Monday, January 23, 2012
I have the good fortune to regularly exchange ideas on youth soccer with many coaches and administrators across our nation. One recent exchange was with a club director of coaching whose club is in the Central Illinois Youth Soccer League. His initial statement to me was this:
"Many of the directors of coaching and presidents of clubs in our league have been talking over the past few months about a way to get the best players in our clubs some higher level training and playing experience. We have embraced the idea that Claudio Reyna (Youth Technical Director for U.S. Soccer) put forth to work together, not against each other to try to provide the best opportunities for our players (Us vs. The World!). The CIYSL Elite is a new program we are looking to start where we will take the top U-15 to U-18 players from clubs in central Illinois and bring them together for training once a month over the winter, then take a group of players and train for a week or two and compete in a high level tournament together. We have arranged for the players to be coached by local central Illinois college coaches so they are getting some of the best training available in the area.
I was wondering if you could help me out with showing the parents of our clubs the benefits of this type of program. Do you have any sort of promotional material from US Youth Soccer? Or would you be willing to give me some quotes that we could use on our promotional material?
We are looking for support promoting the following areas:
1. We want to work together as a soccer community, not one club vs. another, to provide the best opportunities for our players to develop. (Us vs. The World!)
2. We need to create a competitive, challenging environment for our top players to constantly test them and push them to improve. Pooling all of the U-15 to U-18 players from central Illinois will allow us to create this type of playing environment for those top players.
3. This program is not to "poach" players and form one super-team in central Illinois, but simply to provide those players a chance to get additional higher level playing opportunities while still playing with their local club team.
I would love to hear any feedback, suggestions, improvements you have regarding our idea. As I mentioned, we are simply trying to find a way to help develop our kids into the best soccer players possible, and hope this will assist them in doing so.
Thanks in advance for all of your help! I really appreciate you taking the time to help out!"
I was involved in US Youth Soccer Region meetings at the time so my first reply was this:
I'll be back with you shortly with more information, but right off I think that part of what you are accomplishing is also the objective of the US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program. So it seems logical that part of the pathway for elite players is into US Youth Soccer ODP. Take a look to get these players in the ODP program in Illinois as soon as possible. Here's the link for your state: http://www.illinoisyouthsoccer.org/ODP.htm
The club director responded with:
"Thank you for getting back to me so quickly, I really appreciate the response! The ODP system is something we encourage all of our players to get involved with, and I know our club has a number of players who are involved in this system. This model of ODP was something we saw that worked well and we have used many ideas from this. I know that many DOCs were looking to get some of their players additional higher level playing as well as participation in ODP. Due to our demographics and geography, I know we have many players involved in ODP, but also some high level players who simply cannot commit to ODP. For some players, they cannot because of finances, and some because of the long travel. The CIYSL Elite is hopefully an additional opportunity for these players to get involved and play against some higher level competition. We are hoping to have this at very minimal cost to families, as well as hold training in central Illinois.
Let me assure you it is not the goal of this program to replace ODP or to take players away from this program. I am a strong supporter of this program and would love to see all of our top players participate in ODP.
I appreciate you taking the time to help out and any information you can send me would be great!"
My follow up comments were:
I'm glad to read that the players and coaches do participate in US Youth Soccer ODP. I also understand the challenges of travel and costs. I applaud the effort you and the other coaches are making to provide a challenging training environment for the players. In a number of places across the country some clubs and coaches are making similar efforts. This is especially true outside of large metropolitan areas where the pooling of talent (players, coaches and administrators) is necessary in order to compete at the top levels of play. It is nothing more than the law of averages as small to medium size soccer communities are more likely to improve and compete with large soccer communities when they cooperate. The idea that we can compete with one another on the field of play during a match, but join our efforts at all other times is actually the essence of true competition. There are three key components in setting up the right environment for teenaged elite players to develop. In an order of priority they are:
1. Quality teammates
2. Quality opponents
3. Quality coaches
By the clubs in your area pooling your talents you are now able to act on these three components. Understanding the definition of competition helps to guide the effort to band your resources together.
· Competition: the process of competing; a contest between competitors
· Competitor: one that competes
· Competitive: characterized by competition
One cannot compete without a fellow competitor. It is then through quality competition that the players and coaches will learn clearly their strengths and weaknesses. Without fellow competitors that learning environment is not possible. That you are coming together to create a healthy environment to raise your level of competition makes good sense. It then is not an us versus them situation for the players in the pool. They all need each other to play with and against in order to improve.
I've attached one file for you that gives the coaches some guidelines for the right philosophy for the training sessions you are planning. Please do not hesitate to let us know if the US Youth Soccer Coaching Department can be of further assistance to you.
Training Sessions for Teenaged Soccer Teams [pdf