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Bulldogs Futsal Club

Futsal’s calm inside the Matrix…

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“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” – Morpheus

Over the years, I’ve had countless parents approach me at soccer games and express how calm our futsal players look on the field. What exactly does calm mean, and why is it used to describe futsal trained players again and again? In The Matrix only a special few were able to decipher the digital code. They saw things others did not. Do futsal players interpret the movements and angles of a soccer field differently as well?

At first glance, calm is used to convey the superior technique that comes from manipulating a round ball on a hard surface. Receiving, dribbling and passing on a hard, flat surface is significantly more difficult than controlling a ball on grass or turf. It’s a matter of physics. Grass and turf offer resistance and the ball slows. If you can control a ball on the trinity of wood, plastic or blacktop, you can boss it on any surface. Master your greatest challenge and the rest is easy. Once Neo knew he could take down Agent Smith, all others were dominoes yet to fall.

Besides the obvious technical benefits, the observant coach or parent often notices the quality decision making. With its time and space limitations, futsal places enormous cognitive demands on players. They must also make quicker decisions due to defenders in constant proximity. When these same players are put inside the acreage of a soccer field, they literally seem to be playing at a slower RPM. They are able to read and analyze the game quicker than their non-futsal playing teammates and opponents. Once Neo truly understands the code all movement idles as he fends off multiple flailing agents with just one arm. Faster, stronger and bigger are great adjectives, yet calmer is the one coated in red.

What if every USSDA played this way?

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Combining passes on a soccer field is tough, but at least in the youth game at u12 there’s nearly an acre of space to do it within. Pinging passes on a futsal court is considerably trickier due to the reduced space and the tight marking it allows. And to compound things, the ball rolls at pace with no grass to offer resistance. For these reasons, except for a few clubs, youth futsal games in the U.S. are often choppy and involve frequent 50/50 challenges. Teams are lucky to connect a couple passes let alone 3 or more. But if a team could link up 3 or more meaningful passes, what might it look like? And to up the ante, could it be done against first rate competition? Against players that are used to hoisting silverware everywhere they go? Such a scenario came into play recently at USFF’s National Championship Final in San Jose, CA at the u11 age group. Ballistic United USSDA, implementing FC Barcelona’s futsal curriculum, played the Futsal Kingz; a team comprised of top players from not one, but two excellent USSDA soccer programs: De Anza Force and San Jose Earthquakes. On top of that, a few of the Quakes players are of Bay Area Barcelona fame. A team and program that has dominated the NorCal State Soccer Cup in recent years. So there it is, the table is set; pull up a chair and take a look at what organized futsal looks like against a quality opponent. Then ask yourself, is this a one-off, or can every American soccer player benefit from the insights and creativity that come from learning futsal in a purposeful way?

Ballistic United USSDA Futsal… National Champs!

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Ballistic United (BUSC) USSDA Futsal made a smashing debut at this year’s USFF National Championship in San Jose, CA. With wins against established and respected clubs like Meg City Futsal, Rose City Futsal, and Futsal Kingz, the team showcased its FC Barcelona inspired ideas of play. The methodology with its emphasis on decision making and movement was evident throughout the tournament that finished with an 8-4 win over a Futsal Kingz team made up of incoming u12 San Jose Earthquakes and De Anza Force USSDA players. Congrats boys!

‘The Extra Blessing’ & Futsal…

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The smoothness found in a bottle of Jack Daniels is legendary. It comes from charcoal filtering known as the Lincoln County Process. Locals refer to it as The Extra Blessing. Over a week’s time, the whiskey drips through sugar maple charcoals. The resulting spirit is then officially labeled as Tennessee Whiskey, distinct from bourbon.

So what might you ask does modern day moonshine have to do with futsal? Futsal, too, is the finest of filters. Poor first touch? Soft man marking? Slow to interpret a 3v2? Well, spend a few years in the futsal casket and the impurities drain away. Going back almost a decade, I’ve witnessed numerous local soccer players with big reputations step onto futsal courts. As they enter the gym, the murmurs grow, “Oh that’s so-and-so, plays the 9 at X, Y & Z Academy.” However, without days, weeks and months spent dripping through the futsal charcoals, these players don’t stand a chance. The first touch is heavy, the marking is loose, and the ability to solve a numerical advantage on the counter is raw, unfiltered. Success isn’t so easily bottled, but a toast to futsal and all its mellowing ways.

BUSC USDA futsal logo.. (and training!)

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Ballistic United Soccer Club (BUSC) USDA u12 is training 2x per week this summer in preparation for USFF’s National Championship to be held in San Jose, CA. There are a handful of players with experience, but most of the boys are new to organized futsal. In their expressions and reactions, you see futsal’s magic. Howls of “Just one more game!” punctuate the ending of every training. And yet, underneath all this fun, quality decision making and advanced technique are taking hold.

