CUSA has made, and continues to make, many important steps in recent times to become the premier club in the Dayton area.
As a club we are dedicated to providing our players with, not only with the best playing and training experience but also, the best opportunities to grow and develop as young men and women.
At CUSA we believe that we have had, for many years, a very strong sense of identity running through everything we do, both on and off the pitch.
This is, we now realise as being, our CUSA DNA.
A lot of hard work, planning and expertise goes into creating, defining and maintaining our CUSA DNA and we are grateful to all of the full time staff, part time staff, players, parents and volunteers who help us achieve this.
Below are the main components which we believe set CUSA apart from other local clubs and help us to define our strong culture, our CUSA DNA.
The struggle is the constant search to improve each and every aspect, each and every day.
Great Coaching equals Great Players
At the core of CUSA's belief system is that, however you look at it, the coaches have the biggest impact on the quality of the development of players under their care.
All things being equal, it is the coaching in a young player's life that can make the difference between being good and being the best.
That is why, as a club, CUSA look for and recruit the very best coaches we can find, for all age groups and all ranges of abilities.
CUSA attracts the best coaches in the area, and outside the area, to the club.
Once a coach joins CUSA, their education and development is paramount because any improvements in the coaching will be directly felt by the players themselves.
CUSA invests a lot of time and money into coaching education as we truly believe that it is one of the best and most proven ways to directly affect the development of a young soccer player.
Our commitment to coaching excellence is clear to see from the calibre and quality of the coaching staff that we hire and from the sheer volume of educational components that we provide to our coaches by virtue of being CUSA coaches.
Our staff are amongst the most highly licensed coaches in the country with;
US Soccer A and B licensed coaches on staff.
US Youth licensed coaches on staff.
Conmebol and UEFA licensed coaches on staff.
United Soccer Coaches Premier Diploma holders on staff.
Holders of Masters Degrees in Coaching on staff.
Coerver certified instructors on staff.
Our staff coaches are also amongst some of the most experienced that you will find with;
Current and former college coaches on staff.
Current and former High School coaches on staff.
8 Ohio South ODP coaches on staff.
United Soccer Coaches Instructors on staff.
US Soccer Instructors on staff.
Former professional players (USA and overseas) on staff.
Referee trainers on staff.
Game Model, Our Style of Play
Our style of play is derived from a living and breathing document called our Game Model.
Football is a fluid sport that can not have 'play books' but we have formulated and codified our philosophical playing beliefs into one document that we share with our coaches and that everything we do on the training and game field flows from.
Due to the sheer amount of work that goes into producing a Game Model, most Youth Soccer Clubs do not have one.
CUSA players are fortunate that their club has invested time and effort into our players development.
Our Game Model is our 'driving' document in terms of how we play and train, our 'style of play' and it determines what our player development syllabus, seasonal curriculum, session plans and methodology all look like.
Our style of play is fluid but looks like this;
A 4-3-3 formation for the 11v11 teams.
Patient ball circulation.
Total technical dominance 1v1.
Aggressive, in your face defence and indomitable spirit.
Fluid in movement (not rigid positions) all players know and understand how to play and occupy all positions at any given time.
Positive and large numbers in attack.
Dominating Goalkeeper who is fantastic with their feet.
Technical, Cognitive and Problem solving as opposed to an over reliance on purely physical attributes.
WHY? - The 4-3-3 formation is one that has been popularised by some of the best teams in the worldand, from a developmental perspective, seamlessly fits into the playing model of younger teams that play 4v4, 7v7 and 9v9.
As the teams move through the age groups, players are simply added into certain positions and the style and 'team shape' remain the same rather than the team having to learn and understand a new formation and style every few years.
The 4-3-3 formation, although fluid, promotes a short passing game and an aggressive attack with lots of players moving forward to support the ball.
Our style is one of technical dominance and we want every CUSA player to be able to;
Beat their opponent 1v1.
Hold the ball under pressure.
Take an exquisite first touch.
Receive with purpose,
Thread a pass through the eye of a needle.
Positionally and tactically CUSA wants its teams to be set up in a superior fashion to our opposition.
Our tactics and 'style of play' are based on 'Juego de Posicion' or 'Positional Play' which is derived from FC Barcelona's philosophy and can trace its origins and history back to one of the all time great players, managers and innovators, Johan Cruyff.
Juego de Posicion is predicated on occupying the right space at the right time, never standing still waiting but instead timing movements in to spaces that are designed to cause maximum disruption to the opposition whilst at the same time creating the most advantageous and attacking opportunities for the possessing team.
Because of this, all players must be technically and tactically competent enough to fill any position at any point during the game.
