Academy Newsletter

Including notes from Academy Director Erik Oman

PSPL Surf Academy Newsletter

October 2, 2020 – Updated 3:51 p.m. PT

It was great to see everyone again last Sunday at Kelley Farms for our September Surf Academy training! Despite the delay of a week due to smoke and fires in the area around Kelley Farms on our originally scheduled training date, we had a beautiful day for training and a fantastic turnout on the field. I want to give a huge Thank You to all of the parent volunteers who came out to help our administrative staff to make the rescheduled event run so smoothly!!

This has also been an exciting week for our PSPL Surf Academy family as two of our players have been offered an opportunity to travel overseas to train, compete and go to school with the International Soccer Academy in Mallorca, Spain for the next three months. Marcos Bravo and Michael Divano from our B04 Program left on Sunday for Spain and will live, go to school and play in a professional development environment run by German Bundesliga and Spanish La Liga Academy coaches and staff through the end of the year.

Marcos and Michael have earned this opportunity by being important leaders, both on the field with their Academy team and in their respective communities.

Marcos Bravo, from Wenatchee, has been a top performer with the Academy B04 Program under Coach Peter Osborn for the past several years. Marcos is a fantastic young man.  His dedication to the game, to his team, to training and to his family make him stand out as person.  His athleticism, speed, quickness and agility make him stand out on the field, even among elite performers. Marcos is a versatile player who is able to contribute as a forward, a winger or an attacking midfield player.  His understanding of the game allows him to move and manipulate defenders to create space for himself and his teammates and he is equally adept at scoring goals and providing assists. 

Michael Divano, from Poulsbo, also plays for Coach Peter Osborn on our Academy B04 team. Michael is a natural goal scorer.  As a small #9, has developed amazing craftiness and creativity and loves taking on defenders with the ball.  He has the ability and the mentality to score the most unexpected goals and is always a threat in front of goal.  His passion for the game and his work rate are exemplary and he thrives in the most challenging environments.  While he is one of the youngest players in his age group, he has consistently been one of the scrappiest! I am confident that he will make the most of the opportunity to train and play in Spain this fall. 

Both of these players personify the spirit, determination and hard work that it takes to succeed at higher levels of the game: the spirit that we strive to maintain within our Academy Program. Both bring a superior work rate and attitude to training and lead by example within their teams. Both Michael and Marcos extend their determination and hard work beyond the field as successful students and members of their communities and I am excited to celebrate their opportunity with you.

With the experiences that they will gain in the next three months in Spain, they will bring back a wealth of knowledge that will expand the level of play for our B04 Program and will add to the allure of our entire Academy. All of our teams will benefit from the added attention that this will bring from college scouts and potential new players!

Stories like this get the attention of college coaches and scouts, so it is important for all of our high school age players to continue to build your player resume, update your Scouting Zone profile and follow along with our monthly Academy College Prep meetings so that you are ready to take advantage of the opportunities that come when coaches start to look more closely at our program. Be sure to upload your resume and college lists to your file in your Academy team’s SharePoint site so that your coach can support you easily when college coaches call. Watch the College Prep meeting videos on your team’s SharePoint site (in the Videos section) if you are not able to join in live and follow the recommendations at the conclusion of the programs each month. If you do the work now, we will have you ready to be seen and scouted by college coaches as soon as we hit the road again!

We are excited to see all of our players pursuing their dreams to play at a higher level and I hope that Marcos and Michael’s story will inspire you to keep working hard! We will keep you informed, when we hear from them, about their trip and I look forward to celebrating more successes from our players in the future. Will YOU be next?

My best wishes to you and your family,

— Erik Oman, PSPL Surf Academy Director

Academy Interview w/ Heather Hunt

Inside Surf Soccer Podcasts

Major League Soccer (MLS)

Archived Editions

August 28, 2020 – Updated 1:03 p.m. PT

What a great turnout last weekend for training at the new Kelley Farms complex in Bonney Lake! Thank you to everyone who came to play and to all the hard work from our Administrative staff to have everything ready to open the new complex for us! We also had a great turnout for our first College Prep meeting on our Teams platform on Sunday afternoon with our high school age players and parents. This was the first of a monthly series of college information meetings that we will host to help our ’06 and older teams prepare and engage in the recruiting process with college coaches. The college landscape has changed dramatically in the age of COVID, but our Directors and coaches have been working hard to stay connected with college coaches to understand how we can best support our players through the current recruiting process. Our next college planning meeting will be Sunday, September 20 on our Teams platform.

With the start of the school year upon us, I wanted to take a minute to talk about how to balance the new demands of schoolwork along with your training to maximize your success in both. As always, you will have WAY more choices for college and way more opportunities for financial aid from good grades than you will from your soccer abilities. Being good both in school and on the soccer field shows that you know how to prioritize the important things in your life and balance your workload. Having good grades in school shows college coaches that you can be trustworthy and puts you ahead of other good players with average grades on their recruiting list.

Establishing a consistent routine is important to be able to meet the demands of schoolwork and training at a high level. While this might not be new news to you, the reality of the past six months with the loss of our regular routines, social distancing and individual training, has left a lot of us struggling to manage our time well. Ironically, too much time on your hands often leads to wasting a lot of time and developing bad habits of inconsistent training.

So, with the new school year ahead, I encourage you to sit down with your Academy notebook and sketch out a daily schedule that includes time for good personal care – quality food, rest and personal hygiene – time for school work, especially if you are having to manage remote learning – time for quality training, including individual and team training – and some free time to decompress each day. Be consistent with your schedule by setting an alarm and getting up at the same time each morning. Even if you are doing remote learning and don’t have to go to school, prepare as though you are. Building time to have a good breakfast, shower, dress for the day, etc. is important to set the stage for you to be focused and ready to do your best when the school day starts.

Equally important is setting an alarm to shut down and get to bed each night. Quality sleep is critical for you to recover physically, but also for your brain to consolidate information and retain what you have worked on in the past day. I found, like a lot of college students, that the all-nighter cramming for an exam simply didn’t work. After a certain point, without sleep, your brain won’t store the information where you can recall it when you need it. I would do a lot better on exams with a quality review session the evening before followed by a good night’s sleep! Even if I hadn’t covered all the details in the review session, having a good night’s sleep allowed me to consolidate information so that I could think creatively to solve problems that the exam presented.

Having a consistent routine will also make your soccer training much more efficient and productive. When you commit to a schedule and prioritize getting the most important things done first, the training is just the thing that you do every day at a certain time. You don’t have to fight it to get going – it’s just on the schedule. Building your schedule thoughtfully allows you to have a balance of physical and mental work, which helps both to be successful.

Always remember, you are the master of your own destiny! It takes mental discipline to be a top-level athlete and almost every successful athlete will tell you that sticking to a schedule allowed them to develop the training discipline to rise to the top. The same applies to top students, top entrepreneurs, top coaches, etc. Don’t leave your schedule to chance where you are likely to get behind and miss important opportunities. Plan for your success!

Good luck with the start of the school year!!

— Erik Oman, PSPL Surf Academy Director

August 14, 2020 – Updated 12:35 p.m. PT

Hello PSPL Surf Academy players, parents and families; I hope this finds you all doing well, staying active and staying diligent about social distancing and doing everything that you can to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. This has been a long process – much longer than any of us expected when it first started, but we still have a long way to go. I know that you are bored of the virus and just want to do ‘normal’ things by now. I am too! But boredom can’t win out over good decisions if we want to get control of the virus and get back to playing, going to school in person and all the ‘normal’ things we want to be able do. We have to remain determined and resolute in our efforts!

This is a good analogy to our process as students and athletes. Sometimes training gets boring. Sometimes, we get tired of homework and school. Almost always, the immediate homework or the immediate workout isn’t too critical in the grand scheme of things. We could skip that and still pass the class or still get by at training with our team the next week. But skipping one makes it easier to skip another one. Putting it off now starts to build the habit of putting it off later and soon, you are doing average work rather than exceptional work! Exceptional students and exceptional athletes share the common trait of doing the little things right every day. They make a habit of getting important things done.

