There is no handbook for creating a supplemental soccer coaching academy that supports players over their lifetime of involvement in the game of soccer.
LeftFoot is constantly improving the idea of creating a safe space for players to get their technical coaching and incorporating life lessons that help us organize a specific space.
We’ve wrapped up a successful summer that implemented an idea that was born during the summer of 2013.
In one week this July, we had more visits to the Academy than the entire month of August 2014. More kids were able to participate at LeftFoot than ever before because of the LeftFoot 4.0 operating system. In 2012, we could only support 150 players. In 2015, we have over 150 players in just our Youth Academy!
In 2012, our coaching model only supported 48 visits a day and was exploding toward sessions with 24 kids and two coaches — It was built around my skills to facilitate large groups of players and focus on individual skills.
LeftFoot was struggling to replicate me and scale my coaching/facilitating skills.
We were stuck and needed to innovate.
LeftFoot 4.0 was born in August of 2013 and has had a slight innovation toward our 5.0 program with simple pricing and scheduling improvements in April 2014. It introduced our Rolling Start, the LeftFoot Academy Series, Semi-Private Coaching, our seasonal Allocations, and One on One subscriptions. Excitingly, we’ve serviced more sessions, parent phone calls, and One on One’s than ever before in the history of LeftFoot. Prior to 4.0 we could only offer only 12 One on One sessions per month. Now we offer over 60 per week with new programs like the Privado.
Our mission to improve soccer in the state of Minnesota is slowly making an impact. Leftie parents and players continue to tell me how our coaches are changing their players’ lives, touches, club prospects, and confidence. That makes such an impact on me because for years, I’ve been saying LeftFoot is bigger than just me…Now we are proving this concept on a daily basis.
In fact, two Saturday’s ago we inducted six new Hall of Fame candidates from our graduating Class of 2015 with a special brunch. It was a great way to signal the end of one chapter in our development and herald the next. These players have been groomed by a host of coaches in the Academy for the past two years.
Thankfully, another Hall of Famer, Rayni Pemble, coordinated and ran the event demonstrating her commitment to making sure we honor and recognize inspiring stories that make our mission come to life. In total we have over 15 Hall of Fame graduates to date since we started the program in 2013.
And it’s in that context that I’m excited about what’s next in our evolving story.
You might be hearing about LeftFoot Six in my emails, seeing it in the Academy and hearing our team reference it in customer comments.
Let me finish with a situation in which LF6 makes an impact that it hadn’t before…
Last Thursday I had a span of three hours that were a bit crazy for me, I was triple booked in meetings.
One meeting was a Coaching Curriculum meeting in which Tyler Bosch, Ph.D, was being introduced to our LeftFoot Six model with Steve and Colleen. We were coordinating the direction that our entire program will be making a significant shift towards. Our Youth Academy is nearing three progressions of curriculum and almost 150 players.
The Academy Series has another 200 players with over 12 different progressions and segments. (One on One, Semi-Private, Academy Series). We have to shift the Youth Academy to a one year program with twelve months of curriculum not eight. Our One on One Coaching will have distinct coaching curriculum objectives to improve and control the progressions players for players in the Youth Academy and Foundation Series. Combo and Creative players will now have half field access to improve spacing for players and coaches to make better interventions in technique.
The other meeting was with our graphic designer who designs our Ads, and print marketing. Her and I have worked together for over 15 years in different companies — so there was a bit of catch up to intermingle LeftFoot Six and the past concepts. We are redesigning our website and branding to reflect a Catalog of Options that will allow families to pick and choose from over 30 different products we’ve come to offer through the years. This intervention will allow us to continue to specialize in interventions that make players stronger and focused on individual improvement like never before.
The final schedule was a call with a parent frustrated with the state of club registrations — you know the immediacy that the club requires you register for the season to secure your spot, but they don’t know who the coach is and what team you’re on, but they tell you to “trust us” that it will all be fine. He needed me to guide him to the best decision for his player and listen to the issues that the interests of parents and players are still not represented by the powers that govern the state of youth soccer.
