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The Elite Player Evolution Program (EPX2) is a club-neutral program designed to maximize a player's potential and accelerate their learning curve. EPX2 is based on Kaizen (CANI), Japanese for "improvement", which is a philosophy that focuses upon continuous improvement. Originally designed for manufacturing, engineering, and business management; we have adopted the philosophy and designed it to suit the needs of elite soccer players. This program is not for everyone, it's designed for players committed to improving.
EPX2 provides a vision for the future development of elite youth soccer player in the USA. It proposes the first year-round and club-neutral player development program that delivers instant feedback and an evaluation on the player. EPX2 gives a comprehensive view of where a player needs to focus his or hers attention to and identifies areas where they need to improve.
Epx2 will break down into 5 training cycles and will focus on the following stages of development:
* The first 8-week training cycle will begin with baseline testing in several tangible areas of players' physical conditioning, speed, endurance and recovery. This process includes measuring the skill of the player and recording that in our skill index and graphing it out for the player to see. We also assess players tactical thinking process through very demanding speed of play and transition activities.
* The second 8-week cycle will be designed around position-specific training. This will be done at Total Turf in their indoor facility during the early months of winter. This will give players' ample time to concentrate on themselves as an individual and focus on the position that they play.
Whether they are a goalkeeper, defender, midfielder or striker we will put them in a group with players of the same mentality. This is done in order to give players an understanding of the specific nuances that are crucial in the make up of that player playing within that position.
* The third 8-week training cycle will focus on the pre-season preparation. For this cycle, we work with our sports development performance partner, Virtua. Together, we design and implement a pre-season training program for players. This too will be designed around players specific position giving them the best opportunity for optimum performance during the upcoming season.
* The fourth 8-week training cycle will consist of small group tactical training. Using the knowledge and skill set recently acquired in the position-specific cycle we will look to progress them to work within a group of players. This is done a group setting so that players can utilize the technical aspects of their position to learn and implement the tactics of that position.
* The fifth 8-week training cycle will feature end-of-year testing from the physical, psychological, technical and tactical aspects. The video analysis and real-time evaluation that the player has received on a weekly basis will be used to graph and lay out an annual report for the player. In addition to our evaluations, players will complete a self-analysis. Players are then given the ability to analyze where they are and compare and contrast it to what the coaching staff wrote down.
It is common misconception that in order for you to optimally perform during competition you must train hard all of the time. Wrong! You have to train smart!
Players who are serious about planning their training must also be serious about planning their active recovery sessions. This is even more important to the high school athletes who are training every day and playing matches. Lying in bed and relaxing at home is not giving their body the ample rest that it is craving in order to fully recover.
Incorporating this type of active recovery training allows us to decrease the risk of injury and improve performances. Active Recovery training is often complimented by mental relaxation exercises. These training regiments instill confidence in the fact that you are giving your self the best opportunity to be your best throughout the season.
Training hard is not always training smart!
Here are some of the areas where we will be concentrating on our active recovery sessions.
Short to long-duration stretching. This will assist in reducing soft tissue and joint injuries.
Massage, self-massage exercises are demonstrated using a foam roller. These are great for breaking down those tired muscle groups where the lactic acid builds up leading to stiffness, soreness and cramps.
Light cardio, stationary bike, elliptical, rowing machine, swimming etc.
Hydrotherapy. We have 3 swimming pools, heated to various degrees, at our disposal at Virtua. We will be able to accelerate our recovery by using these pools for various exercises. Hot and cold contrasting baths will be used for players who just competed in a match. This helps tired muscles flush lactic acid away allowing players to feel "normal" faster.
Meditation and visualization exercises round off the recovery program. This program will also work muscle groups by tensing and relaxing the muscles that we most-often use. Breathing exercises are also taught to simultaneously increase oxygen supply to the brain and blood stream. These steps also help the mind focus on techniques that allow you to concentrate and block everything else out of your mind during key moments in games.
This is just for our 9-11 year olds as they cannot attend the pre-season at Virtua due to age. So we have developed a spectacular Skills and Quick Feet agility program around the Futsal program.
Young players from around the world realize the benefit of participating in Futsal, and these young players all around the world grow up with this game played in the street. Futsal is organized street soccer and has tremendous benefits for these young players. Its pace, size of the playing field, number of players, modified rules all demand a much higher level of concentration by the mind and quicker execution by the feet. In the following I'll break it down why Futsal is a key ingredient in a player's soccer development.
Touches on the ball - giving only 4+GK on the field enables the players to touch the ball much more often than in a regular 11v11 or the recreational 7v7 game. Players will find the ball at their feet more often than ever before and will have just a split second to deal with it. ...and it's going on non-stop.
Foot skills - instead of touching the ball less than ten times in a 30 minutes outdoor half, during a Futsal game, players will be able to touch the ball close to a hundred times in each half. Their foot skills will develop rapidly: it is a constant passing game spiced up with some individual flair of dribbling skills.
Additional GK training - it will allow the goal keeper to be an active part of the team both in attacking and defending without any break. He/she won't have the chance to "zone out" and take a mental break.
Quick thinking - the ball and the players are moving fast. The minimal time to process the information presented by the actual situation demands quick execution. Also, at every restart the ball has to be released in less than 4 seconds.
Reading and anticipating the flow of the game - quicker thinking and responding will enhance the player's ability to read the flow of the game better and ahead of time. Playing proactively rather than just reacting to the game will bring success on the Futsal court, and will transfer over to the soccer field.
Transition - teams attack and defend together. In soccer (in the 11v11 game also!) once we lose the ball we are all defenders, when we win the ball back now we are all attackers. Given the small number of players and the tight space provided, in Futsal this is more emphasized. Winning and losing possession of the ball will happen quickly; hence changing gears from defense to attack and attack to defense require super fast execution in the mind and in the feet.
Small-sided environment & Tactical awareness - the players will be exposed to numerous 1v1, 1v2, 2v1, 2v2 situations. These are key elements of the 11v11 game also. If a team and its players are not good in 1v1 and 2v2 situations, and if they can not perform efficiently and successfully in those small fragments of the game, then they won't be able to perform successfully on the big field when they play the 11v11 game.