5-Bullet Friday: Individual Player Development Tips on how to Accelerate Performance Improvements

I have borrowed the 5 bullet Friday idea from on my favorite performance leaders, Tim Ferris. You can subscribe to  these weekly individual player performance tips here


Technical Training – Increase Contact Time with the Ball

One of the biggest challenges that young Canadian players face is the lack of contact time with the ball.
Young Brazilian players are spending 12-15 hours a week working on their ball skills and young European players are training five or six times each week. Consequently, Canada must adopt the same philosophy towards technical development if we wish to be truly successful in soccer in competition with these nations. Learn More

Training Exercise for the Week – Complete our 4 Box Ball Mastery Exercise – Play Video

Tactical Training – Understand your starting position and roles on the field

The development of young players is much more successful when they understand what is required of them. I advocate that up to U15 young players tactical training should be restricted to developing awareness on the field. In effect, what space can be exploited and decision-making should be developed around what technical skills and movement should be used to exploit this space. Learn More

Physical Preparation – Manage your Training Load 

The speed of the game is quicker and the time that the ball is in play is almost fifteen minutes greater than in the 1990’s. Speed, agility, acceleration, strength and endurance are all physical attributes that must be developed by young players (at the appropriate phase) during their long-term development. Learn More

Mental Preparation – Be Smarter Than Other Players 

Men’s Health magazine reported in 2012 that research by Predrag Petrovic (PhD and lead researcher at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm) concluded that soccer players score within the top 2 to 5 per cent of the population when tested on memory, multitasking and creativity. Soccer is a rapidity changing game with quick movements of the ball, teammates and the opposition. It is a random game when compared to other North American sports such as NFL football or basketball where there are more stoppages and set plays. Petrovic argues that adapting constantly to a changing environment (which elite soccer players do) develops skills that are easily transferable to executive business functions such as changing strategies and suppressing old, out-dated plans. Learn More

A Motivational Video from Sir Alex Ferguson – Working Hard is a Talent

Watch Video and Embrace Hard Work in all your training sessions & games this week

We will Measurably Improve the Performance Levels of 100 players in next 3 months

This week I spoke about the 3 obstacles preventing young North American players from being world class! See link

During the next 3 months we are aiming to work with 100 young players to achieve the following milestones in their soccer development

·        Get selected by English Professional club Wolves at a June Player ID Camp to travel overseas next spring

·        Earn selection by 1v1 Soccer to travel to Spanish Professional club RCD Espanyol in October

·        Get selected to attend Clarkson High School beginning in the fall and receive an additional 10 hours training/month on a sports/education model that is based on the FC Barcelona academy

·        Earn selection by our new partners Sports Recruiting USA to pursue US Scholarship and professional playing opportunities in Europe

All 100 of these players will be placed on Individual Development Plans (IDP’s) as deployed by top professional academy programs in Europe and will be tested regularly to measure performance progress       

Contact us today if you are dedicated and committed about achieving measurable soccer goals in the next 3 months – Spaces are limited and we have only 30 positions available

Free Consultation – Successfully overcome the 3 obstacles that all players in North America must overcome to be world class

Our High Intensity Technical Training Services are now more Flexible and Affordable for Ambitious and Committed players Looking to pursue European and US Scholarship Opportunities

Since I began 1v1 Soccer FC in 2000, I have discovered three main obstacles that are preventing young North American players from becoming world class!

Canada and the US (combined population 355 million) have not produced a world class outfield player capable of playing at the highest levels of the game.

There are three main obstacles preventing this:

1) Quality of coaching – in Spain there is 1 UEFA A or B licensed coach for every 27 players, in North America there are 865 players for every A or B licensed coach

2) Technical ability – this is the most limiting factor on what level a player ends up playing at. That is why at 1v1 Soccer we spend the most time on this! As Arsene Wenger famously said “If you have no technical skill by 14 you can forget it, you will never be a football player”

3) Training mentality – young players in academies in Europe are training 12-15 hours/week after age 12! Our players are typically training 5-8 hours/week and many do not continually develop their skills during the main part of the season. They mistakenly believe that playing games = development!

