WE ARE PARK SLOPE UNITED
"COMMUNITY, INTEGRITY, EXCELLENCE"
Park Slope United was born on a small piece of paper, at a café overlooking a soccer field, tucked into a residential neighborhood in Zagreb, Croatia.
During his Master’s of Sport Psychology coursework, founder Nathan Bell lived in Croatia at the dormitories of Dinamo Zagreb, one of the top academies in the world. He was there to investigate how Croatia, with a population similar to the borough of Brooklyn, produced so many world-class soccer players. What were they doing differently than we were in the United States? He interviewed Croatian National Team coaches and players, played with a 3rd Division professional team and completed a book about his experiences traveling the world studying the way different cultures developed soccer players.
All Nathan’s experiences and research led back to the same place: Croatia produced some of the best players in the world because of their comprehensive soccer academies, the prevalence of unstructured soccer play, and the way soccer was integrated into the togetherness of families and community.
Overlooking each field where Nathan went to play or interview coaches was a café where people from the neighborhood congregated to eat or drink coffee, and where families gathered during youth practices. This is where our first pillar was born: Community. And in each neighborhood was a concrete soccer field where kids played winner-stays-on pick-up soccer games, developing their skills and creativity.
Could this environment of community engagement, comprehensive soccer training, and unstructured pick-up play be replicated in the United States? It can in Brooklyn!
In just five years Park Slope United has risen from a handful of five and six year olds to become the leading soccer program in Brooklyn with over 800 players. Our soccer environment develops players who are confident to be creative, take risks, and be leaders in their communities. By staying true to our values of community, integrity, and excellence, we’ve integrated the path towards soccer excellence with personal development and family well-being.
After studying the way in which Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona and Bayern Munich teams played, Director of Coaching Nathan Bell developed a revolutionary model that distills the “every-touch habits” of the best players in the world. These “atoms of the game” are taught to all PSU players as “every-touch habits,” with the goal that all players in the club have incorporated these habits into their game by the time they begin playing 11v11 at U13.
1st touch into space
Spinning to evade pressure
Body position open to field
Checking over shoulder
Move after pass
Arsenal Team Goals
Immediate pressure when ball is lost
Barcelona 6 Second Rule
Efficient Play (no wasted touches)
Barca Team Goals
1st Touch Win (winning possession with one touch pass)
Changing Rhythm of Play (1 touch following dribble)
Messi and Barcelona
Eye Contact to Communicate on Offense (No shouting)
Our curriculum follows a researched and tested player development pyramid that provides a coherent pathway for player development from when they first kick a ball at four years old until are ready to play in college at eighteen. Our methodology is based on small sided games that bring attention to a specific part of the game. In this fluid way of training, decision-making and creativity are taught alongside technical skills. Plus, it is more fun!
U3) Balance and Enjoyment of Soccer
- Keeping the ball close
- Stopping in the ball
Foundational U3 Game: Jump over cones, baby touches of the ball and kick ball into the goal
Big Game: Each player gets chance to do challenge ending in a goal while the other kids sit on their spot and watch
U4) Comfort and relationship with the ball
- Running with the ball
Foundational U4 Game: Octopus Game. Each player dribbles ball and tries to grab pinnie tucked in coach’s waist
Big Game: One big game, every player has a ball
U5) Dribbling while looking around and seeing the space
- Making decisions of how and where to dribble with eyes up
- Changing directions
Foundational U5 Game: Ball Smash. Each player has ball at their feet and tries to protect it from coach who has ball in their hands and tries to throw their ball into the kids’ balls. Start with toe taps once hit and later progress to multiple ball smashers
Big Game: One big game, one ball for every two players
U6) Using creativity to keep the ball and spin away from pressure
- 1v1 multi-directional
- 1v1 plus a pass
- 2v1 multi-directional
Foundational U6 Game: 1v1 Pass to coach before scoring in any of 4 goals
Big Game: Two 3v3 games, begin in fall with 2 balls per games then go down to one ball
U7) Combining with the players closest to the man on the ball
- Dynamic passing and receiving
- 2v1 directional
- Skill moves
Foundational U7 Game: 2v1 to two outward facing goals. Two must complete one or two passes, defender scores immediately.
