Soccer Articles

De-Fense! De-Fense!

Written by: Matt Weiss

For those of you who are doing winter training with your teams as they prepare for the spring season, you are probably wondering what to focus on first. You may be the new coach, or have a lot of new faces on the team, so you struggle pin pointing a place to start. Aside from technical work, I recommend starting with defensive principles. Defense has a lot more to do with effort and dedication and to be honest, you don’t need to be a great soccer player to play great defense, although there are important athletic skills required.

Let’s review some of the basic principles of the first and second defenders and then view some recommended activities.

The first act of defending is PRESSURE. Without pressure on the ball, the attacking team will be able to do what they want. Imagine if Peyton Manning never had defenders try to sack him! The most important and immediate pressure comes from the closest defender to the ball. The distance of pressure, or how far the defender is from the attacker, will depend on where they have the ball. You will need to be much tighter if the ball is in your 18 yard box as opposed to the center circle. The amount of pressure, or how quickly you close down the attacker, will depend on the numerical advantage. If one forward is attacking four defenders, the closest defender can pressure very hard because he has three extra defenders to hep. If two forwards are attacking one defender, the lone defender must delay the attacker with the ball to try to slow down the attack, giving his defenders time to run back and help. The defender wants to stay between the ball and the goal without diving in or getting beat on the dribble.

The second act of defending is COVER. This responsibility is in regards to the 2nd defender (next closest defender to the ball). Their main responsibility is to cover the space behind the first defender and to instruct the first defender where to force the attacker. The covering defender wants to help make the play predictable. For example, if the covering defender tells the pressuring defender to “force left!” he wants the 1st defender to completely cut off the chance of the attacker dribbling right, therefore leading him into the covering defender. The covering defender will not always suggest the pressuring defender force towards him, for example if the dribbler is going towards the sideline, or if he has his back turned to the first defender. Similar to the last section, the distance between defenders will depend on where they are on the field and what the attacker is doing (dribbling at full speed, slowing down, etc).

Defense in soccer is hard! With other sports, I would argue that although it is still tough, there are timeouts, shot clocks, and of course in football, everyone gets to reset themselves every 5 seconds. A few seasons ago when I coached at Olentangy for the boy’s soccer team, I focused most of my energy early in the season having our guys play attacking soccer. It was after a two game stretch when we had 2-0 leads and lost 2-4 and 3-4 that I realized I was only teaching them half of the game. We had the talent to score goals so if we could put extra attention on defense, those games could stay 2-0, 3-1 in our favor.

Once we changed our approach, and committed to be more defensive, we had a 6 game stretch of losing one (0-1) and winning five (3-1, 4-0, 4-0, 2-0 and 2-0) including a program record for consecutive shut outs. Not only did our defense improve but our confidence as well. We already knew we could score but once we started shutting out opponents, teams took notice! We also noticed that the better our defense was, it provided us with more attacking opportunities which was why we were still able to score often in our games.

Below is a great defensive activity that will help establish shape to win the ball back. This became an everyday activity for my team in the season mentioned above.

6v3 (3v3v3) Set up a 25x25 grid with 9 players (3 teams of 3 with each team in a different color). One team starts out as the defending team with the other two teams possessing. Every time there is a turnover, the team guilty of that turnover becomes the new defending team while the other two possess. This activity should be done at a higher intensity for 2-3 minute rounds.

In the diagram below, you can see that yellow are on defense. Notice that the yellow closest to the ball has pressured tightly and the other yellow has instructed to force them left. Now red’s only option is to play a risky pass to the red on the left, which can be intercepted or immediately pressured by the other yellow.

  • All coaching points should be focused on the closest defender pressuring and getting instructions from the covering defenders

  • Verbal cues should be the same across the board

  • Pressuring defender “I step” or “I’m up”

  • Covering defender “Force left/right” or “No turn”

If your defending teams are struggling to get into the right shape quickly, you can have each team take turns defending but have the two possessing teams pass slowly and have the defending team focus on moving into the pressure and cover positions instead of trying to chase and win the ball back. Once they find a rhythm, then you can return to it being “live”. This activity will only work if the defending team can quickly transition together (once they lose the ball and become defenders) and work on communicating and making the space smaller together. If one person moves to pressure but the other two don’t follow, it will be incredibly difficult to get the ball back.

