Saturday, December 17, 2011

Did I have the right attitude?

We had preliminary tryouts in October and will continue in January.  This week a parent of a prospective player told me they had an offer for a spot on another team and asked what they should  do.

I told him I would not say but did remind him who the son was up against and basically told him to take the job or take his chances.  If he had a 0.00% chance of making one of our two teams I would have told him so.

I've had parents present that situation to me in the past.  I never say they are going to make our team, but I have told some parents it might be wise to take the other spot.  That's the extent of my possible answers.  If they are stuck in the middle I remind them that I am not going to make a decision for them.

It's a problem when every team is running tryouts over different time frames.  I could easily say this type of parental dilemma is not my problem, but that's not a statement I am comfortable with.  But I have to protect our process and be fair to the group in tryouts.

I hope parents have a "plan b" in their pocket when they are attending multiple tryouts.

This goes hand-in-hand with my lack of comfort in recruiting when it comes to youth soccer.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Book: A Beautiful Game

For my birthday, my sister Maria gave me a book called A Beautiful Game: The World's Greatest Players and How Soccer Changed Their Lives .

The book is full of fantastic photos and great stories.  In fact, I enjoyed it so much we gave this to our boys team as their year end gift this past fall.  I think some of the dads liked it more than the boys.

Thursday Clinic 7 of 8

Last night we delivered session 7 of 8 of our clinic.  I have to say it was the most productive and successful session we've had so far.

The main theme was to look for the penetrating pass. 
  • We started with a basic keep-away warm-up.  You can never play too much keep-away. 
  • We followed it with a flowing 2-touch passing drill that demanded quicker passes, good first touch and lots of movement to be successful. 
  • That was followed by a 4v2 game that required quick-early-accurate passes to score. 
  • We then played a larger 10v10 version of the game where the field is broken into 4 zones, field width.  The players are organized 5 per zone with the opposition between you and your teammates.  So 5 yellow/5 red/5 yellow/5 red.  You score by moving the ball into the other zone where your teammates are. 
We ended with a 5v5+GK game (with offside) with the focus being on the pentrating pass.  If a forward pass is not available then turn and keep possession using support.

The question of the night was "Can I go forward?"  Yes?  Go (Dribble/Pass/Shoot)  No?  Turn and use support.

Coaching points were:
  • First look/touch forward
  • Putting the ball between and behind defenders
  • Quick-early-accurate passes
  • Support players ahead of the ball looking to get between and behind defenders
  • Support players behind the ball have enough room to make a forward first touch
During the 10v10 version (4 zones) of the game a player on the opposing team could come into your zone to pressure the ball.  This is where we saw the players were getting the idea of working to keep possession if they had no forward play.

Next week we wrap up. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Philosophy for summer 2012

Re: 1999 boys team.

We started the process of developing a philosophy for our program for 2012.  This will involve Paul my assistant and the coaches from our second team.  I look forward to publishing it when it's finalized.

I think it's important to lay the season plan down before tryouts and give parents as much information as possible.  The more they know in advance the less they can complain about afterwards.

Making Ethical Decisions course

I completed the course Making Ethical Decisions on Monday night.  It was delivered through the NCCP.  Monday's course was online and that was a different experience in itself.  There were 10 coaches as students from different sports.  We had soccer, hockey, volleyball, snowboarding, gymnastics, fencing and 2 teachers who coach various sports.

I think it's great that teachers want to improve as coaches over and above simply supervising the activity.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I find recruiting disheartening.

A very nice man who coaches at our club has lost a bunch of his players to a “higher level” team in the next town.  It’s a shame because this coach is a quality individual who runs an organized program.  Our players need role models and he is a good one.  He found new players to take their spots and is moving forward but it’s still discouraging that the girls left en masse.  They did not leave for a dislike of their coach, they just think they’re moving up.

If there is one thing I am looking forward to with the implementation of LTPD, it’s the possible/inevitable decrease in recruiting at young ages.  Recruiting starts at U8 and gets worse from there.

Decent players are being lured away from good coaches by recruiters who are promising their team will “clean up” with trophies.  There are stories in Niagara of teams paying for a player’s registration and in Toronto of gas money being paid.  CRAZY.

I don’t recruit and I don’t stop people from recruiting my players.  Hey, if you think the grass is greener somewhere else, here’s your card.  If you come back the following year, no hard feelings, but you will have to try out.  Either way, I enjoyed coaching you and I wish you all the best. 

The player's happiness is paramount so if I know a player is unhappy, I would help their parents find a situation to satisfy the player's needs.  But that's a different topic.

"Recruiting starts at U8 and gets worse from there."

My goal is to have the program speak for itself.

Parents who are being lured need to ask themselves some questions:

1.     If the coach already has a team and promises you a spot, who is getting bumped?  Will you get bumped when that same coach finds a player better than your child?

2.     If your child plays for a recruiter, do you not wonder what that recruiter promised the new kid?  How does the treatment of the new player compare to the treatment of the players already on that team?

3.     If you left your team for greener grass and you are not happy, how do you explain to the next prospective coach that you are looking for your third team in three years?

4.     Are you prepared for your original coach/club to not take your child back?  Maybe the spot was filled by another player who is too nice or too good to bump.

5.     If you were unhappy with your last coach, how do the parents of your new team know you will not be unhappy on their team?

6.     Have you ever watched your prospective coach during a game or run a practice? 

In 23 years I’ve lost one player to active recruiting.  And that was OK.  I’ve only engaged in recruiting a player once, who was a new player on our B team about 6 years back.  He was an out-of-town player, had an attendance issue with us and didn’t play much.  But if I had played him to appease/endear him it would have caused the rest of my team to implode.  He was treated like everybody else and ended up leaving the following year.  My first and hopefully last experience with that kind of recruiting.  I will say he was a great kid and I do regret not having a full season to work with him.

My middle son switched teams 5 years ago and played there for three years.  We were not recruited.  He asked for a change of scenery, he knew a lot of the boys on the team in St Catharines and played there.  It was a good experience with little pressure.

I don’t judge recruiters or parents looking for a better situation.  I think if more investigative type questions were asked by both sides, far less recruiting would happen, or at least far less uninformed recruiting.

I know people who are gifted coaches and great people and switching to them would be justifiable if the situation was right.  It's the recruiters who offer very little other than a team of recruited players that irk me. 

A last thought ... my friends who are gifted coaches and great people don't really need to recruit as the players migrate to them naturally.