Technique, technique, technique

Soccer is a game of skill.  At BaxterSports Soccer Camps, we are all about teaching new skills that will help kids learn to love the game by improving their technique on the ball.

Here’s a great illustration of how to make a volley. It’s not just about swinging your leg, it’s about complete body control: from the toes to the ankle, to the knee, to the hips, chest shoulder, and head.  When everything is aligned perfectly, a player can make the ball do whatever they want.

Here’s Portland Timbers player Will Johnson connecting on a volley:

Timbers 1st Home Preseason Match

The Portland Timbers started with 5 brand new players last night, which accounted for 3 goals and 2 of the assists. They let up as many as they scored, unfortunately, but the style of soccer was markedly improved from last season. Here are the highlights:

Beautiful goal by youth team in Greece!

We all love goals in soccer.  They are sometimes pretty rare, so each one has that much more meaning to it.  Most highlights are of insane volleys and cool moves, but the ones I like the most are the goals with great set-ups, sweet assists, and team play.
Check out this video of a goal by a youth team from Greece….

This is the “right” way to play soccer.  Short passing, keep the ball moving most of the time, some sweet fakes and dribbling moves at the right times, and not afraid to go backward to open up space to go forward.   In the youth game here in the US, this play would rarely happen because coaches will not typically allow this type of play.  The reason is that if a mistake happens it could cost a goal, and maybe the game:  winning > development.

The art of the great youth coach is to provide an environment where kids can feel like it’s okay to try to play this way.  To be able to learn from mistakes that may happen.  To eventually be able to succeed at doing something like  this.

Brian interviewed on Fox Sports Radio

I was interviewed on 11/29/12 about my new book, The Sports Mindset Gameplan.

Spain trip 3 – Ties, ties, ties

So we’ve seen 4 games live now, and 4 ties.

Champions League, Europa League, La Liga and La Liga 2nd Division.  All ties.  Two of them were by way of goals in stoppage time, which was pretty cool.  We have seen several games on tv and our hotel has BarcaTV, which plays pretty much non-stop Barcelona soccer news and highlights.  They carry a lot of the youth team stuff, so we’ve seen some of the highlights from U10, U11, etc teams.  One thing we noticed is the mannerisms of the players – they look and act like the players from the senior team, and know what’s expected of them and what to do in situations.  For soccer to continue to grow in the US, our young players need a culture like this.

Yesterday we walked a lot to see the city and get some Christmas shopping done.  My friend Chris and I stopped to watch some kids playing soccer in the little plaza area between some apartments.  It was a lot like any pickup games we see anywhere:  a couple really good players, one guy who kicked the ball as hard as he could every time it came near him, and one kid who wasn’t really playing but just kinda there walking around in the field.


Kids playing in Barcelona

Today we are going to watch a couple of training sessions, and  possibly a Barca women’s team match.  Hasta luego…


Barca ->Valencia -> Barca

Friday, Dec 7 – we just arrived back in Barcelona after a 1 night trip to Valencia. We were going to stay longer, but one of the game days was changed so we had to get back earlier.  Kind of a shame as Valencia seemed like a really cool town.  The 3 1/2 hour train ride was really nice along the Atlantic Coast.

While there we got to see a Europa Cup match between Levante (Spain) and Hanover (Germany).  The Germans got of to a really strong start from the opening whistle – and that was just their fans, who littered the town square with beer bottles and trash and put a bunch of soap in the fountain.  They were also very loud kinda like the Timbers Army, and put the home fans to shame.

On the field, Hanover took a 2-0 lead in the first half, and a couple great saves by Levante’s keeper kept it from being 4-0.   Levante obviously got a talking to from the coach at halftime, as they dominated the 2nd half, scoring this goal 4 minutes in:

At the end of the video I panned over to the Hannover section, which was as quiet as they’d been all night. Levante got the equalizer at the 94 minute mark to cap off a very entertaining match.

After the game we hit the Portland Ale House, owned by a Portland ex-pat.  That was a lotta fun.  We presented them with a THUSC jersey to hang on their wall.

We’re resting up this afternoon then heading to a La Liga match between Espanyol and Sevilla.

Bienvenidos de Barcelona!

Hi guys,

I will be in Spain from Dec 3-11, and will try to blog about the experience as much as possible. I am here with a group of coaches from Tualatin Hills United Soccer Club (THUSC) on a coaches education trip.  We will see one Champions League match, one Europa Cup match, and one La Liga match.   We will spend one day in Valencia, sandwiched between multi-day stays in Barcelona.  We will also tour Camp Nou and watch some Barca youth team matches.

We started out leaving Portland yesterday (Tuesday at 6:55am PDX time) and arrived in Barcelona yesterday (Wednesday at 9:15am Barca time). We’re staying in a small hotel in downtown and spent most of the day walking around like tourists looking at our map and taking photos of the cool buildings. We also partook of the great tradition of the siesta, napping from 2 until about 5 or 6pm. Then out for food and drinks.

Today we will tour the Sacrada Familia Chapel during the day, then attending the Champions League match between Barcelona and Benfica (of Portugal). We are all super-psyched to get to witness first-hand the best soccer team ever play in such a high-level match.   KICKOFF IS AT 11:45am PST for those of you back home!

Full report and more photos later…  Send me an email if you have any questions (

Play to the whistle – Don’t celebrate too early!

You might hear your coach tell you to “play to the whistle” meaning don’t assume the ball is out of bounds, or that the ref has called a foul until you hear the whistle.

In this case, watch what happens when the keeper celebrates a missed pk too early…

Cool contest – Awesome Story

The Portland Timbers held a fan photo contest to win season tickets for the 2012-12 season. Check out what happened for the battle between the top 2. Pretty cool!

Perfect timing on this run – made the finish easy

Check out this goal by Portland’s Danny Mwanga against San Jose on July 3rd. This is a perfect example of how the timing of a forward’s run gives just enough space to get off a good high-percentage shot.

Midfielder Franck Songo’o gets the steal at the defensive end and finds fellow midfielder Eric Alexander. The two combine for a nice wall pass to spring Songo’o down the right flank.

Freeze the video at the 12 second mark, and find Mwanga. Notice that while his defender has good goal-side positioning, Mwanga has the option of a long, flighted cross to the back post, or a flashing run to the near post for a hard pass on the ground. Now unfreeze and notice how he decides on the latter by changing speeds and sprinting toward the near post.

A perfectly placed low driven ball meets Mwanga a split second ahead of the defender, and that’s all he needs to slot it home. The midfielder’s service on this goal is perfect – a big mistakes wingers tend to make is sending that ball in the air. One more crucial element about this goal. If you freeze at the 16 second mark, you will see that Mwanga’s body is straight up and down. This keeps the ball from completely skying into the 12th row of the Timber’s Army – leaning backwards is a key mistake many forwards make.

Another subtle part to this play is Eric Alexander’s run after passing the ball to Songo’o. You will notice that he continues his run toward the goal (he’s the one raising his hands calling for the ball). Playing off of Mwanga’s run in front of him, Alexander makes a beeline toward the back post. Although he wasn’t used in the play, if Mwanga and the defender miss the initial ball, or if the keeper saves the shot, or if Songo’o decided not to make the near post pass, Alexander is there for an opportunity on goal.