Just a simple post

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Download your FREE Soccer Action Planner for 2015

2015 Soccer Planner

This week Cristiano Ronaldo won his 3rd Ballon d’Or in recognition that he is currently the best player in the world! In my own opinion his early experiences playing Futsal provided him with an early base of good technical skills and game understanding.

Ronaldo set’s his soccer goals very high and so can you by using our 2015 Soccer Action plan guide.

Download Now

His continued hard-work to keep improving himself physically and technically, together with his mental strength to overcome any set-backs or challenges has made him the player he is – the best in the world!

My chosen profession is the study and analysis of youth development throughout the world so hopefully I can assist young Canadian players to successfully achieve their soccer goals.

Soccer is a very competitive sport and so any little advantage you can gain over others will allow you to maximize your potential and achieve your soccer goals!

Best wishes for 2015 and let us know if we can help in anyway.

1v1 Soccer FC Hosting Glasgow Rangers Player ID Camp Dec 27-29th

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 1v1 Soccer FC will be hosting a Glasgow Rangers player id camp from December 27-29th in Burlington Ontario. Youth academy coaches from Glasgow Rangers will be training and assessing young players from U8 to U16+ and players that excel will be invited to travel to Scotland and train at Murray Park in Glasgow for further evaluation.

The Glasgow club have signed an agreement with Global Image Sports to establish a greater presence within North America and have signed two Canadian youth players in recent years – Fraser Aird and Luca Gasporatto.

Rangers Manager Ally McCoist has said of his club’s partnership with Global Image Sports “It is great that this partnership has been created and I look forward to seeing how the relationship grows and hopefully a young player from these camps can follow in the footsteps of Carlos Bocanegra, Maurice Edu, Alejandro Bedoya and Fraser Aird and join us one day at Murray Park.”

Mike Kelleher, Chief Operating Officer of Global Image Sports, said: “We are delighted to announce this partnership with Rangers Football Club, one of the most prestigious clubs in world football. We look forward to offering further opportunities and experiences to even more players and coaches in North America via this partnership.”

Glasgow Rangers have won more league titles and trebles than any other club in the world, winning the league title 54 times, the Scottish Cup 33 times and the Scottish League Cup 27 times, and achieving the treble of all three in the same season seven times. In European football, Rangers was the first British club to reach a UEFA tournament final. It won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1972 after being runner-up twice in 1961 and 1967.

The cost of the three day camp is $160.00 and full camp details are attached below.

GISRANGERS-1v1 register_now_button 2015 programs

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The Ongoing Quest to Successfully Engage today’s Young Soccer Players

George Best street soccerLast week, I came across the work of Sir Kenneth Robinson for the first time. Sir Ken Robinson, PhD is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources in education and in business.  He is also one of the world’s leading speakers on these topics, with a profound impact on audiences everywhere. The videos of his famous 2006 and 2010 talks to the prestigious TED Conference have been viewed more than 25 million times and seen by an estimated 250 million people in over 150 countries.

He has devoted a large part of his life to the study of creativity. He believes, like the famous artist Picasso that we are born with creativity and as time goes on it is educated out of us. Picasso made the famous quote that “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Sir Kenneth has studied our current education systems and argues that they are not servicing the requirements of today’s youth. Many children are dropping out early and many others are requiring medication, just so they can pass through today’s education system. He proposes a new way forward for education, which would be designed to inspire the creativity of our youth and keep them actively engaged.

What relevance do these ideas have for developing young soccer players? Well, we face a similar problem. Here is a frightening statistics for youth sport in North America: over 70% of young athletes are leaving sports in North America by age 14.  (Source: US Youth Soccer). They are quitting for the following reasons:

  • Lack of Playing Time
  • Overemphasis on Winning
  • Other Activities are more interesting
  • Lack of Fun
  • Coaching/Adult Behaviors
  • Dissatisfaction with Performance
  • Lack of Social Support

Typically, we don’t notice this as they are replaced by a greater number of Under 3 players the following year.

