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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.

 

Silos

Sam Snow

I've been travelling consistently since the first of 2009 to a variety of soccer events. I've been to Orlando, Florida; Antalya, Turkey; St. Louis, Missouri; Greensboro, North Carolina; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Anchorage, Alaska; Pomona, California; Los Angles, California; Warwick, Rhode Island and now I'm on my way to San Jose, California, for the 2009 US Youth Soccer adidas Workshop. 
One of the things I have noticed in these travels is the shared passion for soccer of the many people I meet. They all are committed to the game, but not just the game, instead the people in it. While everyone in soccer across the world has their differences with one another the majority truly care about the people in the game.
 
I have noticed too that many folks are sure that somehow they and their situation are different when in fact they are all the same. Regularly, I hear soccer folks say to me things such as - Well coach, you have to understand that around here our parents are really competitive and they just don't like the idea of not keeping score for their six-year-old. It is an eye-opener for them to hear that everyone in youth soccer in the USA says the same thing. When I tell them that some get it and others are still convinced they are somehow different. The only difference in American youth soccer circumstances is the size of the state and occasionally the accent. Otherwise we are all in the same youth soccer boat with similar successes and challenges.
 
We must break down the silos that we have built up around us and build one huge team that is soccer in America. It doesn't matter what your role is in the game you are part of the team. Every team member has something to contribute and every team member should be respected for their contribution. All aspects of the game are interlocked like the Olympic rings. You may be in one of the rings furthest from the opposite end, but you are still interlocked. Soccer in our nation still has many hurdles to overcome and we must not be hurdles to one another or create our own hurdles. So let's begin in 2009 to tear down the silos and build our team.
 

Ball Progression

Sam Snow

In teaching ball skills, there's a certain progression to follow. I don't mean in this instance dribbling before tackling or catching before diving, but instead the progression of interacting with the ball. When you read about the progression further on here you'll think wow that's really simple, but it's interesting how few coaches know or follow this straightforward plan for teaching players how to become comfortable with the ball.
 
The general rule is to start at the feet and work your way up the body in collecting or propelling the ball; ending not at the head but above the head. Collecting could be the different receiving techniques for field players or catching techniques for goalkeepers. Propelling could be dribbling for field players or the different passing or shooting techniques. Propelling is also the various distribution techniques for goalkeepers. So start off down low and as players gain confidence and timing in dealing with the ball then work your way up the body.
 
The progression from the feet to the head and then above the body should first focus on a vertical plane with the body – straight up and down and in line with the body. But you can fairly early on add lateral movement along the horizontal plane. So now a player is moving from side to side to collect or propel the ball.
 
There too is a progression for the ball itself; first play with a rolling ball, then a bouncing ball and finally an aerial or flighted ball. This is in concert with the progression of feet to head and then above the head. But it goes further in that the rolling ball easiest to deal with is the one rolling away from you as a young player will run to match the pace of the ball and then play with it. Next is the ball rolling towards the player and finally the ball moving across the body. The same progression holds for true for a bouncing ball and then the ball in the air.
 
So let's take receiving for a U-10 player as an example. The progression should be receiving with the feet and then work our way up the body to the head. The secondary progression is how to control a rolling ball (away from the body, toward the body and then across the body), next is a bouncing ball (below knee height, below waist height, below chest height and then head height) and finally is dealing with the ball in the air; again moving up body segments/heights as the player gains confidence. This progression takes into account the gradually developing visual acuity of children.
 
For more details on the skills of soccer, please read the Skills School Technical Manual from US Youth Soccer.
 

Coach Wooden: How an attitude differs from a list of rules

Sam Snow

It is wise for us as coaches to look now and then at the ideas and methods of coaches in past eras and for that matter different sports too. I recently read some good advice from an American coaching legend, John Wooden. I think you'll find his list here useful in your team coaching. With just a little tweaking this list can be adapted to your soccer players.

Coach Wooden: How an attitude differs from a list of rules

1.       Go to class
2.       Compete (no excuses)
3.       Be on time (no excuses)
4.       Listen
5.       Play through the referees' calls
6.       No more "no look" passes
7.       Huddle up as a team on free throws
8.       Run to the bench when substituted for
9.       Run to timeouts
10.     Run to the locker room
11.     No cussing on court
12.     No hanging head
13.     Never quit on a play, never!
14.     No poor body language
15.     No pointing fingers (unless for good pass)
16.     Root for your teammates while on bench
17.     Study during study hall
18.     Attitude of gratitude – say "thank you"
19.     Look people in the eye when communicating
20.     Be a role model off the floor
21.     Be humble in victory – gracious in defeat
22.     Share the juices and the basketball
23.     Keep the locker room clean
-Coach Wooden
 

International Congress

Sam Snow

Recently I attended the 21st International Coach Development Congress held on January 12-13, 2009 in Antalya, Turkey. The congress was hosted by the Turkish Football Federation at the WOW Kremlin Palace Hotel with the participation of international and local coaches of every level and anyone interested in the content of the program. The congress aimed on the improvement and vision of coaches to bring a modern expansion of the Turkish game with its rich content regarding different topics on football.

The Technical Analyses of UEFA 2008 European Championship panel with the participation of Fatih Terim who lead the Turkish National Team into the semifinals as the head coach, Luis Aragones who is the head coach of European Championship winner Spanish National Team and Fabio Capello, head coach of the English National Team, was followed with high interest.

Topics such as Performance Training Approaches, Ahletes' Psychology and U-15 Youth Development Programs were discussed during the Congress. Each presentation was one hour in length, in a large ballroom as all 1,200 people in attendance sat in on each presentation.

The attendants of this Congress could also attend the Football and Science Congress free of attendance fee, which was held in Antalya WOW Topkapa Hotel between January 9-11, 2009. For further information: http://www.futbolbilim.org.

Main Topics
  • Technical Analyses of UEFA 2008 European Championship
  • Performance Training Approaches
  • Development Programs and Physical Improvement for Youth U-15 and Younger

Invited Speakers
  • Mahmut Özgener, President of Turkish Football Federation
  • Ahmet Guvener, Director of TFF Football Development Centre
  • Fatih Terim, Head Coach Turkish National Football Teams
  •  Fabio Capello, Head Coach of English National Football Team
  •  Luis Aragones, Head Coach of Fenerbahçe Football Team
  •  Bill Beswick, Sports Psychologist – England
  •  Shad Forsythe, Soccer Development Performance Director (Athletes Performance, USA)
  •  Sam Snow, Director of Technical Department, US Youth Soccer
  •  Associate Professor Bülent Bayraktar, Director of Performance Department (Turkish National Teams)
  •  Roland Koch, Assistant Coach (F.C. Köln, Germany)
My presentation was on the American approach to youth player development from U-6 to U-15. It was titled Player Development Pathways.

Terim, Capello and Aragones gave their analysis of Euro 2008. The presentation by Terim was certainly the best and the most in-depth. He later gave a good presentation on the plans for youth development in Turkey.

Overall, it was a great experience and more international contacts were established for US Youth Soccer for the exchange of ideas and information on youth player development and coaching education.