Fifth Practice

Coach: I am glad that someone is having fun!!!

Karl: I know that readers are having a wonderful time reading about your escapade

Coach:  – Well, I am – on the field, at least. 

Karl: And that is the key to being a terrific youth coach. If you are having a wonderful time –smiling. Then the players can’t help but have a great time because you will eventually allow them to just Play Soccer..!

Coach: I apparently wasn’t clear with my last email…  

Karl: Alright, let’s start ‘clearing’ things up..!

Coach: First, nothing “happened to” Steps 1 and 2 on 8/17 – we conducted them as we did in the practice before, they were unremarkable, so, well, I didn’t remark.

Karl: If there is no remark then I will assume that it was not practiced. I realize that one should not assume and I am sure you will mention each Step and it’s progress in the future.

Coach: I told you, Karl, I am sticking with this and by that I mean the 9-step routine!

Karl: – And that is what it will take for your players to really get the benefits out of this positive soccer habit building program

Coach:  I also miswrote in that with the 8./17 practice, we DID do the 1 on 1 (both 1+1 and 1v1). We also had a half-time (step 5), a cool down (step 8) and ended practice in the normal way (step 9). The only thing that I dropped was the small- sided game – guilty as charged!

 Karl: No comment necessary.

Coach: Also, the plan that I had written up for 8/17 that included changing direction was based on your recommendation.

Karl: Yes, we had agreed to introduce the ‘change of direction’ theme. But the ‘change of direction’ was to be introduced only to your advanced players who were already able to do ‘the Serve’ pattern without difficulty.   Remember, you had mentioned that the advanced players found ‘the Serve’ pattern was too easy and became boring. You, also, said that you had them go through ‘the Serve’ pattern for the majority of the first half of practice – Something that highly discouraged. We agreed that you would break the active Steps into 15 min. segments.

And the advanced players were to repeat ‘the Serve’ pattern but with new challenges. The first challenge was for them to teach the weaker players how to run through ‘the Serve’ pattern correctly. Teaching someone else would make the technique more permanent. And the second challenge was for them to add the ‘change of direction’ technique into their own Serve pattern.

Coach: – I will, also, however, put added emphasis (in my observation, not ON the kids) as to how familiar and how well they are learning the 9-step routine, being as sure as I can that they ultimately “get it.”

Karl: It is extremely important for youth coaches to discipline their mind to focus on what is being taught and ignore all other mistakes. Too many youth coaches cause Paralysis through their Analysis and your willingness to ‘Observe’ will eliminate this tendency. Advice: You may want to make written notes on your observations for future reference..!

Coach: Also, we have had 4 practices that we have followed (at least loosely for the first one or two) the 9-step routine, so when I say they get it, I mean that they (nearly all) can set up a 1+1 field and at least follow the pattern around the cones – they aren’t going too fast, but, for the most part, they can do 

Karl: Our goal is to have you just say the following buzz words: Begin Practice, Warm-up, One + One, One vs. One, Break, Small Sided Game, Scrimmage, Cool down, End Practice and they automatically respond by going into doing the appropriate action. Once they ‘get it’ then we will begin to introduce more buzz words that will focus on technique development.

Coach: As far as the scrimmage goes, I recall you suggesting that we do it – no? 

Karl: Yes, every practice must end with a Scrimmage with you allowing them to play without interference. This allows them to have some FUN while competing and testing their newly learned ‘theme!’

 We have agreed that you would allow 15 min. for the Scrimmage. However, in a previous email you showed high interest in teaching players how to stay/play in positions. We agreed to dedicate at least 5 min. to Shadow Training which would take 5 min. away from the FUN scrimmage – There is not reason for you to take 5 min. away from the Small Sided Game Step and add it to your scrimmage time. In other words, adjust your time according to what you feel is the most important need at this time..!

Coach: I spoke with the other coach before practice and decided to have a scrimmage with them as the “scrimmage” part (Steps 6 & 7) of practice.  

Karl: We noted earlier that your first priority is to take the players through the 9-Steps. The goal is for you to eventually expect them to run their own practices — with you simply observing and making adjustment. Routine, Routine, Routine.

 And as previously mentioned you could have taken 10 min. from the Small Sided Game portion and added that to the Scrimmage rather than ‘skipping’ the Small Sided Step completely.

 In the future, make sure to run your practice with all Steps touched upon even if for a limited period of time. You can always finish playing a 15+ min. game against some opposing team. Or, change one of your upcoming scheduled practices to be a cooperative and then competitive game against this other coach’s team.

Coach: No, I am not “pulling your leg” by identifying a couple of areas that need work – I mean it. Of course ALL areas need some sort of work – I was simply relating to you a couple of my observations.

Karl: Good observations and I was pulling your leg J I am sure you agree that ALL 8-9 year olds need to improve in ALL areas of the game.

 FUNdamentally, however, I want you to focus on developing only ONE THEME at a TIME!!! Start by teaching them the 9’Step Practice Routine once they understand the routine…then we will be able to focus on developing individual technique such as ‘changing direction!’

Coach: Anyway, let’s keep this up – I’m getting a lot out of it, it sounds like you are too and ultimately the kids will be the winners!!!!

Karl: Bottom Line …

            If the children benefit from our exchanges then we are ALL winners!!!

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