Because the local cities do not allow futsal in their school gyms, we train outdoors on a school blacktop. Cracked asphalt is nothing to include on a postcard, however, a ball, hard surface, portable nets and enthusiastic kids bring everything to life.

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Pulisic played futsal, lots of it..

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In US futsal circles, it’s long been felt that the first great American soccer player would have futsal roots. Christian Pulisic’s quick decision making, close control, precision passing and off-the-ball movements all scream futsal. Bleacher Report’s recent article details the extent to which Mark Pulisic went to ensure his son played futsal at an early age. This included creating Detroit’s first futsal league. Those of us that have founded clubs and leagues can attest to the rapid development that occurs when a small ball is placed on a hard surface in a confined area. This simple recipe creates magical results again and again. Pele, Socrates, Zico, Maradona, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Messi, Christian Ronaldo, Neymar and numerous other stars played countless hours of futsal as kids. Pulisic is our first American entry into this conversation. And yet, there are still plenty of skeptical US coaches, parents and players as to futsal’s benefits. The world is round, the sky is blue, and futsal is the most direct route to soccer success. Just ask the Pulisics.

Futsal, penalty boxes, and urgency…

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When I first came across competitive futsal, what struck me the most was the urgency of play. The hounding defenses, rapid transitions, and lightening quick shots were tough to process. It all seemed a blur. In every second of every game there was the urgency to score or be scored upon. There was no down time. No chance to catch your breath. You had to be mentally and physically “on” from beginning to end. It was exhilarating and exhausting.

The best description of futsal’s nonstop back and forth comes from Mario Gonzalez of Legends Futsal.  “It’s like soccer when the ball is in the penalty area. The urgency to score or defend takes the intensity to an entirely different level. Futsal is constantly played at this level.” I couldn’t agree more.

Exclusive interview with FCB’s Xavi Closas

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In much the same way the NBA’s tactics evolved in recent decades, so have futsal’s at the highest level. One of the sport’s great minds and tacticians is Xavi Closas, head coach of FC Barcelona Lassa B. Along with his long time friend and coaching partner, Oscar Alonso, the two have developed a highly respected coaching curriculum at iOX Futsal. Coaches and players travel to Barcelona from all over the world to learn from the pair.

Recently Closas’s team won the Spanish League championship with a group missing five of its top players through promotion to the top pro team. In spite of playing against opponents that averaged 5 years older than his young FCB team, Closas managed to win the league title on the last weekend. It is considered one of the great coaching accomplishments of recent times.

The following interview with the coach or “mister” as they say in Catalonia, looks to provide ideas for developing futsal in the U.S. and other growing futsal communities.

Bulldogs: Mister, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. First off, for a coach, what are the most important things to put in place to begin guiding a team?

Closas: The most important thing for putting together a new group of players is to be clear about the goals you have for the team. These personal goals then need to be reconciled with those of the club’s. Starting from here, you can build the values of the team and a way of playing.

Bulldogs: During your distinguished career as a coach at Bellsport, FC Barcelona and iOX Futsal, what moments have you found the most rewarding?

Closas: The moments of greatest reward have come from the various promotions I helped attain at teams such as Bellsport and FC Barcelona. All the hard work one puts into a season is reflected in the promotion.

Bulldogs: Your son, Nil, plays on FC Barcelona’s top team. How did you mentally prepare him for playing at the highest level?

Closas: The easiest way to help your child grow in a sport is to let them be theirselves. Let them pick their own path. It must be clear to them how far they exactly want to go. I think the coaches he has had over the length of his career have allowed him to grow at a steady pace as well.

Coach Xavi, thank you again for your insights and good luck this week versus Valencia!

 

 

USFF National Championship, local USDA’s to enter…

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Ballistic United’s and Mustang Soccer’s USDA Academies will enter teams this July into United States Futsal Federation’s national championship in San Jose, California. Many of the clubs’ current players have previously played in the event and directors Andrew Ziemer of Ballistic and John Doyle of Mustang see value in keeping their players active during the summer through futsal. Ballistic United (BUSC) has the distinction of being the nation’s first USDA club to promote futsal training year round.

In the words of Director Ziemer, “BUSC has an integrated futsal component within our club curriculum for all U8-11 age groups and are training the U12 DA teams one day a week with futsal. This summer we will place teams in the USFF National tournament during the outdoor break. We feel that futsal is a great tool to complement the outdoor game. The fast pace, small spaces, and fewer parents layers all help develop quicker thinking.”

 

 

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