The Michigan Fire Juniors T.O.T.A.L. (Technical Obsession To Advance Learning) Technical Hour Training Program was recognized at the NSCAA Coaches Convention in January, 2014 as one of ten National "Best Practices." The NSCAA through their Club Standards Project which the MFJ are participating in, have analyzed over 150 clubs across the United States in a variety of categories and essentially grade clubs in each of these 22 categories. Our T.O.T.A.L. Technical Hour received a Best Practices distinction in our initial Strengths and Weaknesses Analysis from the Club Standards Project, but the project director David Newbery was so impressed with this program, he choose to highlight it in his lecture session at the NSCAA Coaches Convention in Philadelphia last month entitled "A Model Youth Club - Building a Club on Best Practices."
The T.O.T.A.L. Technical Hour is a program designed by our club's Technical Director Dan McAllister. This program is a technical development supplemental program offered to any of the MFJ U9-U12 players which offers a daily, 1 hour session focused on technical development, ball mastery improvement from 4pm-5pm every Monday-Thursday during in-season play at our 28th Ave facilities.
Coach McAllister has a keen awareness of the impact technical development has on a player's ability to aspire to next level play, as each new level includes increased pressure and speed of play, which in turn demands players to improve their technical skills accordingly. "We know as a club, we have to be proactive in helping our players learn and improve in their technical development. We know we can not rely strictly on our team coaches to do this, as they are often focusing on tactical/team development. This program allows those who take advantage of it to gain new skills, build comfort on the ball, and to continue on their journey of "Ball Mastery," which is a life long journey for aspiring players."
Chicago Fire Juniors Affiliates Program Director Brian Roberts was present at the NSCAA Convention Presentation and had this to say about this program: "I just want to congratulate Dan and the club on your recent NSCAA award. I sat in the workshop when NSCAA recognized ten youth clubs for outstanding achievement. Each club had a few moments to field questions on their own initiative, the MI Fire Juniors training hour was a very popular topic for discussion. Dan and his team really were a great representation of the Michigan Fire Juniors and the Chicago Fire family as a whole."
David Newbery, the NSCAA Club Standards Project Director said about the Michigan Fire Juniors T.O.T.A.L. Technical Hour, "In now having personally done over 100 Advanced Assessments (in the US and Canada), this is the first club I have seen dedicate this kind of supplemental training program for the technical development of their players. This is truly a unique program, well done Michigan Fire Juniors"
Technical Director, Dan McAllister responded, "To be honest, I've been quite humbled by the recognition as I see this as simply the right way to help players develop. I have been hearing from our National coaches through our Olympic Development Program (ODP), and from my own experience as a college coach for the past 15 years, that our players are not technical enough to compete at the highest levels. In my own coaching, I have been focused on technical development of players, both on my teams and in my camps and training programs, so this seems like an extension of that personal philosophy."