Are we duplicating the same mistakes in our current education systems? Are we only offering rigid, linear development systems which young players pass through, based on their age? Are we coaching creativity out of our young players so they don’t wish to play anymore? Last week, Wayne Rooney spoke of how he wanted to stop playing at age 14 because they (Everton Football Club) asked him to play a different way. He was a young boy who loved the game and was very good at it. The good news is that he was talked out of quitting by Colin Harvey, a senior coach at Everton. However, how many other creative players, like him, have been lost to the game?

Not every young player will go on to play as well as Messi and Ronaldo but surely we have a duty as coaches and parents to stimulate their senses so they, not us, can find out how good they can be.

At the moment, I’m looking at the rapid growth of street soccer and futsal in Europe. I am seeing very dedicated and creative young players practice the latest freestyle skills and demonstrate outrageous plays when they play futsal. It makes we wonder if both are a better avenues to remove the pressure on young player’s in todays structured academy environments. Street soccer and futsal both develop creativity by placing less adult restrictions on young players. They can and will practice for hours with a ball to learn a new move. The young players also seem more able to transfer these new skills into street soccer and futsal games, than regular youth games.

Is it because both street soccer and futsal provide young player’s with an unstructured environment, on their own terms with less direction from adults where they are left more to experiment and improvise? It is said of today’s generation that they are overwhelmed and inundated with information and with choice. The result is that it can be more challenging to successfully engage today’s generation and over  long periods.

What I propose is creating more environments where creativity can be encouraged and nurtured.   Environments where young players are inspired and want to learn to get better. When I was growing up, I was inspired by watching George Best – he was the “Picasso” of the soccer world then. Today’s young players are inspired by Messi and Ronaldo –  they are inspired by both and want to be like them. Not every young player will go on to play as well as Messi and Ronaldo but surely we have a duty as coaches and parents to stimulate their senses so they, not us, can find out how good they can be.

I don’t have all the answers but surely we must be looking outside the traditional soccer learning methods in order to achieve this.

Creativity and letting players solve problems

INDIA-THEME-FOOTBALLWhen I started 1v1 Soccer in 2000, my main aim — one I haven’t changed, by the way — was to provide young players in North America with training and learning experiences similar to leading soccer nations.

During that time we have studied training models in the UK, Brazil, Spain, Holland, Germany and Italy. My main metric has always been how many players we have successfully prepared to move to higher levels of play and the goal remains to have some of our players signed by our partner club, Wolves FC in England or other professional clubs in Europe or North America.

Recently, I came across an article online by Gary Allen, of the Virginia Youth Soccer Association, outlining what he believes is the “stifling” of development for players in North America. Allen talks about many of the challenges that we have identified as impediments to young players in North America developing to world class levels:

1) Fast-tracking players to “play up” age-groups

2) Asking players to limit development to playing in specific roles using skills they are already strong at

3) Placing players too early in competitive environments where they cannot take risks

4) ID decisions being made at young ages to exclude the majority of players

Allen argues that by placing young players in competitive environments too early we are identifying players as young as 8 based on a perceived set of skills based on the “now.” The problem with this approach is two-fold. A lot of other players are then excluded from that early age from the best development and coaching opportunities. This is similar to what Malcolm Gladwell outlined in his number-one best seller Outliers-The Story of Success.

Gladwell argued that in youth sports players born in the early part of the year are typically selected ahead of other players born later in the year due to their earlier maturation of development (for example, the difference between two children, both technically “age 9” but one born in January and one in September, can be huge) and that this separation at an early age means that only a small number (the ones born in January, February or March) received access to the best training programs, with longer hours and the best instructors.

Allen outlines that the second problem with this approach is that if players are selected at age 8 because they are faster and stronger than the other players, then they will be expected to keep developing and using these attributes only, at the expense of developing other parts of their game. When promotion and relegation issues are at stage in youth sports or ensuring that teams are accepted into the top leagues, the individual player’s joy and passion for the game soon takes a back (and in many cases a permanent ) seat to the overall goals of the team.

