The story behind our soccer development program
The ReThinkSoccer Development Curriculum is a “Basic and Intermediate” soccer development program that has had a marked impact on my soccer club and has been instrumental in our club’s success.
In 2010, I started looking for a player development curriculum so that our coaches could maintain consistency with training and game coaching. As we all know, the success of each team is dependent on who is coaching the current season… and each coach brings their own history and coaching methods. I soon realized that there was nothing available to help a club like my own, so I set out to try to put together a program that could benefit the players, coaches, and parents.
I contacted many national organizations, clubs, and individuals over the next few years and found pieces and parts but no comprehensive plan. In February 2013, I organized a ten-day trip to Manchester United in collaboration with the NSCAA, to get an inside look at their academy and first team training. At this time, we had the good fortune of being able to go on the field, inside the classroom, and have quality time with the academy coaches at Manchester United. The invaluable information that was gathered over this time was brought back and put into a “Basic and Intermediate” curriculum that was based on positive coaching and skill development. The four pillars of the player development we focused on were Technical, Mental, Physical, and Tactical.
Over time, much has been added to the program and it has become a roadmap that features online learning management education, testing for coaches, and a secure website with session plans that incorporate videos and activities designed for every age group within the program. With this system, we now have parent, novice, and experienced coaches all executing the same plan. While ReThinkSoccer de-emphasizes winning up to the high school age, our club has seen a significant increase in winning due to the skill level of even our youngest players.
Over the course of a few weeks, the ReThinkSoccer Development Program can increase the technical ability of older players with the repetitious skill drills and positive coaching. Our club has seen the most profound impact on the eight to twelve age group. The younger the player begins the skill drills, the more exceptional the player becomes. ReThinkSoccer has five very specific gross motor movements with the ball that form the foundation of every player’s technical ability. Once that solid foundation is set, more advanced ideas and concepts can be added. Individual creativity and fun are strongly encouraged within the focused framework of ReThinkSoccer, while allowing mistakes without fear of failure. These skill drills are the cornerstone of the ReThinkSoccer Development Program.
Players that have a strong base in the pillars of the program at a young age will instinctively move on to more difficult concepts within the development model. With this system, a ten year old with four years of training in ReThinkSoccer will be ahead of a novice thirteen year old just entering the program. For this reason, the ReThinkSoccer curriculum also labels the “Ages and Stages” curriculum as “Basic Curriculum” and “Advanced Curriculum.”
Our coaching staff has noticed an unexpected benefit with the players that have been engaged in the ReThinkSoccer curriculum over time. The players are making remarkably better decisions on the ball and have an increased soccer IQ as a result. As a player becomes more proficient in the five gross motor movements, the player realizes that there is more than one option in every soccer situation. Without interruption from the coach, the players begin to choose and execute the correct option in training and game settings.
The ReThinkSoccer curriculum is a soccer development program that is simple to initiate within a club. The beginning starts with basic training for coaches along with the Learning Management System (LMS) online learning and testing. Once the first two steps are completed, each coach is given access to the ReThinkSoccer website with session plans that include linked videos and activities. The concepts and structure are simple and when the coach and club stick to the program the results are amazing.