Northwest Indiana Lions United are dedicated to providing the best soccer training in Northwest Indiana, and giving every player a unique opportunity to experience the world's most popular game. Our club is committed to offering every player the opportunity to play at the highest level that they are capable of. We are dedicated to creating an environment that not only allows the players to become successful soccer players but also to become important parts of society. We will do this by teaching the technical, tactical, physical and psychological side of the game whilst always instilling respect, integrity and honesty.
The Northwest Indiana Lions United Coaching staff is led by a full time Director of Coaching. Our coaching staff is made up of 5 full time members that work year-round to ensure they are evolving methods and educating themselves so that they are in the best position possible to develop the players that they are working with. We also have part-time members of staff that are generally also employed within the soccer coaching industry as either college or high school coaches. Parent coaches are only ever used in an assisting role on a team that involves their child and will have no input on playing time or tactical decisions, parent coaches are only used at all if they have the adequate qualifications and would be employed regardless of their child being part of the club.
Tryouts are held at the beginning of June and teams are created for the year running from August through to the following June. We will hold supplemental tryouts at the end of October or the beginning of November - at that point we may add additional teams to league play depending on the numbers. At the 10U Academy age we do not turn players away, we offer to find a place for them to play within the Academy that allows them to receive the correct training in a positive environment. After the 10U Academy age we do not accept every player and we are more selective for the older age groups. Having multiple levels of teams allows for us to find an appropriate level of play for most players.
At most age groups we offer multiple levels of play and this helps create a positive environment for all players. Having multiple levels means we can group players of similar ability so that they can challenge each other in practices and compete at appropriate levels during games. The levels of teams are listed below:
Yellow team (Highest level)
It is expected that players regularly attend training, both during the season and throughout winter training. Failure to attend training is unfair to the other players on the team and can affect playing time. The implications of missing training at an older age is more severe than at the younger age, but it is still very important that players attend practices. Although we encourage players at a younger age to play multiple sports, we do ask that Northwest Indiana Lions United be your priority.
Northwest Indiana Lions United believes in creating as many teaching opportunities as possible during practices and more importantly enforcing that during games when others change due to the pressure of a result. This is especially important at the younger ages. Below are a some of the main areas that we concentrate on and why.
Goalkeepers, especially at a young age (12 and under), will be instructed to distribute the ball from their hands rather than to punt the ball. Our main reason for this approach is to increase the amount of learning opportunities that we give to all players. If we punt the ball, we are simply teaching the goalkeeper to punt the ball and the forward to chase the ball. When we build out from the goalkeeper we teach numerous players and create a lot of decisions. First of all we are teaching the goalkeeper to make a decision as to who is the best option to play to, we are also teaching defenders the principles of attack by getting wide and making themselves available to receive the ball, and we are also teaching the central midfield players to find a pocket of space and check to the ball. Already without the ball leaving the goalkeepers hands we are creating opportunities for the players to improve. Once the goalkeeper decides who they are distributing the ball to, they then have to decide how to complete that distribution, do they roll the ball, do they throw the ball over-hand, or do they drop the ball to their feet and distribute with a pass. Once this decision is made and executed we are giving opportunities for the player who is receiving, the repetitions on how to receive the ball, making sure they receive the ball with the farthest foot and opening up away from pressure. Then can the wide midfielder get wide and available to receive the ball and can the central midfielders and forward check to the ball and get to a position where they can receive the ball. If we punt the ball we miss out on all of these opportunities to improve and we never get them back. Goalkeeper distribution from goal kicks will also generally be short to again encourage more opportunities of receiving the ball under pressure. As the players get older they will be encouraged to play a little bit longer from goal kicks and from goalkeeper distribution depending on the situations within games
Building Play and Passing Soccer
We will encourage a distinctive passing style of soccer, this is again to give our players the most opportunities to pass and receive the ball, we want players to be comfortable when receiving the ball under pressure. Whilst the players are at a young age they will make many mistakes in trying to play this style of soccer and we are well aware that this will cost us some goals and some games, however our bigger priority is to develop soccer players to the best of their abilities, and this is not possible if we just kick the ball away. We want players to have real thought and purpose to everything they do on the field to enhance them as soccer players.
Especially at younger ages, short passes will be implemented for the majority of corners. The reason for this is similar to the goalkeeper distribution. We could take corners and kick them into the middle and probably score a few goals generally by the ball just hitting somebody and going in. We want the players to be more deliberate in their actions. Short corners generally give you an opportunity to create a 2vs1 situation in a dangerous wide area and also create better angles for crosses and for shots.
Playing Time and Positions
Playing time at the 10U age is guaranteed, players will be moved around freely and given opportunities to play multiple positions and will get an adequate amount of playing time to improve and develop. This does not mean that playing time will be equal, some players will play more minutes than others.
11U and 12U
Playing time at this age is earned and the amount of minutes are not guaranteed, however the coach will work hard to get every player enough playing time to help their individual development and also keep the team on a competitive level. Players at this age bracket will still be moved around the field to experience different views of the game, however they will begin to be placed in a primary position that their coach feels fits the players skill set and gives them the best opportunity to improve, develop and be successful in the future. The highest priority of the coach is to not specifically teach the position but to teach the principles of play and the principles of that position.
