Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Grassroots Soccer Festival at Gordon School in Welland

What a great day!
  • Gordon School, Welland, Ontario.
  • 146 players from Grades 3,4 and 5.
  • 48 Group and Station leaders from Grade 8 (and some grade 7s)
  • Equipment from 4 supporting organizations
  • Unexpected hot weather
  • Lots of soccer
Last September, with the help of my good friend and teacher, Rino Berardi, we organized a grassroots festival at St Christopher School in St Catharines.  You can read my reflections from that festival.

Today, I was joined by my good friends Carl Horton and Ramin Mohammadi, Grassroots Advisors from the Ontario Soccer Association.  We all attended the FIFA Grassroots Workshop together last year.  They had not been to a festival of this structure and I was only too happy to have a "3 heads are better than one" scenario.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Intertwining summer and winter sports. When do you stop?

I couldn't resist :)
I spent May 17 watching my nephews' Peewee hockey tryouts.  Seriously.  They are also both travel level soccer players.

If you're reading from outside North America, it's that time of year in Canada.  Soccer season is starting and ice hockey tryouts started for next fall.

This fall, some soccer tryouts will happen while hockey is getting rolling.  In the spring more soccer tryouts will happen while hockey is in playoff mode.

In today's soccer environment, where heavy recruiting is rampant, some coaches feel they need to jump the gun and get started early or risk losing players.  That is an understandable attitude considering the environment

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Running with the ball at pace ... show your players they can do it

Be honest, coach.

How many of your players can run with the ball, for 30-40yds, at pace and keep the ball under control?  I ask this when I deliver coaching courses, and it's an uncomfortable question for some, but it does make them think.

We've all seen it.  A young player has open space in front of them, takes off and is chasing the ball in a different direction with every touch.  Or touches too far into the keepers waiting arms or wide and over the goal line.  Or too close and they overrun the ball.

As a fan, it's very exciting to see a player make a penetrating run and awesome when that player has the pace and control to brush off anybody looking to spoil the moment.

For young players we have a few problems.  The first being their ability to execute.  The second is there are many teams where all the child hears when they get the ball is "PASS!!!!!!!!!!"

Get your kids in on the action.   1v0 is just as valid a session or drill topic at 1v1, 2v2, 3v2 etc.

Keep it simple.  Give your player a ball, tell them to run with it and see if they can do it.  If they don't try/do it at training at full pace, they'll struggle to do it properly in a game.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Soccer can be played anywhere, anytime.

We have a HUGE soccer problem in Canada.  Most kids only play soccer when they are with their team and cannot picture a "soccer game" in another situation.  It's your job as a coach to help break that line of thinking.

This is part of both the Physical Literacy conversation and the Soccer Culture conversation.  For the growth of our game, development of the culture and contribution to the physical literacy solution, we have to get those kids playing soccer when they are away from our programs.

Over the last few years I've been hearing coaches worry more and more about collecting money for rental costs and the difficulty in finding decent turf times during the winter months.  We have some coaches at our clubs who do not train if they can't get turf during the winter or a traditional field during the summer.

So, in order to help the kids picture soccer in other settings, we need to get you to do the same. Remember, 2 players and a ball and the game is on!

Coaches need to remember that every training session does not always need to be on turf/grass or on

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Young Soccer Players. Let them fail, and fail at full speed.

A kid tries something in a game.  It doesn't work.  He gets yelled at or hears the moans from either touch line ...  and never tries it again.

Thank goodness nobody ever yelled at Thomas Edison.

With the advent of LTPD in Ontario and the decreased importance on standings, I hope that coaches feel less pressure to win and feel more comfortable allowing mistakes to happen and learning to take centre stage.
  • Give your players a challenge or task.
  • Let them try it.
  • Let them try it at game pace, with opposition.
  • If they fail, let them try it again.
  • If they fail again, let them try it again.
  • If there are techniques and movements that can be improved to increase chances of success, develop that technique, then try the sequence again.
  • The players will know they're approaching success.