Like all activities, there are many different variations but it is always best to start simple and then add progressions. Remember, we are focusing on 2 main points, so avoid expanding the coaching points until they become automatic with pressure and cover!

Matt Weiss
Matt Weiss

Director of Soccer Matt graduated from Otterbein College in 2008, majoring in Sports Management and playing for the men's soccer team. He was head coach of the Olentangy Braves boy's program from 2011-2013 and is currently on the coaching staff for Ohio Wesleyan Men's soccer team. He has received his USSF National D, NSCAA National Diploma and NSCAA GK 1 Diploma. He was also awarded Columbus Assistant Coach of the Year in 2010 and OCC Head Coach of the Year in 2012.

Posted by Administrator on Thu, 20 Nov 2014
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Things Remembered

by Tony Earp, Senior Director

When I start thinking about how I got into coaching and why I chose this as a career, I cannot stop from remembering all the coaches who I had along the way that helped me get to where I am today. I have played for many coaches, with many different styles of coaching, some better than others, but I know that I took something away from all of them. With each step, these mentors, soccer teachers, helped me become the player and person I am today.

Over my time coaching, I wonder what type of impact I have on the players I get the opportunity and privilege to work with everyday. Not just from a soccer standpoint, but for the more important things. Are there moments, things I have said, or done, on the field or away from the field, that those players will point to 20 years later as a moment in their lives that was important to them (for one reason or another)?

Looking back, my most memorable moments with the coaches who I feel made a significant impact on my life had less to do with soccer and more to do with the way they made me feel. Whether it was during a training session or a very rough time in my life, these coaches said something or did something that impacted me in an incredible way. I did not know it then, but looking back, their words and actions are some of my most vivid, emotional, and inspiring moments of my life around the game.

Spaceman

Alvin James was a member of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, a semi-pro team in South Florida, when I was growing up. It was common for the team to put on soccer camps in the summer, and like many soccer camps put on by professional teams, they were very popular and there were a lot of kids who attended. This was my first time at a soccer camp.

I was assigned to Alvin’s group during the camp and he was my coach for the week. This was during the beginning of my playing experience and I was new to soccer. I was not overly skilled, but I enjoyed playing the game. Alvin was one of my favorite players on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, so I was very excited to have him as my coach for the week.

Like a typical soccer camp, we played a lot of fun games and one of the classics, Knock Out, which is still popular today with kids. During the game, I was having some success keeping my ball and kicking everyone else’s soccer ball out of the playing area. After knocking out a couple players, Alvin said, “Hey, you need to watch out for Spaceman. He is going to kick your ball to outer space!” Yes, this sounds very silly, but I never had a nickname before so I was very excited to be known as “Spaceman” for the rest of the camp. The name stuck for all the years I attended Fort Lauderdale Strikers camps or saw Alvin at one of his games. He would always say, “Hey Spaceman!” It made me want to go back to the camp each year and go to the games to see the team play.

It is very common for coaches to give kids nicknames like that, but sometimes it means more than just a silly name and having some fun. I loved my nickname! In a camp of hundreds of kids, it made me feel important and special among the crowd. I was not nearly one of the better players in the camp, but I felt I could do anything on the field and was very confident with Coach Alvin. It was very early in my playing experience that I met Alvin. His nickname for me may have been the initial fire lit inside of me that kept me playing this game for many years.

I would run into Alvin from time to time when I was an older player in high school, and every time I saw him, he greeted me the same way, “Hey Spaceman!”

Stopped for Good

Richard Williams was by far one of the most influential coaches I worked with in my career. He was brilliant at teaching players the technical, tactical, and psychological aspects of the game through training. He pushed much harder than most coaches I have seen in making players work beyond their limits. He expected a high work rate and a tremendous respect to the details of each skill movement and the nuances of the game. But his real talent, that I have come to realize looking back, was his incredible ability to motivate players.

