Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Goal Keeping - Developing great hands at the youth level

By Mike Siler
Infinity SC Goal Keeper Director

Have you ever heard the saying that a person has “soft hands” when they excel at catching a ball? I am going to let you all in on a secret, the amount of “softness” in someone’s hands actually has nothing to do with how well they catch. Catching is 80% coordination and concentration and the rest is technique.

At every Infinity Goalkeeping session we start with a very basic catching and footwork activity where the goalkeepers get set to receive a punted ball and make a catch. This allows me to evaluate each goalkeeper’s technique and it also serves one other most important purpose. Unbeknownst to the goalkeepers what I am actually doing (aside from looking at their technique) is warming up their minds and sharpening their level of concentration for the training that we are about to do. Those that have trained with me have heard me say during this warm-up “THIS IS BY FAR THE MOST IMPORTANT ACTIVITY WE WILL BE DOING ALL TRAINING”.

I see a lot of younger kids struggling with the concentration aspect of making a catch. Their hands are making contact with the ball, their technique looks good, but their eyes are looking away from the ball. Most commonly I find that kids are still looking at me after I have kicked the ball above their head. Those that fail to look at the ball and visually follow it all the way into their hands fail to make the catch.

Here is a simple, yet highly effective way to help them develop the eye coordination and concentration while training and make catching simple and add a fun element to catching a ball. This is one of the few training set-ups that require a Sharpie Permanent marker or stickers. Here is what you will need to do: on every panel of the soccer ball either put a colored dot or draw a shape. I use colored dots for my trainings. Most anything can be used really just make sure that the goalkeeper has something to focus on that they can quickly identify. Now when working with the goalkeeper on catching make them call the color or state what the shape or object is out loud when they catch the ball. This will require the goalkeeper to start watching the ball all the way into their hands and provide incentive for them to not take their eye off the ball. Some of the best training activities are often the most simple in design. On a final note let the ink from the marker dry before you start dribbling your ball on the carpet inside your house. This is a key point that my mother asked me to forward onto everyone. Thanks mom and sorry about the carpet!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

They call him the wall… …but is that a good thing????

by Mike Siler
Goal Keeper Director of Infinity Soccer Club

Throughout the soccer world I often hear comments about goalkeepers such as “they call him the wall”
and most people instantly think that is a great thing for a goalkeeper to be. If you kick a ball at a wall
the ball doesn’t go through the wall but it does rebound right back to you and you can kick it again. Asa goalkeeper trainer I see a lot of “walls” come through training and my goal is to teach that “wall” how contain the ball and stop giving up rebounds.

Here a few basic tips and pointers to improve your catching starting with the most basic catches and ending with some of the most advanced.

Low shots at the body:

Hands should be fingertips down making an “M” shape for anything below the hips.

Arms should be parallel like railroad tracks and should be close enough together that a ball cannot fit
between them.

Chest should be over top the ball and weight should be forward to keep the ball from hitting the body
and going in the goal. If you chest is over top the ball then the ball will hit the ground if it takes a bad
bounce and you fail to catch it.

Stance: you should have one leg staggered behind the other. This enables you to maintain a strong level
of balance. If you want to test your balance get in a baseball catchers stance and have someone push
you backwards. You will easily tip over. Now have someone try to push you over backwards when you
are in a staggered leg stance……….it won’t happen.

High shots at the body:

Hands should be fingertips up making a “W” shape for anything above the hips. The “W” shape keeps
your thumbs concentrated behind the ball and your thumbs are the strongest fingers that you have.

Arms should be in front of the body to enable the keeper to absorb the impact of the shot.

Elbows should be somewhat tucked into the body. If you fail to do this your elbows will push out and
your “W” shape of your hands will turn into a spade shape and you will tend to drop balls to the ground.
Your thumbs will no longer be the primary object behind the ball and your index fingers will have to
take most of the force. Your thumb is a lot stronger than your index finger so keep your elbows in and
maintain a “W” shape for shots above the waist.

I train all of my older keepers with a specialized weighted Medicine ball. If the keepers break technique
with either their hands or fail to keep the arms in front of the body with elbows near the width of their
hips the medicine ball will slip through their hands and can hit them in their face. The medicine ball will
correct sloppy technique extremely fast.

High balls and crosses:

Judgment is by far the biggest issue that goalkeepers have with catching crosses and shots above the
head but there are a few basic techniques that can be used to improve one’s ability to deal with these
types of balls.

