Monday, January 15, 2007

The Footwork Camp

So, this weekend was the Footwork Camp in Philadelphia. Julie McCoy, Sean Ross and Ellie Karvoski came out from Little Rock Arkansas. Drew from NY was a late addition to the camp staff.

My role in the whole this is a technical/business/media one - I build the website, set up credit card payment, and basically handled the overall logistics. Also I take picture. Angie Marfisi, recent Philly WRFC captain and now an employee at LaSalle University set us up with a SWEET arrangement at LaSalle. One of my former players, who's now with Philly, filmed the weight and agility portions (thanks Tunny!) so hopefully I can get a couple of clips up. We did the weight training portion in the fancy fitness center, used the football stadium (with well-drained turf surface) for the outdoor portion, and used the pole vaulting pads for the tackling segment.

My biggest concern was weather, and boy were we lucky. It could have been a zillion below zero, instead it was 50ish all weekend. The forecast called for rain, but miraculously, we were mostly dry, just a little drizzle.

There were 27 total participants for the weekend, and it was a full weekend. We had players from Boston, Albany, DC, Lancaster, NY, and of course Philadelphia. We even had a player from Northern Iowa! The players were of a variety of skill levels - 6 college players and a mix of DI and DII Club players. There were also a couple of coaches in attendance which I think is an awesome thing.

This is the second Footwork Camp I've been to, and I've know Jules now for many years. We played with each other on the West back when there were only 4 territories, then she coached the West when I was a player, and we also coached against each other from time to time when she was with the Ozark Ladies and I was with Colorado Springs She-Wolves. Over the years she's really refined her coaching "product" and it's thrilling to see that she has attained so much.

For me, the biggest takeaway is the application of exercise science and bio-mechanics to every single thing you do on the field. It is impossible to leave this camp without know that, for example, if you want to be more evasive, you need to work on your single legged exercises. If you want to be a better tackler, jump squats will help you. Keep getting outflanked in defense? Bring out the bands.

Etc, etc, etc. You as an individual player leave with the specific tools to improve your game. Not just a garden variety workout, but real tools. Once we got out on the pitch, it became clear how the specific lifts and agility exercise apply.

Second - is the empowerment of the ball carrier. Now, there are probably plenty of coaches who wouldn't agree with some of Jule's philosophy, and that's fine. The game is big enough for all of us, and for dozens of styles of play. What the players learn at the footwork camp is how to using running lines, superior biomechanics, and patience to create enormous gaps for themselves. They learn to conserve their support, and to minimize high and even medium risk passing.

Most of the times when I'm around coaches who choose to minimize the passing aspect of the game, its in favor of the contact game. This invariably creates rock-em-sock-em rugby (and sometimes you need rock-em-sock-em rugby). During the Footwork Camp, players learn to maximize their individual evasive running in such a way that the NEED to pass is minimized. And, as a result of improved running lines, when the pass DOES happen, its way more efficient and effective.

Anyway, I could write a whole lot more about the camp, the concepts, etc, but really the volume of information just way to huge so I'll leave it at that. It was definitly a learning weekend.