Soccer Awareness: A Testimony by Ulrich Schmidt

At Soccer Awareness we strive to improve all the players we teach, and at all levels of the game. After a time period we are now finding some great results from our training; this being one of them which we would like to share with you.

Before Soccer Awareness

In late spring/early summer of 2014, our son Uli was a 13 year old technically gifted midfielder who wanted to play for a US professional soccer academy and had the dream to become a professional player. However the reality was that when playing against bigger players he lost challenges and despite his talent had hit a developmental road block having been placed on a second team at his current club. His club coaches advised him to get tougher and stronger or even taller, but this only frustrated him more. In early summer Uli attended an ID camp at Real Salt Lake. He was told that he had talent, but lacked positional sense and vision and was not ready for their academy.  Uli really enjoyed his time at RSL but had no idea how he could ever make it on the RSL team.  Parents at his current club encouraged us to consider Wayne Harrison’s Soccer Awareness concept.  We went there for a look and from the first moment Uli loved it. 

Footnote: Real Salt Lake Academy is the only residential professional academy affiliated with a Major League Soccer team. Over the last three years their team won one U.S. Championship and reached the finals twice, THE most successful professional club in the USA.

The value of Wayne Harrison's Soccer Awareness training

For players and parents the first thing to notice is the welcoming atmosphere. Wayne and Mary Harrison give you the feeling of a family.  In many clubs the function of parents seem to be reduced to paying and driving.  Interacting with the coaches seem to be frowned upon. Wayne chooses a very different approach and makes parents part of the educational process. The goal of each training session is explained beforehand. After each training, the session is summarized and Wayne emails explanatory material. I would describe Wayne’s approach rather as a Soccer University where mind and body are trained.

During the session, the kids are guided to find the best solutions for different situations. Wayne constantly improves their vision of the field and their awareness. After many years I normally do not like to watch soccer practices (always similar drills and yelling coaches). However during Wayne’s practice the purpose of each exercise becomes clear and seeing the kids improve from beginning to end of each session is just fantastic. Wayne’s Soccer Awareness teams are playing in a local league. For us it is much more fun to watch the games than Uli’s club team that competes in division one of the Southern California Development league. In the Soccer Awareness team the kids despite being from different clubs string often more than 10 passes together. They play beautifully out of the back. Mistakes are made but Wayne uses these as learning points. Wayne sends E-mails after each game to help kids and parents to better understand specific learning points.

Uli made the following comments about Wayne’s training:

Player Uli’s Thoughts:

“I would like to start off how Soccer Awareness has improved me so much until this day with decision making, movements off the ball, knowing what you are going to do with the ball before you get it, and much more. You can’t get any training like this around in the country or even around the world. If you really want to succeed in not just soccer but anything in life you got to set your mind to it and train to the best of your ability”.

Uli’s progress:

During the fall we saw Uli’s confidence improving. His vision and awareness improved significantly and he was able to “orchestrate” the game. In December he returned back to RSL for another look.  This time the response was quite different. The coaches commented on his improved awareness and vastly improved decision making on and off the ball and offered him a spot on the 2016 U15 RSL team. Thanks to Wayne Harrison’s Soccer Awareness training Uli will be able to follow his dream and play for one of, if not THE best; Soccer Academies in the whole country. Wayne is a grand master in soccer education. The only regret I have is that we did not find him earlier.

Wayne’s Views:  

The only way to help a player develop like this is if that player has the INTRINSIC DESIRE to give 1000% to training and games. This is what Uli does.

Uli not only comes to every soccer awareness training session with me that he can but he also comes to my older teams practices every time he can (of which team he would have been playing for me next season if he hadn’t earned himself this wonderful opportunity); so sometimes working 4 times a week with me; as well as doing his regular team training AND playing for his current club; as well as playing with our Soccer Awareness team in the local leagues.. This is total dedication and this is why Uli is in this situation now, through his own sheer hard work and determination and of course his own ability for the game; and very importantly also the dedication of his parents in supporting him.

Uli is now in the privileged position of being a part of a very small number of players selected out of many hundreds of top players from all over the USA. Uli has developed into a very clever player, he finds space better and he thinks quicker and makes faster decisions than others; who may be bigger and stronger, he proves the game is about the MIND / BRAIN as well as the body, actually maybe more so.                                                                          

Now imagine him as a player when he develops the same physical characteristics of others as he will in time, but already has now developed the SKILL FACTOR we call it.

Mary and I are so proud of this young man of 13 to already have started the first step of many steps to get to where he wants to be and we are very confident he will get there. 

Soccer Awareness does not discriminate against size or strength; if you are good enough then you are big enough.