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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.

 

Teach Heading

Sam Snow

Recently U. S. Soccer has recommended to its youth members to eliminate the skill of heading the ball in training sessions and matches for children 10-years-old and younger. Children 11 to 13-years old may head the ball in a match, but are limited in how often the skill can be practiced in a training session. US Youth Soccer will follow that recommendation. The recommendation from U. S. Soccer is a part of a larger player safety campaign, called Recognize to Recover (http://www.ussoccer.com/about/recognize-to-recover). I urge all coaches to review all of the information available there.

Previously published by the U.S. Soccer Sports Medicine Committee:

 “At present, there are many gaps and inconsistencies within the medical literature regarding the safety of heading in soccer. The impact of purposeful heading is linear which is less severe than rotational impact. …Head injuries during soccer are more likely to be from accidental contacts such as head-ground, head-opponent, or the rare head-goalpost. …. At this point in time, it is premature to conclude that purposeful heading of a modern soccer ball is a dangerous activity.”

Heading 1Fortunately concussions in soccer are not as common as say, sprained ankles or even the more severe broken bone. Yet they do happen – usually from head-to-head contact or head-to-ground contact. Head-to-head contact could occur sometimes due to poor technique by one or both players challenging for the ball in the air.

So most head injuries in soccer are from the head impacting something other than the ball. The human skull is surprisingly tough. Head injuries from the ball occur when the technique is done incorrectly.

Here lies the real problem. Many coaches teach heading incorrectly or not at all. So many players head the ball wrong and this could cause injuries or inaccurate or poorly paced headers.

Early experiences can be painful if a careful progression in building up confidence is not applied. Let’s talk about how to teach this ball skill to young players who are 11-years-old or older. When the skill is done correctly then the chance of injury is reduced. Simply telling a youngster to head the ball or just tossing one at him or her probably does more harm than good. When the skill is executed incorrectly then there is a chance for injury. Coaches want players to perform this skill well as it is a wonderful additional means of shooting at goal and passing to a teammate or into space. It is a skill that can be used when defending or attacking in a match. A coach seeing the skill done as you see in this photo (Fig. 1) is a sign that a lot of teaching is needed. The mistakes here include eyes closed (so the player has no real idea of the flight of the ball), contact will be with the wrong part of the head, arms are down by the side of the body and the player is allowing the ball to hit him. One major rule in heading is do not let the head be a rebounding surface for the ball. The head should hit the ball, not the other way around.

Heading 2Coaches, introduce this skill with simple balancing of the ball on the correct part of the forehead as seen in this photo (Fig. 2). Then progress to juggling the ball on your own. Use underinflated soccer balls, volleyballs, Nerf balls, tennis balls or balloons to get players started on learning the skill.

Next, move to a self-serve practice where the player tosses the ball up for him or herself to head to a partner. In this manner the player controls the timing of the serve as well as the height and speed of the ball. The partner will pick up the ball and do the same action as the two players practice heading the ball back and forth to one another. The progression continues until players are becoming confident enough to head the ball in a match as seen in figure three.

Although, at its best, soccer is played mainly on the ground, the technique of heading is vital. Players who can make exact passes with the head, who can save dangerous situations at their own goal by heading the ball away and who can make use of chances at the opponent’s goal by means of lightning quick headers are indispensable to their team. There is no better feeling in soccer than beating an opponent in the air to plant a header in the net. Once you have done it, there is a hunger to do it again. It is a spectacular way of scoring goals, or come to that of stopping them. Defensively, it is a great thrill in consistently clearing the ball in the air, beating opposing forwards, and establishing control. The young player who fails to add heading to his or her armory of skills will never go far in the game.

For a full article on the technique of heading go here. Plus view this video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7u5m_48dUY.

Heading 3

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United States Olympic Committee ADM

Sam Snow

A couple of weeks ago I attended a meeting held by the coaching education department of the United States Olympic Committee. The meeting was held at the wonderful facilities at the University of Delaware.  Dr. Matt Robinson hosted the two day meetings.  Dr. Robinson teaches at the university as a Professor of Sport Management, Director of the Sport Management Program, Director of Sport Research, Center for Applied Business and Economic Research (CABER), Chairman of the Delaware Sport Commission, Director for the International Coaching Enrichment Certificate Program (ICECP) at the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics. 

These national organizations took part in the meetings.

National Governing Body (NGB)

Lakeshore Foundation

NSCA

University of Delaware

US Lacrosse

US Tennis Association

US Youth Soccer

U.S. Figure Skating

U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing

U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association

U.S. Soccer Federation

USA Curling

USA Diving

USA Fencing

USA Football

USA Hockey

USA Swimming

USA Triathlon

USA Wrestling

USA Ultimate

USA Volleyball

USOC

 

The following topics were covered during the meetings.

ADM/LTAD IN NGBS, PRESENTATIONS FROM NGBS

Various NGBs

NGBs will present short 15-20 minute presentations that outline what they have been doing around LTAD/ADM and look to gain feedback and spark questions from peers.

GOAL: Share what many are doing and gather information for all to use.

