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March 9th, 2016

Announcing a New Partnership with Under Armour!

We at Next Level Training are super proud and excited for our first major announcement of 2016: the partnership we have formed with the amazing company Under Armour. We couldn’t be happier with the direction of our program and how much all of our hard work has started to pay off. Now we can outfit all our kids in the highest level training apparel there is!

Stay tuned for more exciting news in 2016.

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January 26th, 2016

Huge Congratulations to our MLS, NWSL, and National Team Athletes!

This past weekend proved to be another big one for the NLT family!

This past weekend in Baltimore they held the Mens 2016 MLS Super Draft and Women’s 2016 NWSL draft. Of the select few players that were drafted, from all over the country, three of them were Next Level Training athletes!

We couldn’t be more proud of the kids. We see them week in and week out, the amount of work they put in, the dedication to their game, the ability to implement, learn and adapt the knowledge they’re given is incredible. We are so excited for these three to continue their amazing careers and continue developing themselves as people and players within our Next Level Training program.

Congrats to Zach Carroll for being drafted by the New York Red Bulls!

Next Level Training athlete Zach Carrol drafted by MLS New York Red Bulls

Congrats to Mallory Weber for being drafted by the Western New York Flash!

Next Level Training athlete Mallory Weber drafted by NWSL Western New York Flash

Congrats to Summer Green for being drafted by the Seattle Reign!

Next Level Training athlete Summer Green drafted by NWSL Seattle Reign

Of course we’re biased with the players but these programs received not only incredibly talented athletes, but super hard working, disciplined, motivated and positive people.

National Team Program Athletes

To further the exciting news we received, we received news that multiple NLT players have been called into their countries National Team programs. It started with hearing Alexa Spaanstra and Izzy Rodriguez got called back into the USA U-17 National Team Camp and then received confirmation they both made the U17 CONCACAF qualifying team.

Next Level Training Athletes Alexa Spaanstra and Izzy Rodriguez called to USWNT U-17 National Team Camp

Then, Taylor Kornieck received her call in to the USA U-18 National Team Camp.

Next Level Training Athlete Taylor Kornieck called to USWNT U-18 National Team Camp

The news continued into the U-20s that Courtney Petersen and Emily Ogle got called in again to the USA U-20 National Team Camp.

Next Level Training Athlete Courtney Petersen

Next Level Training athletes Courtney Petersen and Emily Ogle called to USWNT U-20 National Team Camp

Also over the week we received news that Maria Jaramillo had been called into the Full Colombian National Team camp.

Next Level Training Athlete Maria Jaramillo called up to Colombian National Team Camp

But the news didn’t stop there.

A few more NLT superstars have also been recalled into USA National Team camps, with Mouse Kovacs being called into the USA U-19 camp, Mallory Weber into the USA U-23 camp and Kellyn Acosta was called by Jurgen Klinsmann into the full USA National team Mens camp this entire month.

Next Level Training Athletes Mouse Kovacs and Kellyn Acosta

What an amazing month it’s been for NLT, we are so excited for our athletes and couldn’t be happier to be a part of their growth and development in this beautiful game. Stay tuned as we have some more super exciting news coming soon.

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January 4th, 2016

2015 Year in Review: U.S. Men’s, Women’s Youth National Teams

usynt-year-review-2015

The United States youth national teams’ fortunes mirrored those of their senior counterparts in 2015. While the women won consistently, the men struggled.

Among the men’s teams, only the Under-20s performed close to their expected level in international competitions, with Tab Ramos’s men making a run to the quarterfinals of the World Cup before falling to eventual champion Serbia in penalties. The U-17s didn’t win a game at their World Cup, and the U-23s face a tough playoff against Colombia in order to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

The women, on the other hand, lost just twice in 22 games across the U-17, U-20 and U-23 ages. The U-20s played 13 of those, winning their fourth consecutive CONCACAF U-20 Championship to qualify for the 2016 World Cup in Papua New Guinea.

Still, it’s hard to look past the failures on the men’s side of the equation. The American women’s teams have always had, and continue to enjoy, the advantage that comes with an increased emphasis on women’s sports here, especially at the younger ages.

Here is the year in review for the U.S. youth national team programs:

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November 9th, 2015

Why Parents Should Stay Silent

It’s been said by many experts: The parents’ role in youth sports is to support their child in their child’s experience.

