Fundamental Youth Soccer

Alan Maher

Are you looking for more ideas that will help instill the technique and tactics needed for your players to go to the next level? Search No More!!! FUNdamental Soccer’s own Alan Maher has written, “Attacking Soccer with the Neutral Player” as a supplement to our extremely popular ‘9-Step Practice Routine’.

Alan expands our Step 6. (Small Sided Games) by giving you unusually unique ideas which create a competitive atmosphere in practice resulting in improving fitness, technique, tactics and adds the variety to keep your players interested.

You may recognize Alan Maher from his many articles published by FUNdamental Soccer over the last three decades. What you may not know is that for more than a quarter of a century Alan Maher has been the chairman of printed training material for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. His articles can be read not only in NCAA’s own magazine, Soccer Journal, but in every soccer magazine in the country as well. Attacking Soccer with the Neutral Player is a SYSTEM that uses FUN small-sided games that will automatically instill the techniques, tactics, and skills needed to WIN Games!

Alan’s Coaching Experience:

  • Huntington High School (Long Island) 2001- present
  • Bellmore JFK High School 1996-2001 Coach of the Year 1999 in Massau County Section B
  • Massapequa High School 1987-1996
  • Berner High School 1980-1987
  • Farmingdale Junior College 1979-1980
  • US Merchant Marine Academy 1977-1979 (Division 1, Nationally Ranked College)
  • Massapequa Soccer Club 1971-1980


  • Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) Summers of 1978 & 1980
    (Certified training program for selected coaches)
  • National Training Center at Volendam, Holland. Frans Hoek Goal Keeper training for players and coaches
  • Southern New York State Soccer Association license program
  • Spent 25 summers in Holland observing soccer training of professional and youth programs

Soccer Administration:

  • Secretary of Long Island Football Soccer league 1975-1985
  • Founder of the Massapequa Soccer Club, first secretary 1971-1980
  • President of NY Cosmos Coaches’ Soccer Coaches “Corner Club” 1974-1978
  • Chaired soccer exchange trip to Alkmaar Holland for 152 people in 1975
  • Chaired return trip to the Dutch in 1976 (119 people)
  • Bibliography advisor to national staff of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America 1990-present
  • Chairman of Instructional Material, Printed, 1984-2000 for NSCAA


  • NSCAA annual conventions, Northern California Youth Soccer Summer Clinics, Aberdeen SD Soccer Association, Long Island Jr. Soccer League and various soccer clubs in Metropolitan New York.

9-Step Routine: Easy to Learn & Easy to Teach
The staff used the 9-Step Routine and it worked well, including training goalkeepers. I was most impressed with the staff and participants. All were knowledgeable and eager to help each other in improving soccer skills. My purpose here is to review the program, rather than dwell on the technical aspects.
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What Do We Do Now?
On Long Island the team has a coach of record. he or she goes to the games with the team. Normally that person is a volunteer. Then the team hires a professional coach. Perhaps the English coach. Then there is a personal trainer for many of the players. Finally, there is a tournament coach who takes the team to regional tournaments. Suppose that the team doesn’t do well. Then the parents ask, “what do we do now?”

Summer Musings
By the way, this is the only country that has paid coaches, paid by parents, in the world. We have three levels. First, we have the team coach, then the personal trainer and finally the special trainer. The special trainer does the hop, skip and jump stuff, or the dragging of players. Some give out special mini-parachutes. Remember that the coach is paid. (I trained kids for nothing. Stupid me.)

Procrustes’ Bed of Education
When teachers in a given school are forced to teach the same way, this is called Procrustes’ Bed of Education. This is not considered a good thing. One size fits all? Really? I feel the same way about training soccer players and coaches. Is there really only one way? That seems a little tight considering the variety of players and coaches. And experience and physical stature for the players.

The Solution?
We seem to spend too much time on the wrong thing in this country. We need more on creativity on the field of play.

Co-Coaches of the Year – Taught
This was an interesting season for me as the team was very different from previous teams. The players had good footwork but lacked ability and knowledge of teamwork. So I spent the season developing that area of soccer. It was hard work and needed constant repetitions of what had been learned. It was all new to them.

Player Development Starts in the Socks
Have you ever watched the best players in the world and wondered: how did they do that? They perform a brilliant pass, finding a player in the open while being under extreme pressure. Or they score a brilliant goal and it seemed as if the player knew where everything and everyone was and then made the right decision under pressure. It may be a quick dribble into a space that didn’t even seem to be there but suddenly appeared.

Hop, Skip & Jump
This same article could be written every summer following pre-season training. I could just change the title and some dates and mail it in every year. Same thing, same problem. This is the last week of July and various teams are being trained before the season begins, which is August. So I have gone to the park on four different days. This is what I have seen…

Shooting and Scoring
In an interview, Connor English explained that that off-season he shot 200 times a day. During the season he shoots 50 to 100 times after practice. You read that right. He shoots 50 to 100 times after every practice. Now, all you players who play soccer, how many shoot 200 times a day off season and 50 to 100 times after each practice?

How to Deal with Soccer Referees
The experienced referees are replaced by the less experienced. They are being driven out by coaches, players and parents. I have told you my attitude. I pretend that soccer is played in a glass tank containing twenty-two players and one referee. The linesmen are off the playing field and signal the referee with a flag. They do not yell; they signal. No one else is allowed on the field and nobody can enter without the permission of the ref. I speak to a ref before the game and after the game. Period. I do not yell during the game. It is in a glass tank. Remember that.

A New Season
Why should all soccer be high level competition? Why cannot kids just have fun? I do not even like the thought that an adult needs to be at the game. I played basketball and football without ever seeing an adult. How about that? Club stuff between kids.