Describe TST  Small Group Program?

TST offers a specialized soccer program aimed at providing players with a greater level of technical development training than they can probably find anywhere else. TST has quietly been helping young players in Melbourne since 2006 and in that time has helped produce players who have represented Australia U20s and the Matildas, as well as all levels of players from SAP, TIDC, NTC, senior NPL, A-league and playing professionally in Europe.

Small group sessions can range from 3 to 6 players, but regardless of the number, it is the aim to provide players with a level of technical work and individual feedback that they would not get anywhere else, and especially not get in their team based training. Groups of this size, follow the TST technical development program, which over time irons out any individual weak areas and significantly improves all areas of a players technique. It is private coaching in a small group, with the benefit of small sided technical game play and technical play in tight spaces.

Why is TST here?

It is here because team based coaching alone is not enough. Team based / big group coaching simply cannot cover the areas of the game which are either too technically difficult to isolate, or the short-term pay off is not sufficient enough to make it worthwhile. For example;

Weak foot. Although weak footwork is done in team training it is nowhere near enough to help players develop any real strength or technique in their weak foot. Any practice at training will make no difference for years, and when there is so much else to practice at team training, that will make a bigger short-term difference, weak foot development gets insufficient attention.

1v1 ability: What happens if a team-coach overly focuses on ‘one on one’ work at training. Come game day a coach has a team full of individuals who for a while loose the ball most the time trying to practice one on one skills. So coaches won’t do it enough to allow players to really get the hang of it (and it can take years to get to a good level). But the game is all about players using ‘one on one’ techniques and strategies to get an advantage. As players grow, and power, speed and intelligence develop, having the necessary ‘one on one’ techniques (evading or going past pressure) and strategies ready and waiting is essential.

All of the above as well as many other technical components of the game not mentioned here are impossible to learn sufficiently well in a big group. As a result, too many payers are left meandering their way through their technical development journey. Their technical development is ad hoc, with no clear framework or plan. This can produce soccer geniuses (old school genius's), but at the same time it can leave many potentially good players never reaching their potential, as their technical deficiencies get hidden in the big picture (of big group training sessions and matches) and never corrected nor developed.

TST offers a framework and direction for development and stops players from re-inventing the wheel. It gives players at a very young age the opportunity to develop foundations which once perfected can be built upon. The days when players played in the street and taught themselves have gone (hopefully). So TST is here to fill the void in technical training and add an extra dimension to the development opportunities available to your child.

What differentiates TST from Academies?

TST specializes in small group technical Coaching; There is no other technical program that is run like this. Almost all academies are big group based, having anywhere from 10 to 20 players in one group.

There are no gimmicks at TST. You will not play like a Brazilian because Brazil is in the name of the program or if you learn a few 'Brazilian' tricks (what ever that means). In fact success in soccer is not about having more skills than the next player and it is not about being able to do the hardest trick in the world. Potentially good players at a young age quite often think complicated means better. They think that the flashiest tricks are the best. This is simply not the case. The simplest technical option is quite often the best option.

TST is not based on a famous name or out-dated brand which can make the product appear better than it is. At TST what is advertised is what you get. There are some great academies out there and the coaches involved are awesome, but TST just approaches the problem of maximizing a players technical development from a different angle.

TST is about taking the basics of the game – (the fundamental game functional techniques) – and making them instinctively perfect in a environment perfect for individual technical development. From these fundamental functional game techniques, players can then build and improvise as they develop both physically and intellectually.

If  Players want to play like the best players in the world they must master the technical basic’s first. TST believes this is not possible in a big group setting alone. A technical base developed at TST, combined with a technical game based big group training program at the right age, can reward huge dividends.

Why does the player and the ball need to become one sooner rather than later?

Despite all the talk about technique, the game is ultimately about making decisions, but you can’t make good decisions unless you can play with your head up and you can’t play with your head up if you don’t have great technique. So the sooner a player gets to the point where they are ‘one with the ball’’, then the sooner they will ‘play with their head up’.

