Skills Academy

The CWSC Skills Centre is a program that gives 6-19 year olds of all abilities the opportunity to get active, learn new soccer/futsal skills and enjoy the game. Our aim is to develop better and more technically gifted soccer players, but also to give every child the opportunity to be the best that they can be.

 

CWSC Skills Training is based on a model that helps players of all abilities to grow, develop their skills and to reach their potential. This model encompasses four key attributes that are vital for any developing young soccer player: physical, technical, tactical and mental pillars; helping children to develop more than just their soccer skills – we’ll help them to gain confidence, build self-esteem, learn to work as a team and improve their decision

Calgary West Soccer Club has designed a specific training methodology for the educational approach of teaching soccer in our club. The main aim of this project is to provide a progressive teaching structure which supports all our coaches and players to comply with our club’s philosophy. In other words, this work represents the “how” in the whole process of educating and shaping soccer players at Calgary West.

Calgary West Soccer Club has designed a specific training methodology for the educational approach of teaching soccer in our club. The main aim of this project is to provide a progressive teaching structure which supports all our coaches and players to comply with our club’s philosophy. In other words, this work represents the “how” in the whole process of educating and shaping soccer players at Calgary West.

The selected method or the way of teaching is called “integral training.” This approach emphasizes the notion that the main skills required to play soccer cannot be isolated from the understanding of the game.

Primarily, we want our players to develop at four different levels: coordinative (technical), cognitive (tactical or decision making), mental (socio-emotional) and physical, which also forms the 4 “pillars” of our learning methodology.

The integral training method designates these four skills as “pillars” in view of the fact that all of them relate to each other and to the game. For example, our dribbling technique can be perfect, but if we dribble against five opponents or in our own box, chances are the other team may score. In other words, we have to teach skills according to game situations. In addition, if our tactical decisions in the field are always right, but we cannot execute the dribbling for lack of technique, we fail again. Moreover, even if we are tactically and technically perfect, our socio-emotional skills must be good in order to handle the mental pressure that the game puts on the players. Finally, we need a physical response that allows us to be competitive at soccer. If our dribbling is too slow because we cannot run quickly enough, again we are in trouble.

This is basically how the four “pillars” relate to each other and the reason why Calgary West wants to develop strong players in all the aspects of the game. Our learning framework therefore supports players to use technical and decision making (“tactical”) strategies to solve a situation they encounter on the field in the game. Importantly our methodology encourages our players to use their technique and decision making in game situations.

Our methodology takes into account the existence of different learning stages during the acquisition of all soccer pillars. From U9 to U13, we will give clear preference to the technical pillar. U9 and younger is the Fundamentals stage, U11 to U13 the learning to train stage and U15 is the training to train stage and U17 is training to compete stage. Only at U19 is the training to win stage. (Wellness to World Cup: Long-Term Player Development. Canadian Soccer Association)

Having outstanding technique is essential to being a great soccer player, but again, it is not enough. That is why the teaching of the technique has to be progressive, from the explanation and demonstration of the technical “steps” to the successful execution of that technique in a real game. As can be inferred from the lesson plans, the first phase is to teach the technical “steps” which are fundamental for any technical skill, preferably no more than two. For instance, when we start teaching step-overs to U8 players, we explain that we fake with one leg going to one side, while with the outside of the other foot, we push the ball to the other side.

These essential “steps” of a technical skill are taught through low intensity drills. Once at least 80% of the players have acquired the skill, we begin imparting additional knowledge. For example, firstly, we can simply alter the pace and the direction of the run (diagonal runs are harder). This is the first “phase” of skill development. We call these “phase” of learning which we can apply to every skill development. At the second phase, we incorporate other skills, such as dribbling with step over plus shot or turns. In the third phase, we move to passive opposition in drills against static or passive obstacles. Then we progress to “half-active” opposition in 1v1 or 2v1 situations and then to active opposition in 1v1 to 2v1 situations. At this stage, there is a huge difference as we start teaching the “why”, that is, the tactical or decision making factor of any technical skill. For example, in a 2v1 drill, we should insist on using dribbling as a tool to attract the opponent so that our teammate has more time and space when receiving the ball. Alternatively, if our teammate is completely open, there is no need for us to dribble in a 1v1, as our teammate has a 1v0 situation already. The fourth phase involves group drills, such as keep-away. For instance, a 6v4 keep-away with 4 mandatory touches before passing will be an ideal drill to work on dribbling with decision making perspective. The fifth and final phase will consist of team drills, that is, real game. We can, for example, have a game in which there is a man-defense. In this case, dribbling becomes very important because passing is more complicated, as everybody is covered.

It is pivotal that teams do not skip any of these stage, particularly phases1 and 2. A coach needs to understand when and how to progress players through the stages of skill acquisition based on the development of the players. In general, players should be progressed through the stages unless there is 80% ‘success” or skill acquisition. If players are progressed too rapidly through the stages i.e. to game situations, before they have acquired the skills with quality, they will develop “bad habits” and carry these through their “soccer career”.

Primarily, we want our players to develop at four different levels: coordinative (technical), cognitive (tactical or decision making), socio-emotional and conditional (physical), which also forms the 4 “pillars” of our learning methodology.

The integral training method designates these four skills as “pillars” in view of the fact that all of them relate to each other and to the game. For example, our dribbling technique can be perfect, but if we dribble against five opponents or in our own box, chances are the other team may score. In other words, we have to teach skills according to game situations. In addition, if our tactical decisions in the field are always right, but we cannot execute the dribbling for lack of technique, we fail again. Moreover, even if we are tactically and technically perfect, our socio-emotional skills must be good in order to handle the mental pressure that the game puts on the players. Finally, we need a physical response that allows us to be competitive at soccer. If our dribbling is too slow because we cannot run quickly enough, again we are in trouble.

This is basically how the four “pillars” relate to each other and the reason why Calgary West wants to develop strong players in all the aspects of the game. Our learning framework therefore supports players to use technical and decision making (“tactical”) strategies to solve a situation they encounter on the field in the game. Importantly our methodology encourages our players to use their technique and decision making in game situations.

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About Calgary West Soccer Club

The Calgary West Soccer Club is athlete centred.  It believes that all players, regardless of level of play, deserve the opportunity to enjoy the game of soccer and develop to his or her potential.  The underlying purpose of CWSC is to provide a fun development-focused environment that keeps players playing. 

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