What does this actually mean? It means allowing our children to own the experience and doing what we need to do in order to allow them to have the most successful experience possible. To put it even more simply: Don’t interfere.

The more that adults are present while children are playing, the less it becomes about the children, and the more it becomes about the adults. There’s already a coach. It’s the coach’s job to ensure safety and facilitate practices and games. It’s the parents’ job to allow the coach to do this. If we have coaches and parents getting involved while the kids are playing, we now have more adults involved than children, and the experience is no longer in full control of the players.

Why do parents often feel compelled to speak to their children while they play? For the best reason: They love them. It is our natural inclination to step in when we feel that we can help our children. We also love to encourage them and watch them play, so we enjoy cheering for them. But here’s the truth: Our kids don’t need our help.

Kids love to play, and they love to do their best. They don’t need any help doing this. They also know what they are supposed to be doing on the field. And in the case that they forget, there is someone who’s already been designated to remind them: the coach.

As parents, we are very emotionally involved in our children’s experience, which is a great thing. It means we love our kids and want the best for them. Two of the most common emotions we feel are excitement and anxiety. With these emotions comes our need to express them. We get excited, so we cheer and shout for our kids to help get them excited. We get anxious, so we cheer and direct our kids to help them do their best and feel at ease.

These reactions are more damaging than helpful. Children don’t need help getting excited and motivated to play. As parents, simply being there is enough to show them that we love and support them. Anything more than that, and we begin to take over the experience. Children also rarely get nervous. I’ve seen so many parents get nervous when it’s their child’s turn to play goalkeeper. They are afraid of them getting scored on and feeling like they failed. Because of this, many parents will overcompensate and try to “help” their child in that role by giving directions or an overload of encouragement. Kids can sense the anxiety from adults, and it gets transferred to them. 95% of the time, the child playing goalkeeper volunteered for it, is excited about it, and feels no anxiety nor negative feelings when scored on. It’s important that, as adults, we realize that the emotions and thoughts we have are rarely the same emotions and thoughts the kids have.

When we speak out too much as parents, we often act as one of two things: A distraction or their brains.

By shouting out to our children while they are trying to play, we can easily distract them. They are already trying to focus on running, controlling a ball, avoiding defenders, and listening/remembering coach’s instructions. That’s a lot to handle. If parents start to shout their names and other words, kids become distracted and lose focus. They have to now focus on running, controlling a ball, avoiding defenders, listening/remembering coach’s instructions, and all the instructions and cheers coming from the 20 parents on the sideline. Talk about overwhelming.

We also can act as our children’s brains. If we are giving them instructions, our children are not making any decisions for themselves. They will never learn this way. Would we give our children the answers to their math test? Of course not. It’s the same thing during a game. The game is the test after practice. It’s the children’s opportunity to show everything they’ve learned and apply practice to a real life situation. If adults are telling them everything to do, they’ll never fully understand how to play. Give them a chance to show what they know. I bet they’ll surprise you.

What’s even worse about this, is that parents don’t know the whole story. We don’t know what the team talked about before the game, at half time, or during practice. We don’t know what specific instructions the coach gave. Maybe to us it seems like Stevie should run to the right side of the field, but coach told him to stand where he is. Maybe to us it seems like Samantha should pass the ball to Suzie instead of losing the ball while attempting a new move, but coach told them to practice the scissors any chance they got, and this was a perfect time to try it. Since we don’t know all the information as parents, we need to silently watch and observe, enjoying our children’s attempts to do their best. If we are truly concerned about the decisions our children are making, we can ask the coach – or better yet, ask our children – what they’ve been learning and focusing on.

Here’s a quick story: Once upon a time, I was coaching a group of 4-year olds. We were playing a spirited game of Sharks and Minnows (“minnows” have a soccer ball and try to get to the opposite side while “sharks” – who don’t have a ball – try to steal the balls). Most parents were on the sideline watching and chatting with one another. At one point, a father notices his son does not have a soccer ball and begins to shout to him to go get his ball! The child ignores him initially and continues to play. As the father continues to insist, his son finally stops right in the middle of his pursuit of a minnow, turns around to face his dad, and begins to cry while shouting “But I’m a shark!” This child knew exactly what he was supposed to do and was doing his best. His father, who was not part of the activity, interferes and gives wrong information. The result: a disgruntled child who no longer wants to play the game and sits out for the next 10 minutes of practice.