Indiana University Men’s Soccer had an exceptional run of success through the 1980s, winning three National Championships. That period of time spawned a saying and a theme within the program, the “Decade of Excellence” that all of us within the program aspired to continue. The “Decade of Excellence” was everywhere – on t-shirts, posters, photos and signs around the athletic department. We saw it around so much so that it became a punchline when one of our teammates brought a sign into the locker room that said, “Indiana Soccer – Where Excellence is Ordinary”. We all thought it was funny, but we didn’t think Coach Yeagley would appreciate us making fun of the excellence theme that he had so carefully woven into the fabric of the program. But when he saw it, he thought it was fantastic and it became the follow-on theme to the Decade of Excellence.

The key is that the behaviors that lead to excellence have to become ordinary for excellence to truly be achieved. Excellence is a habit not just something you do from time to time when it’s convenient.

It is so very tempting right now to break the protective bubble and go out with friends, play in a pick-up scrimmage or go on a fun trip. Going out today with some friends might not expose you to the virus (unless it does), but letting the barriers down now makes it easier to take bigger risks later. Breaking the habit of doing the right thing just because it has become inconvenient breaks your commitment and leads to a slippery slope where it becomes easier to continue making bad decisions in the future.

We all have to take some calculated risks in the current environment. We will be faced with countless temptations to let our guard down and venture out. But we must remain resolute to make intelligent, informed decisions and do everything that we can to help stop the spread of the virus. There are some things that you will need to do out of necessity that will take you out of your bubble. But the more we bend the rules for convenience now, the longer we will be left sitting on the sidelines waiting for conditions to be safe enough to return to some form of ‘normal’ that we all crave.

Be resolute in your training. Be resolute in your studies. Be resolute in your efforts to stay safe. Not just for today, but for the habit that develops in your life. Make excellence ordinary!

We are still on track for training on Saturday, August 22 at The Kelley Farm fields in Bonney Lake. This will be a socially distanced training session again, like our sessions in July, but we are excited to see you and have the chance to kick the ball around together at this new field complex! All of the safety protocols from our July training will be in effect again and we will have more information coming out next week in preparation for training. Specific training schedules have been updated on your TeamSnap page.

We will also have more information coming out in the week ahead about the state of college athletics and the recruiting process in the age of COVID for all of our high school age players. We are working to stay connected with college coaches and to understand all of the latest information on the recruiting process so that we can continue to help you stay ahead of the game in your efforts to find a great college fit.

As always, your coaches are here for you! Stay connected and reach out if we can help in any way.

— Erik Oman, PSPL Surf Academy Director

July 25, 2020 – Updated 2:35 p.m. PT

I want to thank everyone who came to training last weekend in Puyallup! Despite the restrictions and challenges of our current COVID-19 world, the coaches were so excited to see the players and have the opportunity to get back out on the field again! I was nervous about the event, but thanks to all of the planning by our coaches and staff and all of the efforts by you to follow the rules and keep things safe, we had a fantastic training weekend! It was so much fun to see the players together (at a distance) and have the chance to kick a ball with others again!

One of the things that I have written about in a couple of my newsletters is the superpower of gratitude. During this challenging time, I think it is important to remember things that we are grateful for and take time to appreciate those things. I am truly thankful for all of the input that we have gotten from you in making critical decisions about how we try to navigate the challenging times in which we find ourselves. I am thankful for the opportunity to work with you, our Academy Players and Families. I am thankful for the dedication, passion and hard work of our coaches and admin team. The success of our training event last weekend gives me hope and encouragement that we will get through all of this together!

It’s funny how many things we take for granted and don’t fully appreciate until they are taken away for a while. I know from my own experience how much I learned to appreciate simply being able to walk after my first knee injury! It was clear in the eyes of the players last weekend how special it is to get to play this game that we love, even with the limitations that we had to uphold. Taking time to reflect and appreciate those simple things is an important part of gratitude, and that gratitude can help inspire you to train with even more focus and purpose. I hope that getting back to training last weekend helped to spark that sense of appreciation for the game in all of you!

Use the joy that you found in getting back together with your Academy teammates to inspire you to continue doing the work on your own at home. I saw some fantastic new skills on the ball and enjoyed seeing many of you share those skills with your teammates. We could clearly see which players were putting the time in with the ball on their own over the past few months! Be sure that you are one of them when we come back to training again over the weekend of August 22 – 23!

Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go with the virus numbers continuing to climb and restrictions being brought back in a number of places. We will continue to watch the situation closely and will make decisions about future events with advice of our State medical professionals, keeping the safety of our players, coaches and families as our top priority. Whether we are training regularly or not, the work you do on your own at home is essential!

Take a few minutes to reflect on how much fun it was to train with your teammates again and recognize the joy of the game that we so often take for granted. Then get back to work and enjoy the process!

As always, if you need help in any way, your coaches are here for you.

We look forward to seeing you again over the August 22 – 23 weekend!

— Erik Oman, PSPL Surf Academy Director

July 17, 2020 – Updated 3:02 p.m. PT

Hello PSPL Surf Academy Players, Parents and Families;

AT LAST!!!! Here we go – this weekend we get to train together! We have waited a long time for this, and I know that our coaches are all excited to see their players. But this comes at a time when the virus is still very active, so we will need to be diligent about following all of the safety protocols. I know we have been inundating you with forms, questionnaires, meetings and information lately and I am sorry about the burden of all that, but this is what it will take to be sure we are doing everything we can to keep our players, coaches, staff and families safe.

With freedom comes responsibility. For us to have the freedom to get back out and train, we all have to take the responsibility to do everything that we can to social distance, stay safe and protect our teammates and families. Just like any team, we are only as strong as our weakest link. Please be conscious at training – both with us and with your club teams – that while the rules are there to protect you, even more so, they are there to protect the ones we don’t see. We have several coaches with young children at home. Others take care of aging parents who are vulnerable to this virus. Your grandparents are in my thoughts as we plan for training this weekend. We are a community and the actions of one can affect all of us.

My little brother was a US Marine for 21 years. He and everyone who has worn the uniform understand the idea that freedom isn’t free. We have the freedom in this country to play soccer and pursue our passions because of the men and women who have worn the uniform and stood ready to protect our way of life. They have sacrificed their own personal freedom and safety to be sure that our way of life stays secure.

But now, with the pandemic, our way of life is directly under threat and we can’t rely on our military or anyone else to take care of it for us at a distance! It’s right here and we all have to do our part to contribute to this effort. Our freedom to play and compete will only come back if we can influence everyone around us to do what we know will help stop the spread of the virus, if we wear masks, if we wash hands, if we stay socially distant. This effort requires us temporarily sacrificing some of our personal freedoms now for the greater good and the quickest possible recovery.

It’s so tempting now to bend the rules and push the boundaries. We are all so tired of the restrictions and not being able to play! Seeing your teammates for the first time in months, it will be tempting to get close, to high five, to celebrate and disregard social distancing. Getting all of you back on the field, it will be tempting for me to just throw the ball out and let you play. But this is the time that we have to have discipline.

We are seeing in so many states across our country how the rush to open back up and get the economy rolling again has backfired, with cases and deaths spiking again. Impatience and a lack of discipline to maintain safety protocols have led many states to go backwards in their plans to open up, extending the damage to the economy and the time it will take to get control of the virus and get back to normal. We have a window this weekend where conditions are acceptable for us to get together and train, within strict limitations. We have to be sure that we all take responsibility to stay within those limitations so that we can continue to move forward and do more next month.

If you have not already done so, please complete and submit the health questionnaire that Marlon sent out Wednesday. Please sign and upload your COVID-19 waiver to your player folder on our team’s Sharepoint site. Please review the rules that we discussed on the parent meetings last weekend for training so that you are prepared and know what to expect. If you are sick or have any symptoms of illness, please stay home. If for any reason, you don’t feel comfortable to come to training yet, please know that we understand, we respect your decision and will not hold that against you in any way.

— Erik Oman, PSPL Surf Academy Director

July 10, 2020 – Updated 2:32 p.m. PT

Hello PSPL Surf Academy Players, Parents and Families;

This week saw the second week of competition in the NWSL Challenge Cup Tournament from their ‘bubble’ in Utah and the opening of competition in the MLS is Back Tournament in their ‘bubble’ in Florida. It has been fantastic to be able to see live games again and I hope that you are watching and supporting our domestic leagues.

