Sunday, May 13, 2012

U13 - Something I sent to our parents

I sent this to our parents today.  Not only do I want parents being more involved this year, I also want to share what we are doing with the boys so they understand what they might hear during matches.  They are a good bunch and they've been supportive since I took over the team at U11.

Hi there parents,

I told you I would keep you up-to-date this year in our dealings with the boys.  Thanks for your time in reading this and helping with our message.

The boys continue to delight with their personalities, sharing their pre-teen thoughts with the group and experimenting with their new vocabulary.  I really do love this age.

I see us moving toward a final vision of our on field product.  Coach Paul and I see good ideas happening all the time, as well as things that need to be fixed.  Coach Paul had a good idea for me, but my head wouldn’t fit in the toilet.

Shin pads are required at training. If you don’t have shin pads, you risk injury.  If you worry about getting hurt and you have no shin pads, you will not tackle hard and challenge at training, meaning you are also cheating your opponent of his game-like situation.

We’ve been doing more positional work this year and giving the kids more tactical information, in various forms to suit whatever learning style works for them.  That series of sheets was sent out last week.  I have one almost ready that describes every position and their main functions when we have the ball and when we are defending.  Some will read it, other will not.  Some parents may never show it to them.  For all I know you may not even have read this far in this message.  We can’t control that, we can only prepare and deliver.

I just wanted to share with you what we say to the boys on a regular basis. 

  1. If you head the ball, you must attack the ball, not let the ball hit your head.  Eyes open, body strong, through the ball.  Failing to apply the proper technique is not only poor soccer, it’s dangerous and can cause shoulder, neck and head injuries.  Bending down and heading a ball with the top of your head is a sure-fire trip to the chiropractor.  The incoming balls being headed are hit harder and are now size 5 instead of 4.  The problem is this .. Either head the ball correctly, or don’t head it .  But if you want to play U13 soccer and beyond, you need to head the ball, so we work to do it correctly.  We are sincerely afraid every time a player doesn’t go into a head ball with full intentions.  
  2. When you step in for a tackle: full tackle, body strong, with force.  Not to hurt the other player, but to prevent injury to you.  Failing to tackle hard not only causes you to look silly and is poor defending, it’s very dangerous.  Tackle correctly or don’t tackle.  The only problem is if you want to play U13 soccer, you need to tackle and play to win the ball.
  3. First to the ball.  Go in to win the ball.  Strong.  Going in weak is not only poor soccer, it’s dangerous.  If you’ve played any sport you see people getting hurt by going in “second” and trying to recover.
  4. Going in strong forces you to be ready for impact (which doesn’t hurt) and requires balance, minimizing injuries.  Poor-balance Injuries can occur on impact or when moving your body into the next movement.
  5. Kick the ball or don’t kick the ball, but don’t just swing your foot in it’s general vicinity.  Striking a ball with intention and purpose forces balance and strength and prepares you for your next movement.
  6. A lot of injuries at impact are technique related and we don’t want any of our boys getting hurt.  That’s why hockey coaches work so hard in teaching how to deliver and take a body check.
  7. There is no being “tired”.  Even if you are tired :) You feel some fatigue, work through it and find your second wind.  You play or don’t play.  If you are on the field, you want to play and you don’t want to come off.  
  8. Inspire each other with your own hard work.  If you work hard, your teammate will work hard.  If you don’t, neither will your teammate.
Items 1-8 are the coaches job to fix, not a knock on any player.  We will continue find ways for players to experience game like situations at training so they are more prepared, and less fearful, for the confrontations in a game.  If a boy is scared of a certain situation, it’s our job to find ways to expose him to it and subside those anxieties.  The nice thing is if you work past any reservations you have with all situations, you are not only safer, you also become one hell of a soccer player.

The game is not dangerous, but I know it’s scary living this physical reality for the first time.  A Connor/Noah type physically competing 1v1 with a Haris/Spencer type is a reality with the U13/U14 age group.    Strength and balance are key components to durability.

Our other message is that in U13/U14 competitive sports, players who were successful before are being pressured for jobs by boys who are blooming later.  Don’t assume your spot is your spot.  There is more turnover on teams and what starts to separate players are their level of work/grit, their durability and their competitiveness in all situations.  This applies to all sports.  Coaches also like to see who the players are that push others to compete.  We want to prepare the boys for this and make sure they are mentally and physically ready to challenge at the next soccer, basketball, hockey or lacrosse tryouts.

I just wanted to share that with you.

Thanks for your support to this point.  We’ll stay in touch.

Coaches Frank and Paul

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