Futsal On-Line

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Ty Stauffer Turning out Soccer/Futsal Prototypes in Owensboro, Ky.

By Tim Sheldon

OWENSBORO, Ky. (6-22-12) - The question is: 17-year-old Lucas Stauffer has somehow surfaced on the U.S. Futsal Team. How did he get there?

His dad, Ty Stauffer produced him at his sports training center in Owensboro, Ky., with significant help from Luke's mom, Jennifer.

tystauffer062212.jpg (120894 bytes)The next question is: how did they end up playing Futsal at that level in Owensboro, Ky.?

"Sometimes you're searching around and you're trying to figure out what your gifts are and what things will impact your family life," Ty Stauffer said. "For years I've struggled with that. My entire family has been connected with sports. My father, Charlie Stauffer, was a Philadelphia Eagle. He only lasted one year with a knee injury. My uncle, Larry Glass, was basketball coach at Northwestern. My cousin's daughter, Alisha Glass, is on the Women's U.S. Volleyball Team. And my wife (the former Jennifer Frakes) was a ballerina.

Ty Stauffer grew up playing all the sports and describes himself as a generalist.

"It's interesting how it all comes together. Dad was involved in the AAU basketball program in its early days. I grew up (in Xenia, Ohio) playing basketball, and when we moved to Kentucky I played soccer, because I could play with my left foot, and the coaches kind of thought that was neat."

(Photos: Top left, Ty Stauffer in action at his SportsTutor training center, instructing Jonathon Otting, who has committed to Xavier University. At lower right, Luke Stauffer at age 11 winning open age juggling contest at MLS All Star Game.)

Ty played select soccer for the first time in the eighth grade and went on to attend Division II Kentucky Wesleyan College, where he was able to play both soccer and basketball.

At Kentucky Wesleyan, Ty played on a Division II national champion basketball team and was a standout on the soccer team.

"I played less than 100 minutes in my entire four years of college basketball, but on the soccer field I was fortunate enough to have a lot of individual and team success," Ty said. "And I think I can relate as well to the kid who sits on the bench as the kid who's got some talent."

lukestaufferattrainingevent.jpg (127661 bytes)Combine that with Jennifer Frakes Stauffer's ballet background, and you start to see how Lucas Stauffer was molded into an athletic high-achiever.

"She was a serious ballerina," Ty said. "And that's what you do. If you're a ballerina, you don't do other things. It's rigid."

Luke started playing Futsal with his dad when he was seven, and two years later he came home and said he wanted to combine it with ice hockey.

Ty recalled Jennifer saying, "Luke, I like your playing ice hockey, but if you play ice hockey you can't play Futsal with your dad."

And Luke made the decision that he was going to stay with Futsal in the winter.

Ty first encountered Futsal after he completed college. He went to Spain to visit the family of a former Owensboro exchange student and looked at the possibility of playing on a Spanish club basketball team.

"I wanted to see if I could make it in basketball, which at that time was nowhere near what it is now. I played with a club called Malaga, and that's where I ran into Futsal."

Ty was impressed with what he saw but didn't do anything with Futsal until several years later.

"I ended up coaching basketball in college. My kids were playing Rec soccer, and I wasn't involved. I would go to these practices, and I would just cringe when I saw what was going on, and decided to coach these kids."

Ty moved the practices to tennis courts, because he felt that if they could do the skills there they could easily do them on a larger, grass field.

"Some people thought it was nuts. We had some footwork drills, and it's kind of the basis of what we do now. If they're five years old or one of our college players, they all start out doing the same footwork, and we kind of made that our hallmark. Regardless of how good you are or how old you are, you've got to do that stuff.

"And from a general skill development standpoint being able to move that quick, whether they were soccer players or whatever, it was better for their general health than playing on the grass simply because they had to move."

That's how the Futsal started for Ty and the kids, on the tennis courts, "and that little team had a lot of success. They became very technical players."

Ty soon expanded his training by accepting an offer to move into a friend's warehouse. By 2002, he had officially begun his SportsTutor program, and over the years he has continued to develop and refine it.

"Getting into Futsal was the perfect marriage of the two things I loved most, soccer and basketball," Ty said. "We took some teams out to a Super F League tournament in Kansas City and got killed, and then changed our tactics. We might use a zone, or trap, high post, change the pace. We had a lot of success. Teams weren't used to adjusting. They played like they played outdoor, just at one pace. And we would just blow them away."

The SportsTutor training warehouse has what Ty calls "its own character".They make do with what they have. There is no air conditioning and very little heat. They work on developing correct, reflexive movements by getting maximum touches on the ball.

Ty compared the training principle with the system described in The Talent Code. High repetitions of the correct fundamentals over time creates mastery.

Kids sign up at SportsTutor for six weeks and practice two hours a week, including an hour of training and an hour of game time. Ty divides the kids into groups of 15 and gives the parents a set training schedule, for instance Mondays at four and Saturdays at nine.

Ty breaks the kids up into groups of five on game day, and they play a streamlined version of Futsal which emphasizes flow and minimizes stoppages. They "just play". The teams rotate onto the court and play three-and-a-half minutes per game. Ty keeps it short, rotating, flowing, and continuous. The next week the kids come in, the teams are different, and they just play. Continuous flow. Maximum touches on the ball.

The kids also practice some basic passing patterns that translate to the outdoor game. Ty then lets the parents form teams, works with the teams for two or three practices, and then they go to tournaments and play.

"It works because everybody coming into the classes gets the same stuff," he said.

If Ty sees a group of 10-12 older kids who are "really special", he'll put in extra time with them.

"It's not a formal deal at all. I'll tell you this: we have some kids who can really play Futsal."

Ty's system is producing a lot of skilled boys and girls players, and he says the challenge now is to find someplace to showcase them. He cites his 1996, 2000 and 2002 girls groups as being "really strong".

He also cites his 1995 and 1997 boys groups as being equally as good.

"The 1995s were really the first group. They were 10 and 11 years old, and that's when I really fine-tuned the stuff we were doing," he said. "We're sending kids to North Carolina state, UNC Charlotte, Syracuse, Northern Kentucky, Butler, and they're on a variety of good outdoor teams as well. Not just local.

"This has been a real good group, and I think that Futsal has given the kids a good base. There's so much more repetition from playing indoor."

U.S. Futsal Coach Keith Tozer described Luke Stauffer as a "prototype", and Ty Stauffer is one coach who seems to be turning them out in ever-increasing numbers.

"I'm looking at the next group of kids," Ty said, "in four years what kids we would send to the next U.S. Futsal ID camp. With Luke's reputation, I would kind of hope, not only is he a good player but the kind of person he is, the quality, just his general traits. I hope that's not something special that just Luke has. It hope it's one of the things that our program does breed, as well. The character of the kid, the commitment and effort that it takes to achieve something good."

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