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What's a coach to do? Pixel
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What's a coach to do?

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What's a coach to do? Empty What's a coach to do?

Post by banana kick 12/10/14, 11:51 am

Seriously!  While the girls were shielding, one-touch passing, crossing, switching, dropping, and so on, over on the sideline this weekend, something interesting happened.  Well, at least a few of us thought it was interesting.  We started into a philosophical discussion -- maybe that's a stretch -- about what exactly a coach should do for his or her players?  In other words, what can we, as paying customers and mindful parents, at least when we're at our very best, reasonably expect a club soccer coach to do for our developing player?

Like with a lot of really good discussions, this too ended with no sense of closure or consensus of opinion, but it was thought-provoking and fun, nonetheless.  And, while it's no less relevant at U7 than at U13, I thought, since this is our last year of non-select soccer, it could be interesting to hear from a few of you on the matter.

So, what do you think is reasonable to expect from your club soccer coach?
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Post by TatonkaBurger 12/10/14, 12:11 pm

Start us off. What were some of the examples thrown out by the philosophers?
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Post by Guest 12/10/14, 01:04 pm

Communication, Honesty, fair treatment, guidance on needs of your player.

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Post by banana kick 12/10/14, 01:12 pm

I'd rather not go into anyone's specific response here as it really isn't my place to do so. I wouldn't want to misrepresent anyone's position. If, however, they would like to share their insights here, that's cool.

I'd also like to hear from those who have a take on the subject without influencing the direction they may want to take the discussion.

I will say that our ramblings did seamlessly cross into the responsibilities of parents, players, and the club itself. In other words, what should we reasonably expect from our player, ourselves, our coach, and our club? As you can imagine, I'm sure, some placed more responsibility on the coach, some on the player and parent, and some a balance of responsibilities. The latter seems logical, I know, but I have again deliberately strayed from any specifics.
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Post by Lefty 12/10/14, 04:13 pm

If you won't give specifics, why would expect anyone else to?

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Post by banana kick 12/10/14, 07:47 pm

Fair enough.  And, yet, with almost 500 views and one real reply, I wonder if there is either enough interest in the topic or if, perhaps, posters are hesitant to respond out of fear of or respect for their coach.  Whatever the case, I'll have a go.

The IDEAL?  An ideal coach, like an ideal teacher, will do whatever is necessary to develop their player.  But what does that look like?

My '01 had a coach, at Sting, years back, who would have goal meetings with parents each season, several in fact.  To say he was about the development of his players is the understatement of the day.  He would track their growth in just about every measurable way: Pele skills, dribbling, striking, juggling, tackling, defensive technique, and on and on.  He made lanyards and laminated skills cards, each with about 3-4 levels, and would stay an hour after each practice -- our sessions were regularly two hours long, anyway -- for girls to work on achieving their goals.  They loved those cards, or the thought of that next card.  It was genius, really.

He filmed almost every game, from four different angles, and held occasional Saturday film sessions, with his U8's mind you.  These lasted several hours, but the girls somehow loved them.  At the goal meetings, he would show each family film of the player and break it down for them.  This was excellent and this is why.  This is where it broke down and this was the ultimate result.  This is what we need to do to improve.  After each game, he would send each family a 1-2 page email explaining, tactically, what he observed: the good, the bad, and the ugly.  And after each practice, literally, he would send out a 1-2 page email explaining the what and why of each drill and what he was noticing with individual players and their development -- yes, these were often personalized for each player.

In addition, to improve his player's tactical understanding, or reading of the game, he held countless small-sided training sessions, free of charge, and took the girls to countless 3v3 tournaments.  Disney was an annual event.  He filmed these, too, and broke down each tournament for the girls, explaining, in ways they could understand and with graphics and hand-held manipulatives, what they were and weren't doing effectively and had them explain to him how to approach the same situation next time.  But it didn't stop there.

He was very concerned with his players' fitness, starting with their nutrition intake, and asked each girl to keep a log of what they were eating and to reflect on its value. It was about more than running the girls extra hard at practice.  In fact, that, he understood, was of little value, and most of his conditioning was with the ball -- think Barcelona.  He asked for complete buy-in.

Reflection, now that I think about it, was huge with him.  He had his players, even at U7, keep a journal each night about soccer, often sending families videos to view, analyze, and reflect on in writing.  He asked us to watch each clip, too, with our girls and to talk with them about what we were seeing and why it mattered.  He would then ask his players to apply this understanding in their training sessions and games.  

For a few players, my daughter being one, he had them wear a tiny clip, linked to a satellite, on their shorts during games.  This clip monitored their calorie/energy burn as well as provided important information about oxygen use.  And, yes, this was with U9's and U10's.  After analyzing the info, he had them make small adjustments so that they could maximize potential even when expending less energy.

And while all this is amazing, he was also about the development of the whole player, asking each player to be, in all situations, the very best version of themselves, through the effort they gave in all endeavors and the sportsmanship they lived, win or lose.  If the player said they wanted to improve, that they were willing to work hard to improve, he would stop at nothing to make sure they did.  He would even hold privates for players, free of charge, who wanted or needed extra touches.  When we would try to pay him, he would say, keep it, you'll pay enough later.