1v1 Soccer FC is an individual player soccer training and pathways company – we improve the performance levels of individual players and provide them with opportunities to play at higher levels.

During the last few weeks we have began to significantly reduce pricing and provide more flexible training schedules so more players can take advantage of our training services

Contact us today for a FREE consultation by UEFA A licensed coach Ian McClurg – click here

1v1 Soccer FC Partner with World’s Number One U.S. Soccer Placement Consultants, Sports Recruiting USA

We are pleased to announced our exciting new partnership with Sports Recruiting USA that will help current and future 1v1 Soccer FC players to be given unrivalled assistance in being recruited by College Soccer programs.

Sports Recruiting USA have helped 100’s of players over the years to take the next step into college soccer (and beyond) and are working with our organization exclusively in Canada to give the platform our players need to be seen by U.S. College Soccer programs.

For the past few months we have been in talks with the company about bringing their expertise and technology to our players to help give real pathways to the players who want it. So they will be offering their SRUSA Premier service at a discounted price to all our players, and they will identify the top players through that to join their SRUSA Elite service (where they individually market the players).

1v1 Soccer FC Founder, Ian McClurg commented;

 “We are delighted to be partnering with Sports Recruiting USA and improving the higher level pathways available to Canadian players. We have been evaluating several opportunities within this area for several months. However, the focus and commitment of Sports Recruiting USA towards not only providing pathways but improving performance levels in order to take full advantage of these opportunities fits perfectly with our vision and passion for continuous performance improvement with all our players ”  

SRUSA’s Head of Operations, Chris Cousins commented;

“It has been great getting to know the program in Canada that Ian and his staff run, over the past few months. We are really excited to offer our services to all players wanting to play college soccer at the club, and with what we are offering, it will really make this a unique organization in Canada, if not the whole of North America.’

We look forward to seeing 1v1 Soccer FC players continuing their careers in college, and hopefully many pushing onto the professional game after that, through the opportunities that SRUSA and 1v1 Soccer FC provide.


Train and Play in Europe at Professional Academies – A Proven 4 Step Process

Since I launched 1v1 Soccer FC in 2000 our vision has remained the same – to provide players in Canada with training experiences comparable to leading soccer nations.

Our players have attracted the interest of Sevilla (Spain), FC Porto (Portugal), Wolves (England), Crewe Alexandra (England) and Chievo Verona (Italy). Over 500+ players have gone through the process of attending our international player ID camps, travelling to train at professional academies overseas and attending formal trials.

Matt Roberts has subsequently went on to sign for the Swansea City Academy.

1v1 Soccer FC will be hosting a Player ID camp with academy coaches from English Premiership team West Ham United on April 28-30thLearn More

Young players in Canada face challenges that they must overcome in order to compete with their counter-parts at academies in Europe:

1)      Training Hours – After U12, the top academies in England  have 12-15 hours/week contact time with players. Young players in North America typically have between 4.5-8hours/week

 2)      Quality of Coaching – in Spain there is 1 UEFA A or B licensed coach per every 27 youth players. In North America, we have 1 A or B licensed coach per every 800 + youth player

 3)      Game Understanding – as our players do not live in a ”soccer obsessed” culture, and see fewer professional games live they need to travel to Europe (or South America) in order to gain a greater understanding of the game at the highest levels

 4)      Technical skills – Our players continue to play too many games which negatively impacts the time that is being spent on developing technical skills. As Arsene Wenger famously said – a player’s level of technical skill will determine what level a young player ultimately plays at.

 1v1 Soccer FC will be launching an academy program in Clarkson High School in the fall – this will provide Elite players (Boys & Girls) with an additional 10 hours training/week –  Learn More

  We have a proven four step process for young players in North America so that they can successfully compete with young players in Europe and challenge for opportunities there:

 1)      Supplement your team training so you can get closer to 10-12 hours /week

2)      Select a highly-qualified performance coach to work with and/or take advantage of attending training opportunities with academy coaches from professional teams

 3)      Continue to work on your skills and earn an opportunity to train in Europe at some of the top academy programs so that you can get a complete understanding of the standards, the methodology to develop professional players, improve your game understanding and an opportunity to test yourself against academy players

 4)      Commit yourself to continuous improvement so that you earn opportunities for extended stays at a professional European club with game playing opportunities. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate the full extent of your abilities in front on academy coaches at professional clubs.     