The game is not at a players feet, it is where their teammates, opponents and spaces are, and you can’t see these if your head spends too long looking at the ball because your touch and  technique is not good enough.

Such an undertaking takes time so the TST syllabus is a long-term project. There is no magic wand when it comes to soccer development. It requires direction and practice, and TST provides it. If your development goals are all about winning the ‘next game’, and being the most dominant player ‘right now’ then the TST development program might not be for your child, as TST is only interested in helping players reach their long term potential and this has nothing to do with how good a player appears to be right now.

Why is the TST Program a Long-Term project?

The TST small group program is not a quick fix program.

The fundamental aim of the TST program is to ‘make the ball and the player become one’.

This takes time. The window between 9 and 14 years old is vital in terms of learning and developing good technical habits so that it becomes an instinctive part of a player’s game. The earlier you can start in this window the better. Especially since avoiding learning bad habits is often more important at the early stages of development than anything else.

It may take 2 years (or more) of continuous technical exposure for the work done in these sessions to really begin to significantly show themselves in performance. Hard work and practice will slowly start to make a tangible difference to the way your child plays and the real difference won’t kick in until your child has the physical and mental maturity to fully utilize their technique available. (This might not be until well into their teens).

It is like anything that is hard to master. The more you practice at the beginning, laying down solid foundations, then the greater the acceleration of development in later years. So the TST program is a long-term project.

Some parents have said this. ‘TST taught my child how to play in the future’ and these are the players who in the long run begin to stand out. Parents and players who are impatient for development, and are on a constant search for a magic wand, do not do well at TST and won't do well anywhere.

At TST a player’s improvement may not have an immediate impact on their game performance, simply because at a young age developing technique is hard to see/implement in a big game. A players intelligence and maturity at any particular moment will determine how the developing skills are used. Due to this reason, some players do well very quickly, others take more time.

Players and parents need to be patient.

As long as the hard work is going in, it is important to let time play its part in the process.

In a nutshell, start early to avoid developing too many bad habits, and stick at it long enough for it to make a significant difference to the way your child plays, and ultimately take advantage of any accelerated development that will occur down the road by combining it with a ‘functional game based technical training program’ (your child team coach should be doing this) which shows players who have all the tools, how best to use them.

What type of players does TST try to develop?

If players do it for long enough then:

  • TST players are incredibly comfortable with the ball at their feet.
  • TST players have very smooth ball movement
  • TST players are always balanced and composed when on the ball.
  • TST players move the ball well around their feet
  • TST players have quick feet and great foot skills when required
  • TST players are very skillful without being over elaborate or excessive
  • TST players use skills to manipulate time and space to improve their passing options and passing/possession retention success rate
  • TST players control  and first touch is excellent
  • TST players, due to the above, play with their heads up and see the game around them
  • TST players, due to having their head up, are in a position to make better decisions on the ball
  • TST players are very good in tight spaces and in 1-v-1 situations
  • TST players can pass accurately and intelligently under pressure
  • TST players demonstrate quality off the ball movement and always take up good supporting and attacking positions
  • TST players are 2 footed
Andres Iniesta is the perfect example of what a TST should look like. He is not big, fast, or strong but he is still one of the greatest players to ever play the game. As a technical model of a player, he is as good as it gets.

Is TST an Elite Program?

Yes and no.

Any player who loves the game, has a great attitude to learning and wants to do more than what their team training alone can provide can benefit from TST. But ironically, it is potentially elite junior players and players with more natural ability who benefit the most.

Many parents make the mistake of thinking that because their child is one of the best players in their team then they do not need to do more. The truth is quite the contrary. There is a compounding of development as players grow. ‘Development builds on development’ and is why the gap between the best players and those below gets bigger over the years.

It is vital that players who are blessed with a little extra, take advantage of this as early as possible and therefore prepare to be in a position to reap the rewards of any hard work done (whilst young) as they get older.

Having said this we do not want elite players if they have a poor attitude to practice and to development. We do not want players who have a closed mindset to development and who already think they are good enough. We do not want elite players who are a distraction or disrespectful to others.