Hands, Arms, and Elbows should be positioned the same as mentioned above. The difference in dealing
with high balls is the location of where you catch the ball. Whenever possible you should try to catch
the ball in your “line of sight”.

“Line of sight” means that the ball is in front of your body allowing you to see the ball and what is
in front of you also. Having the ball positioned in front of you also has two major benefits for high
balls. Benefit #1: The Line of Sight principal allows you to have a buffer zone to adapt to the ball if you
misjudged it or if the ball floats higher in the air. If you try to catch the ball at the absolute highest
point and you miscalculate even so slightly you will make the blooper film. That being said there are
always time where you have to catch the ball at the highest point but when possible allow yourself some
adjustment room and use the Line of Sight principle. Benefit #2: The Line of Sight principal will give
you body more leverage and balance while in the air. To illustrate this example raise a ball above your
head as high as you possibly can and have someone hit the ball with their fist. Odds are you will topple
backwards and drop the ball. Now try using the Line of Sight principle and you will notice that you have
great balance and strength.

I can’t move past catching high balls without mentioning the footwork involved. Now this is not a topic
on dealing with crosses but you will need to know how to use your legs to maintain balance and gain
height in making high ball catches. Identical to making a lay-up in basket ball you will jump off one
leg while raising the other leg. Try to do an imaginary lay-up I bet the raise the leg motion happened
without you even thinking about it. This motion essentially creates a counter weight to your body mass
and makes you jump higher and faster. In the goalkeeping world it also protects your body from impact.

Shots to the side of the body:

Hands, Arms, and Elbows will be the same as mentioned above. The difference for shots near the body
but to the side of the body is in the footwork involved to keep your body behind the ball.

Footwork: step towards the ball. Note that this is both forward and to the side. Stepping forward
reduces the shooting angle and stepping towards the ball allows you to get your body behind the ball.

3-points of contact on the ball: An added step to making these collapsed catches is in the trapping
technique done with the hands. I teach and refer to this as “pinning” the ball to the ground. After you
have the ball in your hands you need to focus on keeping the ball in your possession when you land.
Your hands will rotate overtop the ball and towards the ground. Doing this will enable you to have 3-
points of contact on the ball. You will have one hand on top of the ball, one hand behind the ball, and
you press the ball into the ground for the third point of contact. Not only does this process enable you
to pin and contain the ball, it also enables you to use the ball to absorb the impact of the ground and

make the landing soft on your body. The ball should make contact with the ground before your body

Diving catches:

Making diving catches really only differs in the footwork and diving technique of the leg closest to the
ball and the driving motion of the leg farthest from the ball. I will cover diving technique another day.
For now let’s stay focused on the hands and the catch itself.

The Hands technique of this style of catch remains the same as those catches closer to the body. The
only difference that has to be stressed on these acrobatic catches is the positioning of the Arms and
Elbows and the extra strength needed within the wrist area. As you begin to prepare yourself for the
landing on these high dives you will want to land with the ball whenever possible as the ball will break
your fall and make the landing soft.

Arms and Elbows need to be away from the rib area. If you keep your arms extended away from the
body as mentioned earlier your elbows will naturally move away from your ribs and you will not have
to worry about landing with an elbow underneath you. Making catches like this require upper body
strength and wrist strength that come with specialized training and conditioning.

Remember that walls are used for strikers to develop repetition as the ball always bounces back to them providing another opportunity to shoot. So is being a wall a good thing?

Friday, October 19, 2012


The college recruiting process should begin much earlier than most families are aware of. It as though the recruits that coaches are looking at are getting younger and younger. In order for you not to lose any ground in your recruiting process, make sure you are familiar with everything you need to know for your freshman year of high school.

Here are five reasons why you should start your recruiting process earlier than you think:

Mountain Crest HS Graduate & Infinity SC Coach, Jaden Hoth plays
NCAA Division 1 Soccer at the University of Central Arkansas
Coaches are looking five years ahead.In order to secure promising young athletes to join their sports programs, many college coaches have started looking at recruit classes a few years ahead. There are some coaches who have successfully had kids as young as seventh graders commit to their program. So if you are waiting until your junior or senior year, you’re really late! Make sure to get organized and do your research as you enter high school so that you don’t lose any ground.

Freshman-year camps make a big difference.
It’s no question that attending camps and showcases in high school can make a huge difference in how college coaches view you as a prospect. But even those camps that you attend as a freshman can mean a lot. College coaches will want to see your progress throughout high school, so the more stats and experience you have, the better. Make sure to keep track of all results and stats as you attend camps and showcases so that you have something to present to the coaches and they can see how you have developed as a player.

