The Nortac Academy Handbook will answer all of your questions about the program, even those you didn't know you had.

Nortac Mod Soccer Academy Handbook

For Coaches & Parents

Fall 2018 Edition

Thank you for being a part of the Nortac Mod Soccer Academy. Without volunteers such as you, this program would not be possible. This guidebook will help familiarize you with how the program works, the club's development philosophy, and the program's rules, recommendations, and guidelines.

Please Note: We want to grow our program as much as possible. Please spread word of our programs to your friends, relatives, neighbors, and classmates and encourage them to join us. Registration information can be found at www.Nortac.org. After the official registration period ends, new players will be accepted on a space available basis

OUR GOAL: The goal of the Nortac Mod Soccer Academy is to provide a first rate developmental environment for young soccer players and their coaches in a fun and stimulating environment at an affordable cost. At these youngest age groups of organized soccer, we firmly believe that volunteer coaches working under the supervision of an experienced Technical Director and staff coaches can deliver an exceptional experience to our participants while keeping the program affordable

OUR PHILOSOPHY OF PLAYER DEVELOPMENT:

We believe that the proper environment to develop young players in the 21st century must include the following elements:

  • Proper, Age-appropriate training and instruction in the techniques and tactics of soccer
  • Training that emphasizes and encourages possession of the ball & creative, skillful play as opposed to an over reliance on physicality and "kick and chase" tactics
  • A commitment to developing every player and team
  • A commitment to developing every coach
  • An appropriately competitive environment for each age of play
  • Healthy competition but an emphasis on participation and development. No scores or standing will be kept for league matches
  • And above all, and priority to make soccer FUN and ENJOYABLE for the players involved

Nuts and Bolts:

COACH & ASSISTANT COACH:

Each team in the program shall have a designated head coach and at least one designated assistant coach. Coaches for the MV Mod Soccer Academy are all strictly volunteers. The majority of coaches are parents or relatives of the participants. On occasion we may also have high school and college players who volunteer to coach. All coaches who are under 18 years of age must work under the supervision of an adult at all times. All adults who are involved with the team on a regular basis (coach, assistant, team manager) must register through Nortac Soccer Club and go through a simple risk management clearance process before working with the kids.

Our Coaches come from a variety of backgrounds, and previous soccer knowledge is preferred but not required. The ability to work with children and a willingness to follow the program philosophies and guidelines are more critical to success than soccer know-how, and some of our best and most effective coaches in the past have come from limited soccer backgrounds. The coaching commitment is only about 3 hours per week, and ongoing on-the-job training and support are provided by our Technical Director. If you are interested in getting involved as a coach, contact Scott Nelson at doc@nortac.org

INDIVIDUAL TEAM TRAINING SESSIONS:

At U6 and above, each team is expected to train on their own once a week. For these ages one hour is the recommended duration of a training session. The time and location for this training session will be chosen by the team's Head coach. Right now there are no set blocks of space set aside to train, but there are many Tacoma Parks in the area suitable for training and you are encouraged to find a space that suits you. If you decide to try and use any school fields, make sure you contact the school to get permission (it should be free but they will want paperwork filled out)

Coaches are free to make up their own (age appropriate) training activities, can use the Training Plans from previous Mod Academy sessions, or mix and match as they see fit. In addition, supplemental games and activities will be made available to Nortac coaches.

Each players should bring soccer ball, shin guards, water, and clothing appropriate for the weather to every training session

ACADEMY TRAINING SESSIONS:

In addition, all players and coaches will train together at a weekly Academy Training Session. Training sessions are scheduled for Wednesday evenings at Jane Clark Park. Times TBA

Weekly training plans will be sent out to coaches 24-48 hours before each academy session. Parents may also receive copies of the training plans by emailing doc@nortac.org . These training plans are very simple one page information sheets and short videos that will explain the activities for each day. Coaches are expected to familiarize themselves with these training plans before the session starts,

Head coaches are expected to attend and actively participate in the Mod Academy Sessions each week. If you cannot attend do to scheduling conflicts, you are expected to send an assistant or properly risk management cleared adult to help.

All assistant coaches are invited and encouraged to come to the Academy sessions and take full part in the training.

Each players should bring soccer ball, shin guards, water, and clothing appropriate for the weather to every training session

PLAYER SAFETY AND SUPERVISION AT TRAINING AND GAMES:

Coaches and assistant coaches are expected to do everything they can to ensure a safe training environment, but for players at these young ages the parents must retain their share of this responsibility too. Please do not treat your soccer coach or the Mod Academy as a baby sitter. If you are not going to be on site for Individual Team Training or Academy sessions, you should designate another parent to be responsible to look after your child in your absence, and not expect that responsibility to fall on your volunteer coaches.