TST is ultimately a program for who ever loves the game, wants to improve and is willing to put the hard work to get this improvement.

Is the TST technical development program for my child?

If your child is showing a lot of natural ability and is able to hold their own with the best players at their age group then maybe TST is for your child? If your child has a natural talent for the game remember it is just a head start. Natural talent needs constant guidance and direction.

Maybe your child has the potential to be very good at soccer, has great athletic ability, great ball co-ordination and a great ability to learn new skills but has never had the exposure to proper soccer technique, TST may also be for your child.

If your child is still young and matches the description above, then TST is an absolute must for your child. TST have had players go on to make the U13 state squad despite never having kicked a soccer ball before the age of 8.

TST has helped develop good players into into ‘State /State All Star/Australian U13,U17,u20 /NTC /Matilda/A-league/W-league/Profession in Europe/senior NPL‘ players on this basis.

Having said all this, it is not an elite program. If your child loves the game, wants to improve and is willing to put in the hard work to get this improvement, the TST is definitely for your child.

Should my child get involved in the TST technical development program?

Ask yourself these questions ·

  • Does your child love soccer?
  • Does your child want to be the best soccer player they can be?
  • Does your child love to learn and are they a good student?
  • Does your child love to practice and enjoy the challenge of practice?
  • Does your child rise to a challenge?

If so, then ask yourself this question;

  • Are you currently providing your child with every possible opportunity to allow them to reach their soccer related goals?

If not, then perhaps you should seriously consider TST as an additional development opportunity.

If your child ticks all of the boxes above then get in touch.

What is the ideal age for players to get involved in the TST program?

TST caters for players of all ages and levels. We have groups for U5 players  all the way up to advanced groups with players in their 20s who play at the highest semi professional level in Melbourne.

For the very youngest players it is a way to ensure that their technical development gets put on the right track. Improvement is slow at this age as very young players struggle to significantly change the way their body moves, but at least all the right messages are going in. At the very youngest ages the sessions are shorter and more game based.

Much of development during the earlier years (say u8 and below) is quite often about ensuring bad habits do not develop, and that the spring board gets set for the so-called ‘golden years of development’ (9 onwards).

For players’ coming into their U9 season who have a natural ability towards the game and a great desire to improve, then this is a good point to begin to get involved.  But a player especially at this age must want to improve, as well as have the natural ability and maturity to be able make changes to their technique.

Players ’12 and onwards’ who start the program can make rapid technical progress (due to their advanced ability to make changes to the way their body moves and there ability to focus, absorb feedback and correct errors during practice) which can have an immediate impact on their game due to their ability to immediately use their developing technique.

However there are exceptions to every rule and it is all about the individual child.

Due to the nature of the sessions, advanced young players can train with players much older without age/size/speed being an issue. This allows players of any age to play with players of equal technical ability. This makes TST a unique opportunity for elite sub-junior players.

If you get your child involved in TST please do so with the intention that it is a 100% commitment to development. It is not something you can do for a term and expect things to change or improve to any significant degree.

Are there any other conditions of participation?

A player contemplating doing the TST program must simply have the right attitude. We can cater for all levels and ages.

TST is not recommended for players who do not have a hunger/focus towards the game and practice. It is not for players who get frustrated easily when things get hard, or for players who aren’t willing to try new things.

Players are expected to practice in their own time. A player should be doing an enormous amount of self-generated improvement without which improvement will be slow. Players who only use organized practice sessions to practice will never fully reach their potential.

Which should I choose; 1-on-1 tuition or the Small Group program?

1-on-1; This is great when a player has particular needs that require very close and personal attention. Spending a term on weak foot development, for example, is a great way to use a 1-on-1 option. It is also very useful when a player is new to the program, as it helps players get to grips with some the basic but fundamental skills that build the foundations of TST technique.

Groups of 2; This is as good as 1-on-1 if both players are at the same level and have the same needs, and is progressed in the same way as the 1-on-1 sessions.

