Patience coaching, or response to Rodrigo :-)

Hi Rodrigo :-)

> I also wanted to mention two things I did not like yesterday about the way we played… [full message]

Oh, boy, this is gonna be long (on a bright side, I can post it to my
private vault :-) ) Just don’t take it the wrong way, ok? I do realize
that I am quite stubborn. Also, I am going to inflate this piece
somewhat intentionally – with the web site in mind: I expect it to be a
big hit with millions of people visiting every day, making me one of
the fortunes :-D So with all that in mind – here it goes.

firmly believe that at this age (and for quite some time, until they
really become more mature) any amount of talk will have very limited
effect. You need to remember that these are not adults, these are kids,
and normal kids at that: their interests, dedication, and ability
levels vary, and there is nothing wrong with that. At this age, proper
soccer learning can only be achieved through repetitions and
scrimmaging during practices, there is simply no way around it: that’s
what “game is the best teacher” means.

In this specific case of
breaking formations – there is really no surprise: all in all, we only
had one (that’s _one_) practice so far, dedicated to team shape. We
will likely have another one but this is way too little to expect
results of any significance during this season.

Also, let’s take a closer look at who stuck to their places and who ran wild :-)

played center mid first half – stayed in position with emphasis on
defense (what we asked), second half – when we tried to move him to
forward – he ran wild as if still playing center mid. Strangely enough
- that’s what he was in the first half :-) Also – see comment below for
Donovan, it applies to John as well.

Donovan – well, he always
runs around :-) On the other hand, at my E license course, when playing
a game for the team shape subject, the coach caught me in the position
of deep left defender while I was supposed to play right forward – I
couldn’t be farther on the field from where I was supposed to be if I
tried :-) The point is: even for adults, it’s quite common for stronger
players, who assume and accept responsibility for the entire team, to
run all around the place, and Donovan is a prime example of this rule.

- was right mid in the first half – stuck to his place (and he is a
lefty mind you – that was double tough for him). In the second half we
put him into left defense – he shifted to the right side immediately.
Once again – that’s where he was in the first half :-)

Derek – mostly, stuck to his place all the time (left mid, left d, center mid, right d)

Brendan – he is overcommited to the “position” concept; with him – I would be happy if he ran wild once in a while.

Alvaro – stuck to his place all the time (center d, left d, right mid)

Paul – stuck to his place (right d, left mid, center mid).

Jonathan – mostly, stayed in his place, but he is a special case.

Ryan – strangely enough, being a keeper – stayed in his place :-)

if you take a look at the overall picture, it was just two or three
guys who were running wild at any given time, and when they did – it
was usually because they tended to shift to places, where they played
for full thirty minutes just a few brief moments earlier. I think that
overall the boys held their shape in the first half extremely well. The
only goal that we conceded in the first half was defensive breakdown in
very tight space against very good forward: our first defender (I can’t
remember who it was – I was watching where this play was about to go)
applied perfect pressure in the corner but got beaten, and Paul was at
the proper distance in position of the second defender and was almost
in the proper place – but he was about two-three yards too high from
where he was supposed to be. After their #45 (their best player,
remember?) beat our first defender in the corner – he accelerated past
Paul and then – shifted to center to open himself for a shot. From
beginning to the end, that was very insightful play by the boy, who has
abilities to execute. We really had no chance after our first defender
got beaten – and that happened good ten-fifteen seconds prior to the
striker finishing the play. Two yards – that’s all that made the
difference in that situation, because otherwise Paul would be in
position to delay for help to arrive.

In the second half – you
are right, they did break down more often than one would desire but
that’s what fatigue does to you: thought processes slow down and you
need to spend extra effort to stay focused, and ability to control your
mind when fatigued is one of the most difficult things to master; at
amateur level – few adults can do that successfully, we can’t be too
hard on the kids in this case.

With your second point – you need
to remember that the first two games were against weaker opponents.
With the last two – the opposing teams were stronger and that resulted
with our boys having less time at any given moment to make soccer
decisions: when to pass, when to dribble, how strongly to kick the ball
for passes, how far to dribble, how closely to approach defenders, what
distances to keep when receiving passes, etc. We as adult players take
all these things for granted – but you need to remember that all these
things are obtained through practical playing only, no amount of talk
can teach you to approach a defender at the perfect distance such that
he is already engaged but still does not present immediate threat, and
then to make a pass to a supporting teammate with the proper pace.
Player’s mind needs time to examine, process, and calculate
possibilities for every little situation in order to make good
decisions; when versing better opponents, whose speed of play is faster
- which means that they apply pressure faster than boys are accustomed
to, – this time to make decisions is significantly shortened, which
amounts to lesser quality of play. Again, all this is expected :-) We
had just two practices on short passing – plus the team shape practice,
which can count as another one – but still that’s not enough.

let’s just try to relax and be patient: these kids have their entire
lives in front of them to learn all this – that is, if they choose to
continue playing soccer :-) (this age is approximately when most kids
decide whether to drop out or not). Also, as a side note – patience is
one of the most difficult things about coaching therefore one really
needs to make conscious effort to contain himself: above all, kids need
playing experience, you cannot teach that. Sometimes, this may give us
helpless feeling of not being able to control situation, but this kind
of feeling is usually false: we provide plenty of playing
possibilities, and sometimes – however rarely, discretely, and
selectively, – boys even remember some of the things that we say. This
is really all that there is to coaching in my opinion :-)

—– Original Message —–
Sent: Friday, October 9, 2009 2:41:16 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
Subject: Re: Boys U12 soccer game this Saturday

Hi Vyach,

I may not be there but Alvaro will. We also are going to the Revs game. Are you coming?

I also wanted to mention two things I did not like yesterday about the way we played.
Poor formation: You give them clear directions of what they should be
doing and very few players kept to their positions with several just
running wild. I appreciate the effort but we have to move to the next
technical level. So I’ll suggest to pick a formation: 3-2-2, 2-3-2 or
anyone you like and from now on stick to that one. Every kid will play
all positions but every position will be well defined. From there we
can learn to switch and cover and all that.

2) Too many kicks to
nowhere or holding the ball too long. In the first two games, we saw
lots of great passes and it seems that we are starting to loose that.
Let’s talk to them about the importance of kicking the ball to some one
before the game and then run a couple of practices to address it.

Take care,



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