My first year training with Coach Williams I remember a moment on the field very vividly, mainly because it did not happen before, which is the reason why I continued to train with him. I do not remember most practices or training sessions, and I cannot recount for you the games I won or lost. I had thousands of experiences on the field in training with coaches but this is one I will never forget. Funny, it is not that exciting or dramatic of a moment. It was just so different than anything I experienced before.

Playing a basic possession game, I moved to a teammate that had the ball, and asked for a pass. Brian Lapinskis (yes, I still know who played me the pass) passed me the ball to my feet. As the ball arrived, I played one touch back to Brian and moved away. This seemed routine and not something note worthy.

Immediately, Coach Williams froze the game. He then said, “Did everyone see what Tony did?” Up to this point, when a game was stopped, it was normally for a mistake, so my first thought was “Oh great, what did I do wrong?” In his very upbeat and charismatic way of talking to us, he began praising what I did. A simple thing like keeping the ball moving, and moving after I passed the ball, was something he was making a big deal about. No other coach had done that before. No other coach had Stopped for the Good. I had only experienced a game being stopped to make a correction. I do not exactly know why, but I had never been so excited to continue to play again.

He was the first coach I had who would stop and praise players as often, if not more, than stop to correct players. His ability to do this, at the right times and for the right reasons, motivated me to work hard to continue to do things correctly and improve the areas of my game needed to have success on the field. This may be common today among coaches, but it was not that common 20 years ago.

As a player, I have received a lot of feedback from coaches. Most I do not remember very well, but that day, that moment, is one that I will always remember. It stuck with me as a player and still today as a coach. Again, it was a moment that helped build my confidence as a player and in what I was capable of doing on the field. It made me realize the importance of the simple, but critical, skills players need. Building a player’s confidence and appreciation for simple things that work, may be the most important things a coach can do for a player.

To further drive home the point that he was excellent at motivating players to want and expect more from themselves, it is good to note that most players who worked with him continued on to play at the college level.

The Goal My Dad Saw

I was waiting down stairs for my dad to pick me up for my soccer game. He had not been able to see me play in a while because he was traveling a lot, but he promised to pick me up for my game and bring me. Waiting outside of my mom’s house, I waited patiently to see his car make the turn down the street.

As game time was nearing, my dad still had not arrived. My mom called and could not get a hold of him. I was angry to say the least when driving to the game with mom that day. My mom tried to tell me not to worry about it, and just focus on playing the game and having fun. I couldn’t, and when I arrived at the game I was still noticeably very mad with my dad. My coach, Walter Franco, asked me what was wrong when I walked up to the bench.

I said, “Nothing. My dad not did show up to take me to the game. Sorry I am late.” Coach Franco said, “No problem, I am sure he did not want to miss it. I am sure there is a good reason.” Obviously, I did not want to hear it, and just brushed off the comment and finished getting my cleats on to play.

That game I scored a pretty nice goal from outside of the 18-yard box. I struck the ball well, knuckling it into the top left corner, not giving the goalkeeper a chance. I remember the goal well, not because it was memorable, but just because of when it happened. Our team won the game, and when I was walking off the field, Coach Franco said, “Great goal Tony! Your dad will be sad he missed it.”

The next morning, when I got up to go to school, still mad about the day before, I found out my dad had passed away. The next couple of days leading up to the funeral are very hard to recall. It seemed like a numb blur. I have heard that when the body experiences enough pain, it can cause a person to pass out. This is the way I felt after my mom told me. I was incapable of feeling or thinking about anything. It was like all of my senses turned off to avoid feeling anything.

At the funeral, the numbness ended and I felt everything. Among my family and friends who were there for support, so were my teammates and my coach. As people came by to pay their respects and offer their condolences, it became tougher and tougher with each person who I talked to.

Coach Franco came up to me and said, “I was wrong.” I was taken back by the comment as it broke the rhythm of what is normally said. I replied, “Huh?” He repeated, “I was wrong. Your dad did not miss that goal. He saw it and I know he is proud.” He gave me a hug, and in that moment when all I could muster were tears, I smiled and laughed with my coach. While everyone else reminded me my dad was gone, he was the first one to remind me that he would always be there.