Groups of 3 – 6; A small group is perfect for the TST small group program. The players love the intimacy of the group whilst still enjoying the social aspects of a group. The array of activities and games increases massively when there is a small group. A small group is perfect for players to absorb and integrate the skills and drills taught at TST. This is not so much about focusing on individual weaknesses (like a 1-on-1 may do) but more about developing a specific style of play, in which individual weaknesses are worked upon and ironed out over time. Usually in a group of 6 at least 1 player (quite often 2) miss the session (school, illness, other) so that the actual session size is often 4, even if there are 6 players in group overall. On this basis a group of 6 works really well and allows a lot more flexibility with regard to catch up sessions. (See the full Terms and conditions for more details on this).

Older players may be put in bigger groups as they have a greater capacity to work without a coach permanently watching their actions.

Is TST fun?

There is a structure to the each session, and a certain level of repetition of particular fundamental functional game skills. After all, we need to give the brain and nervous system sufficient repetition to build the neural super highways through the body that a player needs to become great technically. Some players love this aspect of the program and other don’t.

It is also important to note that TST is not a boot camp. Players learn best when they are happy and having fun. Doing the exact same thing each week would get boring, and the returns would diminish. So the sessions vary in some way to ensure the players remain stimulated whilst still retaining a fun and relaxed setting that helps nurture a love of the game.

Whenever a skill can be learned in a game based way it will be done.

Do you run sessions during the holidays?

Yes. These are half day sessions and not expensive. Holiday sessions are a great opportunity to go over the terms work and consolidate all the skills learned, as well as have fun and play some games. There are many games played in the TST sessions and the holiday sessions are a great time to have fun and play some of these. Even if you are not doing a term program, there may still be opportunities to do the program during the holidays. Please inquire for more details.

How do Catch-up sessions work?

Please see the full terms and conditions for the answer to this question, but it is the intention to ensure that all sessions paid for, are used.

How does what TST does fit with the FFAs Skill Acquisition Program (SAP)?

The FFA (Han Beger – National Technical Director) have identified that the most important age for young players to ‘acquire’ skill is between 9 and 13. They identify that running with the ball, striking the ball, first touch and 1 v 1 skills are the key technical areas that need attention at this age. The TST development program is massively geared towards developing these areas and making sure players enter the next phase of their development, the ‘Game training phase’, fully equipped with all tools necessary to play at a high technical level.

What role does TST play in helping young players develop?

TST isolates the technical aspects of the game far more than a big group training session will do. Big group training sessions (SAP, Team or academy) are essential for development and are vital for any development as they allow players to learn the game by playing the game – and this is essential!

However, technical development can be a little ‘sink or swim’ in this environment.

At TST, the very small groups of players of similar attitude and ability allow a much greater level of feedback and practice of technical elements, and is a massively effective form of technical training and an essential compliment to any big group training sessions a player may be doing.

Big group sessions are very game based and rightly so. It is essential for young players to play the game as much as possible but there are so many fundamental skills a player needs to be exposed to, practice often, and receive feedback on in order to get them right technically. Big group sessions will simply not provide the optimal environment for this.

At TST players play lots of games to mimic the actual game (or at least components of it), which help develop fundamental techniques, so that when a player does play a game, all the tools required to make the best decision possible, on or off the ball, are available to use.

We get the best success in regard to the technical development of a player, when a player, with potential, begins the program in conjunction a big group technical game based program. The reason this has been successful is simply that TST provides players with a very strong technical base (the ‘tools of the trade’), and the technical game based style coaching helps them learn how best to use these tools in a small-sided game setting. Players who can best combine these 2 elements of their development, and use their intelligence to work out how best to use their technique, excel in the game. TST has helped to produce Australian junior players and players who are now with professional clubs on this basis.

What are the credentials of the coaches at TST?

All coaches have the following attributes. They are very good technically. Have played at a high level. Are very good with developing players. They are great with kids and help make sure that players learn to love the game. They love to teach, such that their communication skills, their demonstrations and explanations are always very good. They follow a specifically tailored proven syllabus based on years of ‘private and small group (and big group)’ coaching experience.

FFA coaching badges are not seen as necessary as they are designed for team coaching, not technical private and small group coaching.



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