The Advanced Training Program (ATP) is a unique training opportunity focusing on technical training with a 1:1 ball-to-player ratio. The ATP sessions are built around the philosophy of technical training through repetition and teaching of proper soccer technique. The training sessions are currently held at the FC Boulder outdoor Futsal court located at Platte Middle School in Boulder.
The combination of the deadened Futsal Ball, the unique outdoor playing surface, and the small number of players (usually 5v5) on the court, ensure a development of skills that simply cannot be acquired in the same amount of time on a typical grass surface. Moreover, the small numbers on the field require that players adopt the key principles of play that coaches work diligently to instill: defensive pressure, cover, and support… offensive combinations, angles, spacing, and passing lanes. Young players intuitively learn and adopt key principles of play that translate to the big field. Futsal is widely recognized as an essential component of the development of the new (and more highly skilled) North American player.
The game of Futsal is one avenue for promoting a “street soccer” type environment in which players are called upon to meet the demands of the speed of play, creativity, and technical proficiency needed to play in a small and fast-paced game. As the argument goes, soccer in the U.S. has for years been largely played on nicely mowed suburban fields a couple of times a week, between the hours of 4-5:30, when the youth soccer clubs hold their weekly practices. As we know, many of the most talented players in the world did not grow up within such a structured soccer environment. Rather, they played on beaches, in the alleyways, at the park, on the school playground, from sunrise to sunset.
Futsal training is our attempt to fight back — to even the playing field! There is no reason that U.S. players cannot develop the sublime touch and finesse seen in kids their own age from all over the world. We just need to institutionalize the sort of creative play that other children across the world grow up knowing and engaging. Enter Futsal.
Futsal is a rapidly growing part of the U.S. soccer context. Played on a small court surface (rather than grass), and played with a smaller “dead” ball that demands skill, finesse, and proper technique, futsal is a mirror of the organic training environment in other countries. The hard court (as opposed to grass), and the dead ball, make for an interesting combination: futsal demands speed of play, creativity, and technical proficiency. While the ball moves more slowly (imagine a heavy size 4 soccer ball that doesn’t bounce much), the playing surface is true: no bad hops, and no excuses for poor touches. On top of that, the close confines of the playing area (and a ball that arrives more slowly than a real soccer ball) ensure that players are under pressure almost immediately upon receipt of the ball. Thus…they are forced to develop speed of play and skill. No quick touches equals no more ball at your feet.
On top of all of this, futsal is just plain fun to play. The speed of the game is high. All players are forced to be involved; nobody gets to hide. Lots of goals are scored (the best part of playing the game!). Creativity is a necessity. And, given the pace of the game, the fitness acquired while playing futsal is remarkable.
We hope you will join us in embracing Futsal as an important tool in the training and development of the youth player. Sessions in the spring 2014 are being offered for U11-U14 Boys and Girls Tier 1 teams – FC Boulder is planning for ways for more teams to be involved with Futsal training in the coming months.
Please send ATP specific questions via email to Curt Thompson.