Practice makes ????? What ?

First of all this revelation is going to be short and precise.

Practice makes Permanent! Think about those three words with this statement it refutes the normal message of Practice makes Perfect. So how can we now merge the two concepts and make a statement like Perfect Practice makes Perfect and Permanent! Just a play on words but the outcome become less clouded in its last form. If you practice and you are not doing it correctly and you continue to practice that way your skill sets are going to be less than stellar. This is why practice needs some structure and it also needs precise coaching points and ideas that provide clarity for both coaches, players and parents as a bonus if they can be engaged. READ MORE

Why Soccer Skills are So Important

Having the ability to manipulate a soccer ball is so important for young players to work on. It is impossible to work up the ladder of Soccer if the basics of ball movement skill sets are not in place. Being able to keep a ball close to your feet and anticipating the balls next revolution is paramount in gaining later enjoyment from this complex game.

From a young age, ball manipulation with all surfaces should be sought by all players, and a goal of all coaches. Being able to stop the ball with the sole of the foot is one of the very first successes players will accomplish. This is good because it will enable players to keep the ball inside of the field markings and it will also stop players from running into the opponents, another good thing. Developing building blocks and forming a foundation from which to succeed will entail adding inside and outside touches of the foot. READ MORE

New Year & Time for A Prediction

A New Year & Time for A Prediction: New Technology Will Continue to Change & Enhance the Sports We Love

The articles, magazines and reporting that flash across my desk, computer and phone are screaming at me about technology and the ways it will impact how sport is going to be consumed, played and coached. Following are some of the technologies that are going to influence watching, playing and learning sports in 2019.

The printed ticket for any sporting event has become nearly extinct, replaced with a barcoded impression or picture on your smart phone or a PDF sent to your email for you to print and produce at the event. I think they call it mobile ticketing or biometric verification – new technology that is searching for a stable nomenclature that has been embraced by everyone. It is upon us and only took the first few months of 2018 to gain acceptance.

Last year also saw sports streaming services, with new technology and band width being launched by every outlet and media company that had a server. Do you think the cable companies are looking over their shoulders as they see their dominance erode? In 2019 you can bet that streaming services will morph into an even bigger presence and even more sports options will be on the menu. It has been reported that niche sports can be expected to thrive while gaining respect and popularity because streaming services are sure to gain even more traction and build a following.

Since the May 2018 ruling by the Supreme Court that opened up legalized gambling, states across the USA are looking at regulations to make gambling more accepted and commonplace. It appears that sports betting kiosks could be part of the scene found in stadiums everywhere, perhaps with Las Vegas as the starting point using existing betting apps technology and interactive mobile game platforms. There are now new startup companies building corporate headquarters and then using their technology to find and farm data so that they can deliver fantasy and betting experiences to fans.

Washington State has approved Biometric Identification to buy alcoholic beverages in the Seattle sports stadiums. So the technology that TSA is using at airports around the country to keep us safe is now finding its way to stadiums, where fans can gain entry into games with a fingerprint scan. Facial recognition technology is sure to follow once regulators in more states allow it to expand.

As a former high school soccer coach and college coach, I get at least one email per week trying to get me to buy wearable vests. A new technology, they tell me, which will give me all of the data a player generates during a practice session or during a game. The devices also have GPS to show all levels of motion and work rate to track players strain and recovery. The professional leagues have only had this type of technology for a couple of years, but now every athlete has the ability to have this information, as costs have dropped drastically. Technology companies that are making massive inroads into health care monitoring with sensors that look like a watch giving alerts when a heart rate is too low or too high. Similar monitors that count how many steps you have taken, your sleep patterns. Apple has an ECG device in a watch which can be taken by a user placing a finger on the top of a watch for only 30 seconds.