I have mentioned elsewhere the opposition many players and parents put up when coaches ask players in North America to play different positions or consider playing within an age-group which may be a year younger. This can be a problem even when the players are enjoying greater success by improving learning or their overall confidence. It is not “conventional” and therefore not easily embraced.

As Allen points out our culture in North America does not allow the “failure” required to learn at any age or stage — immediate success must always be achieved. Remember, the traditional competitive team system in North America has not, as Allen argued, helped produce even one truly world class player in 30 plus years, amongst a population of about 300 million, if you combine the US and Canada.

So what are the solutions?

First of all players must be taught the joy and passion of the game. A coach in BC named Rick Gruneau recently sent me an email speaking about some of the differences he had experienced when he spent a week at the Spanish club Espanyol, in 2010. He asked the coaching staff what the two most important things were that they taught in training, the answer was immediate, though, for a North American, surprising: “Joy and technique.”

Joy because, as the coaches put it, “We are a small club (compared to Barcelona and Real Madrid) and these players are precious investments for us. Every time a player burns out or leaves the game we not only feel that we have failed the player, we lose our investment in him.” And technique, because soccer is “primarily a game where the challenge is to exercise the best technique possible under pressure.”

Rick went on to recount his amazement at the “joy” in training sessions when even in the most competitive training there was a lot of laughing and mutual back patting, where players would spontaneously break into applause when another player did something out of the ordinary technically. It was not something he had ever experienced back in Canada.

Technique+Game Intelligence = Success

pep v6.0As young players advance in the game, it is important that they start learning game intelligence and combining this with technique. When they start playing at ages as young as 4 or 5 the more athletic and skillful players enjoy early success at simply running with the ball and going past players either with skillful moves or sheer speed and determination. They are too young at that age to think about sharing so their runs with the ball generally have two outcomes — they run into a mass of opposing players and lose the ball or they end up scoring a goal.

Unfortunately, due to the prevailing attitude of many well-intentioned coaches and parents, goal-scoring in this scenario is considered the only way to measure success on the soccer field, so it is rewarded and praised without proper attention being given to other technical aspects of the game.

Good technique is a base requirement but what will really determine how far our players will go will be their ability to consistently make the right choices and create solutions on the field.

Between the ages of 6-10 young players should learn and experience group behavior. It is an important step for them socially to help others around them and accept being helped by others. During this stage of development they should also begin to understand sticking to assigned areas of the field and the importance of being rotated through different positions so that they begin to learn all aspects of the game. Again, within the model of measuring improvement solely via goal-scoring as described above, being assigned a defensive role on a team is often seen as a “punishment” or “a place to put weak players.” As coaches we need to fight against this.

Around the same age, however, we begin to see pronounced differences in the technical ability of players, and funneling these players into more elite programs. Personally, I believe that this is too young, but certainly in North America it is at this age that young players begin to receive additional training and the first separation from their peers via the streaming process of “rep” and “select” takes place.

But what qualities do the world’s top clubs look for when evaluating young players? They generally begin to consider players as young as 7 but cannot invite them into formal training programs until the U9 level (that is, at the age of 8). Spain has been the leader in recent years with respect to youth development. During my trip to the top-flight Spanish club Sevilla FC in 2011 they confirmed that they look initially for good technique and pace.

They then look for young players who understand the game. On the field, are these kids looking around at all their options? Can they make intelligent runs into open space? Can they make correct choices when to dribble and when to combine with teammates? These same qualities are highly prized by our partner club in the UK, Wolves FC, although they will generally pay greater intention to the physical characteristics of players, as in England the physical demands on players are generally much higher than in Spain.

According to the English FA’s Technical Guide for Young Player Development — The Future Game, young players of the future will be required to release the ball accurately and instantly over a variety of distances using both feet and on any surface. A quality first touch will be critical as will the ability to operate successfully in congested areas with speed and precision. Retaining possession will be a key feature of play for Elite players and so will possessing the “craft” to disguise techniques and “out-smart” their direct opponents.