 We have been taking players to European Academy Programs for several years – read our training observations

FC Porto

Chievo Verona



At 1v1 Soccer FC we are happy to assist you as you move successfully through this four step process.

Please feel free to contact me directly at to let me know your unique training requirements and to learn about some areas that we can provide assistance in. You ca learn more about my coaching philosophy and methodology at


FC Porto Academy Trip Observations

1v1 Soccer Players Training at the FC Porto youth academy

On March 9th eight players from the 1v1 Soccer FC Masters program learn more travelled to Portugal to train at the FC Porto youth academy. The objective of the trip was to provide our young players with the opportunity to train at one of Europe’s top youth academies.

In a series of articles, I will be highlighting my coaching observations from our visit to the FC Porto academy.

By travelling to Europe, or young players are immersed in the culture of a leading football (soccer) nation. They are able to train with some of Europe’s top coaches, assess their own abilities by training alongside European academy players and receive feedback on performance improvements.

Free Report on how to Maximize your Soccer potential

FC Porto’s playing philosophy is highlighted by retaining possession through playing the ball on the ground and using rapid sequences of short passes to create goal scoring opportunities. The club have dedicated staff at the academy to specifically focus on technical development and out players benefited from daily morning sessions that were focused on individual player technical development. In the evenings the players joined in FC Porto academy players in a series of small-sided game activities, designed to improve decision-making and game understanding.


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Our players were praised for their dedication to improving and their physical attributes. The areas to improve upon are consistent with feedback we have received from other European academies. North American players need to improve their technical ability. They also need to understand the game better and not always be impatient to play forward all the time.

At Porto the youth players are comfortable to play the ball back, retain possession and wait for key moments to split the opposition and break lines into midfield and the forwards using quick passing sequences.

FC Porto – Club Background

FC Porto was founded on 28 September 1893. It is one of the top three clubs in Portugal – alongside Lisbon-based rivals Benfica and Sporting CP. They are nicknamed Dragões (Dragons), for the mythical creature atop the club’s crest, and Azuis e brancos (Blue-and-whites), for the shirt colours. Since 2003, Porto have played their home matches at the Estádio do Dragão, which replaced the previous 52-year-old ground, the Estádio das Antas.

Contact us for other European Academy Training Experiences

Porto is the second most successful Portuguese team, with a total of 74 official trophies. This includes 27 league titles and they are the only team in Portuguese league history to have won two titles without losing a game – the 2010–11 and 2012–13 seasons.

At the international level, Porto have won seven trophies – the European Cup/UEFA Champions League in 1987 and 2004, the UEFA Cup/Europa League in 2003 and 2011, the UEFA Super Cup in 1987, and the Intercontinental Cup in 1987 and 2004. FC Porto is the only Portuguese club to have won the UEFA Cup/Europa League, the UEFA Super Cup and the Intercontinental Cup, and to have achieved a continental treble of domestic league, domestic cup and European titles (2002–03 and 2010–11). Together with Barcelona and Real Madrid, Porto have the most appearances in the UEFA Champions League group stage (21).

FC Porto Youth Academy

FC Porto is recognized for having one of the top youth academies in Europe. The club has invested in renovating their former stadium, the Campo da Constituição, into a brand new training centre dedicated to their youth academy. The stadium, which served as home to FC Porto from 1913 to 1952 was converted in 2008 to a training complex – named the “Vitalis Park”. This youth centre serves as anchor for the club’s project “Dragon Force”, a youth development project based on football schools and trials for children aged from 4 to 14 years old. It is designed to help produce players for the first team, by exposing young players to the club identity, developing the players playing ability and developing life skills.