In the process of creating a revolutionary new 3D Animation Technology to help coaches and players understand the game of soccer, the development group of MOTI Sports had to solve all sorts of problems – including how to put together a soccer training platform that could be used by players as young as 5 years old and coaches across the spectrum of experience. To help players understand soccer skills, Motion Capture Technology was used, which allows players to watch movements from all angles and perspective. Rather than use old video technology, the development group used a complex gaming technology platform that allows smart mobile devices, such as phones and tablets to provide screen manipulation of rotation and zoom in and out. This new technology is in the category of ‘Immersive Technology’ that engages users to stay on the device and produces an energized learning environment for soccer development. If you are involved in soccer in any capacity, start looking at technology – let it help you! Don’t let the new technologies intimidate you and cause you to get stuck with some of the same old ways. The seven worst words a coach can use is “it’s the way we’ve always done it”. I am a living example of an “old dog learning new tricks.”

I predict 2019 to be a new start on soccer player development: use 3D Animated Technology to help all your visual learners…there are certainly a lot of them!

Keeping your Eye on the Ball – Keeper “Threat Assessment” Training

Keeping your eye on the ball as the Keeper also means understanding the
capabilities of yourself and your opponent.

As the Keeper is watching play develop and what amounts to be the “invasion” of the mid-field, and the defensive half, it also means the need to understanding the opponents passing successes & capabilities, their ability to change the point of attack, their control play to maintain possession. .

Watching and understanding their player positioning as they approach is critical to understanding where the Keeper needs to position to defend appropriately.

In the scenario below the White Forward on the left of the screen, just successfully did an overlap on your left defender, so the logical move is to defend against the immediate threat and protect the near post.

(Goal Follow View)

(Keeper View)

In the blink of an eye – the attacker can transition the threat from the left side of the pitch to the right with the proper strike on the ball, leaving the defender out of position to defend. Note the very fast service and ball movement from the left to the right side of the field below.

(Goal Follow View)

(Keeper View)

The time needed for a foot moving shift toward the threat and defending of the keeper needs to happen in a fractions of seconds, or the result is the Goalkeeper being out of position to defend the crossed ball.

One of the reasons Goalkeepers tend to take more time to mature into the game is that visual coaching clues and learning could only be obtained on the pitch through repetition, but now they can improve their game knowledge through 3D simulation. Watching, learning and understanding the keys to “Threat Assessment” over and over again is what makes visualizing with MOTI’s Soccer Training Platform Mobile App invaluable to fast tracking the learning curve of Goalkeepers.

Click the image above to watch the Keeper’s Perspective

Through the Players Eyes

Interview young players and ask them what they like about soccer and I guarantee nearly 99% of them will say quite simply, “it’s fun!”

Why do they play? “To hang out with friends.”

How do they learn the game? “By playing,” “from watching it on TV and going to (MLS) games” and “seeing older players at tournaments or in high school matches.”

Who inspires them? “The professionals and (their) coach.”

Young players love to love the game – to score goals and play in drills and games where they get to express themselves. They often show up time after time because their friends are teammates and their teammates become lifelong friends. They look up to professionals but the professionals are “out there” but their coach, who is right in front of them day after day, is usually their most immediate and consistent role model.

With this type of adoration from young players it is imperative that their coaches up their own game – show up prepared and ready to inspire.

Ignoring Recreational Training?

Why does US Soccer ignore “Recreational Soccer” training, their largest talent pool?

Recreational soccer (6 – 12 year old players) typically is organized and run by parent volunteer coaches whom receive an hour or two training at the initiation of the season. Often training involves reminders of how to handle medical, or weather emergencies as well as concussion detection and having the “two” adults at all times policy for parent and player safety. Ball handing techniques are relegated to 30 minutes of orientation for the parent coaches and sometimes 1 practice for players. This is almost universal across the US. READ MORE

Soccer is Evolving: How do you Handle Change?

The modern game is changing and every head coach, assistant coach, player and parent needs to take notice. How are all these integral elements and branches of the game embracing the new challenges and performing tasks and meeting demands to keep the game moving forward?