The ability to exchange passes quickly and accurately with teammates on a consistent basis will increase in importance as a player gets older, rather than repeatedly taking players on in 1v1 attacking situations. As players mature they will have to demonstrate their ability to decide what to do and when to do it within the demands of game situations.

If all of this sounds like too much “theory” just consider the success in recent years of the Spanish national men’s team —winners of the 2008 and 2012 European Championships and the 2010 World Cup. Every player on the team, regardless of his position, has a flawless first touch, knows how to move the ball quickly, makes sound, quick decisions in all phases of the game and is willing to combine all these qualities with his teammates to form a team that is the only one in soccer history to have won three major titles in a row.

Taking all these factors into consideration, we have put technique at the cornerstone of all our programs. Good technique is a base requirement but what will really determine how far our players will go will be their ability to consistently make the right choices and create solutions on the field.

A key reason I watch our Futsal games from the stands and watch video of the games is to evaluate how well the group and individual players are progressing with this. It can be an overlooked area of players’ development but it is a vital one. A combination of good technique and game intelligence can take our young players to higher levels of the game. I often tell the tale of Pep Guardiola being chosen for Barcelona — the club team that has supplied most of the players to the Spanish national side — as a skinny, slowish youngster because of his leadership qualities and game intelligence which far outweighed his speed and or other physical attributes at an early age.

Apparently his career in the game worked out rather well in the end!

How much is too much training?

This article was written by Ian McClurg and is an excerpt from his book Play the 1v1 Way! The article has also appeared on two UK based coaching websites and

4I frequently get asked how much training young players should do, and how much training is too much. It is my belief that this depends on the athlete, and also the type of training they are following.

I’m a firm advocate of the 10,000-hour training rule — the theory, as advocated by Malcolm Gladwell and others, that if you truly want to be good at something, you have to devote at least 10,000 hours to practicing it. That means that if young players wish to become world-class at their chosen sport, they should be training anywhere from 10-20 hours each week.

Of course, the type of training a player follows is also crucial. In football, for example, I believe that young players can train for more than the 10-20 hours per week range, without negative side-effects, if the training is based on technique and players are enjoying playing small-sided games. They also have to be in an environment where there is no expectation on winning and losing. At professional clubs in Europe, young players typically start training in academy teams at U9 (aged 8). They may have had two years of “informal training” once or twice a week until then, before entering a more structured environment at the U9 level.

At U9 level, young players in Europe typically train 4-6 hours per week in a team session and 1-2 hours in individual technical sessions. At the U9-U12 levels, training time can increase to 8 hours per week for team sessions and two hours in technical sessions. Changes to the academy system in the UK have increased coaching contact time from U9 to U12 from 4 hour per week to 8 hours per week. For the U12 to U16 age groups, the coaching contact time has been increased from 12 hours per week to 16 hours, mainly by having the young players attend the academy one full day a week instead of attending school. At the U17 to U21 levels, the players are typically training 16 hours per week.

By contrast, let’s consider what happens in other sports. Young athletes in the British national cycling program train 10 hours per week at ages 12-16 which increases up to 40 hours between the ages of 17-21. Elite British swimmers typically train 15 hours from ages 12-16 and 25 hours  from ages 17-21. Between ages 12-16 young performers at the Royal Ballet School train 25 hours per week from ages 12-16 and 17-21. Even though the physical demands of these activities are different than those placed on young football players, it is still clear that in terms of the sheer commitment of time, these other sports ask a lot more of their participants when young.

In North America, young football players typically start playing as young as U3 and can be involved in club academy programmes by age7 or 8 and training 2-3 times a week by then. In my opinion, it is not the volume of training hours that places physical and psychological stress on these young players but the quality of the work. Having young players work on their technical ball skills with futsal-type training where they are training the majority of their time individually with the ball or within small groups, allows young players to develop at their own pace without the pressure of winning games. They can take responsibility for their own development in these types of environment, experimenting with new things.