The path back has not been easy, however. The Orlando Pride had to drop out of the NWSL Challenge Cup tournament after 9 players tested positive for COVID. On the men’s side, both FC Dallas and Nashville SC have withdrawn from the MLS is Back Tournament due to COVID infections within the teams. Both tournaments have had to scramble and readjust schedules and brackets to manage the last-minute changes.

The sacrifice that all of the players and staff are making to bring these games to the field is remarkable. Both in Utah with the NWSL and in Florida with the MLS, the teams are isolated in their own hotels, with no one allowed out of the quarantine bubble. They are tested weekly and have to maintain negative COVID tests and stay within the safety of the bubble or risk being quarantined away from everyone else. They are away from their families, restricted in where they can go and stuck with no choice but the catered food for the duration of the tournaments – in both cases, over a month! While a few players have opted out of the events for personal or family reasons, most of the players in both leagues are there competing so that we can see professional soccer back on the field here in the US.

I know the argument – yes, they are getting paid to play – but make no mistake, playing at a high level is a sacrifice. I remember clearly one of my early coaches saying, “The best players are willing to do the work that the average players won’t do.” That idea came into much clearer focus in college when it was made clear to us that in order to make it on the team, we would have to sacrifice some of the ‘normal’ college social life that other students enjoyed. The discipline of being prepared to compete at a high level meant that sometimes hard choices would have to be made to forego other things that we wanted to do. Those who can consistently make those hard choices will give themselves the opportunity to succeed.

We talk a lot within the Academy about how “The little things matter!” It’s why we hold high expectations of personal responsibility and behavior. We know that these are the traits of highly successful athletes. Sometimes it’s really hard! There are things that you are dying to do, but deep down, you know that they won’t help you to be at your best. Developing the habit of making the hard choice is important. Like Mia Hamm said, “It’s what you do when no one is watching that really matters.”

As excited as I am to see soccer return and to cheer on our Sounders tonight (Friday, July 10, 6:00pm), I have struggled to know what the right decision is for all of us to return to play and I worry that even with all the testing and monitoring for the NWSL and the MLS, that it may be too soon and still too big a risk for them to be playing full games yet. I will be watching carefully to see if the leagues can keep the players safe with all of the strict protocols in place. I respect the sacrifice of the players and I hope that they are able to hold safe tournaments for both leagues.

In our current situation, I am confident that we all need to continue to make the hard decisions to social distance and be patient to return to full play. The more we can all wear masks in public, maintain our social distancing, wash hands, avoid social gatherings and be patient, the sooner we will have a safe environment to get back to full play.

We are still planning to train over the weekend of July 18 – 19, but we will be observing careful social distancing protocols to do our very best to keep everyone safe. I hope that you will join our Teams call for parents tomorrow, Saturday, July 11 to hear about the details for training protocols and an update on current schedules. Please check your email for links to join the meeting.

While I worry about the pros in their bubbles right now, I will be watching and supporting their efforts! We need to support our domestic leagues to help continue to grow the game in our country! Watch as many games as you can – NWSL is on CBS and CBS Streaming and MLS games are being broadcast on ESPN Networks. I look forward to seeing you on the field on the 18th or 19th and talking about what we have seen from both tournaments!

— Erik Oman, PSPL Surf Academy Director

July 3, 2020 – Updated 12:27 p.m. PT

Hello PSPL Surf Academy Players, Parents and Families;

Happy 4th of July! I hope that you and your family are able to have a safe, fun holiday weekend!

As you have already heard from Marlon and our Admin team, the Lake Oswego Nike Cup tournament in Oregon for our ’07 – ’09 teams has been cancelled due to ongoing COVID-19 issues. Also, this week, the San Diego Surf organization postponed the summer Surf Cup Tournament again, moving it to Labor Day weekend, after the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) extended the COVID recruiting ban through the end of August, preventing college coaches from being able to attend the event. With the dramatic rise in virus cases in California in the past few weeks, this was probably a good decision for everyone’s safety.

Still, it is extremely frustrating not to be able to go and play yet! It’s ok to be frustrated. But it’s important to step back and look at the bigger picture, refocus on new goals and challenge yourself to be resilient. We will get through this and we will eventually get back on the field, but we have to be patient, focused and resilient to overcome the obstacle that we are facing with COVID-19.

This situation reminds me of an issue that I work with coaches and parents about all the time; soccer is a long-term development sport. There is no way around it. There are no shortcuts to becoming a great player. But often, parents and coaches want their kids to be superstars today – right now – even though they are just kids and have only been playing the game for a few short years! They get impatient and try to rush the process. They want their young players to play like adults, but they can’t.

Learning to play the game is like learning to read. Parents don’t just hand their toddler the Complete Works of William Shakespeare and say, “there you go – read!” Babies start off just learning sounds and imitating what they hear. Eventually, parents teach them the alphabet, but at first, the letters have no meaning. Over time, children learn that each letter represents a sound. From there, they learn that combining letters creates words. Then they start learning to read basic children’s books as they learn to recognize more words and combine more sounds. Over time, the books get more complex as the child develops more experience with language. But it takes time; there is no way around that.

Sounders Captain, Christian Roldan is 25 years old, has 19 caps with the US National Team and is still considered a developing player by his coaches. He is still learning and improving critical parts of his game and despite his professional success as a player, neither he nor his coaches think that he has realized his full potential yet. The same can be said for Christian Pulisic who is playing and scoring goals for Chelsea in the English Premier League. The same can be said for Rose Lavelle who is a star on both her NWSL Washington Spirit team and the US Women’s National Team.

Soccer is a long-term development sport! It takes patience, determination and resilience to overcome a ton of obstacles to become a top-level player.

COVID-19 is an obstacle. Overcoming a pandemic is a long-term process that takes discipline, resilience and sacrifice. There is no shortcut. Biology is what it is and we can’t fake our way around it. As frustrating as all of this is, we are all in it together and we have to do our part to stay healthy and protect our families and communities. Discipline now, resilience now, patience now, humility now, are the only things that will speed our return to normal. As we have seen in too many places across our country in the past few weeks, peoples’ desire to get back to normal has overcome their patience and the lack of discipline is leading us in the wrong direction. The more people avoid the reality of the situation, the longer this will take for all of us to get back to anything ‘normal’.

I bring this up now with the 4th of July holiday weekend upon us in the hopes that you and your family will have a great holiday weekend together, but that you will be safe. Please continue to social distance, wear a mask around anyone outside of your immediate family bubble, wash your hands and help take care of your community. We all have to play our part.

We are still planning to train on the weekend of July 18 – 19 and I can’t wait to see all of you at the field! We will be requiring everyone to follow safety protocols, to social distance and wear masks, but it will be fantastic to get to see you there! Your coaches will continue to meet with you online and will support you in every way that we can. As always, please reach out to your coaches if there is anything that we can do to help.

To be clear, we will not be holding tryouts in November and December for a new Academy season. We will extend this Academy year into 2021 so that all of you will get the opportunity to train and compete that you signed up for when you joined the program. We will take care of you! Stick with us, keep meeting with your coaches, stay in touch with your teammates and help support one another so that we all have the resilience, discipline, support and motivation to get through this challenge and get back on the field together.

— Erik Oman, PSPL Surf Academy Director

June 26, 2020 – Updated 10:48 a.m. PT

Hello PSPL Surf Academy Players, Parents and Families;

This past week, Coach Matthew Olson and I lost a former teammate from Indiana University to COVID-19. Ken Snow was, perhaps, the best American soccer player that you have probably never heard of. Matthew, Ken and I were all playing college soccer in a time when the old professional league in the US, the North American Soccer League (NASL) had folded and our current Major League Soccer was still a number of years away from its inaugural season. College soccer was, at the time, the big leagues and Ken Snow was the best forward in the land.

Ken came in and set the all-time single season scoring record for Indiana University as a freshman and was named as a first team All-American. He went on to win the Hermann Trophy (college soccer’s version of the Heisman) as the best college soccer player as a sophomore in 1988 while leading the team to a National Championship. He finished his career at Indiana as a first team All-American in each of his four years and the only player in Indiana history to win the Hermann Trophy twice (also winning the award in 1990). He still holds Indiana’s all-time career records in career points (196), goals scored (84) and the single season record for most goals (28 in 1987 – his freshman season).