The global game of soccer has seen massive changes in how the game is presented to consumers. When satellites were able to broadcast
International games across the world in the early 1980’s right into homes, the convenience to watch the beautiful game created changes. I had a 12 foot span dish in my yard and was able to scan the world and receive live feeds of soccer games, enabling me to conveniently observe and learn so many vital nuances of the Worlds game. Rush forward to today, and in a relatively short span, technology allows us all to watch this spectacular display of World Soccer Skills from an 18 inch dish or a cable service. One step ahead of that is the ability to stream games and content from the Internet into a laptop, iPad, tablet or even a smart phone, making mobile watching a reality. Every game watched is a building block to understanding the complexities of the game and is an educational tool not to be missed.

Your day to day life has changed for the better with all the Mobile Apps
that are available to make your life easier. Soccer is no different. Now
Soccer Apps are there at your fingertips to enhance your education and sort available information into manageable and accessible files.

The new norm in schools is to have all the student’s course and year of
curriculum in a iPad or Tablet. Books and paper are no longer being used. If this is the new educational norm why wouldn’t we want our soccer players to have the preferred dissemination of soccer Techniques and Practice Plans in their hands so they can learn from the ‘Neck Up’ and be better prepared and organized going into practice.

Looking for good practice sessions and solid content from the internet can be daunting and so time consuming. You will find you do not have enough time to view, review, catalogue and select age and gender specific content that shows appropriate progressions and meaningful coaching points with refined curriculum. Video is cumbersome and is so ‘Old School’.

If you had the time to invest in researching the techniques you need to
have each player develop at each age group, how many videos on the internet would you have to screen? How many hours would that require?

Would you be acquiring another video series that players and coaches would embrace and utilize? Then you need to pair up the necessary tactical information to activities to reinforce the techniques you want players to learn. How many hours are you willing to spend, or more to the point, do you have time in your schedule to devote to that type of exhausting endeavor? Now you need to assemble this so players and coaches can view them in the proper sequence and use them in their sessions. How will you accomplish that? Then of course the question is, can you monitor whether players and coaches are using the materials you devoted hours to researching, gathering and distributing to them.

This is a full time commitment to training content development that is a
complicated platform.

“There are solutions available for handing this process that can save you hundreds of hours. I work with just such a company. MOTI Sports does it all for you… or as much as you want” and keeps it simple.

Having the ability to have Techniques and Training Sessions in a gaming
platform where you can use a mobile device, smart phone or tablet to zoom and pinch the screen activity. This format allows frame by frame viewing of 3D Images and activities to enhance the experience and engagement of the user. Visual information with voice over coaching points shortens the learning curve for both players and coaches. Having Technical Skill Elements in Motion Capture where you can zoom, pinch, rotate to any view and perspective, viewing from above is really close to virtual reality. From below, you can see all the Plyometrics of foot prints and ball movement, try that with video.

The MOTI App has analytics that give feedback to players, parents and Club DOC’, and Administrators allowing tracking of how much time each player has spent logged on to a Technique or Practice plan, This can be a validated true reflection of how prepared the player is for practice and game performance. The concept of doing soccer practice at home can now be a reality and monitored. Spending 15 to 30 daily minutes in a home basement, the garage, in a yard or a bedroom can be reviewed and used to determine the true interest and dedication to improvement each player has. Paper practice sessions are obsolete, now replaced by hand held or pocketed devices. Technology and the game of soccer are blended and ready to show you Animated 3D sessions. Pleasing and clear depictions of the beautiful game illustrate the progressions and beneficial curriculum, presented in gender specific dynamic Practice Plans. By the way, the MOTI Sports Practice Plans are really just templates and can be fully adjustable and can be easily customized and modified with new drawings, video and other media.

I have seen firsthand the engagement my Grandkids have with iPads and smart phones. This is their preferred method of entertainment and education. Give these players the 23 Techniques of Passing, Dribbling, Control, Ball movement and the moves that show how to beat and go past players, and we have them engaged and visualizing the intricate details of every key development aspect of Soccer.

Handle change by going to look at or give me a call at

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Alan Merrick