Weekly email 4/22/16
At our general meeting earlier this month we shared with all parent coaches that we will ask both the professional trainer and the parent coach for each travel team, to fill out an evaluation on all players on each travel team. We most certainly are gathering good information through our age group academies. Information which will help use determine where players place next year, assuming they are going to continue in the travel program. We still believe it is very valuable to collect these player evaluations though. The more information we can gather, the easier it will hopefully become to place players on the right team next year. Our goal is eventually to place players on a team where they fit best given where they are currently in their development. Horst Wein, one of my favorite youth coaches who sadly enough passed away not too long ago, made this perfectly clear when he stated: “Competition for kids, should fit them like their shoes. Too often our kids are playing with shoes that are by far too big and don’t suit them perfectly”.
The evaluation form that we will share with everyone will be accompanied by an outline based on our age appropriate priorities, to better explain what we want the trainer and coach to focus on. It is important to recognize how old players are and what we therefor can ask from our players. Our U9 players are still trying to understand the concept of shape in possession of the ball. It takes a while for players to fully understand this important concept, so it is not fair to expect from these same players that they are also capable of controlling the rhythm of the game. For that reason, we can’t use that against players in that age group when completing an evaluation.
All evaluations are based on the 4 components or pillars of the game (technical; tactical; physical and mental). They all play an important role in the development of a player, although at a younger age the focus is a bit more on the technical development of a player. We can’t underestimate the importance of a good attitude and a drive to succeed. It is always beneficial to have natural talent, but that alone by itself is not enough to develop as a soccer player. Some of the most talented players in the youth ranks do not make it all the way (collegiate level or even professional level). Simply because they do not always understand what it means to deal with setbacks. Quite often, it is those few players next in line, those that really had to work their way to the top, who end up being successful. A healthy drive to better yourself; a hunger to succeed and learning to deal with setbacks along the way can’t be underestimated. The road to excellence is not a perfect one.
I found a very useful article written by someone who has a very interesting opinion on the overall state of youth soccer in the US. It does help explain the importance of player evaluations and what they can tell if completed the right way. I especially like his quote at the end referring to coaches who will pick players who will help him/her win games immediately. Those that pick the most physically gifted players, not necessarily those players who are smaller and a little bit behind in their physical development even though they might be the better players in the long run.
Good luck this weekend,
Director of Coaching - Westfield Soccer Association