Wednesday, May 30, 2007

JT's Blog - Winning and Coaching - May 30

JT's Blog will be a weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. John Thomas "JT" is the Assistant Director of Coaching Education for US Youth Soccer.

There are times when I wonder if the increase in paid coaches in youth soccer is a good thing for our youth players. I have observed over the years that some paid coaches train two or three and sometimes even four teams. Why? Because it’s their livelihood. Would you agree that in order to get the best out of youth development you really need to get to know the players in order to be able to provide training that fits their ability to play physically and mentally? Perhaps training more than two teams during the same season may not allow the coach to train the teams to their full potential.

John Kessel, USA Volleyball Director of Membership Development and Disabled Programs, states; “I know that kids don't care how much I know about this sport, until they know how much I care about them.” I agree with that statement what about you?

When a coach is paid there is sometimes a misunderstanding by the parents that the check is the only motivation the coach needs to get the players prepared for the match. That assumption may also support an expectation of winning every match, which can bring more pressure on the coach and players. Wining is part of playing the game of soccer, but training and playing matches are also part of learning life skills. Will the coach that focuses on winning at all cost be the coach that has your child’s best interest at heart? Will winning every match make your team a better one? Once players get to their teen years it may be more appropriate to start training towards winning, but training to win at any cost in youth soccer should never be the goal. Training should include tactics and techniques to win matches, but winning isn’t the end all when it comes to learning how to play the game. Let’s not forget about team building, how to deal with winning and losing with dignity, and how players may learn from both.

Coaches are role models paid or not, good or bad. Please understand that you have a great responsibility to know the impact you will have on your players and parents. Coaches should build on the player’s skills and understanding of how to play the game, but you must also work on what’s right and wrong. If you yell and scream at players or the referee, what message do you think you’re role modeling to your players and parents? You are showing them it’s ok to yell and scream. If you can take a look at yourself and don't like what you see when you’re training for a match or when you’re coaching a match, then you may not be projecting what could be considered a good role model. Coaches need to know how to balance fun - smiles and humor in training, with a healthy focused on being competitive.

What are some of the behaviors a coach might want to be aware of and perhaps work on to be a good role model? The coach should stay calm through every storm of competition, so the players can play through challenges with out being overly stressed about the results of the game, and still have a drive to win. Be consistent, and allow the players to rely on who you are as a coach, never have to worry about "which coach" they might be talking to. A coach should never stop learning about the beautiful game.


Anonymous said...

I agree with the points JT makes about paid coaches, the pressure they are under and how it leads to an increase in training, games, tournaments, etc. The situation is quickly getting out of hand, if it isn't already.

But, there is also an adundance of independently operated clinics, camps, academies (whatever you want to call them) out there. These businesses do a good job of making parents think that their kids are missing out on some crucial element of development.

A lot of parents are quick to fill a perceived void in their child's team's training schedule by signing up for a few months at the independent operations, whose instructors may or may not be qualified. Then, the question becomes this: Do you want your players receiving instruction from someone else, or would you rather control their training schedule?


Chris Foley said...

JT. I am enjoying the course. Learned a lot that will help me. Greensboro, Chris

Anonymous said...

I like your thought process! Paid or not paid, I wonder too how effective can a youth soccer coach be when he/she is handling multiple teams. Between practice sessions and games requires a lot of mental review of what worked and what did not. What areas need to attention and whether or not the team is improving and whether they are getting the lessons taught. Future lessons depend upon the weekly exam (the game) and what areas in their game need focus.
If the coach is out there merely to pad his income, he/she probably should have chosen a different career path. I for one, look at the supplement (pay) the club provides me as an avenue to feed it back into the team and the club. So far I am in the negative, as I have purchased equipment, training aids, balls, books, DVDs, rewards and other items to help improve my immediate team. I sometimes wonder whether the parents are even aware that coaches are paid.

From a role model standpoint, I feel more pressure to provide a moral and ethic model from which the team and the parents would be proud of. As a coach, good sportsmanship is vital. If I as an example, am constantly after the officals, will the team respect the referees? I doubt it. So as they get older, they will become more contemptuous towards the officals and as bad as the professional game seems now in regards to disrespect, what does the future hold? I remember when, if you even talked to the offical, you would be carded. I do not care to swing the pendulum back that far, but players today have not respect for the officals and they are losing it towards each other.
When we think of the children, is this how we want to raise them? We are entrusted with these little ones by the parents. We certainly need to maintain that trust, by honesty and integrity in our paid jobs.

j ncysa nyl

RLCncclass said...

I coach multiple teams each season, and it can be difficult, especially when switching from different age groups. When practice at one group wears you down, you have to pump back up to be "on" for the next group.