Coaches should never be left alone with anyone else's child except for their own, so make sure this never happens. Again, if you must be off site during training or games, make sure another parent takes responsibility for your child if you are delayed or cannot return before the event ends

GAME SCHEDULES:

For the 2018 Fall Season, Games will be on Saturday mornings, starting September 22nd and running for eight consecutive weeks

PLAYING RULES:

Rules and Guidelines:

Player's Equipment: Shin guards are REQUIRED and players shall not participate in games or training without them,

Playing Time: All players, regardless of ability, attendance, etc, are entitled to play a minimum of 50% of every game. It is the coach's responsibility to ensure that all players get equal opportunities to participate and play.

Referees: Mod games played between Nortac teams will be refereed by the coaches. Perhaps "moderated" is a better word. This works very well, and disputes between coaches have been extremely rare. If anything, the ability to call fouls whenever they want tends to make most coaches less anxious and excited on the sidelines and there is generally much less sideline drama than you find in other soccer programs when a referee is in charge. At 2013-2010 we allow the coaches to be out there on the field among the kids if needed. At 2011 and older, coaches should stay on the sidelines and be as unobtrusive as possible. In addition to guiding the players in regards to when the ball is in and out of play, how to restart the ball, etc, the coach's main duty is the safety of the players. Any coach can call a foul at any time, and coaches should not dispute each other's calls. Whistles are not necessary but can be used. Typically in Mod Soccer there are not many fouls to call, but fouls should be called for instructional and safety purposes. And while it is important that the kids learn the proper rules of the game, coaches should refrain from nit-picking and being a stickler for minor points of the rules or calling fouls in order to give their group a competitive advantage. The main objective is to keep the game flowing, but in a safe, fun, and fair manner that allows kids to play properly and use their skills.

Any conflicts or issues that cannot be easily resolved should be brought to the attention of the Technical Director or Field Marshall immediately

Note about fouls: the most important theme as far as safety goes is the proper use of the arms. Pushing (not ramming) shoulder to shoulder is allowed as long as excessive force is not used, but arms and elbows should be kept down. Grabbing, pushing and shoving with hands, and shirt pulling are all against the rules and should never be tolerated. Players need to learn the proper way to defend & challenge for the ball and "Letting the kids play" does not mean "letting them foul each other". Kicking and tripping players are both fouls and should always be called as well. Aggressive play in itself is not to be discouraged, but reckless play and the use of unnecessary or excessive force against an opponent should be immediately clamped down at these ages. Again, players are responsible for the outcomes of their own actions and behaviors, regardless of whether those actions and behaviors were intentional or not. "I was going for the ball" is not an excuse for illegal or violent contact or actions.

Home & Away Uniforms: Because all age groups have the same uniform color, scrimmage vests will be provided to differentiate the two teams on game day. The "away" team (the team listed second in the schedule) shall wear the scrimmage vests unless the coaches reach a different agreement on their own

Spring Soccer Specific Rules:

2013-2012 Age Group:

  • Players will play 3v3
  • No goalkeepers
  • 3' wide Pugg Goals
  • 20 minute halves (By agreement of coaches, teams may choose to have 4 x10 minute quarters)
  • Size 3 Soccer Ball
  • No offside (players shall not be coached to "cherry pick" in front of opponent's goal)
  • Defenders are not allowed to touch or hold on to the goals. This helps reduce "puppy guarding". This shall not be penalized by a free kick, but players shall be corrected when it happens
  • **Important*** All restarts (Kickoffs, Goal Kicks, Corners, and Throw ins) will be replaced by a serve from a coach. Players will return to their half of the field and form a triangle shape before the ball is served
  • There are no free kicks. If a foul occurs, stop the game, reset the teams as described above, and serve the ball to the player who was fouled

2011 and Above Age Groups:

  • Teams play 4v4 or 3v3 depending on the number of program participants and teams. We play 4v4 when possible
  • No goalkeepers
  • Modified Small Goals (or 3' wide Pugg Goals may be used if small goals are not available)
  • 25 minute halves
  • Size 4 Soccer Ball
  • No offside (players shall not be coached to "cherry pick" in front of opponent's goal)
  • Players may not touch or hold on to the goals and shall not "Puppy Guard". Coaches shall try to influence this behavior and if this does not work we will make rules to penalize those who do.
  • **Important***

Goal Kicks are taken from the edge of the penalty box (7 yards from the goal) instead of near the goal line. DO NOT ALLOW GOAL KICK TO BE TAKEN FROM THE GOAL MOUTH.

