Check out the weekly blogs

Online education from US Youth Soccer

Clubhouse

US Youth Soccer Intagram!

Check out the national tournament database

Sports Authority

Play Positive Banner

Marketplace

Wilson Trophy Company

Happy Family

Nesquik

Capri Sun

Active Family Project

Active Family Project

Olive Garden

Print Page Share

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.

 

Rare Meeting

Sam Snow

It is rare to have such a meeting; well actually it likely never occurs anywhere other than the United States, as occurred last Wednesday. The annual State Technical Directors meeting took place at the 2009 US Youth Soccer adidas Workshop. But this year's meeting was special with the addition of the U.S. Men's National Team head coach, Bob Bradley joining us. Coach Bradley spoke to the State Association Technical Directors on the current status of the U.S. Men's National Team and how the team is performing. A great dialog took place among the coaches as we spoke about player development and international competition. It was clear that many of the challenges club coaches face in developing youth players and improving team performance are also faced by the National Team staff. So no matter what the level of play is there's always room for improvement.
 
We finished off the morning session with reports from the US Youth Soccer Technical Department and the Coaching Committee. The best was yet to come in the afternoon session.
 
Joining the coaches in the afternoon were several state association presidents and executive directors, as well as luminaries from US Youth Soccer and U.S. Soccer. The afternoon meeting began with Larry Monaco, president of US Youth Soccer; Sunil Gulati, president of U.S. Soccer; Jim Cosgrove, executive director of US Youth Soccer; Dan Flynn, general secretary of U.S. Soccer, Bob Bradley, head coach of the US Men's National Team; Kevin Payne, chair of the U.S. Soccer Technical Committee; John Hackworth, Development Academy Technical Director for U.S. Soccer; Jay Berhalter, assistant general secretary of U.S. Soccer; Hugo Perez from the U.S. Soccer staff; Kati Hope, manager of the U. S. Soccer Coaching Department; four of the U.S. Soccer National Staff Coaches; Jeff Tipping, Director of Coaching for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America; Robin Russell, from the UEFA Technical Staff and three US Youth Soccer ODP regional head coaches. It is easily said that almost every real mover and shaker in American soccer was in that room last Wednesday afternoon. So what did we talk about? The national implementation of the recommendations and guidelines in the book Best Practices for Coaching Soccer in the United States. The document is currently available for download or hard copy purchase at http://www.ussoccer.com/articles/viewArticle.jsp_280734.html. Both US Youth Soccer and U. S. Soccer are promoting and urging soccer clubs all across our nation to put into action the Best Practices philosophy! Ultimately, the document helps to organize a body of work originally created by many current and former U.S. Soccer coaches as position statements regarding club soccer or as curriculum for coaching education courses. It serves as a compilation of what U.S. Soccer considers to be an appropriate and responsible approach to developing soccer players.
 
At the core of "Best Practices for Coaching Soccer in the United States" is the belief that there is not just "one way" to teach soccer to players, nor is there just one style of coaching. These player development guidelines highlight that there is a broad spectrum of styles and methods for how everyone experiences the game. Some of these factors come from a player's background, while some of them are a product of a player's own personality.
 
At the youth and junior levels, however, there is a set of fundamental principles that should be considered by anyone coaching soccer. The starting point of these principles is that young soccer players require a certain amount of uninterrupted play, which allows them to experience soccer first hand. These young players should be allowed the opportunity to experiment, and with that, succeed and fail. A coach's long-term goal is to prepare a player to successfully recognize and solve the challenges of a game on his or her own. It is vital that the coach approaches soccer with this in mind.
 
It was clear by the end of our meeting last Wednesday that the coaches and administrators in attendance agreed with the goals and objectives within the Best Practices document. We hope you will join us and do your part to fully implement these principles!
 

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