The hardest part is giving each child the individual attention they need. On practice day when you are thinking of certain comments you need to make to individuals, you may have over 30 points to make.

On the plus side, when you are running the same practice plan for each group, you can see what didn't work with the first group, and you can fix it before the next practice.

For game day consistency I rely on a chair. When I bring a chair to each game, I remain calmer, and my behavior is more consistent. I don't sit the entire game, but I try to start in the chair, and when I find myself getting wound up I take a seat for a bit. As a result, my teams' reactions to game pressure are more consistent. When something goes wrong they see that I am not upset and they keep playing.

NC Course said...

Do you think because someone is a paid coach or trainer, it makes him or her a better coach?

I do no think so!!! In fact, to be honest, a great deal of the volunteer coaches from days gone by were every bit as qualified and in most cases more successful. Sometimes because paid coaches train more then 1-2 teams at times, they tend to have about half the passion a volunteer coach does. Most of the times coaches coach becasue they LOVE the game, however, oce they start getting paid they are out there because it becomes their job. And as is the case with any job, when the day is done, it's time to get out of there and head home.

That's not to say there are not some wonderful paid coaches out on the field.

Ken said...

NYL Course-NC
Good course.
Interseting concepts in course and on blog.

Anonymous said...

I have worked at a small youth club, a mid level youth club and also a very large youth club. I have had two teams a season for each club and put in the most time and effort this past season with the larger of the clubs with the team atmosphere because its your teams. I was an Associate Director at the club before and worked with more than just my teams but the players seemed to think I cared mored there since I worked with other teams and when I did work with the they were excited and felt fortunate.

Paid coaches are a great thing for US soccer as long as its done the right way. Not too many teams or trainers and make sure the top staff are working with the younger players ages U14 and below.

NC Youth course WF

nc y course said...

Good post. It raises some valid questions about the quality of the soccer experience for youth players. But is the question JT raises really a matter of personal philosophy rather than professional versus volunteer?

Regardless of the qualifications of the coach, the number of teams, or whether a coach is paid, isn't it a matter of personal character; how much time and care a coach puts into their team? Do teachers not have to deal with multiple classes? Do some teachers care more about their student's than others?

If a coach cares about every player and treats each with respect; then there is an argurment that it is a worthwile experience regardless of whether or not the coach is paid. All things being equal, is experience and education a benefit?

With regard to winning, this is true and is a problem in American society as a whole; the ends justifies the means. As long as the organizations that control youth sports sanction championships at the youngest ages, it is our personal responsibility as role models to help control our learning environment.

Anonymous said...

I agree that training more than two teams is a handful. It makes it tough to really get involved with a group. If there were enough qualified coaches for each coach to have one team, that would be ideal in my opinion. I agree that focusing on one group of players allows the coach to get the most out of them. Otherwise, your efforts may be diluted.

I do think that coaches should be paid (with some type of compensation) for their time and effort. In general, I think that coaches are in it for the right reasons. The kids can tell if the coach is dedicated, and I think that it has a direct effect on the team’s experience (positive or negative). At the end of the day, the relationships built and life skills learned are what matter most – not the wins and loses.


Anonymous said...

Chris B- NC Youth License Course

I agree with some of what JT says, however I think that increasing the number of paid coaches can be a long term benfefit, here is why.

I agree that caring about one's team is one of the top requirements for a good coach. However, if that particular coach does not know how to develop age appropriate training then we are going backwards. If we are successful in having clubs insist on their professional staffs participate in continuing education, then the long term benfefits will be greater.

Enjoying the class.

Anonymous said...

As someone who coached multiple teams this past year, I agree that it is a challenge. I was lucky enough to have great volunteers coaches help me with each team to take some of the load off my shoulders. You still have to work twice as hard to make sure that you know each child and know what is the best way to motivate them. It was at times an exhausting year, but also one of the most rewarding years I have ever coached. That being said, I must admit I am glad that the number of teams I am coacing this coming year has been reduced. The physical and emotional stress of training every night of the week and making multiple games (often in multiple locations) was great this year.
Money is not the only reason that coaches are forced to take on multiple teams though. There are only a limited number of qualified coaches out there, paid or not. In order to get each child the best training possible, often coaches are forced to take on multiple team. It is not an ideal solution by any means but until more coaches (paid or not) choose to educate themselves to be better at what they do it is the best we have.
Coaches are most definitely role models to their players. Kids take in everything you say and see everything you do. It is not unusual for a child to bring up something an adult said ages ago when they are contradicting themselves. Coaches must be positive role models to their players. This is especially important for female coaches who work with young girls. There are not enough positive female role models out there for girls who are athletes, and they look to the women around them to learn how to balance being a girl and an athlete.


Anonymous said...