Recruiting doesn’t start when a coach contacts you.
Athletes who are waiting for coaches to contact them are waiting too long! It’s a fact that coaches
realistically can’t recruit you unless they know you exist. This means that it’s up to you to be
proactive and get in touch with the coaches at schools you are interested in. If you wait around
hoping that they’ll come find you, it may be too late to find an opportunity. Start researching schools early and create a list of target schools where you can contact coaches at. It is important to build that relationship with the coach so you know what to expect when you make that final decision.
Infinity SC Alumni & Skyview HS Graduate Danica Hansen plays
Division 1 NJCAA Soccer at Iowa Western CC

If you aren’t talking to coaches, another athlete is.
There is high competition among high school athletes to find an opportunity to play sports in college- even more so to earn a scholarship. So if you think about it, every day that you are not making contact with a coach, another athlete is. If those days start adding up, more athletes are building these relationships with coaches, and you are getting further and further behind. Don’t miss out on any opportunities you could be taking advantage of and get yourself organized for the recruiting process.

Getting recruited is your responsibility, no one else’s.
Athletes need to understand that if they want to get recruited to play in college, they need to rely on themselves to make that happen. Too many kids are expecting their coach or their parents to take the lead in their recruiting, when in fact, they should be the ones contacting coaches. College coaches want to hear from the athlete and get to know them; they don’t want to hear from the coach or the athlete’s parents. Taking control of your recruiting process demonstrates to coaches how serious you are about competing at the college level and that you are mature enough to take responsibility of setting goals and making things happen for yourself.

(Taken from Athnet Get Recruited to Play College Sports -- Athleticscholarships.net)

If you are thinking that it is too late, you are wrong. But don’t procrastinate any longer—start now! Players can attend camps at any age. I would recommend researching schools and making a list of where you are interested in going. Look into out of state tuition fees, scholarship opportunities, academic requirements, and research the coaching staff and soccer program offered. Get information out to coaches and try to attend camps they offer. I am very willing to help talk to coaches and give recommendations for players. However, the coaches prefer to work with the players as much as possible. Get online and look into the information posted on the Infinity website regarding college preparation. Make sure to attend our meetings being held Nov. 5 for boys and Nov. 12 for girls at 7:00 at the Smithfield Rec Center. Your future is in your own hands. Make the most of it!

--Coach Sherri Dever

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Easiest Save a Goal Keeper Can Make

Authored by Mike Siler
Infinity SC Goal Keeper Director

What is the easiest save that a goalkeeper can make? Many of you are likely thinking that the easiest save is to scoop up a ball that is slowly rolling towards you. Although I wouldn't consider a front scoop a difficult save to make you still have to position yourself well, come out to cut off the angle, and temporarily take your eyes off of the field to look down at the ball not knowing who is in front of you or if you are going to be bumped. So is this the easiest save to make? No.

Even before the ball enters the 18 yard box the goalkeeper is processing the game, evaluating the defense, assessing the attack, and addressing any potential threats. In case you are still wondering; what is the easiest save that a goalkeeper can make, it is a verbal save. Ironically this is the save that most coaches will not notice but most all defensive players will. Goalkeepers with strong communication skills get shutouts and shutouts are the gold standard in the goalkeeping industry. Think of effective communication as shutting down the shot before it happens.

So let’s talk a little about what makes good communication. Rule #1: Good communication should be loud so all of the defensive players can  you. One of my biggest pet peeves as a trainer is to see players shine in goalkeeper training then observe them in a game where they whisper to their players. Their players cannot hear them and they do not have confidence in them. Remember good communication gets shutouts. Rule #2: Communication needs to be specific. One of the best examples of poor communication that I have ever heard is someone yelling “Mark up!” Unless you have a defender on your team named “Mark” and you are telling them to move “up” this communication is not specific and gives poor instruction. Once again be specific and only provide simple and brief instruction. Rule #3: Your communication should be effective. This often comes with game experience knowing what to say and when. Also on the lines of effective communication is the goalkeeper has to earn the respect and trust from their defenders. If the goalkeeper has their trust and respect then what the goalkeeper says the defense does.

