Sam’s Blog will be a weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. Sam Snow is the Director of Coaching Education for US Youth Soccer.
This past weekend I attended the US Youth Soccer Region IV symposium for TOPSoccer. US Youth Soccer TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer) is a community-based training and team placement program for young athletes with disabilities, organized by youth soccer association volunteers. The symposium was for administrators and coaches.
The coaching methods are the same as what is taught in the state Youth Modules and the National Youth License.
For players in strollers, wheelchairs or crutches we simply take an adaptive physical education approach and modify the equipment and rules of play.
One aspect for coaches that came up in the discussions was the impact on mainstream coaches when they take the challenge to coach players in TOPSoccer. For all of these coaches there is a positive impact from the experience and for some it is life changing. The thought that has come to my mind from this symposium is the long-term development of coaches.
In addition to our coaches continuing to educate themselves throughout their coaching career by attending courses, clinics, conventions and so on; what are they doing to gain new coaching experiences? How many of our coaches get themselves locked into coaching just one level of play or one age group or one gender? To grow over the decades as a coach are our coaches taking on new challenges by coaching a different level of competition or players with disabilities?
To become a top-notch and well rounded coach a variety of experiences, as well as depth of knowledge, are required. So more US Youth Soccer coaches need to stretch themselves and take on some coaching with TOPSoccer, with boys or girls, with recreational teams, with US Youth Soccer ODP players, with different age groups and with state cup level teams. Each of those coaching experiences can have a positive influence on the next one.
From my own experience, I have learned from coaching with TOPSoccer players and Special Olympics players that I should not complain about what I had previously thought to be dire issues in mainstream soccer. When I was concerned over my team’s ranking or kids jumping from club to club or many of the other ‘issues’ of competitive soccer I was focusing on the wrong things.
Working with the players and their buddies in TOPSoccer gave me perspective. Here in that environment was sheer joy of playing the game. Compliments are given by the players to teammates, opponents, referees and coaches without regard of are they ‘us’ or ‘them’. It’s just kids and soccer and everyone is welcome!
So if you want to grow a little as a coach go find out about the TOPSoccer program in your neighborhood. If there isn’t one there now then start one. I guarantee you will benefit from the effort.
For more details on US Youth Soccer TOPSoccer go to this link: http://www.usyouthsoccer.org/index.php?s=&url_channel_id=10&url_subchannel_id=&url_article_id=268&change_well_id=2