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  Adam Allerton
Academy Director, Baton Rouge Soccer Club

"Providing an opportunity for players to train and play on a "sustained" surface has numerous beneficial qualities that can contribute to a player's accelerated development. From a periodizational aspect, futsal or indoor soccer can act as a cross training activity, which is paramount to a player's athletic development. It can also greatly reduce the risk of injury by utilizing varied muscle groups while others are resting. Due to the quick intermittent bursts of speed, indoor soccer relies heavily on an anaerobic energy system. This creates an " interval training" setting, which is an excellent way for soccer players to condition."

When developing players in the "golden years" of soccer, one of the most challenging aspects is getting players to transition from the 1v1 model to cooperative play, or the concept of "team". Playing in an environment with walls is an excellent bridge for this developmental transition, because a player has the ability to play off the wall back to oneself--effectively satisfying the desire to keep the ball while at the same time demonstrating cooperative tendencies. Soon the youth player will recognize that the same opportunity the wall created can be transferred to a grassy pitch by cooperating with 2nd and 3rd attackers!

Of course there is always an element of risk for injury when playing on a sustained surface; however, I have found with the right instruction players can learn to possess more control over their bodies at a faster pace. Through self preservation, players will start to develop critical kinesthetic awareness, which is critical to skill development. Our youth players do not naturally conceptualize the dexterity involved in eye-foot coordination needed for soccer as they might with other sports that use their hands, simply because eye-foot coordination is not cultivated through daily general activity the way eye-hand coordination is. Creating an environment where they must learn to control their bodies' movements will develop motor skill awareness.

The indoor environment escalates speed of play due to the fact that the ball always remains in play with explosive pace. This high-paced environment is conducive for players to strengthen their first step quickness, reactive speed, and anticipation skills. Players must stay alert and alive through every moment of the indoor game in order to be successful players. Indoor soccer is brilliant for technical development as each player is forced to stay with the pace of the ball. Development of touch, weight, and control over the ball is learned through guided discovery of the game. Due to the fast-paced nature, indoor soccer players are urged to gather numerous visual and contextual pieces of information at once, creating a highly pressurized decision-making environment. This type of training is excellent for developing a player's speed of play, which is an invaluable skill set to heighten.

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