Download the presentation Scott Leber, Founder of iSoccer, gave at 2013 NSCAA Convention.
Click on presentation image below to download as a PDF
ONE DAY LAST NOVEMBER, psychology professor Carol Dweck welcomed a pair of visitors from the Blackburn Rovers, a soccer team in the United Kingdom’s Premier League. The Rovers’ training academy is ranked in England’s top three, yet performance director Tony Faulkner had long suspected that many promising players weren’t reaching their potential. Ignoring the team’s century-old motto—arte et labore, or “skill and hard work”—the most talented individuals disdained serious training.
On some level, Faulkner knew the source of the trouble: British soccer culture held that star players are born, not made. If you buy into that view, and are told you’ve got immense talent, what’s the point of practice? If anything, training hard would tell you and others that you’re merely good, not great. Faulkner had identified the problem; but to fiit, he needed Dweck’s help.
A 60-year-old academic psychologist might seem an unlikely sports motivation guru. But Dweck’s expertise—and her recent book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success—bear directly on the sort of problem facing the Rovers. Through more than three decades of systematic research, she has been figuring out answers to why some people achieve their potential while equally talented others don’t—why some become Muhammad Ali and others Mike Tyson. The key, she found, isn’t ability; it’s whether you look at ability as something inherent that needs to be demonstrated or as something that can be developed.
What’s more, Dweck has shown that people can learn to adopt the latter belief and make dramatic strides in performance. These days, she’s sought out wherever motivation and achievement matter, from education and parenting to business management and personal development.
Read the Full Article: http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2007/marapr/features/dweck.html
By Scott Leber:
From the Karate Kid to iSoccer: The Skill Mastery Journey
The notion that someone is just naturally born with a talent is largely a myth. Star athletes, musicians and artists have spent countless hours in training before we see them performing on the ‘big stage.’ You don’t just pick up a violin and start tackling Vivaldi either – you start with basic scales and work your way up. From music, to karate, to soccer, you must continually work on mastering the basics as you learn to play at a higher and higher level.
However, a common problem for youth is that spending time on the basics can often be tedious and boring. But by adding the ability to witness incremental improvement, basic skill training can be rewarding, which leads to the ultimately satisfying realization of, “Hey, I’m actually getting pretty good at this!”
“Football is simple. But the hardest thing is to play football in a simple way.”
- Johan Cruyff
The first part of that quote sums up why you must master the basics. When you boil it down, soccer is a simple game. Before any of the complexities of the modern game, it’s just you and the ball, and what you can do with it, which we refer to as technique. Whether it was in the street, at the park, or in practice, all the best players spent thousands of hours growing up working on basic technical skills before they were able to do what we see on television. For example, when Dennis Bergkamp was a youth player at Ajax, “they had little three foot high walls [and] would knock the ball against them for hours.” Later, he was able to do this:
Once the most basic elements of soccer become second nature, a player can start expanding their focus to include strategy, tactics, and creativity. But if you are still worried about making a simple trap, the advanced aspects of soccer will be hard to perform consistently.
How many soccer coaches hear from players that the ‘technical’ part of practice is no fun? “Can’t we just scrimmage!?” It’s true, focusing on the basics is not necessarily as fun as just playing. Deliberate practice is repetitive, requires focus, and sometimes seems more like work than play. So how do you convince kids that to play soccer well, you must spend time on the basics? Well, you can take the Mr. Miyagi approach and trick them into working on the fundamentals:
Sure, toe taps, juggling, and dribbling in Figure 8’s aren’t the same as cleaning floors, but the point is the same. Mr. Miyagi turned to creative means to force Daniel to realize that the basics are important, and once he saw that he was, in fact, learning karate, things clicked for Daniel. However up until that point, Daniel was frustrated because Mr. Miyagi’s method was missing the ability to see improvement during the training, instead of after, regardless of the nature of the training. That’s where iSoccer comes in.
The ability to witness yourself making incremental improvement is the key to making basic skill training rewarding from day one. If you are going to spend hours on something, don’t you want to know that you are actually getting somewhere? To do that, you need to be able to easily measure those basic skills, hence the iSoccer Assessment. So even if a player is just starting out, or has been playing for years, they can see themselves getting better, slowly but surely, through their iSoccer scores.
The basic psychological component of iSoccer is that people, and kids especially, want to know that they are moving in a positive direction towards the final goal of actually being good at something! Without that ability, many young players learning the game become frustrated because they don’t know if they are getting better, and end up leaving soccer to pursue other interests. However, once a young player gets a little momentum going, they get excited about improving, and their potential is endless.
The Karate Kid didn’t realize that he was actually getting better at karate until after the fact. iSoccer is here to help players realize that they are improving during their training, which helps motivate them to spend more time with the ball. After all, they say it’s not the destination, but the journey!
Just because winter weather is right around the corner, it doesn’t mean you need to stop trying to improve your iSoccer scores. Here are two easy ways anyone can play iSoccer indoors, without destroying the house!
When playing outside isn’t an option, it’s all about being creative to still get touches in over the winter. So head to the gym, garage, or basement, and use a tennis or size 1 ball to keep raising your level during the off-season. But remember – be safe and don’t break anything!
Here is a quick video progression that can teach any player how to perform a Roll Step Over. Start with the first video, and once you are comfortable with each skill, move to the next one.
|Step 1: Start to get comfortable using the bottom of your foot to roll the ball back and forth. Try to get going as fast as you can.
|Step 2: Add a scissors move while continuing to roll the ball back and forth and establish a rhythm.
|Step 3: Start slowly as you learn how the move works. Then start to pick up the pace, and challenge yourself to get sharper and quicker.
