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Welcome Zsolt Bertalan to the Michigan Fire Coaching Staff!
Welcome Zsolt Bertalan to the Michigan Fire Coaching Staff!
Davenport Futsal Tournament
Davenport Futsal Tournament

Davenport 3rd Annual Futsal Tournament





Welcoming New Club Sponsor
Welcoming New Club Sponsor



OAM/Metro Sports Medicine

Technical Skills as Foundation
Jun 04 2013


By Dan McAllister

Technical Director 


Technical Skills are the foundation for every player in the game and is likely the biggest single area that will affect every player's opportunities to advance throughout their career. Technical proficiency is an ongoing process of first learning the proper technique of a skill, then the much longer process of perfecting it.


In an article by John Rennie from Duke University entitled "Taking it to the Next Level", John writes: "I view skill as receiving and playing balls under the pressure of defending players. A player must demonstrate skill under pressure in order to play at the collegiate level. Success or failure in this situation determines further evaluation." WOW!! If you CAN play with skill under pressure, then you have a chance for further evaluation. If you CAN NOT play with skill under pressure....WOW! Players must be constantly working on technical precision, or what I like to call "Ball Mastery."


The Michigan Fire Juniors, through the curriculum and guidance of the Chicago Fire organization, are committed to the technical training of our players. As the Technical Director, I have spent much of the past two decades studying what so many successful professional clubs are doing to develop their youth players. I have had first hand exposure to our own Olympic Development Program at the state, regional and national level and have paid very close attention to what our national team coaches at every level are asking us at the youth level to focus on and why. I have had indepth exposure to some of the world's most reknowned youth development programs such as the Liverpool Academy and how they develop their youth players in an attempt to prepare those players to play in the English Premier League one day. A huge amount of their focus is technical development.


Many of our US players do not get the opportunity to advance to the next level, which is different for every player, because of the inability to play technically fast with technical precision to match. Recently, my Cornerstone University Women's Soccer Team played the Haiti National Team. In assessing the play of their national team players, we determined that in virtually every element of the game, the Haitians were "faster" than most of our players. Their technical "speed" was effected by their supple, sure touches that so often put the ball just out of the reach of our defenders allowing them to maintain possession under our fierce pressure, dictate the flow of their attack without hindrance from us, and control the ball more than we were able to.


Another important element in terms of skill development is the focus on ball mastery of the basic skills, as opposed to the entertaining "tricks" with the ball that we all enjoy watching. While these are fun to learn, they typically have little to no application in the a game, and even when they are attempted in a game, they rarely do anything to positively affect the game. The most dangerous element in the game of soccer is Speed. However, it is not simply physical speed of the players that effect the game. Technical Speed, Mental Speed, Tactical Speed, and Vision are the key contributors to overall speed of play.


Our focus at the Michigan Fire Juniors in terms of technical development will be the foundation of our overall philosophy of Player Development. This year, with our U10, U11, and U12 teams (boys and girls) we are offering an in-season supplementary Technical Training session each week in order to further develop these young players technical skills. We have developed a skills monitoring program where we will offer testing to any of these players who choose to participate at least 3 times per year in 21 different skills. We believe this gives every player a good measure of where they are in terms of technical skills, an ongoing measurement of improvement, and a central focus on the most prominent skills the game demands from our players. We have also developed a "Skills Workout" package which is all available on the Michigan Fire Juniors website under Technical Training. All of these resources are openly available to all MFJ's players regardless of age/gender and all players and parents are encouraged to use them in your own development regardless of age or ability.


If you want to see someone special in terms of mastery of the ball, check out Messi here!  




Responding to Adversity
Aug 01 2013

By Kristin Englehart, Staff Coach


Chloe Finney played her first scrimmage with Unity Christian's varsity team on April 9th after one year and three months of not playing competitively. Chloe played for me last year on our club's U14 premier team. It was her first year playing premier soccer, and she struggled a bit technically and tactically during the fall season. It was during that off-season that I saw tremendous growth in Chloe. She was more committed to the sport than ever before. She consistently trained on her own and was playing with more confidence every day. It was during one of our mid-winter team trainings that Chloe suddenly fell when pivoting to get to a 50/50 ball. Torn ACL.


I met with Chloe shortly after her injury and discussed her road to recovery and the possibility of her playing premier level soccer again. She did not waste a second of recovery time feeling sorry for herself or thinking negatively. She was incredibly steadfast and focused on her long-term goals of making her school's varsity team and again playing the game she loved.


Chloe dedicated herself completely to improving her strength, regaining her technical skills and playing with confidence again. She worked for over a year without a secure place on any club or high school team. She didn't have teammates rallying around her. She didn't even have a uniform to remind her of what she was working toward.