Also on goal kicks, opposing players should retreat into their half of the field until the ball is kicked

  • All kicks are indirect. Players shall not shoot directly at goal on a free kick
  • For fouls that take place inside the penalty area, the offended team will be awarded an indirect free kick at the edge of the box

COACHING BEHAVIORS

If you want your players to perform better and enjoy the game more, then less is definitely more when it comes to coaching from the sidelines (or from the field). Kids should be able to play and explore the game without a constant stream of commands and instructions from the adults, and will almost always play better without that distraction.

Think about your own experiences as an adult. If you need to perform a complex task are you going to do better if you are free to focus and concentrate on that task, or do better if you have someone constantly yelling at you?

Positive comments and feedback are fine, as long as they do not become distracting, but try to limit instructions as much as possible while the ball is in play. At these ages, a brief reminder (ideally one familiar key word or phrase) or simple instruction while the ball is out of play is the most effective way to coach.

The general tone of any coaching during the game should always be positive, and there is never, ever, a reason to make negative comments to or about any of the players, coaches, or sidelines

PARENT AND SPECTATOR BEHAVIOR

As stated above, we are asking coaches to limit the amount of active coaching they do during the game in order to enhance the player's enjoyment and development. This will only work if the parents and other spectators do not try to "fill the void". Parents and other spectators are free to encourage the players on the field, but should not coach or give any instructions during practices or games (even yelling "go" is an instruction). Along with being distracting, the spectators often offer advice contradictory to what the coach is teaching them to do in training (a perfect example is the command "boot it!", something that no young soccer player should ever be ordered to do). Let the kids play.

As with the coaches, no spectator ever has any reason to make negative comments or remarks to opposing players, coaches, or sidelines

Coaches are ultimately responsible for the behavior of both their coaching staff and their sidelines. Any issues that cannot be resolved on the team level should immediately be brought to the attention of the Technical Director or the Field Marshall

For more information about why we strongly discourage coaching from the sidelines, please read the article below that I wrote a few years ago for Soccer America Magazine.

http://www.socceramerica.com/article/44578/sideline-coaching-dump-the-gps-and-let-the-kids.html

TECHNICAL DIRECTOR

This program is under the active supervision of Technical Director Scott Nelson. Scott's main roles and responsibilities include:

  • Designing and Organizing weekly Academy Sessions
  • Coach training and education
  • Parent education

Scott has been coaching soccer for 24 years. He has coached all ages from 2 year olds to adults, and all ability levels from recreational soccer to Premier, High School, and the Olympic Development Program. Scott also spent two years coaching the youth teams of the USL Seattle Sounders in the regional Super-Y League. He holds an Expert in Youth Development from the prestigious MBP School of Coaches in Barcelona, Spain, a National C License and a National Youth License from the United States Soccer Federation, The Advanced National License from United Soccer Coaches (formerly know as the NSCAA) of America, and Children's and Adult coaching licenses from the Austrian Soccer Federation. Scott spent ten years on the Washington Youth Soccer Instructional staff, where his specialty was training coaches to work with very young players.

In addition to his work with the Mod Academy, Scott serves as the Nortac & Sparta Director of Coaching

Appendix: Additional information for those who want to know more about our development philosophy

AGENDA & OBJECTIVES FOR PLAYER DEVELOPMENT: An Age Appropriate Model

2014-2013 AGENDA

Main Theme: "Me and my ball" (for u5's: sometimes "Me just doing my own thing")

Technical focus: The technical focus is on dribbling. Not just dribbling to go past opponents, but to keep and protect the ball against opponents. We must teach players to be comfortable manipulating the ball with both feet, with or without pressure.

We do not actively teach passing at this age but the environment we create does facilitate many of our young players to start passing at earlier ages than they would in other youth soccer programs. DO NOT DEMAND THAT PLAYERS PASS THE BALL AT THIS AGE. Doing so will create players who are uncomfortable with and even afraid of the ball. The decision to pass the ball or dribble should always be left up to the player. If players do decide to pass, it should be to give the ball to a buddy who is in a better position or has more time and space, never to "get rid" of the ball under pressure.