We all have moments in our life that are incredibly painful and there is very little anyone can do to make us feel better. With that said, sometimes a simple statement can offer you solace when you least expect it.

The Phone Call

There are moments that you realize how much coaches really care about their players. Through the smallest gestures, coaches can dramatically change a player’s day. For Senior Day at Ohio State, my mom was not able to make it up for the game. My mom was upset she was not going to be able to be there, but I understood and it was not a big deal.

Before the game on Senior Day, all the Seniors are called out on to the field with their parents and introduced. The coaches write some kind words about your contribution to the team and program over the years, and you are recognized for your dedication to the school and team. My roommates walked with me on to the field on that day which was already an awesome surprise.

As I was walking up when it was my turn to be introduced, I noticed Coach Speth had a phone in his hand. My first thought was, “Why is Coach Frank Speth using his cell phone right now?” When I got over to the coaches, he handed me the phone. He had called my mom and had her on the line. As my information was being read aloud, she was on the phone with me telling me she loved me, and I wept. As I was talking to her, Coach Speth put his hands on my shoulders and stood with me until I was done.

If you know Coach Speth, it would not surprise you that he did that for me. Over the years, he has done things like this for many of the players he has coached. It was completely unexpected, something he did not have to do, and one of my best memories of my time at Ohio State. Thanks to coach Speth, I got to spend that moment on Senior Day with my mom. It changed everything for me on that day.

I think these experiences, not only made me want to be a coach and teacher, but they made me such a passionate advocate of this game. Throughout my life, my coaches have been some of the most influential and supportive people I have met. These are just four of the most memorable and significant moments, among many more, when a coach said or did something to make my day just a little better or make me love the game just a little more.

As coaches, we never know how much weight our words or actions hold. What we say or do may seem insignificant or common to us, but for the kids, it could be that one thing that alters their path forever.

Tony Earp
Tony Earp

Director Tony has a Masters in Education from The Ohio State University, is a State Certified teacher, and is a USSF C License coach. Tony was a standout player both academically and athletically at The Ohio State University, earning multiple honors both on the field and in the classroom. Tony's achievements included 2nd Team All Big Ten in 2001 and 2002, serving as Captain in 2002. Tony was named Most Inspirational Player in 2001 and 2002, as well as achieving Scholar Athlete status in those same years. Tony was a member of the 2002 MLS Draft Pool. After playing, Tony was a history teacher at Licking Valley High School in 2005 and at Dublin Scioto High School in 2006. In 2007, Tony Earp accepted a position at SuperKick as the Director of Soccer Training where he continues to serve as the Senior Director of Training managing programs, establishing training curriculums, and coaching athletes. Tony was the Head Coach for Hilliard Bradley High School boys soccer program in 2009 and 2010. In addition, Tony is a Director for Classics Eagles FC and is the Director of the SuperKick Classics Juniors Academy. With 10 years of coaching experience, Tony has developed a reputation of being a coach who motivates players to expect more from themselves and creates a training environment conducive to developing high level players.

Posted by Administrator on Mon, 13 Oct 2014
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What are the Basics

by Tony Earp, Senior Director

What are the “basics” in soccer? I hear a lot of parents and coaches refer to the basics of soccer as a player’s positioning, ability to take throw-ins, understanding set pieces, and off-sides. These are not the basics to soccer. These are good things for players to know, but they are not the basics or as important as many other areas of the game. It is our culture of thinking that we need to know all the rules before we are able to play the game, but soccer is very different than most games, especially for young kids. Soccer, in sometimes its best form, is played with very little structure, rules, positioning, officiating, or actual fields with set boundaries. The game can be played without these "basics," and it is played without them all over the world, every day by many future stars.

So what are the basics… the basics are the areas that help your child become masters of the soccer ball. The basics help your child command what the ball does in reaction to contact with their body. In any direction and at any time, the basics give your child the ability to do whatever he or she wants when playing the game. These are the basics and the most critical areas of the game for your child to learn when they start playing.

