This year I had the pleasure of training a competitive soccer team that consisted of girls 15 years of age and younger. The way I prepared for training in week 1 and the way I prepared for training in week 10, were completely different. Here is what I learned.
You’re playing on a new team with new players, a different coach and they play a different system. Now you have to force your way into the line-up. How do you do it? Unless you’re a clinical goal scorer and can impact the game greatly, you’ll likely play where the team asks you to play. And yes, this could be in a position where you’re greater strengths are not as highlighted as before. This does not have to be a bad thing but now you have to do your best to understand your teammates, your opposition and communicate this as a unit. Here are three ways you can do so:
Over the years, I have worked with all kinds of kids in soccer and the comments that I overhear at times are surprising. Many feel that they are on their way to professional careers in soccer. The «big show» if you will. Nothing is wrong with dreaming. And if you’re going to dream you might as well dream big. Yes some players are good but it goes far beyond that to play at the next level. In terms of planning your soccer future it is so very cliché but one must have other career options in their back pocket and that can start with a solid academic base. And if you don’t have that academic base it’s not the end of the world either. There are always options.
A famous sports psychologist beautifully illustrated the physiology of what happens when we are under pressure. Place a 12 foot long 2 X 8 piece of wood on the ground, and ask one of your players to run across it. What happens? That player doesn’t even think twice. He or she says, “No problem,” and runs across the board with ease and enjoyment. Now take this same 2 X 8 and raise it 8 feet by stretching it across two ladders and ask that same player to run across. What happens?
Winning is everything in soccer…or is it? Of course winning is important in soccer. After all, you want a competitive team that can go as far as possible in all competitions. But when it comes to kids between the ages of 10-14 in particular, I believe that player and team development is far more valuable to the learning experience than simply winning a game.