This 'fluidity' is key in keeping the opponents off balance and disorganised as well as constantly ensuring the correct attacking structure is maintained.
When out of possession we work hard as a team to win the ball back, forcing the opposition to go where we want them to go and then aggressively pressing the ball to win it back on certain cues and triggers.
Player Development Syllabus
Our Player Development Syllabus contains key standards and points of reference for our coaches to use with their player in specific age groups.
The syllabus contains key developmental 'targets' that a coach will instill into his players in the period of time that he has them, in relation to their age group, before handing the players over to the coach of the next age group.
The next coach then has an objective reference point from which to pick up from, and another set of 'targets' that he must then impart upon his players before they are again passed on to the next coach.
The syllabus insures that all players and coaches are responsible for the development of the players and allows all parties to tangibly see the standards and targets expected of a child as he or she passes through each stage of development.
Our CUSA Curriculum is designed to develop, over a period of seasons and years, each and every one of our players to be the best that they can be.
The curriculum will start by covering the fundamentals of soccer and move into the more advanced levels of soccer over time.
The curriculum features team topics that are to be worked on and that feed back directly into our Game Model (style of play), to insure that all CUSA players receive a well thought out and 'stair stepped' or 'building block' approach to development.
On any given day you will see all teams training from the curriculum, working on common issues.
The idea is that, like all the best academies in the world, a player can be moved from within any CUSA team and positioned in any other CUSA team and the player will know exactly his or her roles and responsibilities because they have been taught an overriding style of play from the time that they join CUSA until the time that they leave.
This is completely different from most other clubs who, although all players and coaches are wearing the same uniforms, are all separate from one another with no continuity or overlap, teaching what they want when they want.
Player development won't occur haphazardly overnight, and instead requires an expertly designed stair-step approach that builds session on session, year on year moving the player through all of the stages of training and playing;
Training to train, playing to win.
Training to develop, playing to win.
Training to compete, playing to win.
Training to win, playing to win well.
It's important that CUSA has an age appropriate, clearly thought out and well designed curriculum that takes a young player through their stages of development so that players, parents and coaches can follow it in order to see and understand what the end product should look like in terms of short and long term goals.
Knowing the objectives help the coach, the parent and the player themself to support the player's movement along the pathway and maximise their potential.
The curriculum is applied to all CUSA players, boys and girls of all ages but is applied differently and appropriately by the coach depending upon the needs, ages and abilities of the players.
This is one of the benefits of having dedicated age group coaches with high levels of specialisationwho know and understand how to differentiate the learning material based on the learner.
The curriculum helps the coaches to deliver a club wide style of play, a club wide philosophy and helps to instil our CUSA DNA.
CUSA's session plans provide the substance to the the Game Model, Syllabus and Curriculum when coupled with the expert tuition and guidance of our coaches.
CUSA coaches utilize written session plans, designed on the latest 'session-planning software'.
Simple but effective 4 part session plans will take the players through 60 to 90 minutes of fantastic training designed to cover all of the key components of the curriculum in a thematic and organised fashion.
The content of the session plans, combined with the expert coaching, will provide the young players with an excellent technical base coupled with a real tactical understanding of the game wrapped up and delivered in a fun but intense training environment.
By utilising detailed and structured session plans the efficiency and efficacy of the sessions increase.
The session plans act as a guide to ensure club-wide consistency when delivering sessions that are designed to instil our CUSA DNA into our young players.
The training methodology are the methods that our coaches use to impart knowledge into the our players.
CUSA uses the following 4-part methodology during its training sessions;
Juego de Posición Activity
In order to be able to generate technically brilliant and tactically astute players, a certain kind of training methodology has to be adopted club-wide.
Going forwards, CUSA have decided to follow the example of some of the best clubs in world soccer and adopt the following 4-stage training methodology.
Rondos are a key staple of teams like Barcelona, Manchester City and Bayern Munich to mention but a few of the strongest teams in the world.
They are essentially 'reduced-number' versions of the game in which the players learn to play one or two touch soccer, exceptionally fast decision making, passing and receiving correctly whilst under pressure and supporting off the ball movements.
What is learned in a Rondo translates directly to the game itself and allows CUSA Players to be able to play a courageous, bold and expansive style of soccer.
Because Rondos are so game specific and can mirror certain parts of the game, whilst ensuring that all players are heavily involved, it truly is a vital part of the training methodology and has been previously described as 'Barcelona's secret weapon'.
However, unlike larger versions of the game, Rondos are typically small-sided so they provide young players with the opportunity of getting on the ball many times in a Rondo as well as experiencing certain game-specific scenarios repeatedly in a short period of time.
