Coaching Clinic with Don Ebert

Posted: November 23, 2011 in Coaching Philosophy, Team Management
Tags: , , ,

Our club was fortunate enough to have Don Ebert hold a short coaching clinic with the association coaches.  When I received the information about the clinic I was immediately interested since I was familiar with Coach Ebert’s coaching record while he was at Concordia-Irvine, and NAIA powerhouse when I was a national rater in 2008.  He also had an extensive playing career at the professional ranks, and has been coaching club soccer for more than 25 years.  He is currently with Strikers FC and working with Jurgen Klinsman to develop a Center of Excellence in Southern California.

Below are some notes I took from his session…

Don Ebert; “Challenges of Coaching Youth Soccer Today”

First he addressed several challenges that players, coaches, and clubs are faced with in today’s American soccer culture. 

  • Players are faced with extreme pressure to perform.  They are receiving top level coaching year-round and they are expected to produce results more than ever before. 
  • For coaches he recommended that the number one thing we need to get better at is managing parent’s expectations for their kids.  Individual evaluation and feedback are becoming the keys to proper team management in a world where parents are investing thousands of dollars into their child’s playing career.
  • Clubs are faced with several issues related to finances and product.  The price of participation is going up and up with no end in sight, and the introduction of the US Development Academy has increased the funds needed to compete at the highest levels.  More and more the demand for clubs to produce professional and top flight college level players is becoming more of a priority in marketing.

Second he discussed how Strikers FC is trying to focus on developing the players in their association through the different age levels.  Strikers FC is a unique club in that they will only have one competitive team per age group.  As a member of the US Development Academy their primary goal is developing players who will be ready to play for the U18 and U16 academy teams and move on to the professional ranks or college. 

The key emphasis for the academy teams were equal attention to technical, tactical, and physical development.  Sessions need to be varied, intense, and extremely competitive.  The players in these two top teams were always being individually measured and evaluated, and not only on paper, but also in groups in front of their peers.  The coaches were instructed to train and coach to the best player’s ability, not the team’s average.  As an academy program they cover all the costs for the players, and therefore the coaches demanded absolute commitment from the players for the entire ten months.

Very different from the environment that we are able to provide in our club, simply because the objectives of the level are different.  But there were some things that I definitely took away from the clinic that I found to be very interesting.

  1. Individual measurements helped coaches to teach players personal responsibility and realistic evaluation. 
  2. Speed of play in possession is the priority in development.  It starts with proper technique, and works up to tactical decisions and reads that players must make.  But we do not spend enough time preparing youth players for the higher levels.
  3. Good coaches are evaluated by their ability to help players progress and how ready their players are for the next level.

It was a great clinic and I really appreciate the efforts of our DOC and club to get Don Ebert to host the session!

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