Wednesday, June 6, 2007

JT's Blog - National Youth License Course - June 6

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.

Looking back at the first weekend of the National Youth License course in Greensboro, N.C., I smile knowing that youth coaching is in the good hands of some great coaches. Although there are still a lot of coaching education opportunities to be taken advantage for the second half of the NYL course.

The thing that stands out about this group of coaches is that they all appear to be open to new ideas. This is the first time the NYL course is being hosted in North Carolina. The class is full with 36 candidates of diverse backgrounds and many years of varied amounts of coaching and playing experience.

Mike Strickler, the DOC for Florida, Jacob Daniel, the DOC for Georgia, Ric Plante the DOC for Montana, Chris Little, the current DOC for North Carolina, and myself are the instructors for this course. The candidates have great questions and the staff has done well answering.

I hope the following article written by Mr. Gary Allen will provide further information relating to the issues of player development.

Youth Soccer Coach Wanted: Only Those with Patience and Perseverance Need Apply By Gary R. Allen, Virginia Youth Soccer Association Director of Coaching Education
Click here to read the article.


Anonymous said...

I liked the article presented. I would agree with the 10 year rule. I look at the time it took for me to reach my soccer potential and it was from age 14 to about 24. The same has been true for my cycling career which has improved over the last 10 years even as I have aged. I also beleive a huge part of surviving that length of time has been due to personal motivation. You can't teach that.

My solution to the free play issue in the USA is to add a soccer goal under each basketball hoop in every community in the US. Not only will it provide a small court for skill development but will also provide for greater exposure for the sport. It is going to be my goal in Henderson County to add a soccer goal to each area used by kids for free play. And like every project I undertake it will probably take ten years.

TEH NC Class

John G. NC Youth Class said...

JT Thanks for the complement, the article and an enjoyable learning experience. The past weekend has been educational, valuable and enlightening. I hope what I will take back to my club will be embraced.

Anonymous said...

Good article. There are a lot of topics to go into. I like the phrase “slow and inefficient experiencing.” For me, that is what youth soccer is about (coaches must have patients and perseverance-from the title of the article). I feel like we are programmed to find the most efficient way to get things done and we must put together the best teams to get immediate results. The American way is survival of the fittest. Are we subconsciously or consciously relating our business roots to our youth soccer programs? In business, results matter, in youth soccer, development matters. Patients and perseverance are key and second (or maybe even third) place is OK.


NC Youth Course said...

I agree 100% with the article. I do think/feel that there is some kind of "tension" in ideas between US Youth Soccer and USSF.....

Anonymous said...

I would love to see the rise of pick-up soccer in America. I'm not so sure that it will. Pick up games were some of and continue to be some of the best games I ever played in. In that environment players are more relaxed and free to to express themselves. In that environment everyone is a Kaka or Ronaldinho and does not have a coach or parent telling them they aren't. We need to find ways to encourage and allow pick up style soccer in our club systems. But then, will it truly be pick up?

Enjoying the class guys. See you all tomorrow.

DH from NC NYL.

Anonymous said...

What a great article. It is one that every coach and parent should read. As a player who was a "late bloomer" growing up I was lucky enough to have coaches who saw the importance of hard work and dedication. Too many times today those players are looked over in an effort to win games. Every team needs a few players whose motivation and effort make up for a lack of size or speed. The team with the best ten athletes might win at U-11 but will it win at U-16? That is one thing that I have been impressed with in my short time in North Carolina. The many different levels of play at the younger ages gives each child a chance to play with kids of their ability and learn from qualified coaches.

The free play issue is huge in the US. I love the idea of putting a goal under every basketball hooop. Unfortunately it is not just pick up soccer that is disappearing, it is free play all together in our overly scheduled worlds. Adults need to step back and all kids time to be kids. Coaches have to be willing to give up some practice time to give kids a chance to have time to do what they choose. We can only hope that the parents trust our judgement.

EM NC Class

Anonymous said...

I agree with EM's statement that free play is disappearing across the US. For a number of reasons. Gone are the days of playing in the street, with one child yelling "car" and everyone gets out of the way.