Good questions that generate thought. Coaching multiple teams is work. Being paid provides a level of accountability.

I look forward to the next session.

TEH NC Class

NC Course said...

Great course...looking forward to the weekend tests!

Anonymous said...

Paid or not paid isn't the question. It should be more about how qualified the coach is and I am not just talking about licenses. I have seen many licensed coaches who aren't very good. As long as the coach is doing the correct things developmentally for the kids, buys into the clubs philosophies and is properly qualified to work with that specific age group, then I say game on. Thanks. NC Youth license

IS NC Y course said...

Some good points. I agree there should be concern that some coaches are coaching too many teams and these are generally full-time coaches. As long as the full-time coaches are continuing their education through courses and continual review of themselves then I believe this is preferable to the alternative of having unpaid, usually unqualified coaches in place.


Anonymous said...

I believe that coaches should be paid.

JBradford said...

As a paid coach, I can understand basically all of JT's points. Hopefully within each organization paid coaches are there for the correct reasons and not simply for a paycheck. Having been with two of the larger clubs in the US (Dallas Texans/CASL), I have seen both sides. There are circumstances that allow multiple-team coaches to work to their full potential with each team, but it takes a special individual to get this done. It also takes an open minded group of parents and a supportive/structured organization. It would make sense that the better, higher trained coaches should be paid. This fits in the same idea of any other professional in their respective field being compensated for what they do. There's just not too many clubs that can give a coach a full-time job without making the demands on he or she fairly heavy.

Frank T. said...

I am enjoying your course @ GSO, NC! I agree with mostly what you wrote, however, As some of the bloggers eluded too, it should not matter if you are paid or not! It is weather you have the passion for the game and teaching our greatest asset, our YOUTH! I am a volunteer coach and I can see both sides of the argument because I am out there 3-4 times a week which includes games and training amongst paid coaches. Yes, the personeel touch definitely decreases with the number teams that are coached and I think many parents take note of this fact and is a factor. Although, the professional people that I work along side with are very good and they make a concerted effort to know all of ther players and know them well and our club success reflects this!. At the end of the day, it all depends on the club dynamics and how it communicates with it's members and all of us COACHES have the passion for the game at any level and licensesure!

NC NYL Frank T.

Anonymous said...

Obvously being paid does not make a coach a good one. and coaching multiple teams can have a negative effect on the quality of training for the youth, but I think that the abilities of the individual coach must be considerd when making the decision on how many team that a coach can handle, I know some coach that are paid that can not mentally or emotionally handle one team, but are given a couple becaues of their playing background or the Licences they hold, in the same respect I know some coaches that are not given the chance because they don't have the right "background", but they are knowldgable, good people that only want to help kids find a love for soccer

LS NC NYL Course said...

I think JT makes some excellent points about the coach as a role model. I think too often, especially at the younger ages, the qualifications that would make a coach a positive role model are overlooked because of a coach’s soccer resume. Coaches spend a significant amount of time with these young players and really have the opportunity to be a positive influence. As a coach of younger classic teams, it pains me every time we play against a coach that is yelling at his players, the referees, and generally losing control on the sidelines.

Coaches are in a unique position to be a positive role model for these young players. It's different from a school environment where a child is forced to attend. Coaches are providing children with the opportunity to do something they enjoy and I think because of that children tend to respect their coaches. I think clubs need to place more emphasis on hiring coaches, paid or unpaid, that possess the qualities of a good role model.

Colby said...

I couldn't agree more with the comments made about coaches and their inherit need to put more pressure on the kids because of their salary. I find that non- paid coaches are in fact the best ones because they are doing it for one reason and that is the kids and the love of the game. There does become an issue, I feel with the level that a non paid coach is capable of coaching but I also find that they are usually not desiring to coach higher level groups. The biggest problem with competitive sports these days is that we tend to forget that these are still just kids who want to and need to have other opportunities and activities in their lives besides soccer but also desire to play the sport at a competitive level for their abilities. We are quick to try and tell players that they must commit only to soccer and end up losing a majority of potential talent for that reason. If a coach is good at what he does, he/ she can motivate their players to perform their "A" game everytime they come to the field while still allowing them to become involved with other opportunities around them. There should always be fun in soccer and there can be a comprimise between hard work and fun if the coach is willing to embrace the effort. I am enjoying the course and feel that the heart of it (letting the children PLAY) is something that we all need to focus on as coaches.
CWM, Greensboro, NYL course

Anonymous said...

In a small community such as mine, it is difficult to find a person that would be a good qualified coach for the players. There are very few second generation players with the skills and knowledge required to coach soccer. Thus with the lack of availabilty of volunteer coaches, paid coaches are a good option. The standards expected for the paid coach are no different than those expected from a person willing to volunteer to coach. I hope the pay is a way to compensate a coach for their time and efforts and not a way of holding them hostage to higher expectations. If the coach (volunteer or paid) puts the committment needed in for the players and the team, then the improvement and feeling of accomplishment and success for the players will follow.


