. You can mix and match players around them, but if you have at least one solid player from goalie all the way to forward on game day, you have a chance to make a save and advance the ball up the field on an attack without hitting a “dead zone”. If you have all weak players at even one of those levels, then you will often lose momentum (and the ball) in that dead zone area.

And finally, on game day, push up.

That simply means that when your forwards and midfielders are on the attack, push your defenders to the midfield line to compete for the ball when the other team tries to clear it out of their zone. Any defender who isn’t competing for that ball can retreat in case the ball isn’t won. If you leave your defenders back by your goal, you may feel safer, but it’s a false sense of security – you’re really just increasing the other team’s scoring chances. Why? Because if your defenders are not pushed-up, then any clearing kick to midfield will lead to an attack on your side of the field. In addition, you’ll never force an off-sides pass with your defenders back. Since most successful teams tend to keep the ball on the opponent’s side of the field, pushing up on defense is often a key strategy to their success.

So that’s it. Make practices all about the touches, make practices fun, position players correctly, and push-up on defense. You’ll be well on your way to coaching a winning team.



Soccer Juggling Tips

I really love soccer. I’ve been playing it since I was four years old, at home with my family and friends, at school with my classmates and on the field with various recreational club teams. I’ve grown up kicking a soccer ball around, but it was not until my freshman year of high school that I learned how to seriously juggle a soccer ball. Being able to juggle a soccer ball is something all true soccer fans should at least attempt to figure out and it’s a lot of fun once one becomes familiar with it. It is not as hard as it may feel at first; it just takes practice and a few key points to remember when juggling for optimal success. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a little while to get used to, it took me way longer than my friends but I eventually caught on, as you hopefully will as well.

First, start with a decent pair of shoes. I have seen people juggle with everything from hiking boots to bare feet, but it is best to use flat topped, soccer or Converse-style shoes. These offer the greatest area for juggling. Once a person has mastered the art of juggling with these types of shoes (or basic running shoes), using other types of shoes or bare feet comes naturally.

Second, try a semi-flat soccer ball to start out with. These are easier to juggle than balls totally full, although they may require a little more force. Alternatively, get good at hacky-sacking (juggling a beanbag-type toy). This is a great way to learn the basic ‘movements’ associated with juggling. Hacky sacks may be purchased at many toy stores, and are sometimes associated with the old skool ‘grunge’ culture that sprang up in the Pacific Northwest.

Finally, keep the ball close to your body. Don’t be afraid to use your knees, hips, chest or, if comfortable, your head. There are some safety concerns associated with constant head bounces from soccer balls, so keep that in mind. The key with juggling is to learn to control the ball at each touch-its not a full on kick each time, rather its simply giving the ball enough force to stay near your body and move 2-3 feet up in the air.

Juggling is a lot of fun to do and a great way to hang with soccer buddies when not on the playing field. With all the above steps in mind, remember the main step: practice, practice, practice! Find a flat area, like a grass field or gym court and start kicking. Happy juggling!



New Guide 2021: Workout with Soccer

Grab a pick-up game of soccer to keep your workouts fresh. Taking the routine out of an exercise routine is vital to keeping you moving month after month. Something I love to add to the toolbox is pick-up soccer games. These are the games that regularly happen in parks with small groups of people who don’t really care who shows up. Regardless of whether or not you’ve played before, the common objective here is exercise and fun.

Where to Look
You can find these light-hearted games being played in parks, often around the lunch hour and near large companies with lots of employees. You can also find them on weekends in parks anywhere. If you haven’t noticed a regular group playing near you, check out the internet and search your area and you’ll likely find others keeping their game alive. The city where I live offers co-ed leagues and men and women only leagues with a huge range of age brackets. One of the big attractions to soccer is its growing popularity, its low equipment costs, and the benefits reaped from participation. Working some strategy to get the ball in the net takes a lot of leg and team work. Before you know it you are sweating and completely focused. Getting started is easy, so let’s begin.

Getting Started
There are a few things you’ll want to do before walking onto the field. The first is to achieve some level of physical fitness so you are able to enjoy yourself. As you’ve probably guessed, soccer is a running game, but don’t be discouraged. Jogging a couple of times per week will get your feet used to the idea. You don’t need to go fast or long, you need only to go. It will also be a good idea to switch up the speeds you run. If you are running for 20 minutes, mix up your run with slow and fast speeds for small durations. This will more closely mimic the game of soccer and prepare you for the variations. You will get the majority of the conditioning while playing with the group you have found.

Equipment
Another thing to consider is the soccer equipment you’ll need. This is recreational play so the gear you buy can be very minimal. Cleats, shin guards, soccer socks, shorts, and shirts are great to have but really aren’t vital. Soccer cleats will keep you from slipping on the grass and shin guards protect the front of your legs if kicked, otherwise soccer can be played in just about anything in which you can comfortably run. If you decide to play in a city league you will have a team shirt and will likely be required to wear shin guards.

Skills
One last thing to do before heading to the field is tackle a couple of soccer drills to give you confidence and enhance your playing experience. The most used skill is dribbling the ball with your feet while maintaining ball control. If you haven’t done this in awhile or ever it is worthwhile to visit. You can get in some conditioning with dribbling practice too. Once you are comfortable going slow then pick up the speed and try mixing up the tempo by combining fast and slow speeds. Include some juggling work into your practice time as well. Start by dropping the ball to your foot and kicking it back to your hands. Get decent with one foot and then try the other. Finally, start to pass the ball from foot to foot without using your hands. This takes a lot of practice to master and won’t keep you from incorporating soccer into your workout regimen so work on it between soccer days.

Playing soccer as an adult is fun way to add a new element to a weekly workout routine. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to get involved and you can play at any skill level. Soccer is a cardiovascular challenge that enhances your hand foot coordination and builds leg and core strength. If you are looking for a new challenge that can be tailored to your desired effort level then give soccer a go…..you are sure to have a ball.



The Truth About ODP Soccer

If your son or daughter plays on a youth soccer team you may have heard about ODP soccer at one point or another. During the ten years prior to 2008, the ODP soccer system was the national scouting system for youth soccer players in America. If a player was in the ODP soccer system they could eventually get recruited to play for a regional or youth national team. The ODP soccer system is broken into state teams and regional teams. There are five regions in the country, each taking up a different part of the country.

Each state has one or two ODP soccer teams in the ODP soccer system. Tryouts for each ODP soccer team take place during the late summer and early fall. The tryout process is truly not the greatest. Hundreds of players come to ODP soccer tryouts and there are only a few coaches available to scout players for the ODP soccer system. The other bad thing about ODP is that it costs a lot of money to play on the ODP soccer team. To fix this, the US Soccer Foundation came up with something to replace the old ODP soccer system.

The US Soccer Foundation recognized that ODP soccer wasn’t doing its job when it came to scouting players for youth and regional national teams. In 2008, the US Soccer Foundation created a youth soccer league called the US Soccer Development Academy League. The US Soccer Development Academy League is currently significantly better than the ODP soccer system. Early on in 2008, thousands of teams across the country sent in their applications for this league to the US Soccer Foundation in Chicago. Only 60 clubs were accepted into this prestigious league that is still running strong today.

The ODP soccer system still exists, but it is only supplementary to the scouting system that exists in the US Soccer Development Academy. If your son or daughter currently plays in the ODP soccer system you should try and get them over to the US Soccer Development Academy as quickly as possible. The reason for this is that in a few years the ODP soccer system will be completely eliminated from the national scouting system. The US Soccer Development Academy is doing a great job at scouting players for college soccer teams and helping players develop throughout the country. The future of US Soccer is looking bright because of this promising and prestigious league.