By Ben Rodgers
HOWARD – The MacRoc Soccer Academy is now home to an exclusive tool to better train players in the finer points of the game.
Since late March, MacRoc has had an Icon8M, a 360-degree training tool that keeps players on their toes and works on short touches.
“It just tactically excels their training, their speed and their ability to progress,” said Mackenzie Jaroch, owner, founder and lead trainer at MacRoc.
Players step into the 26-foot wide circle and different lights and panels identify where the player needs to pass the ball.
There are 15 different game modes that allow players or groups to make it into a competition.
“It goes to show what touching the ball over and over can do for you, and it does it in a fun, super competitive environment,” Jaroch said.
MacRoc Soccer Academy is now one of three places in the United States that has this tool, along with California and Chicago.
Produced by a company in England, the Icon8M is used by some of the top club teams in Europe like Barcelona and Arsenal as a way to better train players.
“The game has gotten so technical,” Jaroch said. “With this, the ball comes back to you and you have to react so quickly.”
Every player who uses the Icon8M has a profile setup to track their scores and results.
With that the training tool can become more intensive and can truly maximize players’ abilities in the technical, physical and mechanical aspects of the game, Jaroch said.
Players in the Icon8M can get the same amount of touches in 2 minutes as it would take in a full 90 minute game.
“At the end of the day the more you touch the ball, the quicker you’ll be able to excel,” Jaroch said.
The former Division 1 and semi-professional soccer player said the Icon8M also helps players develop their non-dominant foot while processing many different things at the same time.
“What it does is it really helps players earn their composure,” Jaroch said.
With the game moving more toward passing and footwork, the Icon8M helps players focus on those aspects of the game.
She said this is not a tool to use to improve shooting or set pieces.
“You have to learn to receive the ball before you can pass the ball,” Jaroch said.
For the immediate future she plans to keep the Icon8M at her Howard training facility.
But eventually over time she hopes to bring it to tournaments or rent it out to coaches.
Currently players who want to train on it can book training packages either solo or with a coach.
However, to book it solo, Jaroch strongly suggests the player has elite-level skills and is familiar with the machine.
In the past two weeks the Bay Port and Pulaski girls’ teams have used the Icon8M and well as players Jaroch works with herself.
“It’s used every day, sometimes more than 100 times a day,” she said.
For more information, or to book a package, visit macrocsoccer.com.