It is interesting to note that by the time a player in Barcelona's youth system (La Masia) has reached 18 years of age he will have played approximately 2,000 hours of Rondo!
In order to be able to carry out the tactical instructions of the coach, a player must be able to handle the ball, technically, with ease and comfort in opposed scenarios with pressure from defenders.
Not only is being able to beat defenders 1v1 essential but a player must be able to receive the ball with purpose.
That is, receive the ball comfortably, no matter how it is played to them, and have the correct body orientation and first touch to facilitate their next footballing action (receive with purpose).
CUSA players will learn to be exceptional in 1v1, 2v1, 2v2 & 3v2 scenarios.
Because our players will be raised in a cognitive training environment which teaches them to think for themselves and recognise often occurring tactical problems and find commonly occurring solutions, their play will have sharp, quick, and rapid decision making and execution as its hallmark.
It is interesting to note that the best and quickest decision-making players in the world will try to receive the ball across their body, on their back foot with their body shape oriented to be at least on the half turn, trying to see up the field as well as where the ball has come from (receive with purpose).
Juego de Posición Activity:
One of the key 'signatures' to CUSA's style of play is the ability to dominate the game 'positionally'. That is, when we have the ball, to be able to always fill the right spaces at the right time, using the principles of width, depth and penetration.
This coupled with the correct timing of off-the-ball movement, constantly provides the ball carrier and the team with attacking options due to the offensive structure of the team.
It is interesting to note that the world's most successful teams in modern times, in terms of both club and national teams, are those that subscribe to a Juego de Posición style of play.
At the end of CUSA training sessions, teams will either participate in a 'coached game', a 'small-sided game' or a 'conditioned game' (training games).
Wholistic research clearly now shows that the best way for players to understand what they have learned from the session is to apply it in a training game at the end.
It is interesting to note that training games provide a reduced version of the real game typically with a problem solving or decision making (tactical decision making) element and provide players with a game-realistic opportunity to get on the ball, develop skill and game-insight in an environment that is very similar to the game itself.
High Levels of Competition
CUSA has all levels of soccer available, from recreational to our competitive teams that play in some of the most elite and competitive leagues and competitions in the country.
Our strongest and best players and teams in each age group will now often train with the strongest and best players and teams in the age group above them to facilitate a truly elite and competitive training environment.
Our aim is for our teams to consistently compete in the highest level of competition available to them.
As a result, our top teams in each age group play in the National Premier League (NPL) and Midwest Regional League (MRL) and face the stiffest competition around week in and week out.
In practice, we will often place younger elite level players in to the same training environment as older elite level players as this creates an environment where the learning and development of players is heavily accelerated.
We believe, and this belief has been borne out by many studies on the best player academies of the world's top teams, that players improve faster by playing with and against the best players.
Long Term Development v Immediate Success
At the youth level, it is actually a lot easier to win a decent amount of games than you might think.
Some clubs and coaches will rely upon a young player's size, strength and athleticism to win games in youth soccer.
You may be familiar with the terms 'kick and chase', 'boot it', 'long ball' or even 'run and gun'.
These, to those in the know, are derogatory terms applied to coaches and teams who have placed zero effort into the development of their teams and young players.
These coaches have instead spent many a wasted hour smashing long balls over the top for the 'fast' kid to chase.
At youth level, this can bring immediate short term success as players can be of all shapes, sizes and athletic ability and unable to deal with a physical and direct style of play.
Some parents are, understanbly, fooled by these short term results.
Here's the kicker.
As players get older, they physically even out.
Sure, some people will always be faster and others will always be taller, but on average the disparity in these differences narrow and fade into a negligible difference as young players get older.
What happens now is, the tactic of smashing the ball 'over the top' ceases to become effective as goalkeepers become bigger and faster and can deal with this or a chasing defender is now no longer so out-gunned in terms of speed that he can comfortably keep up with the attacker.
The team that was small and focused on player development over short-term winning has now had many years of learning the game together in a challenging, cognitive and fun environment.
They have had many years of development and now know how to play and understand the game. They are able to dominate other teams 1v1 because of all the work they have put into this area of the game.
They are tactically savvy and know how to handle tactical problems and issues on the field, because they have spent years working on problem solving 'training games' in practice instead of 'kick and chase'.
Now these players will be in command of every game they play and the other team, the team that spent their time working on running after a punt up field, well they missed out on the 'golden years of learning' and there is no way back for them.
Their team will likely decline and many players may stop playing altogether. This is not an empty philosophy, CUSA will implement this attitude to training and developing every day.