Improve your technical ability in our flexible training classes this summer

The ultra-modern Vitalis Park consequently also comprises a synthetic turf 11-a-side pitch and a covered synthetic 7-a-side pitch, both of FIFA 2 star rank for football turf fields. This provides their young players with a playing surface that offers safe and predictable conditions for player development. This helps optimize the players’ tactical and technical skills development, so that they can come up with better solutions to every game-related situation. It also helps facilitate more complete and creative players, who are trained to produce a very technical style of football.

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Performance Improvement Tip #35: What players aged 9-12 should focus on – a 4 corner model

ages-9-12In the future, the best players will be those who can excel in a fast-paced environment. There will be even greater demands on technique, tactical understanding and physical conditioning.  Players today are faster and cover greater distances than previous generations. Passing combinations are faster and there is an increased importance on controlling possession. More goals are scored through quick counter-attacking play and decision-making is of critical importance.

I am often asked what young players, aged 9-12 should focus on. The effect of role-models is very important at this stage of development. Young players should seek out role models and identify players and teams to follow. Young players should also begin to transition from being self-centered to being self-critical.  This is the “golden age of learning” and the most important age for skill development. This is also an important time to start to understand basic principles of play.

It is important to establish a good strong solid base. Young players should continually work on their dribbling ability, passing and receiving and how to successfully execute individual skills under the pressure of time, space, and an opponent.
• Dribbling: Take risks! Develop your moves to beat an opponent
• Improve your ability to keep possession. Work on shielding, spin turns and changes of speed and direction to get away from opponents
• Receiving: Work on the ability to receive and have a quality 1st touch – when receiving on the ground and in the air. Receiving using all surfaces should be developed
• Shooting: Proper striking technique from different angles should be worked on and taking shots on the volley and half-volley with both feet
• Passing: Proper technique – Laces, Inside, Outside, Short and Long; Crossing
• Heading: Jumping to head
• Tackling: Proper technique, in balance, no fear.

Team tactics do not take priority at this age. Focus should be on knowing how to maintain balance in the team (between attacking and defending) and playing skilful soccer.
Players should be open to playing a variety of positions to develop awareness and begin to understand basic principles of play such as:
• Retaining possession
• Taking players on 1v1 in proper areas of the field
• Off the ball movement to support teammates in possession and execute combination play
• Communication with teammates
• Apply proper defensive pressure from front/behind and be able to press and channel opponents

All fitness work should be done with the ball with an emphasis on developing :
• Flexibility
• Agility – with and without the ball
• Speed – teaching proper running technique
• Strength
• Endurance
• Balance

Enjoy the game and foster a desire to play. Focus in on the following areas:
• Encourage decision making
• Imagination / Creativity
• Discipline
• Good academic study habits

Performance Improvement Tip #34: What players aged 5-8 should focus on – a 4 corner model

ages-5-8In the future the best players will be those who can excel in a fast paced environment. There will be  even greater demands on technique, tactical understanding and physical conditioning.

Players today are faster and cover greater distances than previous generations. Passing combinations are faster and there is an increased importance on controlling possession. More goals are scored through quick counter-attacking play and decision-making is of critical importance.

I am often asked what young players, aged 5-8 should focus on. This developmental phase is preparation for the critical phase between ages 9-12. The rate of agility and motor skill development is very important as the young players learn the skills of adjusting their body shape to the path of the ball. This is also an important time for young players to begin to understand when to use certain skills during game situations.

Players must have fun and enjoy the learning process. The premise that players develop faster and experience more enjoyment in small side games is universally accepted and proven.


It is important to establish a good preparation phase of basic technical skills. The ability to dribble is critical since dribbling is the foundation skills and preparation for all other fundamental techniques of soccer, such as receiving, passing, and shooting. Young players aged 5-8 should focus on the following technical skills

  • Dribbling: Take risks and develop moves to beat opponents
  • Shielding: Practice quick changes of direction, with changes of pace.
  • Receiving: Practice receiving skills on the ground and in the air. Learn to take a first touch on the move
  • Shooting: Proper striking technique
  • Passing: Proper technique – Laces, Inside, Outside


Players at this age do not possess the analytical thought process to think ahead and plan their next play. In these age groups, being in possession of the ball is the most crucial moment during games. Players need to spend a lot more time practicing and not play too many games.