Ken wasn’t a very big guy. He wasn’t particularly fast. He was a good athlete, but he didn’t stand out in that regard within the team. Ken was simply a master of his craft – creating and scoring goals. While he could play equally with either foot, what made Ken such a special player was his understanding of the game. He clearly watched and understood how movement created space for him and the ball to work. He studied defenders within the game and knew how to catch them off balance or out of position. He was, above all, crafty.

I will never forget watching a game against UCLA and coach Sigi Schmidt in 1988; Ken was already well known and Coach Schmidt had two players assigned to mark Ken and keep him from scoring. Realizing early on that two players were assigned just to him, Ken spent almost the entire first half without leaving the center circle. The two defenders kept looking at the bench in disbelief – they had never run less in a game in their lives! But Coach Schmidt insisted that they keep track of him and stay with him, so they did. Meanwhile, other players were enjoying the open space that Ken was creating for them and we went into halftime with a two-goal lead. In the second half, the same pattern emerged; two defenders standing with Ken, Ken standing in the center circle watching, the defenders stretching and trying to keep warm in their boredom. At the 72-minute mark, Ken saw that the two defenders had lost their focus and he disappeared, scoring his first goal. He finished with a second goal in the 85th minute, having only run a few hundred yards all day!

Unfortunately for Ken, after college, there wasn’t a major professional league option available. He played several years in the semi-pro indoor leagues of the day and had a couple of caps with the US National Team before settling in to coach and help run his family’s restaurant in Chicago.

So, why is important for you to know the story of Ken Snow? Because Ken Snow’s gift was something that can be within your control as a player too. He wasn’t a genetic freak of nature athlete with super-human strength and speed. Ken was a consummate competitor who thought about his role and mastered his craft through hard work and determination. While he wasn’t always the best in school, he was the smartest soccer brain on the field. He studied his role and knew how to solve problems on the field. He loved to be challenged and took great pride in beating defenders and goalkeepers in training every day. We all worked harder because Ken was always going to give his best effort to beat us in training – every single day.

I tell you his story to help remember my teammate, but also help inspire you. Even in these difficult times, as I grieve his loss, I am thankful for the experiences I had getting to step on the field with him. I’m thankful for the memories and the connections that I have gotten to renew this past week talking with other former teammates as we connected over Ken’s passing.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about gratitude being a superpower and this past week has reaffirmed that belief. I am sad about Ken’s death, but I am thankful to have shared those experiences with him. The connections that you have with your teammates and coaches will always be with you. They will bring you strength when you need them; just remember to be thankful.

— Erik Oman, PSPL Surf Academy Director

June 12, 2020 – Updated 10:46 a.m. PT

Hello PSPL Surf Academy Players, Parents and Families;

With everything that has been going on in the past few weeks, I wanted to focus on some good news this week: live soccer is back and we will be seeing a lot more games soon (at least on television)!

I hope that you are continuing to follow and support the peaceful protests for social justice and an end to racism. Our actions are important during this time and we need to speak out and do all we can to support the Black Lives Matter movement and everyone who is fighting for social justice. In the midst of all that, I find that I have to go back to soccer to fuel my positive energy from time to time, and I’m so thankful to have live games on now to help me find some balance.

You may have already seen games from the German Bundesliga. They resumed play on May 29 in empty stadiums and the season in Germany will go through June 27. Fox Sports covers most of the Bundesliga games.

The English Premier League resumes their season this coming Wednesday, June 17. Starting a week from today (Friday, June 19) there will be at least one EPL game a day until early July! The EPL season concludes on July 26. NBC Networks covers the English Premier League.

On June 27, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season will kick off with the NWSL Challenge Cup tournament. Games will run through July 26 and will be broadcast on CBS, CBS Sports and CBS All Access. In an attempt to keep players and staff safe and limit exposure to COVID-19, all games will be played in empty stadiums in the Salt Lake City area. Teams are now in preseason around the country (our OL Reign are in Missoula, MT training at the University of Montana) and will be arriving in Salt Lake City next week in preparation for the tournament.

Major League Soccer (MLS) resumes the 2020 season on July 8 with the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, Florida. The tournament will include 54 matches, running through August 11. As with the NWSL tournament, in an attempt to protect the players and team staffs, the teams will play in empty stadiums and will stay in the Orlando area throughout the tournament. Various television outlets will be broadcasting games and the latest details can be found at www.mlssoccer.com/tv. Teams will be playing for regular season points in the group stage of the tournament and a CONCACAF Champions League spot and $1.1 million in prize money is at stake. The regular season is scheduled to resume in August following the end of the tournament.

While the virus numbers are still a concern and we are limited in how much we can go play ourselves, this is a great time to pick a team (or a team in each league) and watch as many games as you can! To be a top-class player, you need to have an intuitive understanding of the game. That can only come from watching as well as playing games.

As you watch, work on training your eye. Watch players, rather than just following the ball. Look for the principles of play that your coaches talk about at training. Watch movement away from the ball to see how players run in support, both while attacking and defending. See if you can anticipate where the ball is going to be played next based on the shape of the defending team, the body position of the attackers and patterns of movement that you see. Try to watch the player who plays your position for as long as you can in the camera shot. See how they move off the ball to support the play. If you have picked a team to follow, get to know their lineup and jot down what changes you would make at half time if you were the coach.

Learning to ‘read the game’ is an important skill for a player and fortunately, this is a skill that you can help develop by watching games. Learning to read the game is just like learning to read a book; the more you practice the quicker you get and the stronger your vocabulary becomes! Take every advantage of the time that we have right now by watching games during your recovery time between training. Connect with your teammates in the Academy and develop some friendly competition as you follow your favorite teams to make the process even more fun!

This is a time where it is getting increasingly difficult to be patient and not jump back into pre-COVID routines, but the virus is still out there and we still need to do our part to help slow the spread to be able to get back to the field as soon as possible.

Keep doing the hard work. Our time will come!

— Erik Oman, PSPL Surf Academy Director

June 5, 2020 – Updated 10:44 a.m. PT

Hello PSPL Surf Academy Players, Parents and Families;

I have been watching the news of the past week, often with my ten-year-old stepdaughter, and it has been extremely painful to watch everything that is unfolding in our country, with the horrific death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the subsequent marches and riots across the country. It has, however, led to some very important discussions in our house about racism, justice and how we function as a society.

I have been left feeling despair about the situation and helpless about what to do, but in searching, I saw an interview with media mogul, Killer Mike. He was asked the question, “What can we do?” Killer Mike’s first recommendation was to learn and be educated on issues of racism. He asked for people to go on YouTube and spend an hour watching Jane Elliot teach about racial inequality. Even though I had seen the original video of Jane Elliot’s third grade class demonstration many years ago, it took my breath away to watch it again. Here is the link and I ask that you and your family take the time to watch this together:

Brown Eyes and Blue Eyes – Jane Elliot: https://youtu.be/oGvoXeXCoUY

Here is another link to a recent interview with Jane Elliot that is also very worthwhile:

Jane Elliot – Black Nouveau interview (part 1 of 3): https://youtu.be/4QJIu15VjQg

We know inherently within our teams, that to perform on the field at a high level, we have to work together, trust in one another and share a common set of values, goals and rules. Teams that fail to come together this way will never be high performing teams. Civil society is the same. If one group is playing by a different set of rules than the others in society, the society will never be stable.

The Daily Show host, Trevor Noah, had an amazing piece talking about this idea, bringing together a number of things to illustrate how systemic racism rips up the contract of civil society. https://youtu.be/v4amCfVbA_c –

Trevor Noah – George Floyd and the Dominos of Racial Injustice: https://youtu.be/v4amCfVbA_c

As Trevor Noah said in his video, the one ray of hope in all of this is seeing how many people have stepped up to say, “NO, this is wrong!” People from all across our society, all across the country have marched peacefully to stand up against the racism that was so clearly on display when George Floyd was killed.