Through playing the game, the players will learn the other aspects and rules, but those areas should not be given more, or the same amount of attention, as the real basics and fundamentals of the game. If an entire practice is dedicated to improving the players’ abilities to do throw-ins or work on set pieces, then the coaching staff lost a day of practice to help their players learn the basics. I am not saying a coach should not teach these areas of the game, but all of them can be incorporated into skill and game activities to give players opportunities to learn them without them distracting or taking away from focusing on the real key developmental areas of the game.

What are the real basics of the game? In short, they are the ability to dribble, control, and strike/pass the ball. If your child struggles dribbling the ball under control or cannot receive a ball coming to them on the ground or from the air, the player’s understanding of how to play right back is a very distant second in the list of priorities of what the player needs to learn.

A strong understanding of the game, without the tools to play the game, makes a player a very educated fan of the game. Like a fan, the player will spend more of their time watching the game rather than actually playing the game when they get older. When basics are taught from a young age, and the basics are continuously reinforced each day at training, the players will have the ability to apply their knowledge of the game as they get older. They will have the tools to execute what they know to do on the field when the ball comes to them.

If you need another sport example, what are the basics of playing quarterback in football? Are the basics the ability to read different coverage? Is it to be able to recognize a blitz and change the play at the line of scrimmage? Now, I am not a “football guy” but I would have to assume that the basics for a quarterback are proper foot work and throwing technique. Why? It seems a quarterback’s ability to read coverage would not help him much if he could not throw the ball to his intended target accurately and with speed.

This is the same for soccer. A player may know exactly where the ball should be played, but without the ability to play the ball there accurately and with good pace, the “knowing” to do it does not help much when the ABILITY to do it has not been learned. You see this all the time with coaches of older teams. The players know they should change the point of attack, but they lack the skills to do so effectively. The players cannot strike a ball accurately with pace across the field to a teammate and the teammate’s first touch is not clean enough to keep possession. Add any type of pressure, and an already fragile ability breaks down quickly and the players will struggle to execute.

Ironically, coaches of younger teams, become frustrated because they are trying to teach the “basics” of a complex tactical system of play and the kids are not getting it. While they spend hours doing walk throughs about where players should stand on the field and who passes to who, the players are not spending that precious time learning the actual basics. When the players get older, they will cognitively have the ability to understand the complex nature of how the game should be played, but they will not be able to actually play it. It’s a vicious cycle of frustration for everyone!

When you use the term "basics" in regards to youth soccer, you should be referring to the ability to dribble, control, and strike the ball. These are the basics, and these need to be learned first alongside the rules of the game. When coaches spend their time trying to make young kids play the game in a way that resembles what it looks like when adults play it, the game tends to look better cosmetically, but the kids are really only following instructions, and they do not have a true understanding of what is actually happening. It is like a teacher teaching to a test. Memorize these things and repeat them when I tell you to. That is not learning (or teaching).

Finally, there are very few absolutes in soccer. There are very few “never do this” or “always do that” on the field. Unlike other sports that coaches have more control of the game and can tell players exactly what they should do, soccer is very fluid and extremely situational with a ton of variables constantly changing. The “right” answer is different in every situation, for every player, for each system of play, and for each game. For example, coaches like to tell players, “Never play it in front of your goal?” This is not true in all situations and a strict rule like this limits a player’s ability to make decisions based on the situation. It is cliché now to say the game is the best teacher, but it can be with the coaches’ guidance. As players gain experience playing the game, they use all the information from their successes and failures to figure out what works and what does not for them. They become independent thinkers who can make choices during the game.This happens over time and coaches have to help facilitate the process and be patient enough to let it happen.

Instead of focusing on the wrong basics and trying to make the game more appealing for adults to watch, focus on the basics that will give the kids the tools to play the game for the rest of their lives. When you focus on the true basics of the game with youth players, it is much easier for them to learn everything else needed as they grow and be able to utilize that knowledge when they play.