ADM IN US CLUB SPORTS

Matt Robinson, Professor – Sport Management

A presentation on the research and case study findings when club sports programs around the US were interviewed and analyzed for how they are utilizing LTAD/ADM concepts to grow their brand, retention and profits in the club arena of sports.

GOAL: To explore the business benefits of LTAD/ADM and see how the public sector is using the science to profit.

SPORT CLUBS AND ADM/ PANEL DISCUSSION

Matt Robinson, Moderator

3 sport club program administrators/coaches will join for a panel discussion around how they are using LTAD/ADM in real life and being successful. Will be an opportunity to talk to programs in the field that are the target of our sports.

Goal: Q and A with organizations and gather feedback around how they are or would use, profiting, and growing their sport with the concepts. Explore what REAL APPLICATION of the concepts really looks like in the US.

Sport Sampling, Multisport and Talent Development

Scott Riewald, USOC High Performance Director

Group discussion lead by Scott Riewald of the USOC High Performance staff. Taking a look at where sport sampling, multisport play and talent development really stand in our sports organizations. Discussion will revolve around how do these ideas and concepts get presented to the public and used in a manner that benefits the athlete’s future, the NGB and our own sport promotions.

BREAK OUT GROUPS

ALL

Breakout topics will be circulated and groups will be formed. Groups will then break out to work together around topic and discussion areas that will then get reported back to the full group at the end of the session. Paralympic NGB representatives will work together in a breakout group as well around their own specific topics.

NGB GROUP SESSION: NEXT STEPS FOR SUCCESS

Chris Snyder, USOC Director of Coaching

Group will brainstorm and work through conversation topics form the workshop, to identify key next steps, resources and universal assets that NGBs and the USOC would like to see produced, in order to advance the ADM/LTAD concepts in the US.

Goal: Come away with action items, resource needs and any additional requests for success in the future.

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Women In Soccer

Sam Snow

A few weeks ago I attended a symposium for Women In Soccer - http://women-in-soccer.com/.  Almost 110 people attended the symposium. The speakers included Carrie Taylor, Diane Scavuzzo, Lynn Berling-Manuel, Lesle Gallimore, Shannon McMillian, Louise Waxler, Rosalie Kramm, Sally Grigoriev, Chris Moore, Jeff Plush, Jerry Zanelli, Duncan Riddle, Steve Hoffman, Yvette Brown and Angela Hucles.

The day was filled with a great exchange of information from the speakers and the audience members. The fundamental goal of the symposium was to get more women, especially the former players, more deeply into coaching, officiating and top tier sport management. We also need more women in soccer media, marketing, governance, sports sciences, etc.

The push toward a tipping point gained real momentum at this symposium. To keep that momentum going there will be a meeting to devise action plans to achieve the goal of more women in soccer leadership at the 2016 US Youth Soccer Workshop in Baltimore next month. The session will be led by Carrie Taylor and Ruth Nicholson. That session will be in convention center room 321 beginning at 2:15 PM on Saturday, January 16th. If you support this effort tin any way then please do attend that session.

In the meantime you can email Carrie Taylor (carrie.taylor@lagunaunited.org) your goals or reach out through Twitter @Carrie1v1 #WIS2015GOALS. PLEASE also include the #WomenInSoccer hashtag. You may also read and add to the document via Google.

Carrie Taylor has shared a link to the following document:

WIS 2015 Goals

Goals list. Please invite people to add their goals as you see fit:

Open in Docs

 

We hope that you’ll actively participate with us at the January 16th meeting.

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A Peek Inside a National Youth Coaching Course

Sam Snow

A Peek Inside A National Youth Coaching Course

The National Youth Coaching Course is designed to provide club directors of coaching, youth coaches, physical education teachers, and soccer administrators with the knowledge to successfully structure soccer environments for children aged 4-12.

 
The role of the coach as a facilitator is explored; the physical, mental and emotional needs and capabilities of players from 4-12 are explored; the lessons from developmental psychology are explored; and the art of teaching is explored. Candidates are videotaped for analysis during live training sessions. Take a look below into what goes on at a National Youth Coaching Course and then see if one is taking place in your area.
 
NYCC1

Figure 1: Coaches and instructors come together each day for presentations on the characteristics of children and the methods to effectively coach them

 
NYCC2

Figure 2: A lecture opens each day of the course to provide information on effective coaching for young soccer players

 
NYCC3

Figure 3: Candidates have study groups to discuss the course material, work on a group project and prepare session plans for each day

 
NYCC4

Figure 4: Candidates get to practice coach with children throughout the course

 
NYCC5

Figure 5: Each practice coaching session is videotaped for review by the study group

 
NYCC6

Figure 6: The videos are critiqued by the study group and an instructor

 
NYCC7

Figure 7: Instructors then consult one another on how to help each candidate improve their coaching

 
NYCC8

Figure 8: Direct guidance by the instructors is given to guide each course candidate toward successful coaching

 
NYCC9

Figure 9: Each day the course candidates are given essential information and guidance by the lead instructor

 
 
 
 
 

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