Posts Tagged ‘coaching education’

Had the opportunity to sit in on US Soccer’s Regional Workshop a week ago and learn from the national coaches and national technical staff.  It was a jam packed four days of great information on the developmental pathway US Soccer has laid out for the youth in our country, how the coaching education pathway is changing and becoming more connected, and how to be a better individual coaches and instructors.  Below are my notes from Jurgen Klinsmann’s “state of US Soccer” presentation that kicked off the week.

Klinsmann (2)


The state of soccer in the USA after this last World Cup cycle.  Klinsmann noted that the USA has not produced a FIFA top 10 player since 1990 (the modern era of USA soccer).  In that same period 15 different countries have reached the FIFA World Cup semifinals while the USMNT has only reached the quarter finals once (2002).  And the MLS has struggled to produce and success at the continental level (one CONCACAF champion in 2000).

The point is simply the United States struggles in player development.  In the modern era of soccer we haven’t produced a world class player out of the hundreds of thousands that come through our “premier” youth ranks.


  Couple of things that Jurgen has noticed scouting the younger generation of USA talent are related to technique and focus.  We lack players who have a combination of physical speed AND quality technique.  This is one of the primary reasons the USA lacks a dangerous push into the final third of the field.  And the other observation is we lack focus for 90 minutes.  Klinsmann pulled out examples on both sides of the ball for the USMNT where a lack of concentration resulted in allowing a goal or missing an opportunity to score.


So how do we tackle these short comings in the next World Cup cycle and beyond?  Coaches need to obtain the top coaching credentials.  Does having an “A” License mean you are one of the top coaches in the United States?  Not necessarily, but according to Klinsmann it gives coaches credibility to the players and parents.  It fosters a culture where professionals desire the credentials laid out in our field to improve themselves and their teams.

Another key was to use all available learning platforms to teach and engage players.  This is a technologically advanced generation, and we need to keep up to engage them in every facet.  And we need to use these resources to connect with players and to get them thinking about the game.

Other keys that were mentioned; treating every day of training like game day.  Players need to train harder and more intensely. Coaches need to help players realize the importance of off the field attitude and behavior as much as on the field.  Areas like fitness, nutrition, sleeping patterns, and lifestyle all play a role in the development of a player.

Jurgen concluded that coaches are the foundation of player development, and we need to take our role in this process seriously.  We need to model and practice what we preach as coaches.


It was interesting to hear Klinsmann’s thoughts on the state of soccer in the USA.  I agree with several of his critiques; we do lack those difference makers, game changers, to break open a game at the senior level.  Our top level of talent does not play as many games in a calendar year as the other nations we are competing with internationally.

I believe US Soccer has made some great strides in player development with the introduction of the DA.  Having a system where coaches and directors must have the top licensing, and training is monitored and evaluated regularly adds to the consistency of growing the game.  But as always, there are some factors that are outside of our control. At the end of the day our best athletes are not making the choice to play soccer over American football and  basketball.  The geographical size of the country makes identification of top talent and playing good competitive games much harder than our counterparts.

The growth of soccer in the USA is definitely on the rise, and we need to keep it going in that direction.  We are better off than we were 20 years ago, but we still have a lot of ground to gain.

Coaching Education Week

Posted: April 23, 2014 in NSCAA
Tags: ,

CEW - Better Coaches, Players, Game

If you are a soccer coach in the area of Dakota Wesleyan University, please take our survey about the possibility of a coaching symposium to be held in Mitchell, SD.

The issue of professional development in the coaching ranks here in our region is one that is not addressed very often. The limit of coaching education usually ends with the USSF “D” License offered by the state association, and I am exploring the idea of offering a short symposium annually to address current trends in the sport.

Any feedback from coaches in the area would be greatly appreciated!  Please follow the link below…

Just returned from my first residential course assignment as Associate Staff for the NSCAA.  It was a great experience and I’m excited to be on this journey of developing myself as a coach of coaches.  I’ve been on state staff for Federation courses now for five years, but it’s been a great experience to see the other side of the NSCAA.

For the my first course as staff I “apprenticed” with the senior staff.  Basically shadowed a few  instructors in the National Diploma and Advanced National Diploma courses, watched how they conducted model sessions, and I was a part of the candidate evaluation process too.