Andrew Donnery (NC Youth Class) said...

As a Director of Youth Development at a club with over 4000 players and 200 coaches. I see all too often the alarming trend in youth soccer coaching to concentrate more on winning than on player development. This damaging coaching philosophy is one of the main reasons that by age 14, about 70% of the estimated 20 million youth soccer players in the US have dropped out of the game. They are simply not having fun playing soccer!

The coaches should be instructed to conduct themselves first as teachers and second as soccer coaches. Nothing positive will come of the coaches efforts if we produce world-class players who do not know how to conduct themselves as successful human beings. In this regard, the coaches should conduct themselves as a positive role model and display appropriate behavior. Coaches should recognize they are dealing in an important way with young people and cannot overlook the impact they have on player's lives.

Coaches are responsible for conduct of the team on and off the field when the team is together and part of a club event. Coaches should insist the players be polite, well behaved, and respectful. Players and parents can expect honesty, communication, consistency, and reliability from the Coach.

The coach should guarantee to give players the tools and skills to enable them to become as good as their ability; desire, commitment, and effort take them.

The coaches are responsible to create an environment where you can play quality soccer. Coaches should recognize there are things more important in life than soccer. In terms of priority, family and school work come first.

The coach is responsible for player selection, player positioning (line-up), player participation (playing time), team direction, team strategy, and team curriculum and schedule. Playing time is determined by a player’s work ethic (during practices and games), attendance at practice and games, timeliness, general progress, attitude and ability. The coach will make this determination. Parents need to understand there may be times where you may not understand or agree with their decisions but you have entrusted your coach as a soccer expert with these matters.

It is important for players and parents to understand that soccer is a player's game. Once players reach a certain level of skill, maturity, and experience, they become more important to the team's success than the Coach.

Anonymous said...

Upchurch, NC course

I support some of the points regarding coaches training several teams and how sometimes the players fall short of reaching their full potential. However, as a DOC many coaches on my staff wear several hats, and it's my responsibility to insure our players that each coach provides training that fits their ability. Coaches training several teams must make a connection with each player and constantly reinforce how much they care.

I'm enjoying the course

Frank F said...

I coach multiple teams for our league and do not get paid a single penny. I do it for the love of the sport. We do not win games like some of the other leagues, but we go into with the understanding that it is about development and teaching them the skills for decision making and sportsmanship. I make it a point to know not just the kids on my team, but the majority of them in our league at least by first name. I may not know their parents, but I can spot them from afar. It feels great when a kid I have never coached says "Hi Coach!". I coach a number of teams because I want as many kids as possible to have the opportunity to play.

Frank F, NYL NC Course

Alan said...

I believe that a coach who is paid could coach multiply teams.
Though there should be a limit to how many teams a coach could have even if it's their livelyhood.
I coach multiple teams in the past and I believe that there is a limit on the amount of teams a coach could have. It does take alot of mental preparation to consider the needs both to the team and individuals among the team. Also a coach needs time to change their mentality towards multiple teams based on the team and individual ability.

NC Y Course said...

Enjoying the Y course in Greensboro, NC. I think parents should look into taking the course.

Anonymous said...

i dont know that i agree that a paid coach's only motivation is the paycheck, his/her days revolve around soccer. evaluating players performances and planning training sessions in an attempt to develop each kids ability. for the youth i don't like the win at all cost mentality. i believe that if you can make each player better and make the team better that the wins and loses will take care of itself.

nc class

Anonymous said...

John From NC Y Class

I agree with the points about paid coaches. Our club policy is to seek out qualified parent coaches over paid coaches at all levels of play first. We encourage all of our coaches to obtain an age appropriate license which hopefully enforces the clubs phylosophy about player developement. We feel that having a strong club phylosophy about player development will stear our coaching staff towards having similar priorities.

Anonymous said...

Hi JT,

Great topic. You are absolutely correct. I am 100% behind you.

San Diego - CA

Anonymous said...

It seems as though paid coaches is beginning to be the norm. It is hard for an organization that does not pay its coaches to compete with those that do. As a coach, what are you going to choose: Coaching a team for nothing or coaching a team for a nice supplment check? It is tough to find volunteers to coach teams, especially qualified volunteeers, especially young qualified former player volunteers to coach your teams for free. Good or not good, it seems this is the direction we are going.

I agree that 2 is probably the most teams that you can 100% coach on a weekly basis to give them your full attention. I think you can train more than that however. But, coaching over 2 is a tough thing and I question how much attention you give each team.

DH from NC NYL