Tony Earp
Tony Earp

Director Tony has a Masters in Education from The Ohio State University, is a State Certified teacher, and is a USSF C License coach. Tony was a standout player both academically and athletically at The Ohio State University, earning multiple honors both on the field and in the classroom. Tony's achievements included 2nd Team All Big Ten in 2001 and 2002, serving as Captain in 2002. Tony was named Most Inspirational Player in 2001 and 2002, as well as achieving Scholar Athlete status in those same years. Tony was a member of the 2002 MLS Draft Pool. After playing, Tony was a history teacher at Licking Valley High School in 2005 and at Dublin Scioto High School in 2006. In 2007, Tony Earp accepted a position at SuperKick as the Director of Soccer Training where he continues to serve as the Senior Director of Training managing programs, establishing training curriculums, and coaching athletes. Tony was the Head Coach for Hilliard Bradley High School boys soccer program in 2009 and 2010. In addition, Tony is a Director for Classics Eagles FC and is the Director of the SuperKick Classics Juniors Academy. With 10 years of coaching experience, Tony has developed a reputation of being a coach who motivates players to expect more from themselves and creates a training environment conducive to developing high level players.

Posted by Administrator on Thu, 9 Oct 2014
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Problem Solving is Key

by Tony Earp, Senior Director

Soccer is a player centered, not coach centered, game that requires players to make countless choices throughout an entire game in real time. There are no “plays called in” or time outs. The coach cannot give a hand single to set up a certain type of offense. Instead, the game continuously moves freely without much coach interference. This means that the players must, on their own, make a lot of choices and solve problems before a coach can help. Usually, when the coach steps in, it is after the fact, and it can only help with future choices. So how do we prepare players for this type of game? We have to help players become active and effective problem solvers.

As the game goes on, a team goes up a goal, down a goal, the other team changes line ups, formation, tactics, or new players are subbed in with different strengths and weaknesses. Added on to that is all the players on the field moving and interacting with one another. With all of this going on, with the constant fluidity of the game, the players cannot wait for the coach to solve problems for them. The players must solve the problems on the field as they arise. Like anything else in soccer, this is a skill. A skill that is developed over years of playing and training, that players pick up the tools needed to make the best decisions possible when presented with a problem on the field.

If this is a key skill, then how often is problem solving part of a coach’s practice plan? During training, are players consistently faced with challenges that they need to solve on their own? From the warm up to the final scrimmage of a training session, there should be problem solving elements inserted into the activities as often as feasible. The more the players are being engaged in training to figure out solutions to problems presented by the coach in the form of the activities the players are experiencing, the more prepared the players are going to be when they step on the field to play the game.

Often during training, a coach gives the players an activity to do, the coach explains how to play the activity, and the players proceed to doing what the coach has asked. For example, the players are doing a basic warm up activity, dribbling the ball in a box, and on the coach’s command the players are suppose to perform a turn with the ball. The coach is giving the players different turns to work on, and doing a great job of teaching the technique of each turn. He is making sure the players are changing speed after the turn and keeping the ball close. The activity looks like it is going great!

But what is the activity missing? Yes, any type of decision-making or problem solving by the players. To add this, the coach may ask the players, “How are you deciding which direction to turn?” Most players are probably just turning to turn, and have not thought about why they are going right, left, or back. Now as the players resume, the players will be thinking about which direction they are going to turn. The players will start turning right versus left because there is more space and it is less crowded. The players may go back because there is a wall of players ahead. By simply presenting a question into the activity, the coach has introduced a decision making opportunity. Before, the kids were just turning because the coach told them to. Now, the players are actively thinking about why and where they are going to turn, and making a choice.

Another way to add problem solving into training is by changing the number of players on each team as a game or activity is going on. When the number of players is changed, players will need to recognize if their team is up or down players and are they the team in possession of the ball. These type of games require players to problem solve based on the changing situation of the game. If they are down players and lose possession, what should they do? Is that a good time to press or sit back and hold a deeper defensive line staying more compact? If that decision is not made quickly, as a group, the team in possession with more numbers could counter very quickly and score.

Instead of just telling players what to do, you allow the game to challenge their ability to recognize these situations on the field and solve the problem individually and as a group. This needs to happen in training, repeatedly, or it will never happen at the time needed in the game. As a coach, you will find yourself always telling your players after they conceded a goal. “Hey, in that situation we need to drop off and stay compact.” It is a good coaching point, and it may help in the future if the players can recognize that situation occur again and make a decision in time.

