Friday, January 16, 2015

The importance of choosing a good assistant coach

We've all seen the moment and it makes me gasp in horror.

A coach is hosting a parent meeting and openly asks the question "Who wants to be my assistant coach?".

For me, this is my most difficult decision, sometimes more difficult than picking the team.

You are the architect and the facilitator of your program.  It's done for the players, but it has your name on it.

Your assistant has to be somebody who is ready to help, ready to suggest, but never forget that you are the one who has to answer for the program.

I've been in games and watched opposing assistants make complete fools of their head coach and team. We had opposing assistants turn their focus on us trying "get us off our game".  Seriously?  My

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Why do we have fall tryouts for U9 to U12 Soccer ?

Patience is a virtue.

Something happened in youth soccer in Niagara about 12 years ago for players U12 and below.  Fall tryouts.

The one season ended and we immediately gathered the group together for tryouts.

This topic came up again speaking to my friend from our neighbouring district. Everybody wonders why we do it, but we keep doing it.

I am not criticizing people who do fall tryouts for younger teams.  I started doing them when it

Thursday, October 23, 2014

When things go wrong, the responsibility falls on the coach

Coaching is easy when things are going well.  You wear your nice jacket, smile a lot and say pleasant things like "nice ball" and "well done".

But what happens when things aren't going well?

Let's start with my personal rule number 1a.  When things go wrong, the responsibility falls on the coach.  Hopefully my attempt to explain why is clear.  Read this quote from Luiz Felipe Scolari.

This is what I believe and it works for me.  Reflection has become a big part of my process and this mindset makes it work better.  You may disagree, but read it anyway :)

Personally, I believe everything falls on the coach when it's not 100% perfect ... a negative encounter with a parent/official/player, a session that wasn't overly productive, even poor attendance at training.  But for this article, I am talking about the game.

Our Niagara College men's soccer program had a good year and the program has been moving in the right direction for the last three years.   But our last game for the 2014 season was a bad day.

We traveled to Ottawa to play Algonquin College in the quarter finals of the OCAA playoffs.   We won't talk about the first goal against, or the seventh.  We had a bad day.  (added Oct 27 ... it is of little consolation to me that Algonquin beat Sheridan and Humber Colleges to win the provincial championship on Oct 25)

I've been on both ends of such games and it isn't easy either way.  You want to win and lose gracefully, always.  But "things going well" and "success" are not always associated with winning and losing as there are times you coach a team that doesn't have the horses to beat the opponent you're currently playing.  Regardless of who you're playing and what your chances are, there are still things that could/should be happening that sometimes aren't.

I appreciate coaching with Rino Berardi in situations like this. We've been together since 1989 and for the most part, he was my first (and still one of my best) coaching teacher.  I've moved on in terms

Friday, September 26, 2014

Coaching and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Always learning.

Some coaches think their only job and concern is the sport they coach.  They're wrong.  Soccer is the last component of the job.

Is you show up with balls and cones, deliver a session then forget about your group until the next session,  any success or enjoyment will be short lived.

I've always known that, but, for some reason, I am finding myself learning new things as our Niagara College Knights soccer season progresses.

Knowing your player has been a big message for coaches the last ten years.   We've been dealing with the usual items that would involve players at the college age.  Let's put ourselves in LTPD mode and review the "Soccer for Life" development stage and what we know about this age group in this situation:
  • Potential social issues being new to college life and heavy into a sport before school even begins
  • For some, away from home for first time
  • Living away from parents, not always eating or sleeping as they should
  • Potential relationship issues
  • Potential family issues back home causing distractions
  • Potential financial issues
  • Pressures of academics for those in tougher courses
  • Commitment to club teams that are still in progress
  • Unable to manage time with academics and athletics.  Not realizing their title is "Student-Athlete" and not "Athlete"
At this age it's very easy to become insecure, especially if you were a very central part of your youth team and arrive to a program where everybody was a big wheel on their club team. It doesn't take much to feel

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Does "how" you play the game really matter?

Joga Bonito - Play Beautifully.

Does "how" you play the game really matter? 

This topic comes up often in soccer .  First you speak of the result, then how the game was played.  Was it beautiful?  Technical?  Ugly?  Sloppy? What was the style of play?

Do people really care how a sport is played?  Well, let's go back to 1972 and how the Soviet brand of hockey captured everybody's imagination.  With more European hockey appearing before us, many fell in love with their style.  And it continues to ruffle the feathers of some hockey dinosaurs in Canada.

For some people, the score is the only thing that matters, regardless of the level.  Even at the youth levels.  For those people I offer this:

FIFA Ranking as of Sept 10

When we visited the academy of Club Brugge in 2009 there was a U15 game going on.  The Academy director said to me, of their opponent, "Nobody likes that team because the players don't have ideas when