To help achieve this we have identified the following parameters for our training environments throughout a young player's CUSA Career;
Academy (U7 - U10) - 'Training to Train, Playing to Win Stage' The sessions here consist mainly of technical activities where players learn how to master the ball. Tactical input is limited. In terms of competitiveness, the theme here is fun where players learn to thrive in a training environment and results simply do not matter, although the players are always 'trying to win'.
U11 - U12 - 'Training to Play, Playing to Win Stage' The sessions here are still technically based, but more and more Positional Games and Training Games are now being introduced in order to establish a tactical overview based on the principles of the game. Fun is still the order of the day but now with the concepts of accountability and trying to do your best being instilled into the young players by the coaches. Winning is nice, but not the most important thing, although we still always 'try to win'.
U13 - U14 - 'Training to Compete, Playing to Win Stage' Technical work, although still extremely important, is now not given as much time in the training session itself. Positional Games and Training Games dominate with introduction of more 'coaching in the flow' of game like activities. Sessions as this age now start to look more and more like the actual game itself. Tactics are introduced in a more formal way and it would not be uncommon to see coaches working with tactics boards, detailing out a tangible game plan for their team. Teams should now at least be competing in difficult games.
U15 - U19 - 'Training to Win, Playing to Win Stage' The focus, whilst always on the individual and their development now shifts to include an emphasis on winning as a team. The team, working from their solid educational base of technique and positional play will now incorporate more fitness, defensive work functional training to go out and win on the weekend.
Player Psychological Profiles
When Guardiola was appointed Barcelona head coach in 2008, he immediately imposed three behaviours on his players which informed them how to act: humility, hard work and putting the team above your own self interest.
If CUSA players follow and exhibit these characteristics then they won't go far wrong.
Players in any competitive sporting environment need to possess certain psychological characteristicsin order to succeed both from an individual and team perspective.
As CUSA players move through the Training Stages, it is our job to insure that they start to develop these characteristics and become equipped to deal with the psychological demands of the game as they get older and as the level of competition increases.
Talent can only take a player so far, with mental strength often being cited by sports psychologists as the differentiating factor between very good and world class players.
The key characteristics are;
Mental Toughness - Players must understand and then embrace the physical and psychological toughness required to be a competitive sports player. Things do not always go your way. This should not be the end of the world for a player and should instead trigger responses like "what do I have to do to overcome this?" "What can I learn from this experience to be better next time"?
A Growth Mindset wants to improve and understand what is needed to get better. closed mindset will just accept things the way they are and look to blame other people, team mates or coaches, for tough results.
Mental and Physical Intensity - Intensity is not to be confused with speed or 'doing things at 100 MPH'.
Intensity is doing the right things, at the high level, for the full duration of a game or training session.
Intensity is synonymous with quality and duration. Always doing the right thing. Giving your all. Not slacking.
Work rate - Players often become tired and playing can be hard work. Not all parts of soccer can be made fun. Lots of players do not like chasing back attackers and defending or putting in hard tackles.
Players ask for subs when they are tired and things are not going their way on the field. This is exactly the time to dig in and work hard for your team. Work rate should constantly be at 100% and should remain at that level regardless if you are being watched or not. Coaches often say that they will take hard work over pure talent as "Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work hard".
Commitment and Dedication - Players must turn up to all games and practices on time. It's that simple. If players want to be selected and play more minutes, then they need to be present at practice and games. There are times that the weather will not be ideal, there will be occasions when the player is busy with outside commitments. These need to be managed and dealt with as a commitment and dedication has been undertaken.
Focus - Being at practice and games, by itself, is not enough. Players must arrive, and stay, focused, ready to listen to what the coach is saying and execute his instructions.
Players should not be messing around. They are part of a complex team sport which requires the following of complicated instructions. Without focus, the players will not fully understand what to do during games and will not fully understand what is expected of them in the team setting which will lead to a dip in team performance.
Accountability - Players, and only players, are responsible for their own actions.
No excuses are acceptable.
If players don't attend practice, don't work hard, don't train hard, don't listen to their coach, don't tackle don't do this or don't do that, then the buck stops with them, they should not be surprised to learn that this will directly impact upon their playing time.
If they can't take accountability for their own actions then they must understand that this will affect their development and their standing.
Respect - The players must respect the coach, their teammates, the training environment and themselves and this must be shown at all times.
Self (intrinsic) Motivation - It is for the player themselves to become motivated. It is impossible for a coach to first worry about motivating all of his players. Players must come to practice and games motivated and 'ready to go'.
This is not the coach's responsibility. If CUSA have hired a coach after a vigorous selection process, then "my child does not get on with the coach" is not an acceptable excuse.