Having players work in these situations in training helps with awareness. The players are training in an environment that requires them to constantly pay attention to what is happening around them in the activity. This will translate when they step on to the field. As a group, the players will be able to communicate and see what is going on in the game. Take that information and solve problems as individuals and as a group, in real time, with less needed guidance from the coach. Although at times, the coach may get up and point out something the players are not recognizing, for most of the game, the coach can observe and watch the players play the game. The coach should take notes on the game and see where the players are struggling in certain areas and then use training activities to recreate those situations for the players to work on it. In a strong program, these areas of focus are in line and on pace with the developmental curriculum for that age group. In other words, the proper decision making of a 9 year old is different than a 16 year old. The 9 year old you may be focusing on solving the problem of when to dribble versus pass. With the 16 year old, it could be on how to an attack a team playing with three players in the back.

Players are asked to make a lot of independent decisions on the field and problem solve as the game is going on. From the opening whistle to the final whistle, the game requires kids to think on their own. With this demand of the game, in line with the player’s cognitive development, the training sessions should challenge the player’s ability to solve the problems of the game. The coaches can control variables of the training activities to cover any problem a player can face in the game, and the players can repeatedly work on it with the coach’s guidance. The goal would be that when the situation occurs on the field, the players will be better prepared to make the best decision possible.

Tony Earp
Tony Earp

Director Tony has a Masters in Education from The Ohio State University, is a State Certified teacher, and is a USSF C License coach. Tony was a standout player both academically and athletically at The Ohio State University, earning multiple honors both on the field and in the classroom. Tony's achievements included 2nd Team All Big Ten in 2001 and 2002, serving as Captain in 2002. Tony was named Most Inspirational Player in 2001 and 2002, as well as achieving Scholar Athlete status in those same years. Tony was a member of the 2002 MLS Draft Pool. After playing, Tony was a history teacher at Licking Valley High School in 2005 and at Dublin Scioto High School in 2006. In 2007, Tony Earp accepted a position at SuperKick as the Director of Soccer Training where he continues to serve as the Senior Director of Training managing programs, establishing training curriculums, and coaching athletes. Tony was the Head Coach for Hilliard Bradley High School boys soccer program in 2009 and 2010. In addition, Tony is a Director for Classics Eagles FC and is the Director of the SuperKick Classics Juniors Academy. With 10 years of coaching experience, Tony has developed a reputation of being a coach who motivates players to expect more from themselves and creates a training environment conducive to developing high level players.

Posted by Administrator on Thu, 9 Oct 2014
tags:

It is My Kid

by Tony Earp, Senior Director

Over the years, I had many conversations about coaching and yelling at players from the sideline with parents. I think deep down, most parents understand the reasons behind why yelling at and coaching players from the sideline during games is not beneficial for the player. In principle and theory, the majority of parents are on board, but things change for some when we talk specifically about their child. When it comes to their child, the line between right and wrong with sideline behavior begins to get a little blurry. Although often not “over the top” in nature, with it being their child, the parent feels a little more at liberty to communicate with them during the game.

I believe parents do this with good intentions and are deep down trying to help their child. Parents, rightfully so, always want to see their children do well and succeed. With that in mind, a parent will react and do what they feel is necessary to give their child “assistance” when needed that can help them be successful. Obviously the behavior is not malicious in nature, most of the time, so these parents are not intentionally trying to negatively affect the game experience for their child. In their mind, their comments are “encouraging” and helping their child “understand” what they should be doing. They are just helping the coach out, right?

The parents will say, “It is my kid. I know what my child needs and what motivates them to do his best.” This is true. Parents do know their kids very well and there are a lot of things coaches can learn about kids from their parents. With said, it still does not make the behavior appropriate from the sideline and it does not help the player in that particular time and situation. Even for a coach’s comments and corrections to be meaningful, they have to be delivered at the right time in the proper manner to be useful (not distracting) for the player. It is not just parents, but coaches are encouraged NOT to joystick coach as it does not help the players (like parents, plenty of coaches still do).

