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Successful, Purposeful and Deliberate Coaching (Part -1)

How Koach Karl and Anson Dorrance Carried the GSA Force ’89 Girls to the South Texas State Playoffs!
Simple. One vs. One.

Oh, I know. Everybody coaches 1v1—a lot. But Karl Dewazien and Anson Dorrance taught me how to coach
it not only successfully but purposefully, deliberately, and specifically for girls.

Karl Dewazien was brought in from Northern California to do a coaching session at the STYSA Summer Workshop
held in Corpus Christi. If Karl’s name is ringing bells, but you can’t quite remember why it’s because he
authored what are arguably the most developmentally appropriate series of books on coaching youth soccer
available. The books in his FUNdamental Soccer Series have become supplementary texts in the coaching curriculum
for many state youth soccer associations.

Karl, Emeritus Director of Coaching for CYSA, did some excellent pullout sessions in Corpus specifically
geared to the STYSA Coaching Education Staff. Still, it was his “open-to-the-public” presentation on 1v1
that really caught my attention. Karl not only had U6s & U8s playing 1v1 with passion and enthusiasm, but
he also had them setting up their cones and dividing the playing field into grids! Had I not seen it with
my own eyes, I would have been skeptical that it could happen. But I did see it. Little bitty kids that
would drive the “man on the street” crazy were setting up their playing spaces in an organized fashion under
Karl’s expert direction. With kids he had never seen before, pulled randomly from the audience, Karl showed
us how to work the 1v1 games to the developmental stage of the children involved. Those of us who have taught
kindergarten know that only years of experience develop such deftness at successfully communicating with small
children about movement in big spaces.

Koach Karl dramatically explained how this intensive approach to 1v1 play had moved a CYSA Modesto Club quickly
up the ranks in Northern California. Impressed with Modesto’s rapid improvement, Dewazien developed a set of
training materials to teach recreational coaches how to maximize the use of 1v1. These materials subsequently
became a crucial part of CYSA’s Coaching Education Field Curriculum. Karl certainly had my attention.

I then remembered Anson Dorrance using a similar 1v1 play with his North Carolina women’s team to increase training
intensity at their college practices. Now that was pause for thought! Karl Dewazien, child development guru of
American Soccer advocating a game similar to what I remembered the number one college women’s coach using with
the number one women’s college team in the country. I had to go back and reread what Dorrance had written if I
was to make sense of it all for my U-12s.

As I watch local U-8 and U-10 coaches continue to struggle when urging their players to “PASS THE BALL,” I am
reaping the rewards of a more concentrated effort on 1v1 work. My U-12 players regularly practice taking teammates
on 1v1 in practice, and they do not hesitate to beat their opponent 1 on 1 in our games confidently. The 1v1 games
have helped their confidence, decision-making, technique, and, most significantly, their fitness level. Because
of how we structure the game, complement those who defend well, and score many goals, we have achieved a motivational
balance. Defensive positions are valued on our team, and not everyone is clamoring to play striker. Our players love
the totality of the game with a maturity beyond most U-12s.

In his incredibly informative book, Training Soccer Champions, Dorrance walks us through how to use 1v1 to create
a super competitive training environment by charting the results and often awarding starting positions to those who
perform best in practice each week. His results have been well documented, and while his methods are not for everyone,
he has turned out the largest crop of successful female soccer coaches in memory. In my opinion, that is the ultimate
measure of coaching greatness. When players honor a coach by following in their footsteps and proving successful in
their efforts, it is most reflective of a job well done.

However, U-12s are not college players, and creating too competitive an environment too early ALWAYS causes some
socialization problems. Let me say that again. Creating too competitive an environment too early ALWAYS causes some
socialization problems. The tradeoff is: The team may win, but the child’s emotional/social growth is stunted. Taunting,
tantrums, constant whining, quitting, blaming others, team infighting, lack of mental toughness, dogging it in practice,
bullying, etc., etc., etc., are GUARANTEED if the environment gets too competitive too soon. This I don’t need!

I had some interesting decisions ahead of me. Keeping the developmental needs of my U-12s in mind, how do I balance
what Dewazien has demonstrated with U-6s in Corpus against Dorrance’s highly successful North Carolina model?

Linda Frasher Meigs
South Texas Youth Soccer Association
Coaching Education Staff

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