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What I do differently at Ian McClurg Learn Perform Coaching  

A few years ago I transitioned away from operating academy teams programs to focusing exclusively on individual player development.

I am asked often what I do differently in my coaching. It is a question that I often reflect on as I continue to evolve my coaching practice. It is important to me that I retain the same core values as when I launched 1v1 Soccer, back in 2000.

The Beginning…Everything Starts Somewhere

1v1 Soccer was started back in 2000, because I felt that there were not enough young players in Ontario receiving quality coaching. A small pool of players were chosen to train in the provincial programs and in reality, the program could only caterer to a small number of players within a convenient drive time of the training centre at Vaughan. I aimed to help change that and I do think that 1v1 Soccer and subsequently SAAC did successfully contribute to some of the eventual changes that have taken place in Ontario with respect to youth development. There are many more training opportunities now available to young Canadian players.

The Top 5 Things that define what I do :

  • The player is placed at the central point of learning! My focus always remains on the technical, tactical, physical and mental development of the individual player. Every child that enters our program is expected to leave our program, not only a better player but more importantly a better person. The player’s academic education must work “hand-in-hand” with their learning as a player.

  • Ian McClurg Learn Perform is an individual skills development company that places emphasis on development of the individual. We emphasize individual creativity and game intelligence of our individual players over regimented team structures and team results

  • We aim to provide young Canadian players with similar soccer training experiences to other young players in Europe. - European academy based model

  • I have a long-term vision with respect to developing young players. It does take 10,000 hours to develop an elite athlete and I try to attract young players and families who recognize and are committed to this long-term approach. Not all our players will strive to play the game at the elite level but we do want to provide them with the skills to enjoy the game more at the level they wish to play at.

  • We provide multiple pathways! Our role is to develop and move along our players to higher levels of play and to assist them in their “soccer journey”. This can include helping to place players overseas at professional academies, develop players for MLS academy programs or provincial and national team play. We also prepare players for develop the skills required to excel at US college and Canadian university programs.

My Coaching Philosophy

Success for me as a coach is to develop young players who can play the game with skill, creativity, vision and passion and help them to transition to higher levels of play. It is also important that the players that I work with develop good life skills and become good people who are humble, take responsibility for themselves and demonstrate respect for themselves, their colleagues and their family.

My coaching philosophy towards development is based in inspiring young players to be the best that they can be. This can best be achieved when we remember that football (soccer) is a game. It is not about wins and losses. It is about teaching young players to be open to learning, having the courage to try new things and challenging themselves to becoming better and to find new solutions.

I accomplish this by maximizing contact on the ball and teaching the players how to make their own decisions through small-sided games.

I have strong beliefs on the type of training and the environment required to accomplish these goals. It is important for me to have autonomy over the type of coaching work I do and to continually challenge myself to improve both as a coach and person in the work that I do.

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