Day 2 at the Coaching Clinic

Posted: February 14, 2011 in Coaching Philosophy, Psychology
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An information packed day with some great ideas for us to take back to our own teams.  Topics covered were high pressure defending, speed of play, finishing, and possession with a purpose.

Some key things that I took from the clinic had more to do with the demeanor of the clinicians than specific activities they ran.  For instance, one of the clinicians was an NCAA DI coach at a successful school here in the midwest, and his demeanor with the ’98 ODP team was great!  He was very down to earth and kept the players engaged in the session.  To put it in the most simple terms he was a great teacher.

Got me to start thinking about what does it mean to be a great teacher?  The first thing I took from him was he knew the audience.  Night and day from the Dutch coach the day before, who was handed a group of kids that he’d never seen before and spoke a different language, and were not at the level he was expecting.  This college coach came in early, learned the boys’ names, and walked through the session with them before they went in front of hundreds of coaches.  As he progressed through the session he would talk to the boys by name and knew what space to use and what they would understand because he took some time to get to know where they were at on a developmental level.

The second thing I noticed was he didn’t take himself too seriously.  I’m sure it’s different when he’s working with his college team fighting for a conference title at times, but this coach took himself so lightly and accomplished the task at hand by keeping the boys engaged.  If they didn’t get it he threw his hands up and said, “we’ll go back a couple steps, not to worry.” 

Finally he made sure that the players understood the objectives and the correct way to do things before he moved on.  The Dutch clinician started an activity and would get frustrated if the players didn’t do it right away.  So he’d go back and demonstrate it.  By the end of the clinic he was demonstrating everything before hand.  But the college coach walked the players through it, pulled specific kids to the side if they still weren’t getting the hang of it, and was very patient with them beccause he knew some of the information was new for them.

Great stuff!  Like I said, there was a lot of great “soccer-specific” stuff that was covered, and I’ll post some of it in the weeks to come, but the dynamics of the coaches really caught my attention.  Very smart men, but what does it matter if the players aren’t learning from that knoweldge and applying it to the game?

  1. val says:

    Good point with the “teacher” observation. I do not consider myself to be a “leader” per your earlier post, but as a teacher. We have to work with the kids we have. Sure, I’d like to have more Stephanies (the best player I have ever coached) but they are few and far between. We have to meet the kids where they are, and that is teaching as opposed to leading. And more importantly in the US, we have to be teachers of parents as well. Almost 40 years since the first US soccer boom, we still have to explain to parents what we are trying to do with their kids.

    • But if you have influence over your players don’t you think this puts you in a position of leadership as well as a teacher? I think this is the uniqueness of being a coach, we are called to be both. I really agree with what you said about educating the parents as well. This is probably one of the biggest hurdles to get over in youth soccer, teaching parents what is appropriate and helpful for their kids’ development.

  2. val says:

    Waiting to hear about day three…

  3. john says:

    It has been great to read the blogs and the comments from a coach’s perspective. I’m just back from a 4 day trip to Port Au Prince, Haiti where I worked with 65 Haitian youth coaches. One of the wonderful things about young haitian players is their tremendous ability with the ball at their feet. The downside is that their tactical game is hampered by the tiny spaces they play in. Very few have the vision to play in a well organized side on a larger pitch. We started with the Dutch diamond idea, and worked the passing progression using a 12×12 meter square with cones at the corners and players positioning themselves to receive a ball, play on the second touch, and follow their pass with a bent run to the next cone. With time, patience, and a good number of restarts the progression built over several levels till thy were laying balls off to each other and playing with fair consistency in both directions. We were fortunate that the base level of skill for these U-15’s was good enough to work from. The Haitian coaches took notes and tried to duplicate the session. We’ll see how it goes over time.

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