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Coaches Blog

Sam's Blog is a bi-weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. Sam Snow is the Coaching Director for US Youth Soccer.

 

Question From a Coach

Sam Snow

A youth soccer coach in California had a good question posed to him by a parent of one of the club's players. It is one that I'm sure is asked on occasion in many youth soccer clubs across the country.

I had a question come up recently that I've been struggling to answer, so I thought I'd go to the gurus. I train a U-10 girl's team in California and have been trying to focus the parents on a long-term direction for the players.

One parent, however, had a simple question that stopped me in my tracks. He asked, "Why does soccer speak so much of development, when all the other sports, baseball, football, softball, hockey are competitive as can be?" Later in the conversation, he also noted that most baseball, football  and softball coaches (at the youth stages) are often times parents of one of the players.

He isn't trying to be rude or challenging. He's simply curious to know why there is all this talk about development with our sport, while the other major sports don't have such conversations and seem to be thriving just fine. And after that conversation, I am too.

Also, I'm curious to know if there has been any talk of a 2nd level National Youth Course. I can't tell you how much of an impact the USSF National Youth License made on my coaching. I took my USSF ""B"" License in January, and everyone I spoke to there who had taken their National Youth License felt the same way. The real learning and lessons we've needed as coaches is in the National Youth License. The other licenses are just padding for resumes and pay-scales. We're hoping there can be another level. I'm already planning on taking the National Youth License again in 2010.

Thanks for your time and help...

Well the simple answer is that these other youth sports do not have the formal coaching education system that soccer has. Because there is less of a formal academic based coaching education system in place for those sports it is less likely that the discussion of long-term player development will arise. It is even more difficult for them to share that message with grassroots coaches without a scheme in place for coaching classes.

Those sports may seem to be thriving, but many of the negative issues that we see in youth sports are deeper and wider in those sports than in youth soccer. This is not to say the same issues are not a part of the youth soccer experience, for they certainly are, just to a lesser degree on a national scope. I am venturing an educated guess that part of the continuing enrollment into those sports has to do with the exposure they receive from the sports media and the fact that they are just plain fun to play.

Regarding a possible National Youth License 2, Dr. David Carr is currently working on a possible curriculum for just such a course. If it comes to pass then I think it would begin to be offered at the earliest in 2011, and will be announced on www.USYouthSoccer.org.
 
 

Position Statements 13 and 14

Sam Snow

From the Position Statements of the 55 state Technical Directors:
 
LEAGUE PLAY AND MATCHES PER YEAR        # 13

We believe that the optimal playing and learning environment includes participating in no more than two matches per week.  We also believe that players should not compete in more than one full match per day and no more than two full matches per weekend.  There must be a day of rest between full-length matches.  We strongly oppose the practice of scheduling regular season and/or make-up matches in a manner that results in four full matches in the same week.  Modified FIFA rules apply: no reentry per half for the U-14 and younger age groups and no reentry after substitution for the U-15 and older age groups.  In addition, we believe that players should not compete in more than 40 playing dates in a calendar year.  Players must have one full month off from all soccer activity.
 
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES COMPETITION # 14

We believe that, in order to be consistent with the final stages of the competition, the national tournament for the top players should adopt a no reentry rule for state and regional level play.
 
 
 

US Youth Soccer ODP Europe Fall Camp

Sam Snow

I finished up the conferences in London on Friday the nineth and flew back to Germany. That evening we began the US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (US Youth Soccer ODP) Europe fall camp in Bitburg. There is a wonderful Sports Schule there. It was once a U.S. military base and was bought out privately and turned into a sports school. There are dorms and dining facilities, an indoor soccer field, a gymnasium and nine outdoor grass fields. We had 175 American players from across Europe attend the camp. The volunteer coaches and administrators did a wonderful job of running the camp.

The age groups ranged from U-11 to U-18 for both the boys and girls. Training sessions began on Friday afternoon and went into the evening in the indoor facilities. Frank Tschan is the Director of Coaching Education for US Youth Soccer ODP Europe, so he and I observed the coaches during their training sessions. The next day we gave them some ideas on how to improve their craft. We also got across some basic approaches for the players to take themselves up to a more professional level.