Stephen Colbert, host of The Daily Show, had a beautiful statement in his June 1 monologue:

“For too long, those of us with opportunity and privilege have failed in our responsibility to look at the truth squarely and name the system of racial oppression that artificially divides Americans and benefits those already in positions of relative power. If you deny the human rights and dignity of any people, you will ultimately destroy the society and civilization that you claim to protect. So, it is time to ask ourselves, as it is always time to ask ourselves, what kind of nation do we want to live in? That answer requires moral leadership, so take it upon yourself to be a leader and set an example of the kind of country you want to live in. That might mean going down to a protest, or making a donation, or having a tense conversation about race.”

– Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show

Certainly, it means learning all that we can, truly and thoughtfully listening to others and setting an example in our daily lives.

Below is a statement from the NCAA that reflects the position that I hope we will adopt within our League and within our Academy:

“The killing of George Floyd last week laid bare the continued existence of inequality and injustice in America. The college athletic community must be clear in our stand that it cannot be tolerated. As we look across our nation today, we cannot ignore the impact of racial disparity, whether in those stricken by the coronavirus, by the lack of economic and educational opportunity, or by the injustices that cost Mr. Floyd his life.

Sport historically has been a catalyst for social change and through our leadership and the way we treat one another, each of us can continue to make a difference. We must, therefore, commit ourselves individually and collectively to examining what we can do to make our society more just and equal. We have not done enough. We can do better.”

– Mark A. Emmert, NCAA

This is a critical moment in our history. This is more important than anything about soccer that I could possibly write about this week. Please take time to follow the links in this article, watch, think and have conversations with your family and with those around you. I believe in you all and I know that you will help us to do better.

— Erik Oman, PSPL Surf Academy Director

May 29, 2020 – Updated 8:45 a.m. PT

Hello PSPL Surf Academy Players, Parents and Families;

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: I am very sad to announce that we will not be able to train over the weekend of June 20 – 21. Our next possible training date will be July 18 – 19 for the Senior Academy pools (’07 – ’03) and July 11 – 12 for the Junior Academy pools (’08 – ’09). Between now and then, we will continue to hold virtual training meetings on our Teams platform and our coaches will remain available to support our players in any way that we can.

I realize that there are a number of counties around the State that have had low numbers of COVID-19 cases and are now going into Phase 2 of Washington’s Safe Start Plan that allows business and recreation to start opening up. Unfortunately, there are a number of other counties where the virus is still too active to allow for safe return to play in the next few weeks. As a state-wide program and without the ability to test everyone involved, Surf Academy cannot safely bring everyone together yet. The health and safety of our players and their families is our paramount concern. We will make sure that you get the training and competitive opportunities that you expected from your Academy experience as soon as it is safe for us to do so.

Now on to the good news! I had a chance to interview one of our Academy Alumna, Heather Hunt (G’01) this past week and she gave me some great insights into her experience of going from being an Academy player to playing in college. The link is below and I hope that you will take the time to watch this fantastic interview. Heather talked about the challenge of learning how to manage the commitment that is required to be a successful collegiate student-athlete and she used a word that I think was extremely insightful; you have to be “intentional” in everything that you do. Intentional – done by design – deliberate – conscious. Her point was that the demands are so much higher to play at that level with training or games six days a week on top of school and managing to live on your own, that you can’t leave things to chance. You can’t just do whatever and get by. You have to be thoughtful about managing your time and balancing training, rest, recovery, school, meals, and social life to be able to thrive in that environment.

I think that is particularly good advice right now given the setback of another month without training together. Last week, I was excited about the prospect of being back on the field in June with everyone and I wrote about periodizing your training to be ready to be at your best when we got back together. When our staff met earlier this week and I realized that we wouldn’t actually be able to train in June, I was really disappointed and frustrated. After the call, I couldn’t focus sitting at my computer and I had to take a break to get my head around my frustration.

Rather than just walking away in anger, I thought about Heather’s advice and decided to take a day off and be intentional about resting, clearing my mind, refocusing on my goals and finding my motivation to get back to work with purpose the next day. I consciously turned off my email and my phone and dug in on a physical project in my back yard that allowed me to do some active rest from my normal routine. The project allowed me to focus on something completely different, but my sub-conscious was busy writing this article, planning for my next team meeting and finding my passion for the work that I do as a coach. I took time to read for a while, I went for a walk and I intentionally didn’t look at my email or answer my phone for 24 hours! The rest was invaluable, and I was more productive the next day than I had been for weeks.

My point is this: the setback of not being able to train with your team(s) is extremely frustrating! Your clubs are continuing to give you workouts and training schedules, we talked about a periodization schedule that is getting pushed back and it can all seem overwhelming at times. It is ok to feel frustrated. Your emotions are real, they are natural, and they are ok – as long as you don’t allow your frustration to lead to apathy or random whatever behavior. Be intentional. This may be the time to take a few days off of training to let your body rest, but while you do so, review your personal goals. Remember why you do what you do. Read a good book. Watch a great game (the German Bundesliga is playing again and you can find some live games again!). Talk with your parents or your coach. Touch base with someone who inspires you. Have a plan and be conscious about what you are doing so that you can get back to your training in a few days with purpose and passion.

If you don’t need to take some time off, that’s great, but be intentional about how you train. Don’t just go through the motions or train whatever just to do something. Know what your purpose is and go after it to get better!

I have seen some absolutely fantastic videos from some of our Academy players over the past few weeks with incredible skills on display! Keep sending those in and keep finding that thing that inspires you! Be intentional in everything that you do!

We are here for you! Hang in there – we will get through this. Keep doing the right thing, keep in touch and I look forward to seeing you all in person again as soon as we possibly can.

— Erik Oman, PSPL Surf Academy Director

Hello PSPL Surf Academy Players, Parents and Families;

I’ll admit it, this has been a tough week for me. I had great visits with my teams on our virtual training meetings last Saturday. We talked about Governor Inslee’s plan to reopen Washington and how, if everything goes well and people remain vigilant, we could be back on the field as soon as the week of June 16. Then, I see cases in the news over and over again where people are impatient and rushing back out to beaches, bars, restaurants and protest marches without social distancing while the virus numbers continue to increase in their states and it frustrates me. I miss you all and I am so anxious to get back out on the field again as soon as possible and yet, people are putting that at risk with their actions! But this is where leadership is important – and hard.

Since we have been talking about leadership over the past couple of weeks, this seems like a good time to continue that conversation in a slightly different direction. As I stated in my last couple of articles, you are all leaders in your own way- within your teams, your family and with your peers. Good leaders know how to both give leadership and to follow others when they are leading well. You are playing at a high level because you have been willing to do the hard work of training more often and with more intensity than the average player your age is willing to do. You have been willing to go outside of your comfort zone to try out for competitive teams. When training gets hard and you are uncomfortable, you have been willing to push through and keep going because you know that space is where the real progress is made as an athlete.

The very best athletes embrace challenge, difficulty, struggle, even pain because they know that is where greatness is forged. But there is an important mindfulness skill that is critical to being able to see hardship as a welcomed challenge and chance to grow. The key is to be able to step back from the frustration in your mind and ask yourself, how can I learn or grow from this? What is the bigger picture that will help me? When I look back on this in 5 years, will my response to this current challenge be one that I am proud of? Will my response be one that helped me grow?

Here’s a funny story about how I learned something about this idea: My freshman year at Indiana University, I was a walk-on (no scholarship money) on the varsity soccer team. There were 12 goalkeepers in pre-season training, including one hotshot recruited freshman goalkeeper from Renton, WA named Matthew Olson (yes, that Matthew Olson, our Juniors and Goalkeeper Director for the Academy). Seven of us goalkeepers made the team at the end of tryouts and Matthew won the starting job. I hated him. We didn’t talk for the entire season from August until February when we got back from break. On a chance meeting on campus, we started to talk and decided that, since we both liked to train, we would go train together. I figured that if I trained with him, I could be sure that I always did a little more than he did and I could find a way to take the starting job. We trained together every day from then on and we nearly killed one another! It was by far some of the hardest training that I ever did. What started out as a way to keep track of one another, soon became the thing that pushed us beyond everyone else competing for the job. But more importantly, it forged a friendship that has lasted for over 30 years.