Big Game: Two 3v3 games, one ball. Passing requirements such as must make one pass before scoring
U8) Using creativity to find passes to players 10+ meters away
- 3v1 possession
- 3v3, defenders dribbling ball and tag player in possession
- 1st defender
Foundational U8 Game: 3v1 possession, goal for defender to score in or line to dribble over once they win the ball. 3 must win the ball back quickly.
Big Game: Alternate between two small sided games and one big game. Add passing requirements such as must make at least two passes of 10+ meters
U9) Changing the field which leads to taking advantage of numbers up situations
- Finishing 3v2 into 2v1
- 6v2 with transition and touch restriction
- King Game—Possession with two neutrals on each side and neutral coach in the middle
- 2nd defender
Foundational U9 Game: King Game. Two neutrals on each side plus neutral coach in the middle. Both teams can play to any neutral. Neutrals can play to each other.
Big Game: One big game with small-sided games at least once every four practices. Emphasize possession and finishing conditions (such as must finish one touch).
U10) Team spacing and building out of the back
- Corner game, each team scores in diagonal goals
- King game directional to goal
- 7v3 (4,5,6,7) tactical possession, adding numbers until even
Foundational U10 Game: Corner game, each team scores in diagonal goals, often with touch restriction and a neutral
Big Game: One big game, emphasize realistic tactical positions and building out of back through goalkeeper
U11) Team shape and possession using the entire field
- Directional scrimmages requiring possession in all lateral channels
- 3rd defender and team shape
- Possession games with 1 touch off of a dribble (3 or more touches)
Foundational Game U11: Directional scrimmages requiring possession in all lateral channels
Big Game: Raise expectations for possession with conditions such as 7 passes before scoring, two one touch passes before scoring, must enter both wide channel before scoring, etc.
Long term player and personal development is the main priority of the Park Slope United. For the Club, the Teams and its Players to achieve their long term goals, we have set forth a standard of values for our program that all participants are expected to subscribe to.
What Park Slope United expects of its Players .....
· A personal commitment to become the very best soccer player you can be, given your ability.
· A personal commitment to demonstrate good sportsmanship on and off the playing field and to represent the program with high integrity.
· A personal commitment to achieve academic success in the classroom to the best of your abilities.
· A personal commitment to give back to your community and to support the Club in its efforts to do the same.
· A personal commitment to treat all players in the Park Slope United program and all members of the coaching staff with respect.
· A personal commitment to respect and honor my coaches’ instructions at all times.
· Attend all mandatory team practices or make up the missed practice at PSU practice that week
What you can expect as a member of Park Slope United ....
· An opportunity to participate in a professional, educational soccer environment.
· A commitment to provide the best opportunities for our players to advance to the next level (Olympic Development Program, Regional competition, National competition and Collegiate competition).
· Consistent, organized, and purposeful instruction and training by Park Slope United coaches
· A commitment from all coaches to communicate with all players and parents in a professional, honest and respectful manner at all times.
· Playing all players at least 30% of all available minutes in the league each season (as long as the players are meeting their expectations)
What Park Slope United expects of its Parents ……
· Support the Club and the Team to achieve its long term goals.
· Encourage and promote good sportsmanship and team work.
· Communicate in an open, respectful and productive manner with the Club and its coaching staff.
· Never make any negative comments about a player, including your own.
· Never coach players from the sidelines during a game, including your own.
· Never speak to any officials before, during or after a game.
· Let coach know in advance (at least four days before the game) if a player cannot make it to a game
· Let coach know in advance if a player cannot attend practice to that the coach can plan their session
· Before communicating with club leadership about any team issue, speak with those involved (other parents, coach) to build alliance and understand other person's point of view
- Players' spots in all classes and teams are at the discretion of the Director of Coaching Nathan Bell. If any player is removed from a class or team before the end of the commitment, a partial refund will be offered to the family.
- There is no tolerance for disrespectful behavior from players towards, coaches, other players, the referees, or parents. This behavior will be addressed, and if it does not improve, the player will be removed from the club.
- Parents must support their kids at practice and at games by cheering, but never coaching the players on the field. Parents must never display disrespectful behavior towards coaches, referees, other parents, or players. Failure to follow these guidelines will result in the removal of their child from the club.
- All refunds are given in the form of a credit that be applied to any PSU program for a calendar year. For example, if summer plans change and a kid can no longer attend the week of camp for which they are registered, they'll receive a credit that can applied to a PSU program through the following summer.