This was all going on at 9:15am Thursday, not to mention coaching sessions, One on One’s, etc.
Then all of a sudden, Leftie #6 walks in – standing behind me patiently.
She’s a Division I commit and was a National Champion this past summer. I’ve known her since she was 9 and have coached her since she was 11. She’s had five different coaches in those six years since my last year coaching her team. We like to have a good “catchup” session every once in a while.
Of course, I drop everything and let our relationship just settle in the moment.
I haven’t seen her in several months — LeftFoot Six is designed for her. What she needs to go to school and get the coaching she needs for her Senior year will make an impact on hundreds of others players — LeftFoot Six is right there in that moment.
We have to change our business model and our coaching process to meet the changing needs of the players that are growing up around us.
In the span of five minutes I walk her through the Academy and introduce her to our internship program. Our coach in the studio is a Hall of Fame graduate, and five year member, Dani Nelson. They know each other and say hi without disrupting the session. Dani and I have written the Low Instep Drive manual of coaching in iBook format for coaches to master our special sauce this summer.
As we walk through the Academy we talk about the journey of an intern through the Academy. The tracks we’ve created to be a coaching coordinator, a coach in the academy, or a training partner. These tracks of interning have allowed us to develop more of an impact of younger players in the Academy. Our 11’s and 12’s love seeing Anna and Taras on the walls of the Academy and then to play with them and be coached by them on our techniques.
It’s becoming a home with brothers and sisters, aunts and “fun uncles” from all over the state in one place with one mission; create a home for players and coaches to come together and get better every day.
That’s why the 4.0 model is too limiting now, and it’s created some pressures on our model that need to be addressed.
For one, while our younger interns can coach our techniques and sessions they can’t coach every player, nor should the price be similar to our more experienced coaches. Our space needs are also different for older players. Not every One on One session should be in the studio or entry way.
Our experienced coaches and players have different needs than our younger players. Their schedules are different. Our LeftFoot 4.0 model was actually built to support players in high school that go away in August and September. Now, half of our Academy is under the age of 13 and will want more coaching in August and September forcing us to stay open through those months rather than pull back and slow down. In August of 2014 we were only open three days a week. From August through September this year we’ll be open six days a week to formally start the LeftFoot Six scheduling model.
These subtle changes and needs are creating bigger shifts in our model that ask us to create variety in a multitude of ways. Our founding principles of Access, Opportunity and Flexibility have been stressed this year and we’re on the verge of a new model that will expand our offerings, our options and our relationships with hundreds of players through the state.
Our schedule and model will introduce a concept we’ll share under the idea of “All Ways Open” so that we’ll be pushing every frontier in scheduling that has allowed us to innovate from 40 visits a day in 2011 to over 178 this summer. “All Ways Open” will allow you to begin scheduling LeftFoot sessions for less than $20 a visit beginning this week. Typically, our sessions cost over $35 a visit. These unheard of prices are part of a dramatic shift in scheduling and modeling that have taken months to innovate.
When Leftie #6 takes part in LeftFoot Six she’ll be in our Elite Series taking part in our internship and coaching tracks. She’ll be a phenomenal coach and inspiration to hundreds of young girls and boys as she gets ready for college and finishes high school. LeftFoot Six begins with the concept, “Once a Leftie, All Ways a Leftie” and allows us to continue to create a home for everyone that wants to stay involved to be part of our mission.
Ironically, on Thursday after my triple bookings I concluded another round of negotiations with our expansion plans. Our terms to complete funding on a $1.7 million dollar expansion facility which will be our flagship site on seven acres will wrap up this month ….. Our target to open in October 2016 will be completely funded in the forthcoming months. For all of you in Plymouth, Maple Grove and the Northwest Suburbs, you’ll like the site we picked out for you.