Main Technical Focus

  • Always look up after receiving the ball before you try to do something with it
  • Dribbling in a straight line at pace with both feet*
  • Dribbling to change direction/avoid an opponent with both feet*
  • Dribbling to go past an opponent with both feet*

Secondary technical focus:

  • Shooting at goal with the instep with both feet*

*In the early developmental stages it is normally very easy to get gets to use both feet. Kids will naturally want to use their dominant foot, but can easily use both when encouraged/reminded by coaches and parents. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT, because once a player achieves a measure of competence with just one foot, their tendency will be to avoid using the other foot as much as possible. A one footed player will not be able to compete at a high level of play when they get older.

Individual Tactical Focus - Attacking: "Attack, attack, attack!" + "Keep the ball". Players should be encouraged to go forward and attack via dribbling from almost everywhere on the pitch, even if losing the ball or mistakes might lead to a goal against. Players should be heavily discouraged from simply kicking the ball down the field. Passing is not to be demanded or emphasized at this age but players may pass if it is THEIR choice to do so.

Individual Tactical Focus - Defending: "Go get the ball!" The only focus defensively at this age is on having an aggressive mentality and encouraging a willingness to put immediate and constant pressure on the attackers. Teaching patience is not a priority at this age. The focus should be on encouraging timid players to be more aggressive and on making sure that aggressive players are staying in control and not challenging recklessly

Team Tactical Focus: "Team Shape" The concepts of team shape will be introduced as a triangle formation. Team shape will only be emphasized on restarts (Goal kicks, throw ins, corner kicks, kick offs, free kicks)

2012-2011 Agenda

Main Theme: "Me and my ball. And a team mate too"

Technical focus: We must CONTINUE to teach players to be comfortable manipulating the ball with both feet, with or without pressure. But dribbling DOES NOT mean just putting your head down and charging blindly towards goal, it also means being able to hold onto the ball under pressure of an opponent, and to escape that pressure as well.

Proper passing and receiving technique will also be introduced at this age and should be practiced a little bit at every session. It is normal for players to do a lot more dribbling than passing at this age group, but players should also become increasingly aware of the options their team mates present when they receive the ball. Adults should not prompt players to pass but let them decide for themselves, and the ball should only be passed to a team mate who is in a better position to attack or has more time and space, and should not be passed just to "get rid" of the ball when faced with pressure.

Main Technical Focus

  • Dribbling in a straight line at pace with both feet*
  • Dribbling to change direction/avoid an opponent with both feet*
  • Dribbling to go past an opponent with both feet*

Secondary technical focus:

  • Shooting at goal with the instep with both feet*
  • Passing and receiving with the inside of the foot with both feet*
  • Tackling

*In the early developmental stages it is normally very easy to get gets to use both feet. Kids will naturally want to use their dominant foot, but can easily use both when encouraged/reminded by coaches and parents. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT, because once a player achieves a measure of competence with just one foot, their tendency will be to avoid using the other foot as much as possible. A one footed player will not be able to compete at a high level of play when they get older

Individual Tactical Focus - Attacking: "Attack, attack, attack!" + "Keep the ball". Players should be encouraged to attack via dribbling from almost everywhere on the pitch Players should be encouraged to think about identifying and exploiting the easiest route to goal (hint: it's usually not a straight line). Players should be heavily discouraged from simply kicking the ball down the field. Advanced players should be encouraged to look for team mates to pass to, but passing should not be demanded by the coaches

Individual Tactical Focus - Defending: "Go get the ball!" + "Get Goal Side". Continued focus at this age is on having an aggressive mentality and encouraging a willingness to put immediate and constant pressure on the attackers. Development starts on the concept of getting "Goal Side" (between the ball and the goal) when the opponent has possession

Team Tactical Focus: "Team Shape" The concepts of team shape will be introduced as a diamond formation. Team shape will be emphasized on restarts (Goal kicks, throw ins, corner kicks, kick offs, free kicks), where the objective is for the players to automatically reset their positions on a restart without the intervention of the coach. Team shape within the flow of play using a simple but effective methodology our Technical Director learned while spending 5 weeks in Barcelona attending the MBP School of Coaches

COMPETITIVE SOCCER VS MOD SOCCER: Deliberate Differences

If you come from an "Old School" coaching background, this approach is might seem alien to you, but I can tell you that following these ideas will result in a much improved soccer experience for your players and faster development for them as well. Even the Germans, who as a culture have a high regard for discipline and regimentation in all activities, have recognized that a more kid-friendly, child-centered, and fun approach to training was necessary for their youth players. The German Soccer Federation has embraced and expounded on all of the same concepts presented in this manual, and the result has been the most skillful and creative generation of young players since the post WWII generation that learned their soccer in the streets (And yet another World Champion in 2014).