Remember: it’s the role of the parent to be the support system for the child. Our children love to tell us all about their experiences. If they did well, they want to tell us all about it. If they struggled, they need us to be the person they can talk to about it. It’s important that they have someone unassociated with the game in whom they can confide. The more parents get involved in the soccer aspect of their child’s experience, the more they become directly associated with it, and the less their children can come to them for support. This is a major reason why being the actual coach of our children is so difficult.

How Parents Can Best Support Their Children

Observe and stay quiet. Allow the kids to own the experience and showcase what they can do. Cheer loudly and proudly after a play happens. Learn what the team is focusing on and cheer for attempts at those things – not just for goals. Speak to your child after the game by simply saying “I love watching you play.” If your child wants to talk about the game or practice, allow them to speak and tell you their point of view – ask questions about their thoughts and feelings; do not tell them yours.

As parents, we can best serve our kids by staying silent more often and only saying a few, powerful words after our kids are finished playing.

Source: Switching the Field

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June 10th, 2015

Next Level Training: Where Collegiate Athletes Spend Winter Break

Next Level Training Click on Detroit

College athletes are home on winter break from the books and their classes, but the successful athletes know they need to continue training and conditioning even when they are away from their team.

Next Level Training (NLT) is a great place to train, condition and get that work in to keep an athlete competitive.

 

Read full article at ClickOnDetroit.com

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May 26th, 2015

Sacrificial Judgment: The Life of a Sports Parent

I think it’s safe to say that every parent at some point or another feels overwhelmed. Every parent questions their decisions, their insane schedule and their family’s sacrifices. All of these statements are especially true for sports parents. I haven’t met a youth sports mom or dad that hasn’t sat down at some point and said to themselves, “Is it really worth it? Why are we doing this?”

We have three children who all play travel soccer. They love the sport and have made wonderful friendships along the way. But as they get older I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit feeling guilty more times than not about the time our family commits to this sport. Particularly because of the judgment I feel from other parents or the kids’ peers along this journey. A month hasn’t gone by that at least one person doesn’t criticize us for spending almost every weekday driving the kids to practices and weekends at soccer games/tournaments, most out-of-town. We are often forced to divide and conquer and although we’ve met many families just like us over the years, we’ve come to realize this is not the norm. And it eats me up sometimes.

I have no idea if we’ll regret the choices we’ve made 10 years from now. But what I do know is our kids are happy and confident. Our kids are healthy. And they are genuinely good, respectful and well-mannered kids. Soccer has taken away most of their social lives with classmates or neighborhood friends, most who don’t include them at parties due to their schedules and some who even make fun of their sport or commitment to it. But they also have teammates/friends we’ve all grown to love and cherish, kids who are just like them, kids who share and support their schedules and who’ve been there for them through ups and downs.

Someone asked me recently if I missed having free weekends or wished I could just stay home and live like a “normal” family. Sure I feel like that sometimes. But for us, this insane schedule is our normal. And as much as I complain about driving all over, staying in two-star hotel chains, cheering from the sidelines in the rain, eating out of a crock pot, wiping tears after a bad game or holding a hand during the pain of an injury, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Part of me loves soccer because it keeps our kids busy and out of trouble, which is especially helpful with two teenagers in the house. Soccer has allowed our family to travel all over the country and even overseas. These trips together as a family have been unforgettable. We’ve met so many wonderful families along the way who I know will be our lifelong friends no matter where and when our roads divide. I love soccer because our kids have been forced to learn to communicate with adults and their peers without our guidance from a very young age. They have good time-management skills in order to get their schoolwork done because they know if their grades drop, so does soccer.

But I love soccer mostly because of what John Wooden said. “Sports do not build character, they reveal it”. It’s great to see one of our kids successful on the field, the moment he or she scores the winning goal, has the perfect assist or earns “MVP” of the match. But what’s more impressive is the character of the people they have become. They have learned to be humble when they win and gracious when they lose. They have learned that hard work eventually breeds success and a strong work ethic will get them far in life. They have learned to communicate with difficult teammates or coaches in tough situations. They have learned life isn’t always fair and not every coach or teammate will like them. Their attitudes on and off the field are a direct reflection of the lessons sports have taught them over the years. The good, the bad and the ugly.