I want all coaches involved in US Youth Soccer ODP to realize that they cannot take anything for granted. To this end, here are points to get across to all coaches and players involved in US Youth Soccer ODP.
SIMPLE things count the most
  • Angle of hips
  • Eye on the ball
  • Take the ball out of the air
  • Come to the ball
  • Stay on your toes
  • Sudden change in the flow of the game (if everyone is going left then suddenly go to the right)
  • Follow up shots
  • When your goalkeeper comes out drop to cover the goal
  • Take care of your boots, shin guards and gloves
  • Take care of your feet
On Saturday, I observed the training sessions and matches. I was also able to make a presentation on the identification and selection criteria with the coaches and administrators. John Thomas and I are making this presentation whenever we can with administrators and coaches involved in US Youth Soccer ODP to get more of our personnel on the same page; simply good teamwork here.

On Sunday, I had the pleasure to run training sessions for the U-18 Boys and Girls. We worked on mobility in the attack, especially the runs and positioning of the second attacker. Both groups of players were open to coaching and we had productive training sessions. That evening the kids played indoor matches with one of the highlights being the U-18 Girls taking on the U-15 Boys. The girls split into two teams and won two matches, lost three and tied one.

Monday was a half-day and I trained the U-18 Girls group again. We worked on finishing off of crosses, which provided me a chance to work with the field players and goalkeepers together. Despite the turn in weather to cold and a bit wet, we had fun and the kids left the camp on a high note.

Most of the kids involved in US Youth Soccer ODP Europe are from military families. Some have parents who are federal government employees working in Europe and others have parents working for international corporations and they are in Europe for a time. All of these kids stay connected to soccer in the United States through US Youth Soccer ODP. The select teams from Europe attend the regional trails in US Youth Soccer Region I. Over the years several of them have made the regional pool or team, and a few have made a national pool. With Americans living across the globe, only US Youth Soccer keeps them connected to the American game back home.

From my blog from two weeks ago here are two links to photos and more from the coaching course with American coaches and German players.

http://www.fc-astoria-walldorf.de/index.php?content=6&artikel=1679
 

Leaders Summit

Sam Snow

Last Tuesday, I made the trip from Heidelberg to Frankfurt by train and then from Frankfurt to London by plane. I stayed in a hotel in Barkston Gardens that was rated a three star, but I'm thinking it was closer to one and a half, especially as I listened to the trains go by every minute, all night long. I had gone to London to attend the Leaders in Football conference and the Leaders in Performance conference. Both conferences were held at the Chelsea Football Club. As it turned out, Jeff Tipping, Director of Coaching for the NSCAA, was staying in the same hotel so we walked the mile and half from the hotel to Stamford Bridge each day for the conferences.

The Leaders in Football conference began last Wednesday. The conference included exhibitors, a Brand Leaders Summit and the Football Leaders Summit. Robin Russell, the president of Sports Path and a member of the technical committee for EUFA, hosted me as well as Jeff Tipping, Steve Hoffman, Paul Halford and Mike Singleton at the conferences. Steve Hoffman is the Technical Director for California South, Paul Halford is the Technical Director for Pennsylvania West, and Mike Singleton is the Technical Director for Massachusetts Youth Soccer. The six of us listened to presentations by Sir Dave Richards, Jack Warner, Andy Roxburgh, Lord Triesman, Danny Jordan, Andy Anson, Jeremy Darroch, Lord Mawhinney, Don Garber, Harold Mayne-Nicholls, Richard Bevan, Roy Hodgson, Mick McCarthy, Howard Wilkinson, Sven Goran Eriksson, H.E. Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Hassan Al Thawadi, Romy Gai, Tim Leiweke and the president of U.S. Soccer Sunil Gulati.

The latest version of the conference program is available from www.leadersinfootball.com. You can download the official event guide for the International Business Summit for Leaders in Football here. The official event guide for the Leaders in Performance summit can be downloaded here. Please click here for the latest version of the Leaders in Football delegate list.

The two conferences provided wonderful networking opportunities and good information along with clear insights on the business of football. Coaches Halford, Hoffman, Singleton and I will produce a report on the conferences and I will share that with you in the near future.

I finished up the conferences in London last Thursday and flew back to Germany on Friday. I'll have all of the details on that US Youth Soccer ODP Europe fall camp for you next week.