Watch all 500+ Training Videos with iSoccer Plus
Learning moves like a Roll Step Over is a fun way for any type of player to add creativity to their game. Work your way up with the videos, and then take your new move to the field!
The iSoccer Team
Dennis Bergkamp, said that when he was a young player at Ajax, they had little three foot high walls. He would knock the ball against it for hours. He would do it over and over, trying to establish a rhythm.
“I would also hit the ball against the side of the house… Hitting the ball with both feet, seeing how long I could return the wall passes without losing control. I found out later that so many pros spend lots of their childhood doing that.”
- from More Than Goals, by Claudio Reyna
Good luck and have fun this season.
The iSoccer Team
October is right around the corner, the weather is turning, and fall soccer season is in full swing across North America. For parents and coaches, it’s a great time to look ahead and ask: at the end of the season, what would success look like? We spend a ton of time, energy, and money on youth soccer, so it can be helpful to think about expectations. After all, in between the practices, uniforms, tournaments, carpools, and orange slices, there are millions of young people having a variety of different experiences playing soccer this fall.
When I was coaching, I used this simple checklist to determine if the season had been a success for a player:
1. Did they have fun?
2. Did they improve?
3. Are they excited for next season?
If yes to all three, the season was a huge success! But how do you get there? Here are a few thoughts and strategies for parents and coaches that I think will help your player[s] have a great time this season.
One of the most effective ways to get players excited about soccer, is to show them that they are improving. When players can see individual improvement, it builds confidence, momentum, and optimism. Hey, I’m getting better at this! After all, playing soccer is fun, but playing soccer well is more fun!
iSoccer gives players simple, objective feedback, and the ability to witness tangible improvement that in-game performances can’t always provide. When coaches and parents recognize and reward this improvement, it’s even more powerful.
Team sports are inherently social, and feeling “a part of the team” is a big component of a successful season. When a player feels like they are contributing in some way, it has a huge impact on their overall enjoyment.
In youth soccer, sometimes it’s hard for everyone to make a big contribution in games, so setting team iSoccer goals is one way to help every player feel included in the team. When everyone has to raise their iSoccer scores, no matter what those scores are, it can build a group mentality that strengthens camaraderie, and gets everyone working together. Be sure to give the same amount (or even more) attention to weaker players who raise their scores!
Let’s be honest – everyone likes to win, and players usually have more fun when they are winning. However, it’s important to remember that more often than not, focusing on improvement and camaraderie leads to winning, not the other way around!
At iSoccer, even though we don’t think winning games should be the most important aspect of youth soccer, we want everyone to experience success on the field! Our mission is to motivate players to spend more time on the ball working on technique, because in our opinion, the more technical team usually has a better chance of winning!
Things like exercise, achievement, and life lessons are all valuable components of a successful season. But at the end of the day, if soccer isn’t fun, it’s really not worth the time and effort. So have a great time this fall, and I hope iSoccer can help make your season a success!
Scott Leber, iSoccer Founder and CEO
- It's always a good time to count: Even if you aren't going to record the scores, players, coaches, and teammates can use counting in between assessments to keep the 'game' going throughout the season.
- Set quick, casual challenges: Who can get the most juggles with their non-preferred foot in 20 seconds? Go!
- Go beyond the Skill Assessment: By using 20 seconds and casual counting, you can turn almost anything into a game. You can even use one of the iSoccer Skill Videos, like Continuous L Pulls, to create a challenge. Get creative with it!
So whether it's in training, or the backyard, use casual counting to help you and your team have more fun improving your skills this season!
The iSoccer Team
- Less can be more: Pick one or two iSoccer Skills that you want to improve, and set a quick goal to hit by the end of the week, month, or season. Coaches can set a team goal and get everyone working together.
- Log scores regularly: Whether it’s at the beginning of practice, or at home in the backyard, track progress and keep up momentum by scoring yourself regularly.
- Keep it fun: Create little challenges along the way, and be sure to reward yourself, or your team for achievements. Knowing you or your team have improved over the course of the season can be more rewarding than your win loss record!
So check out your scores, and set a goal for yourself, or your team. Even if you don’t hit it, you were spending time with the ball and having fun!
The iSoccer Team
Quick Tip: 3 Video Progression – Heading
Whether you are scoring off crosses, knocking the ball down to a teammate, or controlling it for yourself, being comfortable with the ball at your head is important no matter where you are on the field. Here are three iSoccer Skill Videos that you can use as a simple, effective progression for learning how to head the ball!
Step 1: Start with a seemingly simple exercise, and see if you can hit a perfect header with your forehead right to your hands every time. (You can also try 2 or 3 touches to a catch.)
Step 2: Find a wall and challenge yourself. It may take a minute to get the hang of it, but find a rhythm and as you get more comfortable, move further away from the wall.
Step 3: This one isn’t easy either, but is great for perfecting your head and volley control. How many can you do in a row? 3? 5? 10? 20?
Neymar shows that a good touch with your head can make a huge difference, no matter where you are on the field. Right through the legs!
Learning basic, yet important skills like heading the ball is all about repetition. You can use the iSoccer Skill Videos to work your way up, and then keep it fun and interesting by creating challenges for yourself, like seeing how many juggles between your head and feet you can do!
The iSoccer Team