13U and 14U
This is the beginning of the ages where results of games can affect future placement in leagues and tournaments and also affect State Cup rankings. Playing time will be earned based on performance and attitude. Playing time will not be equal, the coach will do their best to give the adequate amount of playing time to help development and will also seek extra opportunities for a player that is not getting the required amount of time. Players will generally be limited to a couple of positions that the coach believes fits their skill set. Players will continue to be taught the principles of play and be taught that when we do not have the ball all of our players are in someway defenders and when we have possession of the ball we are all in someway attackers.
U15 and above
Playing time is completely earned by performance and attitude. Results of the games are vital to placements in leagues, seeding in State Cup and whether we are accepted to Showcases. It is very important that we are able to compete in these competitions so that all of our players are given the best opportunity to be seen by the highest level college coaches. Players will more than likely play one position and be given an opportunity to specialize in this position, some players will be moved into a couple of different positions depending on their performance and the needs of the team.
Northwest Indiana Lions United fees include all tournaments. There may be times when certain teams are approached by a tournament to attend their event, in this situation we would offer all players and parents the opportunity to add this as extra, but this is a rare occurrence.
8U – 1 Tournament per season, 2 per year
10U – 2 Tournaments per season, 4 per year
Youth Teams (non high school aged players)
Yellow teams - 3 tournament per season, 6 per year.
White teams - 2 tournament per season, 4 per year.
Senior Teams (high school aged players)
Yellow Teams - between 6 and 8 tournaments per year that are all College Showcase events.
White teams - 2-4 tournaments, depending on team level 1-2 College Showcases.
Northwest Indiana Lions United generally compete in Indiana Soccer League (ISL) or the Midwest & Great Lakes Conference of the National League (formerly MRL). Participation in the NL is dependent on a team's performance in the ISL. The 10U academy play in a version of ISL but no scores are kept in order to keep the main concentration on development. The amount of games played during a league season is dependent on how many teams are in the division but is usually between 6 and ten games per season. Below is a league play pyramid
Every spring Northwest Indiana Lions United compete in a state wide competition that is part of the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series. Cup competition is included as one of our Spring tournaments. The state wide competition is tiered into 3 distinctive levels of play. They are as follows:
This is the highest level of competition in the State. The State Cup is made up of only the top 8 or 12 teams in the state. This is determined by past performance in The State Cup, performance in respective league competitions, and discussions from the Directors of Coaching from the clubs in Indiana. State Cup is only available to teams aged U13 and above. The State Cup is a Seeded draw
The Presidents Cup is the 2nd level of state-wide competition. Teams that compete in The Presidents Cup are the teams that are ranked either 9-24 or 13-28 (depending on whether the age group is an 8 teams or a 12 team State Cup). Due to there being no State Cup at U11 and U12 the Presidents at these ages are the highest level of competition, where the teams ranked 1-16 are entered. The Presidents Cup is a seeded draw
Challenge Cup is the 3rd tier of state wide competition and the teams that compete in this competition are the teams that are ranked either 24 or 27 and below.
Playing up will be an exception and not the rule. For a player to play up they must be consistently a top 5 contributor to the team that they are playing up on at every practice and every game. Players playing up must demonstrate the ability to handle the older age group physically, technically, mentally and socially. Decisions on whether a player should be played up, lie with the associated coaching staff and the director of coaching.
Club Passing is designed to allow players to be moved to different team within Northwest Indiana Lions United on a temporary game by game basis. Players can only be club passed to another team within their age group or to another team in the older age group players cannot be club passed to a younger age. The main reasons for Club Passing will be to help out a team with a short roster, players not receiving adequate playing time on their primary team, players returning from injuries, and to reward players that are excelling at their age group and deserve an opportunity with the older or higher level team. This will only be done if there is a need for it on the team that the player is club passing to.
We understand that there will be times when you as parents have concerns about situations that arise within Northwest Indiana Lions United, first of all be assured that in the majority of occasions the full time coaching staff and director of coaching would have came together and had in depth discussions on situations before they make any decisions. We pride ourselves on being very approachable and receptive to dealing with concerns, please if you have any questions, concerns or hear something that you don't like the sound of please contact us so that those questions and concerns don't turn in to problems. Most issues come from misunderstandings or breakdowns in communication. Please follow the below chain in order to find a resolution:
If you have an issue with the team, the parents or the coach, first of all discuss it with the coach, if this doesn't resolve the issue contact the Director of coaching.
If you have an issue with the actions of the director of coaching, contact him to schedule a meeting to discuss the issues and find a resolution.
Indiana Soccer is taking a strong stand on parent behavior and making it the club’s responsibility to police our families. If a parent becomes unruly at a match, the official has been instructed to stop play and warn the coach. If the parent is not removed, the match will be forfeited and the club will be fined. While we feel our parents have demonstrated positive behavior in the past, it is important to understand that verbal abuse of an official, player, or other spectators will not be tolerated. If a match is stopped due to a Northwest Indiana Lions United parent, that parent will be removed from all games for the remainder of the season. If a match is forfeited, the player and parent will be suspended for the remainder of the season.
Players make mistakes, Coaches make mistakes, and Officials make mistakes. In most cases, the officials are young and learning just like our players so they need encouragement. There is a serious shortage of referees in the area and across the State and parent behavior is one of the reasons. We would like to encourage our players to become a referee and start with our academy. If our players see our families screaming at officials, they will not want to become officials. We need to be role models to our players and show respect toward the officials.