But to the issue of patience, we are an impatient society. We cannot sit down to dinner for two hours as is done in Europe. We eat on the run we "multitask", we want it now. The same with soccer. Many parents believe that because they are in "competitive soccer", their child is a super star and because the coach is paid, we expect wins. That is what we are here for. So from day one, the focus is misplaced. That is what we as the coach need to do. Redirect the parents and the children, that we are about development. Development requires time, so we need to teach patience as well. This will take time and energy so we need to make sure that it is fun. As we learned last week (many of us knew this before as well), but most profressional players stop because, "It wasn't fun".
The bottom line, keep it fun by activities and not drills, have patience, Rome was not built in a day, and allow them to grow within themselves. The street games are gone, but that does not mean we cannot allow them freedom of expression in our sessions.

To the coaching staff at NCYSA NYL, thank you for your insight and the sharing of your knowledge. What you have taught will be used outside of the classroom.


Anonymous said...

Upchurch, NC course

Gary Allen makes some very interesting points in his article. I feel that most player development occurs when players are playing informally. The US lacks this stage of growth with our young players. Without question countries in South America, Europe, and Africa benefit with young players involvement in street soccer. No coaches. No restrictions. Just a ball and millions of dreams!

Anonymous said...

Great article, I think that there are too often too many great players overlookd due to the fact that they may have been late developing.
I would love to have more DOCs of clubs to read and consider this article when doing their selections in the spring

Ken said...

Great article. I do agree that too many times, coaches try to "select" who will be the enxt superstar, no matter what sport. Also, the issue of "pick up" soccer games is non-existent in US players and I don't know why. Although I never played soccer as a youth, I do remember going to the playground and getting in on pick-up basketball games. Why don't our youth do this with soccer? I remember one day I was at the park with my son who plays U12 Classic and there were a couple of Latin players just hanging out, shooting, playing around. I had to almost "force" my son (who, by the way LOVES soccer) to go down there and just start playing with them. He did and has tried a couple of tricks he saw them doing. So I think it's some type of mental anxiety in some of our youth to "step out of their shell".

Great NYL course so far.
KJ NC Class

Anonymous said...

Terrific article. It expresses exactly the thoughts that need to be conveyed to all parents and clubs when considering such formats as academies with pool training (Something Chris Little has fought hard to implement in NC).

Like another blogger mentioned, I too was a late bloomer, and suffered through a few years of little confidence because I was smaller and less physically developed than others and so was often overlooked even though I ended further in the game than most of my peers from that time.

IS NC Y course

Alan said...

I believe that free play is key to a child's development within the US. Reason why is that this is were they are away from the adults. Kids can be kids and play the game and grow by trial and error, testing their skills were the results do not count. Parents not shouting, Coaches not shouting, referee's not blowing their whistle all the time. Take the example of Brazil. We all see it on TV that kids play anywhere and anytime. Goals if possible, but if not you see two shoes out there and a couple of t-shirts that represents goal. I think that in this society we can give great excuses as well as to why we don't do this. 1. Other sports, 2. don't have all the equipment to play small sided pick up games. 3. In some area's of the country where public transportation is non existent and we rely on parents to drive us around. 4. Kids rather play video games 5. Not enough tv coverage that of other countries (though this is improving every year). 6. The big three sports in America take priority and the list could go on and on.
In Brazil when you watch joga you can see kids travelling distances to play a game because they love playing, plus it is the major sport in that country. We as coaches need to have a bigger impact and influence on our players today and transfer some of that passion we have for this beautiful game. Setting homeworks for them to watch a game and have summary done about it. Research players past and present, anything that makes them think about soccer as much as we do!

Frank T. said...

I enjoyed the article because it touched many areas of concern today in Youth Soccer. The first is patience, second is percieverance for development. Yes, pick up games are pretty much non-exsistant in the suburbs and you may see some in the inter-city but even then they are less. I could remember staying out late and playing in the summer and my parents did not have to worry! Today is much different socially and enviromentally. I too was a late bloomer and bloomed physically late in today's standards. Went to school gre 3-4 inches and gained 70 lbs. A far cry from my high school and college playing days. I think what Cris Little is doing with the accademy is a good start to get back some creativity in the game. The litmus test will be the parents and see if they are patient enough for the ten year rule. Good stuff! Frank T NYL Course GSO

Chris Foley said...

JT. Course has been great. Looking forward to upcoming sessions.

Chris Foley

Anonymous said...

Another great bit of information to add to what we have already been given and to what we will get into this weekend. These are some very logical points that any coach can apply to what and how they do as a coach. Once again, we are reminded that we can't determine the future, just approach it with as much knowledge and understanding as possible.

R. Snyder - NC Class

Anonymous said...

The article "Youth Soccer Coach Wanted: Only Those With Patience and Perseverance Need Apply" by Gary Allen of VYSA makes a great point with regard to coaching and player development - They both take time!!!