At European academies there is no real focus on physical development until the age of 14. This contrasts with the environment in North America where the pressure on coaches to win games in order to qualify for the highest-level leagues means that development becomes short-term. Coaches in this environment tend to believe that they can improve team results through a greater emphasis on fitness and other physical attributes. As a result, a greater physical demand is placed on young bodies that are still growing and developing.

Another significant difference from elite player development in Europe versus North America is that in Europe, programs typically run 42 weeks. That’s right — and it can be hard for some North Americans to believe — there are ten weeks during the year when players get to take a break. Youngsters are given significant time off at Christmas, Easter and also during the summer months. In North America, players typically do not take time off during the course of the year, other than perhaps a quick few days at the end of the summer competitive season.

All elite athletes should have significant down-time during the course of their 12 month training cycle in order to recharge mentally and physically.

Here’s another factor we need to keep in mind when thinking about over-training that is often overlooked, but makes so much sense it’s amazing we don’t do it more often— we need to check with the players themselves about how they feel their training load is affecting them. When parents ask me whether their children are over-doing it, I typically ask that the athlete keep a log of their physical energy levels and mental state (mood) after each activity. This allows athletes and their families to fully understand which activities, club team, academy team, school or other sports are placing the greatest demands on the athlete, especially those athletes who play multiple sports. If the athlete is physically or emotionally overwhelmed, then it is time to either cut back on some activities or alternatively work with their coaches to block off rest days.

The athlete will know their body and mental state better than anyone else so I always recommend that they are central to the decision-making process.

Remember — our bodies are quick to tell us when we are doing too much. We have to listen to them — and when working with young athletes, we must help to make this “listening” process clear.

The soccer whisperer — a philosophical, practical approach to the ‘beautiful game’

(Published in Hamilton Spectator – Monday August 25th, 2015)

Ian hamilton spec article Aug 2014Ian McClurg grew up in the peaceful countryside outside Belfast, but at a certain age had to come to the city for school. This was during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

“My first day, a bomb went off about two miles away and the floors of the classroom shook,” Ian remembers.  He was terrified.              The most frightening thing about such experiences was that, over time, they ceased to be frightening. Ian got used to them.

Then there was soccer, and he thrived at it. Somehow, maybe as a result of the dynamics of all that, Ian developed a kind of “larger view” attitude about life. There is, for instance, an almost philosophical cast to the work he does as one of Canada’s most innovative nurturers of soccer talent.

His family came to Canada when he was 17, after Queen Elizabeth’s cousin Lord Louis Mountbatten was killed by the Irish Republican Army in 1979, and Ian was already a formidable player. He’d learned on the street, neighbourhood play, working on fundamental skills.  By age 14, he was already playing on adult men’s teams (he favours intergenerational play as a route to skill-building).  “My dad played some semi-pro in England,” he says, “but didn’t pressure me. I was self-taught.”

OK, philosophy. What is the why of soccer? The cause behind a kicked ball? In Aristotle’s terms, the “motive” cause would be the propulsive force transmitted along the muscles of the leg, but the “final” cause, the ultimate object of kicking it, would be … what? The inside of the net? Goal scored? Game won?

The real goal, if you ask Ian, is a skill well-developed, a human being made more whole, more accomplished and confident.            When I talk with him in his home, after reading his book (yes, he has written a book outlining a system of thoughts on soccer and coaching), I’m taken right “through” the game, out the other side.

He refers to the chaos of soccer (the continuous, unpredictable flow, in contrast to the set plays in football, baseball, basketball, even hockey); the importance of improvisation; the primacy of skill-building, mastering the ball itself.  “You see kids, when they master the ball, they enjoy it so much more,” says Ian.

He dislikes the obsession with results that still dominates conventional North American coaching — winning matches, climbing league standings, as opposed to overall development of the player and his/her skills.

It’s a narrow model, the North American one — instant gratification, quick hits and fixes, over-competitiveness, facile quantifiable metrics that don’t draw a true picture. “The dropout rate in all sports here is 70 per cent by age 14,” says Ian, who spent several years as staff coach for Toronto FC Academy.