Here are a couple of things to think about when you "only yell at my kid during games."

  1. Yes, it is your child and you have the right to say what you want to them, but understand that there is nothing, NOTHING, no research or findings, that shows yelling at your kid helps them improve their play. In fact, most research points to an adverse effect to their level of play and enjoyment. Telling kids what to do and yelling at them to try to do it faster or better is contrary to all learning and development theories out there used by the top educators and coaches around the world. First, telling a kid to do something is not teaching them how to do it. All the kid is doing is responding to what you are saying by doing what is asked. The player did not do it because he knew it to be right. The player was not given the chance to recognize and understand the situation that called for an action and respond to it. Second, adding additional pressure to stressful moments is not an ideal way to get a person to perform at a peak level. Players need to learn how to deal with the challenges of the games on their own and respond to those challenges accordingly. External pressure from a parent, or a coach, just increases anxiety of a player. A rise in anxiety creates uncertainty and doubt and reduces the player’s ability to perform.

  2. It is naive to think that your yelling and comments do not have an effect on the other players on the field. Although you are "talking" to your child, and you feel you have that right, you DO NOT have the right to affect the playing environment and experience of the other kids on the field. If you do not think that is the case, yell at your child in the middle of a grocery store and see if everyone around you seems unfazed by your actions. In economics, there is something called the Tragedy of the Commons. In general, this is when “individuals, acting independently and rationally according to each one's self-interest, behave contrary to the whole group's long-term best interests.” This is how I feel many parents on the sideline operate. Individual parents will act in a way they feel is in the best interest of their child, but in the end is not in the best interest of the entire group, especially the players on the field and other parents trying to enjoy the game. In the interest of doing what is best for their child, a parent will have a negative effect on the rest of the group.

  3. Your child does not like it. Think about that for a second. Not only is your yelling inappropriate and not helping your child, your child does not like it. In fact, it probably makes them uncomfortable. As they get older, it will become worse as their teammates will soon let your child know they do not care for your comments either, which will affect your child's relationship with their teammates. Now, most parents would not knowingly do something over and over to their kids that A) is not beneficial, B) your child does not like, and C) will create problems with their friends. I do not think I have ever heard of a player thanking a parent for all the screaming and instructions during the game while leaving the field. If it was helpful and the player benefited from it, I think the player would show his appreciation for all your attention and effort on the sideline. I know for me, I was just happy that my parents were at the game. I loved that they loved watching me play, and I NEVER heard them from the sideline.

So... yes, it is YOUR KID. And I know you want to do what is best for your child, but I promise you, yelling at your child during games from the sideline is not what is best. Although it may not seem like it, over time, the constant yelling and instructions could be a major factor in your child giving up the game. If you want to help your child, make sure he knows you love to watch him play, and you will ALWAYS be there to support his efforts.

Tony Earp
Tony Earp

Director Tony has a Masters in Education from The Ohio State University, is a State Certified teacher, and is a USSF C License coach. Tony was a standout player both academically and athletically at The Ohio State University, earning multiple honors both on the field and in the classroom. Tony's achievements included 2nd Team All Big Ten in 2001 and 2002, serving as Captain in 2002. Tony was named Most Inspirational Player in 2001 and 2002, as well as achieving Scholar Athlete status in those same years. Tony was a member of the 2002 MLS Draft Pool. After playing, Tony was a history teacher at Licking Valley High School in 2005 and at Dublin Scioto High School in 2006. In 2007, Tony Earp accepted a position at SuperKick as the Director of Soccer Training where he continues to serve as the Senior Director of Training managing programs, establishing training curriculums, and coaching athletes. Tony was the Head Coach for Hilliard Bradley High School boys soccer program in 2009 and 2010. In addition, Tony is a Director for Classics Eagles FC and is the Director of the SuperKick Classics Juniors Academy. With 10 years of coaching experience, Tony has developed a reputation of being a coach who motivates players to expect more from themselves and creates a training environment conducive to developing high level players.

Posted by Administrator on Thu, 9 Oct 2014
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