Now that we have addressed the communication rules lets discuss the communication roles of a goalkeeper. No other player on the entire field has the total vision that the goalkeeper has. The goalkeeper can see 21 out of 22 players and the entire field all at the same time. For this reason their communication to the defense should have total authority and should not be second guessed. The first thing that I do regarding communication is to ensure that I have addressed the immediate threat, the attacking player with the ball. The most common thing that a goalkeeper will say is either “contain” or “delay” (meaning slow down the attack and do not stab at the ball), or “step” or “step to ball” (meaning step to the ball and apply immediate pressure). Both of these terms have their place relative to the position and pace of the attacker. Imagine the ball at midfield and a defender “steps” too early no defensive support. In this case the attacker will have a giant breakaway. In this same midfield scenario, if the defender delays or contains the attacker, they can slow them down until supporting defenders can arrive to help eliminate the threat. Now if we move the point of attack inside the 18 yard box you will often hear “step” as the keeper can see the shot coming and a defender often does not know whether to play the ball or the passing angle. The keeper can eliminate the guessing game by giving the assignment to “step to the ball”.

After I have addressed the immediate threat, I look at all other attackers to assess their positions and to their
supporting attacking player. If I can make sure that the attackers are marked or the defense is aware of the supporting attackers before the ball arrives then I did my job as a goalkeeper. Communication that a keeper may use in regards to the open/unmarked attacking players may be something like this, “Abby, the one behind you is your mark”. Or another key communication that I constantly say to defenders is to “stay central and leave the flanks”. In case you have not noticed when communicating to the defenders that are responsible for the open attackers the communication is typically more instructive and a little more detailed as their role is not as immediate and they have time to process the information.

Good communication is loud, specific, and effective and is the most common and easiest save that the goalkeeper makes in a game.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Infinity SC's Robin Hansen signs with USU soccer team

Two years ago Robin Hansen nearly stopped playing competitive soccer. At the last minute she went with a hand full of teammates from the '93 Infinity SC team to attend Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Robin's Club Coach, Jeff Ginn, helped start the program at Iowa Western CC and strongly encouraged her and her teammates to take advantage of the opportunity to play college soccer at a highly competitive NJCAA school in the middle of the country. Robin has returned to Cache Valley and is currently coaching the u10 Girls team with Coach Travis Clements.  Robin earned her USSF Natrional "D" License the past Spring and is very engaged in the development of the future generation of Infinity SC players and her own development as a coach. Below is the article written by Jason Turner of the Herald Journal.
Coach Robin Hansen, one of Infinity SC's first Alumni to play Division 1 Soccer, returns to Cache Valley to play for the Utah State Aggies and Coach for Infinity SC!

Robin Hansen signs with USU soccer team

Sky View product anchored midfield for JUCO power

Posted: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 12:30 am | Updated: 11:18 pm, Mon Jun 25, 2012.
Robin Hansen

Robin Hansen

Sky View product Robin Hansen (No. 17) finished a successful two-year run at Iowa Western Community College in 2011 and has transferred to Utah State, where she will compete for the Aggies this upcoming season. (Photo courtesy of Robin Hansen)

When Robin Hansen finished her second season on the Iowa Western Community College soccer team, she thought her collegiate career was over.

However, Utah State head coach Heather Cairns had other plans.

