Weekly email 5/19/2016
In prior emails, meetings and other sources I’ve made an effort to outline what the role of a coach is come to game day. This to set the expectations and to ensure that if everyone is on the same page. On more than 1 occasion I’ve shared with all of you that soccer is a players’ game; soccer is a fluent game with limited stops and the players have to be prepared in practice; and that the influence of a coach is limited during the game. We do have to understand that many factors can influence the outcome and that luck is 1 of them. If only Arjen Robben had been able to play the ball passed the big toe of Ilker Casillas in the World Cup final of 2010. The Dutch could have been the World Champions, but now everyone will remember Spain for their impressive World Cup triumph. Only a few inches made the difference there.
A youth coach can have a positive impact on his or her side, assuming that the guidance from the sideline is helping them become better players. The coaching needs to be to the point; apply to the situation; constructive; positive and most importantly very clear. Are the messages you are sharing with your player or players clear and to the point? Just put yourselves in the shoes of a 9, 10 or 11 years old player. We can shout that there is no communication or that we need movement, but both are very vague comments. First of all, I wouldn’t say that this is as clear as telling your goalkeeper to play ahead of his or her line or as clear telling your outside mids to spread the field across the width by moving out wide, rather than to run up the field.
We also have to recognize that players in general do not talk a lot with one another on the field. There are many reasons for this. A player really needs to be comfortable playing, since soccer is a complicated game, and it is hard to coach others if you don’t really know where you are on the field. With that said, communication between human beings in general has changed, with a result that professional teams are bringing in communication specialists nowadays to help improve communication on the field.
I’m slightly drifting away from the point I’m trying to make. When coaching youth soccer players, make sure the message is clear and applies to the situation. Players do need to move to open up passing lanes and to open up the field, but they might not know how to yet. If you can be more specific, without taking too long, it will only benefit the players in the long run. The best moment to explain something is when players are off the field. If possible, use a coach board to create a picture as well. Just keep in mind the age of your players as you can talk to 9 year old players about overlaps and give and go’s, but if they struggle to open up the field in possession of the ball (team shape) they are not ready for some of the more advanced coach topics.
Good luck this upcoming weekend. For some, at least in travel, this might be your last game of the season already. Time does fly when you are having fun. Let’s make sure to end the season on a high, if it applies to your team.
Please note, in case you were not aware, that this the 8th and final week of our age group academies. This has been communicated via email to all registered players, but we of course want to make sure that this is not missed by any one.
Director of Coaching - Westfield Soccer Association