Coaching development like player development is a process. Gary Allen refers to the 10 year rule which states that it takes at least 10 years for coaches to truly begin to know their trade. This is true. In order to effectively understand the development of youth from ages 5 - 18 years of age it takes years of interaction to understand the developmental characteristics and coaching objectives that need to be taught a long the way. Patience and Perseverance are necessary qualities for effective youth coaching if we are truly going to quality player developers.


Colby said...

I completely agree with the issues in player development and the over emphasis that some coaches place on success at such an early age. If we are to succeed with these young children and expect them to develop we must give them the time it takes. If you think back to ourselves in school we were given at least a semester to a year to learn a certain concept and subject and all we had to do was remember and recite it. We are asking kids to learn these skills and concepts, perform them and do them well all at the same time and I feel that sometimes that is too much to ask. We bypass the kids who have the potential but lack the immediate success and inevitably lose so many great players. We must put what we are doing into perspective and remember that this stage of development is already filled with other things and that when we throw soccer into it we must have that needed patience.
Colby NYL

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all the great comments and information. This class is truly enjoyable.


Anonymous said...

Pick up soccer brings more than just free play by kids. It also brings a mixture of ages and levels. As an adult to organize that kind of free play would mean getting kids of multiple ages together and then having soccer happen on their own terms. It happens more often then we think it does, LOL, usually because it is happening when we are preoccupied with organized soccer. Watch the sidelines during practices and games. Watch the goal areas during half-times. What do you see, groups of siblings varying in age with a soccer ball or two that will get together their own games and forms of games anywhere from 1 v. 1 to many v. many. It can actually be quite a lot of fun to watch the kids play. This kind of activity that is happening on the sidelines is part of what makes the younger siblings in a family better soccer players a lot of times then the older sibling. They have grown up with the soccer ball. Dribbling, experimenting, playing on their own even after we as parents have stuck them in a league at 4 years old.

We as coaches cannot organize that, but we can organize play time that resembles this within the children we have on a team. Throw the siblings into practices when they are around. Who doesn't like to beat up on their brother or sister while getting to do something they love. To get to this point though we have to TRULY redefine what it means to have success in youth soccer. It has to be about the development and not about the wins and losses! We hear that a lot, everyone seems to agree, there is lots of head nodding in coaches meetings, but the we turn armies of volunteer coaches loose with children and they don't have been told what NOT to focus on without being given a formula for what success means. So, they do what comes naturally, let the competitive nature come in and believe that winning is more fun that losing and focusing on helping their team win. After all it's about having fun and winning = fun. :(

As I was at the park with my oldest son during his practices this past season, I also had the chance to observe several other teams practicing. One team (U6 girls) over the course of 4 weeks never once even played soccer or a game that resembled a kids version of soccer. It was all about speed, drills, etc. I spoke with one of the parents on the team. The mom told me that they were actually playing up an age group because they had been beating everyone in their own age group. It explained a lot about the practices. Apparently, they were getting beat by the girls that were a year older. It explained a lot about the practices. Heavy emphasis on sprinting and speed. Lots of work on run to be the first one to the ball and just clear it out of bounds as a defender. No actual work on ball skills or other things you would expect at that age. And this was not a newbie coach. This is a coach that has been around and worked with older teams as well. If these girls got 50 touches each on the ball the entire hour plus of practice I would be amazed. Personally, I don't think speed and losing was the problem for this team.

Until we can redefine success for coaches and teach them to communicate what success is to parents, we won't see major shifts in youth soccer. Our club systems that start at U11 and sometimes earlier with the various levels of play do nothing but put emphasis and pressure on to move up a level, never get relegated, etc. I don't care how many times the statement is made that we want to have fun, and develop players, the structure of the leagues is ALL about winning. There's nothing wrong with winning. It just needs to be kept in perspective. Coaches that leave 10 year olds on the bench because they aren't good enough to help the team win shouldn't have put that player on the team in the first place. (although, the player being on the team isn't the real problem.)

The author of the article is right. Things are not beyond repair. The fix, however, isn't overnight. Truly fixing the problem I think will take real examination of everything from top to bottom, rec programs, clubs, state leagues, etc. and coming up with real plans on how to educate coaches and parents that it's not about winning, but about development. It's funny, because when it is about development, i.e. soccer camp, informal scrimmages, the parents and coaches treat the game quite differently. It CAN be done!