group of kids playing soccer on grass

Like Bad Tasting Medicine This Is Good for the Players

by Joe Esfandiary with Koach Karl

“Allow me to share the conversation that I had with A. Sampson (Coaching Candidate) with you.

Coach Sampson is an individual that I had the pleasure of mentoring for the last two years. Coach Sampson played at Cal Poly and was also the assistant coach for the Cal Poly women’s soccer team. She is also a coach for a U12 competition team in Sacramento.

Two years ago, before she received any youth coach training, her team had minimum success and placed last in their league. But, after gaining some valuable coaching tips from your ‘9-Step Practice Routine’. She was very happy to inform me that her team got first place in her league and they have won many tournaments this year.

She believes by using our practice routine and coaching (teaching) methodology she was very successful this year. She explained that she uses the Figure 8 stretch routine along with 1v1 training at every practice session for 20-30 minutes (with rotation I am sure!)

This procedure resulted in her team gaining so much self confidence and skill to take players on and show a great deal of determination and agility. She did mention, that she skips the 1+1, since her team was getting bored and they were ready for 1v1 play. (It is OK to modify our system to match your teams experience level. In fact we encourage that because we seek success).

She mentioned that there are no dull moments in her practice sessions now and the girls are loving it! (Keeping players active in a proper soccer environment – inside our routine – is what this is all about).

The ‘9-Step Practice Routine’ has also made her job much easier to manage her team and time. Also, there is a sense of direction and ultimate success in her training sessions.

Lastly, she mentioned that even though she and her team won the League championship. This year, unlike two years ago and last place. There are still a few parents who believe their team is not scoring enough times per game. (Despite all our discussions with our parents about this wonderful, worldwide, low scoring, but yet very demanding and skillful sport. There are still those compulsive complainers. How wonderful our job would be if only we could ask these parents not to show up to our games? Better yet encourage them to learn our FUNdamental Methodology and learn ‘how to’ teach and love this game through our program).

Go 1v1 and ‘9-Step Practice Routine’!!!

Joe Esfandiary,
FUNdamental SOCCER supporter
USSF “B” Licensed Coach
Two-time High School Champion

Koach Karl:
Thank You’ for sharing this wonderful experience with me. I would like to use your letter as a springboard to re-emphasize the importance of our (1+1 phase). As you mentioned and so have many other coaches, ‘She skips the 1+1 since her team was getting bored and they were ready for the 1v1.

We, 9-Step Practice Routine Proponents, need to emphasize to the coaches we are teaching that the 1+1 and 1v1 are two distinct and separate parts of our practice routine. In the 1+1 we are asking the coach to focus on ‘teaching’ basic skills. In the 1v1 we are asking the coaches ‘to observe’ the progress of their teaching the basic skill. Let me break this down for you:

In the 1+1 we are asking the coach to prepare to stop the action and make points of refinement on the Theme. In the 1+1 we are asking the coach to prepare the players to stop their action and be ready to learn from the coaches points of refinement. In the 1+1 we expect the coach and players to cooperate so that each player gains success in the theme being taught through mutual cooperation. It is the coaches’ responsibility to make this potentially boring part of practice exciting!

In a recent Olympic Development Program (ODP) tryout environment a coach told the players that: “We are observing your ability to follow verbal instructions when laying out the cones”. You would have been amazed on how proper the cones were laid out and in a minimum amount of time.

When asked to go through ‘the Serve’ and how this will tell test their foot speed with the ball. Not one player looked bored. They were too busy trying to get through ‘the Serve’ at top speed.

When told that we are focusing on their eyes and their ability to read the game. The speed around the cones decreased dramatically and eyeballs could be seen scanning the playing area. In other words we disguised the fact that the players were continuously going through ‘the Serve’ by having them focus on different technical themes. A note of interest: The evaluators were astounded at the technical weaknesses of the players at the try-out and how easy it was to observe these weaknesses by just using ‘the Serve’.

This is totally different from the 1vs1 phase where we ask the coach to strictly observe and take written notes. The coach is asked to observe and take notes on weaknesses observed during the 1v1 competition. The coach should never stop the action during the 1v1 games. In the 1v1 we are asking the coach to prepare the players to never stop their action and ignore verbal instructions. In the 1v1 we are asking the players to fail their way to success!

Going back to the ODP tryout. At the end of each session we asked the players about the tryout. They all loved the 1v1 games, the small-sided games and the scrimmage. Only ‘a few’ liked the 1+1 the rest did not like it because, in their words, ‘it was too difficult.’ Guess, how many players were invited to the next level (a few). Guess, which players were invited to the next level (the same few) because they had good basic skill.

And where did the majority show very slight improvement? In their awareness of scanning the field – since we stressed this theme during the 1+1 phase. These players showed and told us that maybe, like medicine – what we don’t like very much does us the most good?

Since we (FUNdamental proponents) know that without basic skills, for example the first touch, players will not reach a higher level. It will be our goal to teach the coaches how vitally important the 1+1 phase is in the development of their players. No coach should ‘skip’ this phase because the players are ‘bored’.

We will need to present to them ways in which they can make the 1+1 phase more exciting. If we are excited about teaching this phase to them; they will be more excited to teach their players!

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