The bottom line is that in order for kids to have the best experience and fastest development possible, we coaches need to relate to them on their own level and understand what makes them tick. Instead of teaching them how to drill, we need to learn how to let them play.

Here are some INTENTIONAL, DESIRED differences between little kid's soccer (U6-U8) and competitive soccer (Teenage Premier Level, High School, College, etc) as adapted from the German Soccer Federation's training manuals:

Competitive Soccer

Kid's Soccer

Training

Performance driven, goal oriented towards the next game

Provide new experiences, fun, and opportunities to learn and develop

Games

Emphasis on tactics and systems of play

Emphasis on free play with minimal interference

Long Term Goals

Championships, trophies, promotion to a higher league

To build a foundation for lifelong participation in sport

Success is measured by:

Game results, development of elite players for the highest level of competition

Development of ALL kids according to their individual abilities

Coach is measured by:

Game & Season Results

Development and enjoyment of ALL players

And while most of us will look at a chart like this and say "this is obvious", the truth is that most of us who have been involved in youth soccer or other sports even for a brief period have run into kid's coaches who focus more on column one and less on column two, even for very young players.

HELPING YOUR KIDS DEVELOP: A Parent's Guide

Development is an inefficient process. Some kids make progress very quickly. Some improve in fits and spurts. Some seem to barely improve at all and then one day a switch seems to "just flick on". Every child is different. But in general it is safe to say that the players who tend to develop the fastest often have one thing in common: they are exposed to soccer outside the training sessions and organized games.

  • Kids who frequently play soccer at recess or with friends and family members will improve more quickly than those who do not
  • Kids who play with a ball on their own outside of training will improve faster than those who do not
  • Kids who play with their parents and siblings will improve faster than those who do not
  • Kids who watch a lot of soccer will improve faster than those who do not
  • *****Important: When very young kids (U7 and under) play on their own or with others, those who mostly dribble the ball will improve much faster than those who mostly kick the ball back and forth. Although most really young kids love to kick the ball as far and hard as they can, just whacking the ball around will not help you become a good soccer player.

The question is: how do we get our kids to be involved in these activities, and the answer is that we have to foster an enthusiasm and love for the game in our kids. If your child comes from a family that is involved in and loves the sport, then your child is going to have a greater likelihood of adopting this attitude, because enthusiasm is something that is caught, not taught.

Personally, I've never seen a case where an adult could make a kid love or be enthusiastic about any sport. Either there is a spark there or there is not. But I have seen plenty of adults (both coaches and parents) who could either fan that spark into a flame or else extinguish that spark entirely. I came from a household that regarded soccer as "that funny game with foreigners running around in shorts", but when my parents saw the enthusiasm that I had for the game, they were very quick to encourage and support me in every way they could. The things they did for me are the same things you can do for your own kids:

  • Encourage them to play and practice on their own (the more touches on the ball, the better you get)
  • Seek out opportunities for them to play (leagues, camps, clinics, indoor, pick-up games with friends, etc)
  • Support and encourage them unconditionally. Don't be constantly critiquing or giving them advice unless they are seeking it out from you. They don't have to perform at a superstar level to enjoy the game.
  • Develop your own interest in, knowledge of, and enthusiasm for the game
  • Play with them! You don't have to be a superstar to play soccer with a 6 year old.

To this final point, which some experts see as the real "X Factor" in early player development, Nortac is developing a program called Play At Home which will provide tips and suggestions to help you and your child do exactly that

As a coach, I have seen well-meaning parents who wanted to push their kids to be great soccer players and only succeeded in making them hate the game. The most common ways to do this, especially at these younger ages, are to:

  • Force the kids to play against their will. (making them try it for a season is fine, but if they don't like it, it might be better to try a different activity or wait until they are more interested)
  • Be overly critical of a players performance/ ability level/ attention span/ work rate, etc (especially when players are compared negatively to other players who may have are older or have athletic or maturity advantages over the other kids)
  • Place an emphasis on winning over having fun (For every winner there will always be a loser. If the game is only fun if you win, why bother? Why would a kid want to do an activity that may only be "fun" half the time?)
  • Turn the game into "work" instead of "play" (which did you prefer when you were seven?)

The bottom line is that soccer for young players is not about winning trophies and building champion teams, it is about fostering a love for the game and hopefully building a basis for a healthy lifetime participation in sport. The great thing about this age group is that the basis for this preparation is the same regardless of whether the player is going to be a future recreational player duffing around with their friends or a highly competitive college or even national team player someday. So we all need to do our part to kindle that love and enthusiasm for the sport, because that is going to be the foundation for success