Friday, November 22, 2013

Turns - your definite sign that a soccer player is "getting it"

I like work on turns with young players, a lot.

Last night, at our U8-U12 weekly session, we saw some shy young players execute turns during games for the first time.  I LOVE IT!

The futsal session we had on the weekend also brought out the necessity of turning in some young players.

The technical part of teaching turns can lead to a lot of exercises at training that keep kids moving with the ball at their foot.  It also works on Agility , Balance and Control (the ABC of physical literacy).

But my main reason for working on turns and demonstrating when they can be used in games is that it is one of those indicators that a player's development is moving in the right direction.

If a player uses a turn to shake off a defender and create space, their 1v1 abilities just jumped a level.

If a player turns back when they determine they can no longer go forward they demonstrate that they

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Futsal - the joy of just letting them play

This past weekend, we hosted some teams in our gym at Niagara College to play some futsal.
I've always liked futsal and I've always enjoyed training in gyms during the winter months.  I loved the whole idea of a confined area and just letting the kids play and figure it out.  Given the chance, they show you some pretty good stuff.  And being in a confined area, there is no where to hide; if you're on, you're involved.

Playing in a confined area on a hard court naturally brings out athletic, tactical and technical qualities that are required to excel and succeed.  Using a regular soccer ball instead of a futsal ball turns the game into a pinball machine.  The

Monday, November 18, 2013

Developing soccer players in Canada is not cheap.

So Canadians want Canada to qualify for the FIFA World Cup.  Awesome.  Let's do it.  OK now, let's talk about the cost. 

Hey, where did everybody go?

Soccer is a game that can be played by the masses, regardless of gender, physical ability, income or social position, anywhere, anytime, 1v1 up to 30v30, with a ball, can, stuffed bag or whatever else will move if you kick it.  But the environment has to change when it comes time to move a player to the next level.

There has been a lot of talk in Ontario the last 12 months about our new Ontario Player Development League (OPDL) and the proposed costs associated with it.  And this is just an extension of the talk that has always existed about the price tag for private soccer academies.  OPDL is a standards based program introduced in Ontario.  The first season is 2014 and will feature only U13 boys and girls programs at 18 host clubs.  Eventually, this will eliminate our current provincial team system.

There is a painful reality of a more consistent, high level, professional system and that is the reality of
money.  Physical space, equipment, support staff and professional coaching all cost money. 

Around the world, the development system is delivered by professional teams who have made their youth system an

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Does club/institutional support matter in soccer?

I came to a realization this week in regards to my soccer experience.  I'm spoiled.

Is having a good organization to work with important in sport?  At the end of the day, you have to be a good coach to deliver the final product, but back-end support is very helpful, and in some cases necessary, to setting up a proper environment that fosters a quality program.  This ties into a previous article I wrote regarding your stakeholders.

Among my many soccer related activities, I have three busier roles right now.  I coach Niagara College's Men's and Women's Varsity soccer program, I deliver development programs for the

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Grassroots Soccer. Coaching less ... not easy, but rewarding

I wrote an article in September about being "not so loud" when coaching.

Last night we started our Fall U8-U12 Wizard Academy at the Welland Soccer Club.  We run two programs in the fall and winter for players U6-U7 and U8-U12.  Rob Lalama, our Technical Director, has done a fabulous job engaging the grassroots through various initiatives.

Our session had 56 players, 5 coaches and 5 stations.  I will not get into the stations and organization as I've done that before.

I enjoy doing stations for a number of reasons.   The most important being that it keeps the kids in smaller group and busier.  LOTS OF SOCCER.  But my other side alternative is coaching development.

Even if a coach is experienced, I give them the plan for the station and coaching points.  And my initial message to them is to give the kids their problem to solve and let them solve it.  Fight the urge to coach too much.

I know how difficult it is to not over-coach.  As a person who has faith in humanity, I have to believe