Many soccer players today offer the same quality of skill and their fitness level is top. So what separates players these days? You’re doing all the right work on and off the field so how do you separate yourself from the competition? The answer is that the smarter player is the one that will stand out. How do you become a smarter player? By exposing yourself to different coaches who will help you develop your game.
Further education: like all things in life you should always strive to further your education and better yourself. Do not let yourself plateau. There is always an area of your soccer game that you can improve upon. Even the best players in the world train themselves on the basics, watch film and are constantly trying to improve their game. There is no reason why you can’t too.
Different philosophy: no two people think entirely the same. If you were to ask a coach their opinion on the simplest thing one coach might give an entirely different answer from the next. Each soccer coach will have a different philosophy as to how the game should be played and this can help you improve as a player.
When I trained in Holland at a camp back in 2001 the trainer taught my group about Dutch style of soccer. To sum up the Dutch style of play in basic terms this involved ball position while moving the ball from the back, to the midfield, to the forwards. Each player could only touch the ball once or twice and the ball had to be moving very fast on the ground. The trainer did not like when players crossed the ball as this often results in a lost possession. He also, stressed not to slide tackle unless you were 100% certain you could win the ball. Sliding often takes you out of the play and risks injury. Just being in the right position and reading the play properly should help avoid sliding. The trainer taught each player how and where to move on the field based on the game situation. This included in attack and defense. Every position was broken down in the smallest detail and the players were told exactly how to play. When our team started to learn how to play the Dutch style it quickly became effective in defeating other teams while playing a very attractive style and working as a unit. The Dutch style of soccer is all about team work. If one position is not working in unison it throws off the entire system.
Conversely, one of my former coaches in Michigan while playing on a division one scholarship wanted our team to play the kick and run style of play. He preferred physically strong, fast and extremely fit players. The fact that we had the talent to play the ball on the ground did not matter. This coach’s style was to play long ball and there was no arguing about it. These are just two different examples of how some of my former coaches taught our team to play. The Dutch style was obviously the more technical, fun to play and better overall achieving better results. However, learning from each coach gave me a greater appreciation of the ways to play the game.
Some coaches are better in training sessions while other coaches are better at the managing side of things. It is important to recognize what areas the coaches excel in and pick their brains to help you. After all, that is what they are for.
Style of talking to players: not only will coaches have different philosophies as to how they want the game of soccer to be played but they will relay their message to you individually and to the team in their own particular way. Recognize each way and learn from them.
I have had coaches who did nothing but scream at the team to the point you think they will have a heart attack, other coaches would say a few words and then leave training sessions because the standards they have asked for were not achieved that particular time. Other coaches could barely speak English; some coaches preferred using the drawing board while others gave motivational/philosophical talks to the team. Whatever way they communicated with the team each of these coaches helped me shape my soccer career in one form or another and can do the same for you.
Change is good: as opposed to forcing a change sometimes you just know the time is right for change. I always try to improve a different part of my game each year. In the early stages of my playing days it was about learning the fundamentals and applying them to the game. Then it shifted to other parts of the game. Your coach should help bring out the best in you. From every single training session and game you should strive to improve as a player. If you are leveling off in your abilities and knowledge of the game it could be time to seek new guidance.
It is not to say that one style of coaching is better than another (although I’m sure each of you will prefer one over the other) but simply respecting each coach and what they are there to teach you will serve you better in the long run. Getting a new perspective will help better your game.
How many coaches do you work with over the course of a season?