She is now playing significant minutes for a State Championship high school team (as a freshman) and looking forward to playing premier soccer again starting in June. This is a shining example of one of our own players overcoming adversity. Congratulations, Chloe!


I have seen many of our players and teams overcome great obstacles over the past year. They have displayed courage, strength and humility in very difficult situations. On a daily basis I also see our players and teams rise to less significant challenges. Our responses to life's challenges are a reflection of our mental attitude. How we carry ourselves, the way we take instructions from coaches, and even how we react to our own mistakes are all reflections of our ability to overcome difficulties.


We are always going to make mistakes. We will occasionally go down by a goal or two. We are not going to agree with every call the referee makes. We will get knocked down both literally and figuratively. We are going to experience these challenges and possibly much greater hardship as we play this game. However, the player/team that is best at overcoming adversity will most often win. Sometimes you won't will the particular game, but you will win in life!


Stay after it Michigan Fire!



Games vs. Drills & Practice to Games... from David Wood
Apr 10 2014 - David Wood


Games vs. Drills and Practice to Game

(US Soccer Best Practices)


by our Boy's DOC

David Wood

read more
Club Standards Project
Feb 10 2014
Michigan Fire Juniors Achieve National Recognition
The Michigan Fire Juniors T.O.T.A.L. (Technical Obsession To Advance Learning) Technical Hour Training Program was recognized at the NSCAA Coaches Convention in January, 2014 as one of ten National “Best Practices.” The NSCAA through their Club Standards Project which the MFJ are participating in, have analyzed over 120 clubs across the United States in a variety of categories and essentially grade clubs in each of these 22 categories. Our T.O.T.A.L. Technical Hour received a Best Practices distinction in our initial Strengths and Weaknesses Analysis from the Club Standards Project, but the project director David Newbery was so impressed with this program, he choose to highlight it in his lecture session at the NSCAA Coaches Convention in Philadelphia last month entitled “A Model Youth Club – Building a Club on Best Practices.” 
The T.O.T.A.L. Technical Hour is a program designed by our club’s Technical Director Dan McAllister, and has been coached by members of our professional staff, Dan McAllister, David Wood, Chris Schoenberg, Rick Fett and Dean Muckle. This program is a technical development supplemental program offered to any of our MFJ U9-U12 players which offers a daily, 1 hour session focused on technical development, ball mastery improvement from 4pm-5pm every Monday-Thursday during in-season play at our 28th Ave facilities. 
Coach McAllister has a keen awareness of the impact technical development has on a player’s ability to aspire to next level play, as each new level includes increased pressure and speed of play, which in turn demands players to improve their technical skills accordingly. “We know as a club, we have to be proactive in helping our players learn and improve in their technical development. We know we can not rely strictly on our team coaches to do this, as they are often focusing on tactical/team development. This program allows those who take advantage of it to gain new skills, build comfort on the ball, and to continue on their journey of “Ball Mastery,” which is a life long journey for aspiring players.”
Chicago Fire Juniors Affiliates Program Director Brian Roberts was present at the NSCAA Convention Presentation and had this to say about this program: “I just want to congratulate Dan and the club on your recent NSCAA award. I sat in the workshop when NSCAA recognized ten youth clubs for outstanding achievement. Each club had a few moments to field questions on their own initiative, the MI Fire Juniors training hour was a very popular topic for discussion. Dan and his team really were a great representation of the Michigan Fire Juniors and the Chicago Fire family as a whole.” 
David Newbery, the NSCAA Club Standards Project Director said about the Michigan Fire Juniors T.O.T.A.L. Technical Hour, “In now having personally done over 100 Advanced Assessments (in the US and Canada), this is the first club I have seen dedicate this kind of supplemental training program for the technical development of their players. This is truly a unique program, well done Michigan Fire Juniors” 
Technical Director, Dan McAllister responded, “To be honest, I’ve been quite humbled by the recognition as I see this as simply the right way to help players develop. I have been hearing from our National coaches through our Olympic Development Program (ODP), and from my own experience as a college coach for the past 15 years, that our players are not technical enough to compete at the highest levels. In my own coaching, I have been focused on technical development of players, both on my teams and in my camps and training programs, so this seems like an extension of that personal philosophy. Additionally, the program has been carried out by others in our club who are committed and capable of training these players. David Wood, Chris Schoenberg, Rick Fett, and Dean Muckle have all played a significant role and the program could not function without their experience, knowledge, and dedication to these young players, it’s been a Team effort and I am so grateful for their work.” 
In addition to our T.O.T.A.L. Technical Hour, we offer Technical Training Camps throughout the year, such as our March event running every Tuesday and Thursday at Let’s Play (Soccer Zone) in Jension. For more information or to register, please go to this link

Michigan Fire Juniors

PO Box 5

Hudsonville MI 49426




Michigan Fire Juniors

PO Box5

Hudsonville, MI 49426

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