if you had a magic wand, What significant changes would you make to improve youth soccer?
- The pay-to-play model is obviously more tailored to the business than the player. It’s created an environment that often requires a certain amount of privilege to be successful, and there are certainly players being missed.
- Similarly, we have too many competing “elite leagues,”, especially for girls, which still have no established pathway into the professional game. Other countries continue to have more success than the United States, even without the same resources, based on their model and accessibility to the sport.
What methods have you found to be successful when coaching girls?
- Contrary to popular belief, I do not alter my coaching style based on genders, such as softening the message or the demand for a girls’ team.
- Girls want to be challenged and pushed, similar to boys. It’s important to create a competitive environment where they feel empowered.
What methods have you found to be unsuccessful when coaching girls?
- Each player is different.
- There isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy.
- Some need to be pushed with a high level of intensity, while others require more individual feedback and discussions.
- The factor that remains true regardless is that girls need to feel appreciated, accepted, and understood.
- Valuing each player, creating an inclusive environment, and empowering players to compete creating a space where “coaching” becomes much easier.
What can/should girls do independently to improve themselves?
- Technically, the women’s game is still underdeveloped. Girls need to spend significant time with the ball, competing with friends, siblings, etc.
- Beyond that, speed, agility, and weight training can’t be underestimated. Girls can have a preconceived idea that becoming too muscular or fit will be harmful. Still, in reality, it’s critical in their development and even regarding injury prevention.
- Finally, watching more soccer. Finally, women’s professional football is easily accessible, but it isn’t yet being taken advantage of. Soccer IQ, specifically tactically, needs to improve in the women’s game at all levels.
Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share?
- Enable your girls to be strong leaders, voices, competitors – whatever they want to be. We are too often told to “smile,” “be nice,” “act like a lady,” etc., and those same demands often carry onto the field and truly don’t suit the sport.
- The best players can step onto the field and focus on finding a way to win.
- Push your players to play, battle, and compete, and allow them to demand the same of themselves and each other.
Koach Karl’s Notes:
Thank you, Coach Grimley, for taking the time to contribute these thoughtful responses.
Dear Reader: Do you have any Comments-Tips addressing these questions that you would like to share? Then, please do so because they may help improve players, coaches, and even the playing environment in soccer communities throughout this country … Priceless!