The Sky View product was one of three players the Aggies recently inked in rounding out their 12-member recruiting class for the upcoming 2012 season.
“Robin has been somebody that we’ve been watching throughout her junior college career,” Cairns said. “I think she keeps getting better and better every time we see her, so when the opportunity to recruit her came up, we really jumped on that.”
The daughter of Karla and Bruce Axtell and Dell Loy and Lynnette Hansen played in every match for the Reivers in 2010 and 2011, and started all 18 matches as a sophomore. Hansen was one of the first players off the bench for most of the 2010 campaign, but did make some starts late in the season.
The Hyde Park resident helped anchor the Iowa Western midfield and finished her JUCO career with seven goals and five assists — six goals and three assists as a sophomore. Hansen was one of eight players from Cache Valley on the 2011 IWCC roster.
“It prepared me so much because I had no idea I’d ever be able to play Division I soccer, and I’m really glad I made a last-second decision to go to Iowa (Western),” Hansen said. “I made the decision a couple of weeks before graduating from high school, and it was really hard.”
Hansen earned her associate degree from Iowa Western early and transferred to USU, where she trained with the team during the 2012 spring semester. Hansen, who had three goals and three assists as a senior at Sky View, planned on remaining at USU regardless of whether or not she was offered a spot on the team.
Needless to say, Hansen impressed Cairns and the rest of the Aggie coaching staff during that time.
“She’s got a remarkable work rate and a remarkable attitude with just seizing the whole soccer experience and seizing the day ... and becoming the best player she can, so she’s got some intangibles off the field, as well, that really prepared her to step into the Division I level,” Cairns said.
Cairns, who led the Aggies to their first-ever NCAA Tournament bid last season, said Hansen’s willingness to get into better shape was arguably the biggest thing that stood out to her.
“The big thing was her fitness level and, with that, the ability to impact the game because she’s able to cover more ground,” Cairns said. “... She was just around the ball a lot more (as her JUCO career progressed).”
Hansen agreed with Cairns’ assessment and feels her work rate is the biggest strength she brings to the program.
“People have seen that I’m pretty much the slowest player, but I just have really good endurance,” said Hansen, who is majoring in business administration. “And even though I’m a little slower, I just work my butt off to get to that ball and make sure that I’m working extra hard because I don’t have that (speed) advantage.”
Hansen is one of three Cache Valley players to sign with or verbally commit to the Aggies — arguably the Western Athletic Conference’s premier program since joining the league in 2005 — over the past six or so months. Soon-to-be seniors Jessica Brooksby (Sky View) and Karlee Campbell (Mountain Crest) verbally committed to USU recently.
Former Mountain Crest star Jessica Hoskin is entering her junior year at USU and was the team’s starting left back as a sophomore.
“The programs in the valley just keep getting better, and I think Heather has noticed that,” Hansen said. “(The schools) are producing better players now, and it’s exciting to see (USU recruiting local players) happening.”
Along with Hansen, Cairns announced the signing of two other players last week in recent Bear River graduate Kaitlyn Wilcox and UNLV transfer Jackie Tillotson.
Wilcox, a forward, missed her senior season with the Bears as she was recovering from an ACL tear, but returned in time to capture two more 3A state track and field titles. Wilcox enjoyed a remarkable prep track career as she was a three-time state champion in the 200- and 400-meter dashes and a four-time state placer in the 100, 200 and 400.
The Tremonton native was an all-state soccer player as a junior as she scored a school-record 16 goals. Wilcox, whose older sister, Amanda, was a teammate of Hansen’s at Iowa Western, will also run track for USU.
Tillotson played two seasons for the Rebels and started eight matches in 2011, while playing in 16. Tillotson, a defender, assisted on one goal.
The Sandy native is the younger sister of Summer Tillotson, who was a standout player for USU from 2008-2011. Tillotson, a four-year starter, was arguably the WAC’s best outside back a season ago and was a two-time all-league selection.
The Aggies will return seven starters and 12 letterwinners from last year’s 15-5-2 squad. USU captured its third regular-season WAC title in four years in 2011.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

2012 Awards

Male Player of The Year: Alex Erazo
Female Player of the Year: Abigail Bishop
Coach of the Year: Larry Tolley
Team Manager of the Year: Kylianne Erickson
Volunteer of the Year: Travis Clements

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Focus on Shooting/Finishing (Introduction)

The following email was sent to the coaches of Infinity SC on Wednesday, February 22nd.

Infinity SC Coaches,

I hope that you all enjoyed the three day weekend! I got to watch a lot of great Infinity SC Soccer in Las Vegas, Mesquite and St. George this past weekend. I was thrilled at the way our teams played. There was not a game that I watched where the Infinity SC team was not trying to be the better possession team and being successful at it. The combination play, movement off the ball, personal creativity and teamwork was very impressive everywhere I looked! However, there is a big weakness in our games club wide...

...As I was taking notes I kept writing down... need to improve shooting strength/technique and help our players understand how to finish. As well as we possess and as pretty of soccer it is that we play we are not scoring goals. I believe that we play intelligent and attractive soccer, but we are missing the final touch that makes it all "productive." I will be generating a curriculum for the Spring that will emphasize shooting and finishing(please view the video). Obviously this is NOT all I want you to do in your sessions, but I would like for every team to start emphasizing it more than you have in the past.

I would like to congratulate Katijo Rasmussens u9 Blue Girls for being President's Cup Champions, Katie Taylor's u14 Premier Girls & Anthony Larson's u15 Select Girls for being Ice Breaker Tournament Champion! All of the teams that participated in tournament play this past weekend represented our club and community well!

The following video should be viewed by every one of our coaches, players and parents. Please spend some time watching the following clip form a recent interview with U.S. Men's National team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

The full interview can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/o1TWEoSmRwU

I am truly grateful for everything that each of you do! We have a very busy Spring and Summer awaiting us. Let's be prepared for it!



Follow the progress of "Score More Goals" at www.infinitysc.com

Tuesday, February 7, 2012