I knew, even in the middle of some of those brutal training sessions, that the adversity of the moment was going to set us apart if we could just keep going. I also knew very quickly that the challenge was casting a friendship, a work ethic and life-long memories that would serve me for the rest of my life. It would have been easy to quit. It would have been easy to concede the job and walk away early, but I didn’t want that to be my legacy.

This time we are in now is hard. The unknown about when we will be able to get back on the field again is a huge challenge. Not being able to play and train with our teammates really sucks. I know that we will eventually get back to playing soccer again, but I feel impatient and frustrated.

But, when I take a step back and think about the bigger picture, I know that this experience is forging in all of us a renewed passion for what we do. I know that you will all come back to the field with new skills and competencies that you never had before from all of the time that you have had one on one with the ball. The online tools we have developed to deal with this will help us to be more prepared for every event that we do in the future. I know that this will be something we all tell stories about for the rest of our lives. Your kids and my grandkids will get sick of hearing, “You think this is hard? Back in 2020, we survived COVID-19!”

We will be stronger from this, but we have to keep leading by being strong, doing the right things, keeping social distance, training on our own and keeping ourselves and our families safe. The harder we work on those things now, the more we are disciplined, patient and resilient, the sooner it will be safe for us to get back to business as usual.

Take time to step back in your mind and ask what you can learn from this time. Think about the bigger picture. Imagine yourself five years from now looking back on this time. What do you want the legacy from this experience to be for you?

Thanks for listening / reading. I feel better now! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your coaches when you are feeling frustrated or need someone to talk with. We are here for you. These connections may be one of the most important legacies of this time.

My continued best wishes to you and your family! Stay safe!

— Erik Oman, PSPL Surf Academy Director

Hello PSPL Surf Academy Players, Parents and Families;

Leadership – being a good leader means also being able to follow when others have good ideas…

You are here with the PSPL Surf Academy in part because you showed some kind of leadership during tryouts. Successful teams need leadership and initiative in every position on the field. But if everyone is a leader, who is following? Everyone leading all at once certainly can’t work, but great players know how to lead in their own style when their leadership is needed, and they know how to follow when others around them show good leadership. The best leaders are both confident in how they can lead and humble enough to know that successful teams, groups, organizations and families, also need leadership from everyone else in the group at different times. The very best leaders can humbly follow someone else’s lead when that person is offering a good idea or a different kind of leadership.

So, how do you lead? There are many different ways to be a leader; what is your style? Keep in mind that there is not right or wrong, no better or worse. Every team (group, family) needs different types of leadership, so all are valuable. Here are some examples:

  • The obvious one is the person who stands in front of the group, barks out orders and coordinates the group. This is often a confident, extroverted, outspoken type – someone who likes to talk and be in front of people. This is the person who steps up and gets things done.
  • Less obvious but still important is the leader who backs up the vocal, outspoken leader. This type of leadership helps to get buy-in and consensus from the group by validating what the outspoken leader says. They are often behind the scenes talking one-on-one with others to bring people together. This type of leader may be seen as quieter, less outspoken, but they are the one who people feel more connected with because they are often more empathetic.
  • Another important leader for any group is the one who leads by example. This person is often seen as shy or quiet, but they know how to put their head down and do the work. We all know this type of leader in our team is critical to motivating us and setting a high standard for the team. They may not say much, but we are inspired by them.
  • Others find their leadership in being the one who connects the group. This person is good one-on-one finding connections with people but is also good in front of the group in bringing people together. Often, this is the comedian in the team; the one who makes us laugh and come together. Comedy isn’t the only way to be the connector, but this person’s leadership is the one that bonds the team.

There are lots of ways to lead. The list above just highlights some of the obvious ways. Every team needs leadership from every member in different ways at different times. Knowing how you feel comfortable being a leader will help you to know when to assert your leadership for the group. It will also help you to recognize and be willing to follow when someone else is providing their type of leadership for the group. Being a great teammate means both leading in your own way and following when others are bringing their strengths to the team.

The following is a fun activity that will bring out different leadership styles. I encourage you to do this with your family to see how each of you recognize leadership. This activity will lead to a fun soccer-specific activity next week!

Family activity (part 1) – Brainstorm together a list of 20 people who you see as leaders. Each member of the family needs to contribute equally to the list (ie: if five people in the discussion, each should, ideally, have 4 leaders on the list). They can be from any point in history (current leaders are fine but dipping into history too makes the exercise interesting). They can be from any discipline (politics, sports, science, art, education, etc.). They can be good leaders or bad but pick people who are or have been seen as leaders.

Talk about each one together and why you would select that person as a leader. What makes them a good / successful leader in your eyes? It doesn’t need to be a long discussion but justify each pick. There are no wrong answers – each person’s picks are valid for their own reasons.

The family discussion will be valuable by itself and will give insight into how one another value certain traits. Understanding what leadership traits resonate with one another can help when you need to provide leadership. Understanding how others in your family view leadership can also help when you need to follow their lead.

Other follow-up questions to spark conversation:

  • How does each member of your family contribute leadership to the family? How does each member follow or give leadership to others?
  • Keep your list for next week… I will follow up with the second part of this exercise and we will have a great soccer analysis discussion in the process!

You are leading right now by doing the right thing to social distance and keep everyone safe so that we can get back on the field as soon as possible!

Best wishes to you and your family!

— Erik Oman, PSPL Surf Academy Director

Hello PSPL Surf Academy Players, Parents and Families;

It was so much fun sitting in on our first round of Virtual Training meetings and getting to see all of our players at the beginning of the month! I’m looking forward to another round of meetings this coming weekend with several teams and having the chance to catch up again. Our coaches will continue to host these meetings until the time that we are able to get back on the field again.

During the meetings, I asked several teams for recommendations for books, movies or Netflix shows to watch, to see how players were spending down time and to give us things to talk about together. I got a lot of Netflix recommendations, but very few book recommendations, so I thought I would take the opportunity to recommend a great book for everyone to read:

The Inner Game of Tennis – The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance
by W. Timothy Gallwey.

This is a book that I have seen recommended over the years but had never taken the time to read before. In fact, it is a fantastic book for young athletes and for adults and coaches alike! This book falls into the category of ‘Things I wish I knew when I was a young player’ and I found it especially relevant to issues we are facing today with training and working from home where we don’t have interaction with coaches, teachers, teammates and others who help us moderate the inner dialog that we have with ourselves in our heads.

Everyone has that little inner voice; the thoughts that either help you or hurt you in dealing with any task, learning any skill, performing at your best, or even dealing with the circumstances that we find ourselves in today with social distancing. Lots of successful players are simply good athletes. Lots of successful players are technically good with the ball. The very best players – the elite performers – know how to quiet that inner voice, channel it, trust themselves and develop habits, focus and confidence that sets them apart from everyone else.

While The Inner Game of Tennis is about tennis, the mental skills are universal and apply directly to us as soccer players. More importantly, the concepts in the book apply universally to everything that we do. There is no doubt that this is a difficult and stressful time that we are living through right now. There is also no doubt that people who understand how to quiet their mind, trust in themselves, develop good habits and positive focus will get through all of this more easily than people who don’t.

New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo has been doing daily briefings throughout the shutdown time and he has been fascinating to watch. He is a true leader who has stepped up during this very difficult time. He made the point recently that stress and pressure bring out a person’s true character; you see who people really are when they are under pressure.

I asked you last week to think about where you see yourself in 4 – 8 years as part of a goal-setting exercise. This week, I would like to ask you to think about how you would like to be known as a person? What is your true character? The good news is that your experience as a competitive athlete already puts you in higher standing than many in terms of character. But we can always learn and get better! Taking time to train your brain now will not only make you a better player on the field but will help you to navigate life more effectively, with more confidence and focus.

Please know that it’s ok to feel sad or frustrated as the days drag on at home, without school, teammates and all the things we normally do. If you need someone to talk with, your coaches are here for you; please reach out! Know too that you can train yourself to think differently and take control of that inner voice. There are a lot of great resources out there, but I hope you will give The Inner Game of Tennis a read. It is available on Amazon for under $10 in paperback and is FREE as an audiobook.

Keep doing the hard work to maintain social distancing so that we win this fight as soon as possible. Take good care of yourself and your family.

And keep in touch with your coach!