The differences in the philosophy and mentality of coaching education is drastically different in my mind between the NSCAA and the Federation.  Maybe it’s more fresh in my mind since I only completed my “A” license this past January, but the emphasis on development versus evaluation is very apparent, and I even experienced it as an instructor in training.  It’s always been something I’ve really enjoyed about the NSCAA, they want you to go home a better coach because you’ve been at their course, no matter what grade you end up with.

During the National Diploma course the four instructors were always available to the candidates for help.  We ate in the cafeteria, we stayed in the same dorm, the staff were regularly walking through the lounges to make themselves available to the candidates, and even the course social the second evening sets the tone for the remainder of the course.  It’s a community of coaches, and the more experienced ones are trying to share knowledge with the less experienced, and one another.  It’s a coaching fraternity, and once you’re in, you’re in, and you have just as much right to the information and feedback as anyone else.

I felt all of this as an apprentice this past week as well.  Senior staff were asking for my input on model sessions they were running, asked for insight on candidate training sessions to make sure they were evaluating properly, and treated me as a member of the instruction staff from the get-go.  It reaffirmed the reason why I feel passionate about educating coaches, especially with the NSCAA.

This time of year I’m used to seeing a lot of coaches moving in and out of jobs.  In recent years the turnover has been less and less as coaches are hanging onto the jobs that they value in an uncertain economy.  And every spring I stand by and watch graduate assistant coaches struggle to find the next step for their careers.  Some have been fortunate and had the right doors open up for them, others I have to watch try and try and resign themselves to another career path.

It seems to me that the job market for soccer coaches has become extremely tough though in recent years.  One that is becoming very hard for entry level coaches to find their way up in a crowded job market.  With the recent hiring of Ryan Nelson at Toronto FC this past winter there seems to be a lot of questions about what young coaches need to do to break into the market.  Here was a player who had zero years of coaching experience, no coaching education to speak of, and spent zero hours getting acclimated to the league before diving in.

Then we watch a coach like Caleb Porter who came through the USA college system, played in the MLS for a couple of years, spent time as an assistant college coach, and then made a name for himself at Akron.  He worked his way through the USSF coaching license structure, ODP and U-23 National team coaching ranks, and finally landed a head job at the professional level.

Martin Rennie is another great example of a coach who worked his way up from a Premier Development League team, to the United Soccer Leagues, he made a stop in the North American Soccer League, and finally to the MLS.  He has his UEFA coaching badges and progressed as a coach through the ranks as he proved himself.

So what can my graduate assistant coaches, and many young coaches, take from these examples?  As the old expression goes, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.”  There isn’t a right answer, and it probably comes down to the individual creating and preparing for the right circumstance to arrive.  John Wooden has been credited with saying, “Luck is when preparation and opportunity intersect.”  People need to be ready, they need to be working and preparing themselves, because someday that opportunity will present itself.  The only question is will the individual be ready to rise to the occasion and grasp what is in front of them.

Some very qualified people are being overlooked for positions, and some very under-qualified coaches are being hired.  Ultimately it comes down to what you do.  There is no “right” answer, or magic formula, that will work for everyone.  It can be frustrating to watch, and it can be even more pain staking to endure.

In the end though I have to believe that the men and women who really feel led or called to be in this profession will find a way to coach and make an impact in this country for the beautiful game.

Well, I’ve had a few days to reflect on the course and try to determine the highlights of the process.

One thing that really sticks out to me about the “A” license that I really enjoyed was the amount of quality feedback that we received on multiple occasions.  The instructors stated that the Federation was making an effort to teach coaches how to improve through the licensing process, rather than simply evaluating coaching ability.

For instance, the technical analysis review is something I’ve never seen before.  In the previous coaching courses I’ve participated in we conducted a match analysis, developed a training session based on what we saw, turned it in and waited for two months to find out if we passed.  Giving us the USA v. Guatemala game to watch ahead of time and then spending time to give us feedback on what they thought of our analysis was a big help.  Adding the match analysis as our oral exam also made a lot of sense to me.  As coaches we have to learn how to analyze a game and then verbalize that to our players.  Really thought this was a positive change to the licensing process, and it was added to all three levels of the residential schools.

The dialogue after practice training sessions was also a huge change.  In previous courses instructors have brought candidates in after every practice session and dedicated a few minutes to their thoughts of the session.  What areas could use improvement and what areas were good.  But the amount of quality information that we received (and maybe it had more to do who the instructors were) was a very positive experience for me.  I felt like every session analysis was a coaching seminar in itself.  The attention to detail and the things we were given to improve ourselves as coaches was a positive.  I knew exactly what the instructor was looking for me to change and areas he felt I needed to improve before the final assessment.