Is your coach doing all this?  I kinda doubt it.  I've never met anyone, in any field, quite like Dave.  So, if this is too much, what would be enough for you?
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Post by TxKpr 13/10/14, 01:30 pm

Wow thats sounds like a great coach. The level of commitment given to each player, not just the team.
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Post by Hooligan 13/10/14, 02:19 pm

You say you have an '01 as well, so I pretty sure this was a thinly veiled attempt to talk up a coach, program or club. Very Happy

Taking the question at face value, I would say each participant in the development of a player has responsibilities.  In a nutshell, a coach should always do what is best for the individual player's development.  From selecting position, to training goals, to communication with players and parents, etc.  A great coach may even go so far as to use their connections to send their best player to a higher level team if the player needs to be challenged at a higher level to keep developing.  A true coach is an individual coach, not a team coach that is just out to win games.

But that is for parents to decide.  As parents, you know your child's personality.  You need to go to practices.  You need to be able to read your child's demeanor from 50 yards away.  If the coach is missing something, you need to discuss it with them.  When you are at practice, listen to what the coach is teaching them so you don't yell at them to do the opposite at the games.  Read the LOTG.  Familiarize yourself with the sport.  Watch some professional games and listen to the commentators discuss strategy.  In a nutshell, partner with the coach for the development of your little player.  

In the end, a player may not spend more than a couple years with any particular coach.  That is not necessarily a bad thing.  If the communication is there between the player/coach/parents, team movement up or down should not be a surprise to anyone and bridges won't be burned.
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Post by haterinho 13/10/14, 03:22 pm

banana kick wrote:Fair enough.  I've never met anyone, in any field, quite like Dave.  So, if this is too much, what would be enough for you?

Dave who? Sounds like an incredible coach...what happened to his 01 team? Is he still coaching? Can he turn water to wine? For free?

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Post by banana kick 13/10/14, 03:46 pm

haterinho wrote:
banana kick wrote:Fair enough.  I've never met anyone, in any field, quite like Dave.  So, if this is too much, what would be enough for you?

Dave who? Sounds like an incredible coach...what happened to his 01 team? Is he still coaching?  Can he turn water to wine? For free?

Dave Aldridge, and he was.  Yes, and no.  He walked away from club coaching about four years ago -- philosophical differences.  I'm sure you can understand why that would be.  I understand he's still coaching at the rec level, though, where there is little to no pressure to win.  Imagine the quality of experience those kiddos are getting.

This brings up an interesting question.  How patient can we be in this win-now culture where we all wait in anxious anticipation for this week's FBR?

As for water into wine, maybe, although his PhD was in Physics, not Chemistry. Smile
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Post by Guest 13/10/14, 04:00 pm

I know Dave Alrdridge. He is what you say and then some. One of his last groups to work with are still traipsing around the NTX academy scene, sadly they are a few of the ones that helped run him off IMO.

He coaches rec only here in Allen last I had heard.

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Post by InaB 13/10/14, 04:08 pm

Man, Banana, you had me at hello............. Then you lost me. Satellite clips? Really? Filming every game? Sending out emails constantly?

Obviously this coach has/had way too much time on his hands. Either that or he never needs to sleep or does not have a day job. Please tell us who Dave is. I would like to nominate him for sainthood.  

While I agree that parents and players need feedback, and assessment, well-grounded skills, and a sense of the game, I would not need this much attention to detail.

The coach can't teach my DD everything when he has an entire team of players to work with. I try to ensure that my DD works on her skills on her own as well as at practice. That being said, there are things that neither a coach nor a parent can teach a player. Their love for the game, their game understanding, etc. Also, their recognition of their abilities and how to best use them. But of all of these, I think their love of the sport will be their best "skill." To quote my grandfather, "you spend more time working than you do sleeping. So you had better do something you love."  

There are all kinds of reasons for someone to play soccer, the one that makes the difference (no slight meant to coaches) is love of the game. That is the juice, the gasoline that fuels the fire and makes someone try their best. It is what makes them wake up in the early hours to get ready to play an 8 a.m. game.

It is what pushes and drives them through practices in the heat and the cold. These girls aren't paid, professional athletes. They sacrifice personal time, school activities, family outings, all because they love the sport.

No matter what kind of coach they have, those girls who have passion for the game will succeed regardless. They may not do it the way one coach or another thinks is the right way. But they will succeed. Some succeed early, some are later bloomers.

Having said all of this, does a coach influence the player? Most definitely yes - both good and bad. Can they be the architect of a player's success? Yes, but only as long as the player's individuality and creativity in the game isn't burned out through being overworked.  Very Happy
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Post by banana kick 13/10/14, 04:14 pm

Finally, a thoughtful and thought-provoking response. Thanks, InaB.

Thank you, too, Hooligan.
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