— Erik Oman, PSPL Surf Academy Director

It was great fun to see many of our players last weekend on our first round of Virtual Training meetings!
Listening to the meetings, most players said that they had curriculum and activities that their clubs had assigned. Many are using training apps to challenge and track players.

IF you don’t have those resources from your club, we have plenty to offer in the Document Library on your PSPL Surf Academy age group web page! Even if you do have resources from you club, all of the resources that we have available can give you other training ideas to supplement what you are already doing. Check out your team’s Document Library!

While having pre-planned workouts available is important, there is a HUGE opportunity right now that you should embrace: Every player has that one thing that they don’t feel good about in their game; that thing that you try to hide during training so that you don’t get exposed.

For example, you don’t want to receive a ball out of the air with your non-dominant foot because you don’t trust your touch, so you run around it and reach with your dominant foot instead. You don’t want to shoot with your non-dominant foot, so you pass or cut back into pressure to your dominant foot instead of taking the shot that was open.

Those things you hide because you don’t want to be exposed or make mistakes make you less confident and less of a complete player. Eventually, those things will cost you! So, now is the perfect time to add a goal to your training routine to fix one of those things that you normally worry about when you are playing in front of your coach and your teammates! After all, no one but you will see the mistakes right now, and if you give that part of your game some special love and attention now, it won’t be a weakness when you get back to your teams!!

Remember, mistakes aren’t only normal, they are NECESSARY to develop any real skill! Do your regular training routine from your club or our Academy resources, but I challenge you this week to ADD one more little piece: an extra 10 – 15 minutes each time you train, getting touches on that one thing that you normally hide. Have fun with training, embrace the mistakes and think about how much fun it will be to get back out on the field with some new, confident skills that you didn’t have before!

We will get through this and we will get back to playing. Please keep doing your part to stay healthy, strong, well rested and resilient! Remember, you are helping keep all of us safe by doing your part!

— Erik Oman, PSPL Surf Academy Director

Hello PSPL Surf Academy Players, Parents and Families;

Being a generally optimistic and forward-thinking person, I am looking forward to June and the possibility of getting back on the field again with our teams! IF everything goes well, according to Governor Inslee’s Safe Start Washington plan, we could be getting back to team training as early as the week of June 16 and our first Academy training weekend would be the weekend of June 20 – 21.

While I know that our Academy players have been getting plenty of guidance from their clubs and our coaches for things to do during the shutdown and most of you have been diligent with your individual workouts over the past few months, there is a big difference between being fit on your own and being game fit to play in a competitive match! The last thing that I want to see for any of you is to get injured in the first week of team training because you weren’t ready to meet the physical demands of playing competitively again!

With the potential end in sight of individual training, it is time to look at the idea of periodization and how to plan the next four weeks to be ready to take on team training and playing again. Periodization is the systematic planning of training to meet a specific goal in a set period of time. Your goal at this point is to be as close to match fit as you can be and have your body ready to stay healthy under the pressure of playing competitively again by this time next month.

A critical component of periodization (and of peak performance) is good quality rest and recovery. Your body actually needs up to 72 hours (three days) to fully recover after a maximum performance event (think a full, competitive match where you didn’t get a substitute or a really hard workout). You can train during a recovery phase, but those sessions need to be lighter and more focused on slower running, getting touches on the ball and lots of stretching to help your muscles recover.

With four weeks to go before you start team training again, a good pattern might be the following:

Week 1

  • 3 high-intensity workouts – Monday, Thursday and Sunday – shoot for a minimum of 60 minutes of medium to high intensity training
  • Low to medium intensity workouts on Wednesday and Saturday
  • Recovery – light jog, stretch, simple ball work on Tuesday and Friday

Week 2

  • Take Monday off – rest, hydrate, eat good food
  • 2 low to medium intensity workouts on Tuesday and Friday
  • 2 high-intensity workouts – Wednesday and Saturday
  • Recovery – light jog, stretch, simple ball work on Thursday and Sunday

Week 3

  • Repeat Week 1 pattern and up the intensity / duration of your high-intensity days – shoot for a minimum of 75 minutes of medium to high intensity training

Week 4

  • Repeat Week 2 pattern

At this stage, your high intensity workouts should start to replicate game pace as much as possible; they need to have an anaerobic component that gets your heart rate and breathing to a high level with aerobic (lower speed but active) recovery intervals in between the high intensity intervals. Include changes of direction, changes of speed, jumping, skipping and running backwards into the routine. Dribble or shoot on the move at game pace. Imagine game situations!

Your low to medium intensity workouts can include a jog or run, but include changes of direction, skipping and footwork patterns that get your joints ready for playing soccer. These are good days for repetitive ball work to keep improving your touches and strengthening your non-dominant foot. Every session should include a good cool-down, stretching and re-hydration.

With some extra rest during weeks 2 and 4, your body will recover and heal and be stronger going into weeks 3 and 5. Of course, week 5 would be the target week for being back on the field with your team!

For all of your workouts, I highly recommend that you are including good quality injury prevention (ie: FIFA 11+) exercises into your warm-up and training routines.

I have attached a link to the resources section of our website for you to access these programs: http://wpl.surfsoccer.com/fifa-11/

The other critical component in recovery and performance is good quality nutrition and hydration. Staying hydrated allows your blood to carry oxygen and nutrients to your cells and lactic acid and waste away from your cells most efficiently. Good food is critical to fuel top performance. You don’t put regular gasoline in a Ferrari! A Ferrari takes premium fuel to run well and so do you!

I know that this period of social isolation has been hard on everyone. We are all excited to get back out on the field and see our teammates and friends again and to be able to be normal people again! The worst thing in the world that you could do would be to come unprepared to the start of training and get injured in the first couple of weeks. Imagine having to miss training and playing entirely after just getting back!

So, with that in mind, PLEASE plan your training routine for the next four weeks to be ready to be at your best – strong, healthy, rested, well fed and well hydrated – when you step back on the field with your team next month. If things happen to get postponed again, you have lost nothing – you will still be stronger, healthy, well fed, well hydrated and you can set new goals for the new start date to be even better!

— Erik Oman, PSPL Surf Academy Director

Hello PSPL Surf Academy Players, Parents and Families;

Systems of Play, Roles and Leadership: Every team needs leadership and initiative in every position on the field, but certain leadership styles fit best in certain roles for the team. Understanding the demands of the game on different positions and the mindset of successful players in those roles helps members of a team know how and when to support, follow and give leadership to one another in a way that supports the success of the team. As the old cliché saying goes, “There is no ‘I’ in team.”

Let’s take, for example, the #1 (in our team numbering system – the goalkeeper). Goalkeepers are usually perfectionists. They can make 9 saves, but when the 10th ball goes past them, they are angry and disappointed. Contrast that with the undying confidence of a great #9 striker who misses 9 shots but when they score on the 10th shot, they point at the name on the back of their jersey and say, “look how good I am!” Good goalkeepers have the mindset that everyone else is going to screw up and I am going to have to fix it; they are always ready to be the last line of defense for the team and will bark out orders to anyone to defend their territory. They are individualistic and alone in their task, but they are in charge.

For today’s conversation, let’s look at a team playing in a 1-4-3-3 system. If your team plays a different system, feel free to draw that team shape out and analyze that:

  • What are the demands on the #4 and #5 (center backs?) What leadership styles would you expect from those players?
  • What about the #2 and #3 wing backs? How much space do they have to cover and how does that affect their decision-making and leadership? What personality traits would fit well here? How are they different from the 4 and 5?
  • Looking at the midfield, there might be very different traits between the #6 (defensive midfield player) and the #8 (box-to-box midfielder). What different leadership traits will be important for those two? What about the #10 (attacking midfielder)? Think of some great #10s and how they led their teams…
  • Looking at our forward line, there are big personality differences between the #9 (striker) and the #7 and #11 (wingers). How might they lead differently? How are the spaces that they play in different from one another?

Michael Jordan once said, “There is no ‘I’ in team, but there is an ‘I’ in win!” Having a group who know when, where and how to impose their leadership on the team and when to allow others to take the lead is the magic in high-performing programs. As great as Michael Jordan was 1 on 1, he knew when to dish the ball to others for key baskets! It is important for you to know your strengths, know the demands of your role within the team and be willing to take the lead in your own way. It is also important for you to understand the demands of the game on other roles in the team and support your teammates as they give their own leadership.