Europe’s different. They have welfare officers attached to teams in some clubs there to help with challenges beyond the field.              Ian, who started 1v1 Soccer FC in Ancaster 14 years ago, incorporates many European ideas, but the 1v1 approach is uniquely his own.

It’s holistic, involving diet, cross-training, character-building, patience, humility, problem-solving, intelligence and, above all, rigorous work on fundamentals, a broad range of technical skills for the individual, as opposed to over-specialization for results-oriented utility on a team.

Ian’s approach is making deep inroads, despite resistance from powers-that-be. Academy teams like his are now eligible for provincial soccer association competition, whereas previously they weren’t.

“In 2000, Germany started having skills coaches working with clubs throughout the country,” says Ian. It paid off at this year’s World Cup.

His book, Play the 1v1 Way, edited by Paul Challen, is a compelling read with an eclectic scope: part philosophy, part practical tips, engagingly written.

Ian’s now taking his passion to another level, beginning a master’s degree in soccer talent development through Real Madrid Graduate School (yes, in Europe they have graduate degrees in soccer).

For more on the book, go to

1v1 Soccer FC Hosting 3rd Annual Wolves FC ID Camp – July 4-6th

1v1 Soccer Fc will be hosting our 3rd annual Wolves FC Elite player identification camp on July4-6th in Burlington at City View Park.
The camp will be open to male and female players aged between 7-18 and players that excel will be invited to England in Spring 2015 to train at the Wolves FC academy.
u15 boys academy v3.0Over 20 players have travelled to train at the Wolves FC academy in England during the last 2 years and two players trained were invited to train for 3 weeks at the academy this spring and were selected to play in four academy games.
To learn more about the Wolves FC player ID camp and to register click on the link below

Play the 1v1 Way Book Released today!

Burlington/Ancaster, Ontario

centre - full onA new book by Ian McClurg, technical  s unique approach to  developing young players. The recently released “Play the 1 v 1 Way: Soccer Tips From and Emerging Talent Centre”  is aimed at parents, coaches and players, and  s philosophy on development, as well as practical tips for building young male and female players looking to take their game to the next level.

Excerpts from the book can be viewed at as well as instructions on how to order  the book.
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Play the 1v1 Way-Soccer Tips from an Emerging Talent Centre – $19.95



A launch to celebrate the publication of Play the 1 v 1 Way  will be held at the Cavallo Nero restaurant In Ancaster , Ontario (370 Wilson St
E, Ancaster on Sunday April 13th from noon to 4pm.

“What we’ve found, in talking with top clubs across Europe and North America, is that the one thing their coaches are looking for above all is technical ability. Does a player have the skill on the ball to be able to make decisions quickly and accurately? That is what we try to teach in our system, and what I’ve outlined in the book.”Unfortunately, says McClurg, the traditional club system often places too much emphasis on results, pressuring teams and players to win games and progress through promotions rather than looking to improve the skill of individual players.“That’s where the academy system comes in,” he says. “We’re not under pressure to win game and trophies, so we are able to take the time to give  players the skills they need to move forward. We have a number of partner clubs in Europe who are continually telling us that those are the skills they are looking for in youngsters.”

As proof of the success of his approach, McClurg, a former Ontario provincial coach and holder of the UEFA A licence (the highest available worldwide) cites two 14-year olds who are visited English professional club Wolves FC this month for three weeks of additional training  as evidence of just two players who have flourished in this system. As well, several players in the academy are under consideration for spots at US
universities and planning visits to professional clubs overseas.

In addition to the technical aspects of the game, Play the 1 v 1 Way stresses the importance of what McClurg refers to as the “development triangle” – a model that places equal emphasis on coaching, family support and the individual player.“All three sides of the triangle need to be equally strong,” he says.  “And each side needs to respect the influence of the other. For example, parents  need to support their kids and help them make the best decisions. Coaches must supply the technical expertise. And the players have to be  committed.

For more information about the launch and the book, please contact 1 v 1 Soccer FC at 289-239-9602 or, or visit them at: