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Silicon Valley Eagles Blog

The Silicon Valley Eagles Soccer Academy blog is a great source of soccer coaching tips, parents and players improvement tips and advises, and updates on the soccer world news.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Speed-Soccer-Kick-740x410.jpgWe all know — games are more fun. More fun for the kids. More fun for the parents. In a typical training session, the most common question asked by the players is “when are we going to scrimmage?” As trainers, we have been taught to let the “game be the teacher” but, why is training more advantageous to developing players than games? The answer is MATH.

In a typical training session, each player has a ball. It may be that the ball per player ratio is 1:1, 2:1, 3:1, or 4:1 (depending on age and activity), but in almost all cases is the ratio better than 22:1 (or 16:1 for 8v8), which is what you get in a game. In other words, as a parent, ask “how often is my child touching the ball in training versus a game?” That, among other benefits, is the advantage that training has over game play.

Tom Turner, a prolific writer and proponent of player development, breaks down the touches on a ball thus:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_2067-2-672x372.jpgMaking it in soccer is difficult. Training programs and players have improved dramatically in the past 15 years. Worldwide exposure has grown the sport and our knowledge about the development of elite athletes is progressing every day. To make it to the elite levels of soccer it takes a combination of skill, resources, luck, and opportunity. But even on this treacherous development journey, a player still has a lot of control. Through observation and research, we have learned that elite youth athletes exhibit similar thinking processes and behavior.

As a professional trainer, I have numerous stories about players that have progressed to the next level. The problem is that anecdotal evidence is heavily biased and not necessarily accurate for generalization. But when on-field observation aligns with empirical research, then we know we are starting to discover important truths about the elite youth player. In learning and athletic development, research confirms that the best performers are successful at self-regulation. Self-regulation involves processes that enable individuals to control their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Effective self-regulators can adapt and control behavior/thinking to counter responses that might prove detrimental to performance. For example, a youth player shooting a penalty kick to win a game is a stressful situation. An effective self-regulator could probably calm their emotions, disregard parents screaming “kick it,” and rely on their training to execute the task at hand. As a result, this athlete would increase their chances of scoring the goal. In sport, effective self-regulators are typically the best learners. Athletes who better control their learning and environment are more often capable of maximizing their athletic potential and thus succeeding in high performance settings. This is relevant to elite sport where you are constantly battling to earn or maintain a spot.

Behaviors and cognitive (thinking) processes of successful elite youth athletes:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_teaching-progression.jpgThe biggest mistakes I see from youth soccer coaches, whether they be parent, or worse, they are paid to coach, is the failure to follow teaching progressions and failure to communicate with youth players. Coaches that teach complex ideas using foreign soccer jargon to 8-12 year old “competitive” soccer players waste time. It also waste an opportunity to teach. Why do we do it?

1. The biggest reasons coaches fail here is that they have not properly identified the problem. This comes from two main reasons: (a) the failure of the coach to give the team and players her focus and attention, and (b) lack of experience. If you cannot see the problem, then you cannot correct it. Failing to identify means coaches miss the boat on what to teach. Identifying the issues requires focus and effort — even though it is mental effort. It is taxing. It is work. It means not talking on your cell phone during a session. It means thinking about each of your players and how you can help them.

Lack of experience is a problem because a coach’s inexperience with youth players, regardless of the level the coach played at, can make it hard to identify and communicate with younger players. This is particularly true if the coach does not have kids.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_3004-300x200.jpgIt is that time of year again…tryouts for youth soccer teams. Or rather, it is the hunting season for clubs and coaches to recruit players and find new investors. So, having 5 kids in the system and being a licensed coach, I thought I would add a list of questions and answers for parents for this time of year. I seem to keep having the same conversations so it would be easier just to put the information here:

I. Why should I pay for soccer coaching? I mean, I see dads coaching soccer every Saturday or Sunday. Why should I spend money on something that obviously anyone can do?

While parents don’t necessarily say this exactly, I hear it in their reasons why they do not feel the need to pay for soccer training. The best analogy I can think of his music lessons or dance lessons. People have no problem paying for those lessons but somehow think soccer is different. What is sad is that parents make this mistake at the most critical ages (7-12) thinking that it is just kid soccer. In my opinion, this is when you need professional help the most. If your coach does any of the following, he or she is hurting the development and love of the game in your child (this is aimed at players 7-12):

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Posted by on in Youth Soccer development

b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_2001-1-300x168.jpgWe are halfway through what soccer coaches refer to as “camp season.” This is the time that paid coaches for clubs have available time to make some extra money in the form of “camps.” And that is the first thing that your should know … camps are about money to clubs and coaches not skill development of individual players.

I am writing this from two perspectives: (1) as a parent who has spent a lot of money on soccer camps, and (2) as a professional coach (I am paid per team that I coach) who is very demanding on preparation and teaching in sessions.

Observations:

(1) Skill level of participants is mixed. There will usually be a few high level players, but a lot of weak players. If a camp is open enrollment, meaning all skill levels allowed, the competition and quality of the sessions will be mixed. Most camps are open enrollment because, remember, these are money-makers, not skill-makers. How can they realistically promote player development when you have everyone from beginning recreation player to a highly skilled player in the same session? We would never allow that at club-level training.
(2) Quality of coaching is mixed to poor. From what I have seen, the coaches are young, inexperienced coaches but former or current players. The only value coaches like that have is to inspire the players by their presence as, usually, they lack the ability to teach the game to young players. There may be some top youth coaches mixed in, but, from my experience, most of the coaches are young and inexperienced in teaching the game. But, as your player is not realistically going to gain increase in skill in a short camp, fun and inspiration from a former player may be the perfect thing. Just do not expect a good evaluation of the players.

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