Family fun exercise (Part 2)

From last week, you and your family developed a list of 20 leaders. This week, using your list of leaders, develop a team with 11 starters, 7 substitutes, a head coach and an assistant coach. Draw out the team shape in whatever formation you choose (1-4-3-3, 1-4-4-2, 1-3-5-2, etc.) and fill in each position with a leader that seems to fit the role in the team the best. This can be a really fun discussion! As an example, I had a United Soccer Coaches Premier Diploma course argue for 15 minutes whether Napoleon or Hitler should be the goalkeeper for their team! (They decided that Napoleon should be the #6 and Hitler was their goalkeeper…). Have fun with the exercise and see where the discussion leads.

Best wishes to you and your family!

— Erik Oman, PSPL Surf Academy Director

“We don’t live in the world; we live in the stories that we tell ourselves about the world.” – Anonymous

Hello PSPL Surf Academy Players, Parents and Families;

Having played at a relatively high level, I knew when I started coaching that mental skills were critically important to high performance athletes. I had some practical education in this area from my playing days, but I realized very quickly as a young coach that it was not easy to teach mental skills in a team context. More problematic was the fact that none of my early coaching education included anything about how to develop positive, competitive, confident, resilient growth mindset within my players.

So, I started researching and reading everything that I could to be able to help my players in these critical components of the game. Over time, my coaching personality developed to try to build these traits within the players that I trained during our time on the field.

Still, being a visual learner and wanting to be able to get to the root of the issue and explain what I had learned more clearly, I came up with the Control Paradigm model:

It is human nature to focus on things over which we have no control. On the soccer field, that might be a bad call by the referee, poor weather, a coach or parent yelling from the sidelines, an opponent talking trash or even a teammate who makes a bad mistake. When we focus on those things, it leads to poor performance, a negative mindset and lack of attention to the things that will help us to perform well.

When we train our minds to focus instead on things over which we have control – our attitude, effort, focus, determination and goals, it leads to positive performance and a positive mindset. Control what you can control and get rid of the rest! Everything else takes away bandwidth that you need to be at your best!

This is powerful on the soccer field, but I never envisioned how important it would be to everyday life until we began to quarantine and practice social distancing! When I saw the quote at the top of the article this week, I was reminded of the Control Paradigm and decided to dig it out.

Life is messy. Things don’t go as planned. No game is played without mistakes. Every 100 years or so, a pandemic breaks out… The key to being successful in almost any circumstance is in how you respond to the circumstance. Do you focus on and worry about the things you can’t control, or do you find a way to turn your focus back to things that you can influence and control?

In our current situation, I can’t tell you when we will actually be able to get back on the field. I don’t know for sure when we will travel again like we did before any of this started. I don’t know when we will be able to go to a Sounders or Reign game and cheer from the stands. In the times that I find myself worrying about that, I can’t motivate myself to be productive. When I turn my focus back to being sure that we are ready to get back on the field and I think about our players, I find plenty to do and I love the process of doing everything that I can to be ready!

I don’t know for sure when we will get back to training, school and life outside our homes, but I know that we will! So, I choose to respond to the current circumstances by looking for things that I can control and putting my focus and energy there. As I have done this, I have found myself enjoying the process and embracing the new normal – for now. I am getting to spend time with my family and to do work that I don’t normally have time for.

Which leads me to my last point for this week: gratitude. Gratitude is a superpower! Finding ways to be thankful for people, things, circumstances, even when times are difficult, is a key to being able to move from the negative side to the positive side of the Control Paradigm. Recognizing things that you are grateful for flips a switch in your brain that gives you control. It helps you to write the story of your life in a more positive way.

After all, you don’t live in the world, you live in the story that you tell yourself about the world.

Challenge Exercise

  • Even though your family may be getting on your nerves by now, take a few minutes to write something that you are grateful for about each one.
  • What have you gotten to do during this social distancing time that you would not have ever had time to do before?

I’m grateful to be able to work with all of you and I wish you and your family continued health! Keep doing what you are doing so that we can come back strong as soon as possible!

— Erik Oman, PSPL Surf Academy Director

Hello PSPL Surf Academy Players, Parents and Families;

As the COVID-19 shutdown drags on and the newness of staying home has worn off, it can be hard to stay motivated and enthusiastic about training and taking good care of yourself every day. These feelings are normal and there are a few key things that you can do to keep your focus and maintain good habits.

Most importantly, know that eventually this will end and we will get back on the field. Picture yourself on the field with your teammates playing and competing and think about the things that you love about the game. Mindfulness, meditation, and visualization are all important tools to help you to find positive energy and focus to pursue your goals.

Without clear goals, however, this is harder to do, so today’s note is about goal setting. Answer the following questions for yourself and write them in your soccer notebook:

  • What is your dream?
  • When you close your eyes and imagine, what do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
  • How about in 10 years?
  • What motivates you?

The answers to these questions point to your WIG – your Wildly Important Goal. These are outcomes that you see for yourself in the future. Outcome goals are critical to keep us motivated and feeling a sense of purpose.

Outcome goals by themselves, however, are not good motivators for today and by themselves, they can lead to putting things off, being complacent and missing critical steps toward your WIG along the way. That’s why it is important to also set medium and short-term goals that help lead you toward your WIG. The medium and short-term goals are process goals – specific things that you do that lead toward an outcome.

Let’s assume that you dream of climbing Mt. Rainier someday. If all you do is look up at the peak of Mt. Rainier – your WIG as you climb, you are bound to take a wrong step and fall along the way! There are many steps along the path that have to be navigated correctly to get to the summit safely and each one needs your attention as you tackle it. The summit is always your dream, but it is focus on each step of the path that gets you there.

With that idea in mind, set a medium-term goal for this month for yourself; something that takes you farther up your path to your WIG. When you have a goal for the month, break that down into four parts and set a simple weekly goal for this week. Try to set a small but challenging, measurable goal for the week. Next week, take your progress and set a new, small but challenging, measurable goal. Small steps taken consistently lead to big outcomes! Having the feeling of achieving a goal each week builds confidence and enthusiasm to continue the effort.

Finally, don’t expect every day to be perfect. You need to listen to your body and rest when your body needs it so that you can make the most of the days that you work toward your goals. When you train, do it with the purpose and conviction that your WIG demands! If you feel like you can only go through the motions today, rest and attack your goal tomorrow with more energy. Build good habits by training hard and holding a high standard when you are working on your goals and listen to your body so that you learn to give it the rest and the fuel that it needs to perform.

With no clear timeline yet for our return to the field, these small weekly goals will help you keep focused on your training and enjoying the process along the way.

If you ever find that you have just run out of energy to set goals, train and take good care of yourself, it may be time to reach out to your coach or someone else with whom you can talk. We are all in this together – even as we are apart! We are here for you.

Keep doing your part to help keep your family safe! The more we stay disciplined now, the sooner we will be back on the field together!

— Erik Oman, PSPL Surf Academy Director

We are facing troubling times. We know our players are full of questions and concerns. This weekly newsletter is one of the initiatives that are aimed at staying connected with our players and their families.

We don’t have many answers right now, but we believe our community can prevail through this crisis.

For our academy players, we are launching a two-pronged attack – online training and college prep seminars as well as a weekly newsletter that focuses on relevant soccer-related topics. Mostly, we want to remain connected and check in.

Academy DOC Erik Oman kicks this off with a message to all of our players, and he will be offering his thoughts and insights every week.

We all should remember that as committed athletes we have many of the tools to fight this crisis. We know how to overcome obstacles. We know how to work hard as a team. We know there is no magic solution. We know the road to the top of our sport is rife with temporary setbacks and is fundamentally difficult to reach. But we know how to find a way, if not by ourselves, then with our teammates. We know how to draw on the power of collective strength.

We hope these selected topics below will be helpful and even comforting. If it inspires you, even better. If it distracts you and brings a smile to your face, good enough. Routine is something athletes know and embrace. And we are excited to share our new virtual training routine with all of you. That alone will bring some peace and confidence during these challenging times. By working together, we will find a way through this crisis.

— Erik Oman, PSPL Surf Academy Director