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Developing Resilient, Skilled, Intelligent, Young Soccer Players Through Futsal

About True Futsal

"Don't Prepare The Path For The Child, Prepare The Child For The Path, And They Will Find Their Way"*

TrueFutsal was founded on several beliefs: 1. That Futsal is a better way to prepare and develop skilled soccer players;. 2. That there is an over emphasis on team "conquests" vs player development in most organizations; 3. That mental skills can be trained and that they are just as important as technical skills for a player to be successful; and 4. That there should be a higher purpose to a player's sports participation than just winning games. 

1. Better ways to develop skills
: Especially for young players ages 6-12, Futsal is a much better game for a players development. Most of a player's learning comes from playing. The size of the court and speed of Futsal means 6 times more opportunities for a player to touch the ball vs soccer**. When played properly, Futsal encourages players to rotate their positions throughout the game, so players learn the roles & responsibilities of every position and how to move off the ball. Even Goalkeepers are encouraged to dribble and attack with the ball. But it takes more than just Futsal to develop great skills. We train barefoot, we have music playing, we use different size balls, teach ground control and aerial skills, using numerous challenges along the way to help and inspire players to get better. 
2. There is an overemphasis on team "conquests" vs player development: All too frequently, team accomplishments get in the way of individual improvement. All of the bad things associated with youth sports are directly related to an overemphasis on the team's accomplishments: lack of playing time, limited roles, playing restrictions, etc. and it's not just the weaker players who are hurt by this. Often stronger players are placed in one dimensional roles that are best for the team, but won't ultimately help the player excel. That's why our emphasis is on training and in-house competitions. 
3. Mental skills can be trained and are just as important to success: It starts by fostering a "growth mindset" in each player. Everyone no matter how good they are can improve through effort. We therefore stress the importance of effort over accomplishment and use positive reinforcement to recognize and encourage players. We also teach players some simple and practical techniques to help deal with pressure, failure, and even success. We practice these skills regularly to help the player get good at them. In addition, we use thought provoking questions rather than commands to improve their "soccer intelligence". The constant movement and rotation in Futsal provides more opportunities to educate players both on and off the ball.  
4. There should be a higher purpose to playing than just winning games: Everyone loves to win, especially we coaches. But an over emphasis on winning at too young an age can adversely impact a child's overall development and passion for the game. Instead, we help players think about the type of person they want to be, how they would like others to view them. We then help them set goals to achieve that vision of themselves through their training and match play. We teach them how to set goals and self-regulate themselves along the way. We focus on the uniqueness of each individual player and customize our efforts to further that child's development. We also encourage and help players develop leadership qualities in line with their personality. 

When US Soccer started requiring all of their Development Academy players to play Futsal in the winter, there was a sudden surge of interest among youth soccer organizations to add Futsal to their training programs. Unfortunately, few of these programs or coaches had any experience with the game. As a result, some simply started using a Futsal ball on Turf, others used gym floors but continued to play with soccer balls, and some used futsal balls and gym courts but played the game like soccer with forwards and defenders. In none of these instances are coaches teaching or getting the real benefits of Futsal. That is why I decided to call this program TrueFutsal. I wanted to reflect the authenticity and unique experience this program offers. 
Coach Paul

*(Native American, Unknown) **University of Liverpool study
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