In games, young players should play a variety of positions to develop more game awareness and the basic principles of play.


There should be no focus on cardio fitness at these age groups and all activities should be fun and engaging. The areas that should be developed are:

  • Flexibility
  • Agility – with and without the ball
  • Speed – teaching proper running technique
  • Coordination – with and without the ball
  • Balance


  • Keep it FUN, enjoy the game
  • Learn to make decisions
  • Demonstrate imagination and creativity
  • Be disciplined to keep learning
  • Academics – Learn good study habits. Maintaining good grades and balance between school and sports are important.

Performance Improvement Tip #33: Be prepared to press, persist and possess

The modern game is one of flexibility. The game is more fluid than ever and the top teams now deploy “inverted full-backs and wingers”, false number 9s and ball-playing goalkeepers to deal more effectively with retaining possession and winning it back quickly. The game today resembles more and more the sport of basketball where the winning team typically is the one that has managed transitions between attack/defence better.

I have been reading Pedro Mendonca’s analysis of Pep Guardiola’s training methodology and last weekend I attended the Coerver Coaching Youth Diploma 2.  There is a central theme. The modern player is expected to win the ball quickly when it is lost. Pressing is becoming a very important part of the game. It can only be successful if it is collective effort and gone are the days when this responsibility fell to only the most industrious players on the team. Lionel Messi is expected to do it and scores many of his goals from Barcelona winning possession back quickly.


Coerver Coaching, the world’s leading teaching method for youth players has now added this aspect of the game to their curriculum. The Coerver method has always advocated a strong technical foundation to its curriculum and the individual player development of skill, speed, strength, spirit and sense is the DNA of Coerver. Their youth diploma course 2 has now added the box/trap system of team play to the curriculum so that Coerver teams can achieve success in both attack and defence. The box is how Coerver teams attack, the trap is how they will aim to defend and the box and trap are constantly forming and reforming all over the field.

The trap defence is a method for young players to be very active in winning possession back so that they can quickly go and attack. With Coerver’s trap defence, young players can now be encouraged even more to be creative and take greater risks when in possession (which supports the Coerver playing philosophy). This can be achieved when there is greater confidence in winning the ball back quicker.

The trap system is based on the 3 P’s – press, persist and possess. Young players are expected to immediately press all over the field and close space quickly when the ball is lost. They are expected to persist and break the rhythm of opponents in possession and once possession is gained they are expected to then probe for attacking possibilities and score goals.

Pep Guardiola ‘s Barcelona and Bayern Munich teams have been the greatest examples of this style of play in recent years. Coerver are now advocating that this exciting style of play can be implemented at youth levels so that all players are engaged once possession is lost and not merely spectators until the ball is won back. Attackers are expected to close space quickly and press, midfielders are expected to support them quickly and defenders are expected to move up and condense the space that opponents play in. 

The key to this style of play is the shared responsibility of the group and shared rewards-no exceptions! Th first player that applies the initial pressure gets as much credit as the 2nd, 3rd or 4th player who finally recovers the ball.

The game is changing and all young players must embrace the idea that pressing and all the additional effort that this requires is an important part of gaining possession to launch attacks and score goals.


We are launching our own Talent Development Program to mirror the success achieved by Germany in Developing Individual Players

ian-editWe are launching our first centre in Burlington and are looking now at other areas in Kitchener and Toronto.

Our vision is that these centres would be accessible and affordable to all and staffed by highly qualified skills coaches.








Read about the Talent Development Centres in Germany 

For several years we have been advocating that North America implements a network of skills centres where young players can drop into on a regular basis to work on and improve their skills.

This concept is nothing new.

Essentially, it is the principle reason that Germany have developed so many talented players in recent years. This was a key reason for their World Cup Success in 2014.

Join us in changing the game in North America!












Technical Development should be placed at the cornerstone of youth development. If young players can successfully master the ball…….then they will have the confidence to consistently make the right choices and create solutions for themselves and others on the field.

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