However, there were some things that I felt were lacking considering it was an “A” license course.  Although the instructors provided a lot of quality feedback, they were never around for interaction and discussion outside of the structured environment.  Every course I’ve attended prior to this one the instructors made a point to at least be around the candidates one or two nights throughout the process and made themselves available for conversation and just building a rapport.  The Federation has always been a little more distant than the NSCAA courses I’ve taken, but this was on a whole different level.

In general I was disappointed with the camaraderie of the entire school.  Our housing situation wasn’t ideal (candidates were spread out through a condo complex), and the candidates rarely saw each other outside of structured sessions and meals.  It wasn’t until the last couple of days that I really started to find coaches who wanted to hang out and dialogue about the course and the sessions.  The instructors were housed in a separate location, and never made themselves available to the candidates outside of the lectures and field sessions.  In previous courses I’ve found the interaction away from the schedule to be more valuable than some of the content covered in lectures.

Every course has positives and negatives, and overall this was a very good experience for me.  I learned a lot about myself as a coach, and I learned a lot about the game from the instructors.  The positives outweighed the negatives, but I would have to say it wasn’t my favorite course to date.

This is the home stretch, and the end is in sight.  This evening we have our technical analysis interviews (the old oral examinations), which is part one of our pass/fail.

Since we worked so hard on Thursday to finish up the practice coaching sessions we got a little time to sleep in before we kicked off our lectures in the morning.  Jeff Pill’s lecture covered the development and use of possession.  He had put several clips together of the USWNT and clips from the 2012 FIFA WC technical report to discuss the different possession tactics that are being used in the modern game.  Jeff does a great job of organizing his topic and communicating the essential points.  You can definitely tell he is a teacher.

We wrapped the morning up with our last lecture of the course on fitness.  The staff brought in the director of the exercise physiology department at the Florida International University to cover this for us.  He did a great job communicating the demands of soccer, the reasons we do fitness testing, what to do with the results of that fitness testing, and application of the program.  Some of the information was a little indepth for a room of soccer coaches who work with club kids two or three times a week, but the information was solid and had a lot of application for a college level team.

The oral examinations were specific questions about the tactics we saw in the USA v. Guatemala match.  Several candidates had questions on flank play, defensive tactics of the USA or Guatemala, and my question was to describe how the Guatemala backline and midfield combined to get forward in the attack.  I thought it was a fairly manageable question, and I believe I passed the oral exam.  I think this application of a match analysis is a very good change in the Federation’s course.  Talking to candidates in the “C” and “B” licenses it is something that is being done for all three levels, although the games might be different.  The baseline for coaching is the ability to evaluate our players and determine what they need to improve on most to be more effective playing the game.

I was one of the first candidates to go for my oral exam, so I was done by early afternoon and I decided to take a little mental R&R for myself before our final field sessions kicked off tomorrow.  I went down to the beach, took a small jog along the shore, swam for bit, then had dinner at a small seaside cafe while I started putting my thoughts down for my final practice session.  My topic for the final is “Coach a team to produce crosses to score.”  I think this is a manageable topic that I can apply the comments Mark Berson made on my practice session.  I spent the rest of the night bouncing ideas off of my roommates and finalizing my session outline.

Tough day for me mentally.  The morning went by fairly quickly with candidate practice sessions.  We seemed to be running behind slightly so pushed the lecture to the afternoon block.  The lecture covered restarts and systems.  A good topic that could have had a lot of depth and content, but unfortunately we were on a bit of a time crunch and so we covered highlights and moved on.

What I really enjoyed was Paul Rogers sharing one of the USWNT pregame restart film sessions with us.  He specifically chose the pregame analysis for their match against Canada in the 2012 Olympics.  The breakdown of the opponent’s tendencies and how the USWNT would deal with them.  What the USWNT wanted to do to Canada on set pieces and why based on their past performances.  It was very interesting.

I kicked off the afternoon practice sessions with my training exercise, and I was just very unhappy with the way I handled the session.  My topic was coaching a team to defend deep and highlight which passes to allow and which passes to deny.  I had spent a lot of time putting the session together and making sure I had a majority of the coaching points on the outline, but I feel that I over-prepared in the end.  I talked to long on each stoppage, over coached the hypothetical scenarios, and I didn’t achieve the standard that I have established for myself.  The feedback from Mark and the other candidates was helpful, and I just have to do better with my final topic.

