Westfield Soccer Association

Stay on Course!

Weekly email 10/21/15


Through coaches’ meetings, emails, clinics and content available in the coaches corner all coaches have been provided with a lot of information that can be used to prepare for a season/year. It is important to establish development goals for your team and players ahead of the year, in line with the age appropriate priorities worked out by the club. It is important to assess the needs of your players to ensure success when developing the players on your team.  It is also very necessary to align with the professional trainer on all of this since they are responsible for the training during the week. The developmental goals should ensure the focus is on age appropriate topics in practice and should provide you with continuity when coaching your team on Sunday. 

Why do you think I bring this up now we are about midway our soccer season?  

Ahead of the season everybody is always on board when we ask coaches to focus on the process. Which means that we occasionally have to make short term sacrifices that can help our players become better players in the long run. Winning definitely can be a part of player development, but (IMHO) is a positive byproduct of player development. It is not always easy to focus on the process when your team is struggling to win game. Which can happen when you face opposition showing clearly that they are more concerned about winning their games. For that reason it is important to have a development plan worked out. This is your map as you work out your way to develop the players on your team. At times I do recognize coaches who change their habits and go of course, to ensure more success in the short term (win more games). We suddenly play with a set goalplayer; players are playing in set positions; we change our system of play after giving up a few goals the week before; the ball is played (launched) forwards through punts rather than trying to build out of the back and I can give you a few more examples that clearly show a change in the mentality of a coach to hopefully be a bit more successful (win games!!). 

This is why it is so important to work out a development plan with your professional trainer. It is not always easy to stay on course, sometimes minor adjustments are needed, but a continued focus on the process is still better for our players than making changes at U9 or U10 that can have a negative effect on the development of the players you work with. These short term gains are not worth it.

As an example:

I’m currently involved as a trainer/coach with several of our U9 boys travel teams. With 1 of the teams we have given up several comfortable leads the last couple of weeks, because we gave up a ball/made a mistake when we tried to play the ball out of the back. The goalplayers were instructed not to punt the ball. This means that we have to play the ball out of the back. In both games over the weekend we gave up at least 1 goal, because our opponents were coached to pressure us as soon as we put the ball back in play. To avoid that from happening we can ask our goalplayers to punt the ball so it is a lot harder for our opponents to pressure us and force a turn over near our goal. This might help us in the next few games, but it doesn’t teach my players to play the ball out of the back. I know for a fact that in the next couple of weeks we will give up more goals because of mistakes made on our end trying to play the ball out of the back and/or the rotation of players in the goal. Does that mean I will coach my team differently the rest of the season? Absolutely not! I know that maybe next season, next year or in 2 years from now all these players will be comfortable on the ball and as a team we will be able to move the ball up the field. The opponents trying to force a turnover at U9 will end up chasing the ball when our boys are U11 or U12.

So, please stick to your development plan and stay on course. There is no need to change everything after, in your eyes, a couple of bad games. It might not be easy every Sunday, but the sacrifices you are making are definitely worth it in the long run.



Ruben Vloedgraven
Director of Coaching - Westfield Soccer Association