I have no idea how long any of our kids will continue soccer. They could quit tomorrow. And that’s ok. But for today I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity each of them have to play this crazy game. So yes…the sacrifice is worth it.

via PeaceLoveParenthood

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January 6th, 2015

How To Play Like Messi

Quick points on how to play like Messi:

  • Spend time with the ball on a daily basis weaving in and out of cones or imaginary defenders
  • Touch the ball with each step when you dribble
  • Go slow at the defender to sucker them in and then burst past them with speed
  • Play one and two touch soccer when it’s on, don’t force the dribble
  • Shield the ball with your body and protect it
  • Don’t give up on the play
  • Set players up by varying your play so they don’t know what you’re going to do – play one touch sometimes and dribble when you’re one on one or in the attacking third
  • Use your shoulder and body to beat defenders with subtle feints

Who better to strive to emulate. He can dribble the ball like nobody else in the game. The ball seems to be tethered to his foot at all times. He creates havoc when he moves with the ball. He will even dribble across the top of the box or split between two defenders when it seemed like there was too much traffic or no space to move. Defenders must dread playing Barcelona since they have to face the Pulga Atomica (Atomic Flea). Diego Maradona, the new coach for Argentina, has hailed Messi as his replacement. This is no surprise, as Messi imitated Maradona’s run against England in a game against Getafe.

But how do play like Lionel Messi? Well, you have to spend time with the ball, and a lot of it. There’s no magic solution other than more and more practice and day in and day out. Whether that’s dribbling the ball in and around cones, around imaginary players, around the furniture in the house, and or in pickup games whenever you can, you essentially have to love the game if you want to play like Messi because that’s how he became the player he is. He loved the game and thus wanted to master the ball and the game.

Read More at Soccer Training Info

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November 10th, 2014

Five Tips for Recruits to get Noticed

via Top Drawer Soccer

Have you ever wondered what a college coach is looking for when they recruit at showcases? What they like and don’t like?

The staff at TDS combines is here to help. With the advice of college coaches from across the country, here are the five top tips that coaches are looking for from players at showcase events.

1. Technical Ability

Without a proper technical foundation, a player can only go so far. The player must possess good technique and a solid first touch. When watching games, coaches will consider things like the strength of the teams and the score of the game, but one of the most notable things that sticks out is an individual player’s technique.

2. Communication

A player constantly engaged and communicating during the game will stand out over a player that isn’t. Giving directions and organizing, particularly for defenders, is crucial. A player that communicates effectively on the field shows confidence and leadership qualities that coaches always look for.

3. Movement

Intelligent runs off the ball are important. Players are not only judged by what they do on the ball, but also how hard that player works off the ball and what kind of runs they make into space. Good movement off the ball can be a strong indicator that a player understands the game at a high level tactically.

4. Body Language

Body language tells coaches a lot about a player. How does a player react when a bad pass is played to them? Do they yell at teammates or appear overly frustrated? How does the player react when they play a bad pass? Does the player’s head drop? Are they confident in their abilities? Do they want the ball in the build up? Are they checking in, or hiding?

Players who duck their heads when they make a mistake tend to turn away coaches. Channeling frustration into bookable aggression, negative energy or selfish play are unattractive attributes to a coach. Those negative behaviors can ultimately tell them a lot about the type of person the player is off the field.

5. Position-Specific Skill Sets

How much does the keeper organize their back line? How good is the center back at one-on-one defending and making tackles? How often is the midfielder giving the ball away? How good are the striker’s diagonal runs in between defenders? These position-specific skill sets are scouted heavily when coaches are trying to find players to fill specific positions in college.

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September 30th, 2014

AS Roma Sign 9 Year Old Player!

via ESPNFC.com

Roma have launched a daring raid on Anderlecht’s youth academy to snaffle themselves a nine-year-old Youtube sensation by the name of Pietro Tomaselli.

According to L’Equipe, Roma’s academy scouts were alerted to Tomaselli’s prodigious talents after YouTube clips of the nipper in action went viral recently and immediately set out to being him into the youth set-up at the Giallorossi.

Tomaselli was reportedly on the radars of the great and the good of European football, with the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Man City all tracking his progress.

However, the youngster’s proud father, Pino, told Belgian website sudinfo.be that his son chose Roma both because of the family’s Italian heritage and the generous hospitality they received at the Stadio Olimpico.

“We were really wonderfully welcomed (in Rome),” said Pino. “Perhaps even more than a player like Diego Maradona!”

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