We completed all of our practice training sessions today, which allows us a day of physical recovery tomorrow, and a late start.  We had the night off to prepare ourselves for the oral examination based on our tactical analysis of the USA v. Guatemala game, and so my roommates and I watched it again for 3rd time and made up questions to ask one another.  Tomorrow are the oral examines, and the last two days are final testing on field sessions.  Almost there!

Content is starting to get pretty thin from a schedule stand point, but the instructor’s feedback and candidate comments are just as good as any coaching seminar I’ve ever attended.

The day kicked off with two field sessions led by Mark Berson.  The first was addressing possession through the thirds of the field.  I enjoyed how he handled this topic and used small restrictions to help the U18 IMG Academy boys recognize that short, quick possession is used to gain ground up the field towards an end goal.  I’ve seen a lot of teams who possess the ball for the sake of possession with no apparent purpose in mind, and Berson’s session always kept the end objective of scoring a goal in mind.  He followed up this session with a training on flank play.  Fairly standard session, but the coaching points were solid and they players improved their flank play.

The rest of the day was spent on practice coaching sessions.  Every day I grow to have a deeper respect for the depth of knowledge that Tom Durkin has of the game.  I know I must sound like a broken record, but the attention to detail, and his recognition of the small things that make a big difference is remarkable.  Listening to his critique of the candidates during and at the end of sessions is a coaching clinic in itself.  Rough day physically, we’ve been blessed to have IMG kids available for every session but for the afternoon we had approximately three girls available.  We were spoiled leading up to this point only needing three of four coaches per training session, and for this afternoon you could notice an immediate drop in intensity level as every practice session passed and old legs got heavy.  I really do enjoy playing and contributing, but I also recognize that I’m not in the best form I could be to help the other candidates out.

Tomorrow we begin with practice coaching again, with one lecture to finish out the morning, and then it is practice coaching all afternoon.

Today we kicked off the practice coaching sessions.  Since my last name is “Tosaya” I am slated to be 17th out of 19 sessions, so we won’t get to mine until way down the line.  But it’s been really good to hear the instructors feedback and start getting an idea what they are looking for in the sessions.

The thing I keep hearing from Mark Berson and Jeff Pill is “5 W’s” over, and over again.  You must make sure we can answer the “Who, Where, When, What and Why?” of the topic by just observing the session.  Tom Durkin’s feedback for his candidates is intense, but very detailed and good.  I have never heard such in depth feedback from the instructing staff at any of my coaching education courses (and I’ve been through a few between the NSCAA and the USSF), and you will definitely get your monies worth at this course.  The knowledge that this staff has about how to help develop training topics and teaching methodology is top notch.  Keep in mind, it’s still one man’s opinion, and there are many aspects and vantage points to address this stuff, but I’m really enjoying listening to all three and the critique.

After our practice sessions we had a lecture on attacking from the flanks.  This lecture was probably the low point of the course, we simply watched highlights from the 2010 World Cup and left.  Oh well.

In the afternoon we had a field session on pressing from Durkin and it was very refreshing to watch him work with the U18 girls team.  As I’ve mentioned, they are a group that will challenge you to be a good coach.  He handled it beautifully!  The topic was defensive in nature, but during the warm up he couldn’t get the attacking team to maintain possession long enough to allow the team he was coaching to organize and press.  He had to back track, address the possession issue, and slowly introduced his team into the picture and started addressing the topic.  Too many times I’ve seen clinicians and instructors just get impatient with the lack of talent and ability and drop the topic all together.  As Durkin stated after the session, “If players were good enough to play the game automatically we would be out of a job.”  It was very refreshing to see a national staff coach bring the topic to the level of the team he was working with and we saw marked improvement once he got to his topic.

After the field session we hit the classroom again for our player psychology lectures.  The instructor was Dr. Jennifer Etnier, Sports Psychology professor at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.  She covered two topics in two lectures this evening; Communication and Burnout.  The elements of quality communication, criticism, and relationship building were covered in the first.  The lecture on burnout was very interesting.  We covered the signs and symptoms of burnout and how important periodization is to helping prevent staleness in athletes.