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Fundamental Soccer Blog



“After listening to the “Perfect Soccer Practice Framework!” podcast,
I felt duty-bound to let others know how the ‘Practice Framework’
benefited my coaching career.” Mark Starr

It all started in 2002, and I was one of two coaches for the Redding Missfits FC,
a class 3 U-16 girls’ team. I had completed the “E” Course, and my co-coach,
Steve Hoxie, had completed the “E/D” Course.

It was our first season together with the team, and we agreed to use the
FUNdamental framework and philosophy to the letter. Steve was familiar with
maybe half of the players, and I was coaching all of them for the first time.
Not only did we have a fairly new team, but we also had a very young team.
Four of our girls could have played U-14, while the others will all be eligible
to return next season.

At the first practice, we taught them the Figure 8 warm-up and how to set up ‘the Serve!’
The girls enjoyed the warm-up much better than the traditional way of running laps around
the field and stretching in a circle. They even asked if we could use it before the games,
not knowing that was our plan all along. Part of our philosophy was instilling ownership
of the team within the girls.

We continuously reminded them it was their team, not ours. With this in mind, they knew
what time practice started and how to start it. We didn’t have to say, “It’s 5:00, let’s
start the warm-up”. They would begin on their own. Once the warm-up was complete, they
would set up ‘The Serve’: Again on their own. We would adjust the distance depending on
the skill we were working on for that session.

‘the Serve’ is a never-ending source for skill-building games, but I think its most
significant advantage is the conditioning aspect to it. Throughout our league and
tournament play, we were always one of the fittest teams. It was nice not having to
squeeze laps or sprints into our practices. Another positive aspect of ‘the Serve’ is
the confidence the girls developed in 1v1 situations on the pitch.

We added a few of our own touches to what we learned. First, we gave each girl three
cones to keep and bring to practice. The cones soon became known as their “buddies,”
and the girls decorated them in their own unique ways.

Second, we began using the extra player as a coach during the serve.

(It seems you rarely end up with an even number of players at practice.) Through this
player-to-player coaching, they developed the confidence to coach each other during the
flow of a match constructively. Noticing this, on days when we did have an even number
of players at practice, we would have two girls coaching during the serve – One on each side.

For the Third addition, we stole a piece from your (Koach Karl’s) personality.
You seem to be known for your corny jokes and bits of little known facts. We would end our
practice with the “Fun Fact of the Day.” Each practice, two girls would come prepared with the fun facts.

We quickly found out we needed to limit it to two per player or be there all night. The girls enjoyed
it, as well as we did. Towards the end of the season, we got away from this by mistake, so that we
will add it back in again this season.

We know that wins and losses are not the only way to evaluate a team, but the girls’ success;
this season far exceeded every expectation we had for them. We were undefeated in our league and District Cup.

We also competed in four tournaments, finishing with two thirds and a second. By the mid-point of
our season, every player (goalie included) had at least one goal and one assist. But by far,
the most important aspect of the season was the fact that the girls had FUN.

Steve and I took our same coaching style/philosophy to the high school level in (2004); each at different
schools. It was great to see our freshman teaching the seniors the Figure 8 warm-up and ‘the Serve.’

We have no doubt that this coaching framework would work at the younger levels as well. We would love
to see the leagues require the learning and application of the framework for all coaches, especially
at the younger levels. We also believe that once a coach understand and apply the framework, they will
be eager to insert their own ideas.

We thank you for everything your methodology has done for our program, and we look forward to continued success.
If you find yourself this far north in the state, we would love to have you meet our team. Thanks again.
Mark Starr
Redding Missfits FC.

I’ve meant to write you about my first season (2008) with Simpson University. I took over a team that had
primarily been a recreational team playing in a competitive NAIA conference. Based on my previous youth teams’
results by using the “FUNdamental SOCCER –Practice,” I decided to use the same philosophy with the college team.
Since the team needed so much work on individual skills, the decision made perfect sense.

The philosophy of each player with the ball for the warm-up allowed me to introduce skills that we would build
on later in practice. We spent most of the season on 1 on1 and 2 on 1 skills, and the women quickly developed
confidence in these situations. It wasn’t until the end of the season that I introduced the 3rd attacker and
3rd defender rolls.

By the end of the season, we had recorded the most successful season for women’s soccer at Simpson University.
Here are a few of the school records we set: Most wins in a season with 6, best record at 6-8, most goals in
a season, and finished 4th in the conference. One of the women recorded the first hat-trick for Simpson, and
I had to explain to her what that was. Most of all, the women enjoyed the season, because we were competitive
in our matches. Win or lose; they couldn’t wait to tell everyone at home how we did after each game.

With my recent success at the college level, I can confidently say that the ‘FUNdamental SOCCER – Practice,’
framework works well with all ages and abilities. From the recreational youth teams, the competitive club teams,
the high school team, and now with the college team, I’ve seen the players develop at such a quick pace.
I can’t imagine coaching a team without keeping to the FUNdamental coaching philosophy.

United Soccer Coaches
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