Living in the age of cell phones, texting, tweeting, instagram, facebook and other social media I have become aware that much of our communication these days is becoming impersonal,  In watching a recent futsal tournament I became aware of our team shaking hands with opponents after matches as much for the personal contact in their greeting as anything else.  I then went on to observe that in greeting their own teammates there were no handshakes, no hugs and often no formal greeting of any type.   My train of thought took me to appreciating that it is little wonder lack of communication on the field of play is a common complaint of coaches about their teams.

Maybe we should outfit team members with Secret Service style personal communication devices equiped with earpieces?  Do not snicker too hard because there is a company out of Powell, Ohio marketing such a thing as a training aid for soccer teams. At the upper levels of the game referee's wear headsets / buzzer systems to communicate with one another during matches.

I think a better approach might be to encourage players to greet one another before practices with a handshake or quick hug with a simple greet of "Hello _____!  Good to to see you"  Simple small talk but also an effective life skill. For instance, the first in-person impression a potential employer has of you is in how you greet him or her.  Are you well practiced and comfortable with executing a firm handshake and making solid eye contact?  You never get a second chance to make a first impression. 

So, this spring our team will work on greeting one another properly.

We will work on disengaging as well. A shake of the hand accompanied by "Good job out there!" or "Way to give it your all today!" perhaps accompanied by a brief embrace and exchange of a hand slap to one anothers back.  And finally an acknowledgement that "I'll see you tomorrow."

Hopefully through getting used to greeting one another we can stimulate better on the field communication as well, but in the least we should improve interpersonal skills and perhaps help the young men make favorable first impressions throughout their lives.


What do coaches look for in players?

I have recently been involved in a round table discussion of "What coaches look for in players".  It came at an apporpriate time as I faced some difficult decisions in rounded out a club team roster.  It may come as a surprise to you that the most valued trait was decision-making skills.

Of course, everyone wants great athletic talent and wonderful skill sets but as the disccusion contnued it became apparent to all the ability to read the game, soccer IQ, vision were traits valued as much as pure athleticism or great skills.  The focus turned to the word potential being the label apllied to great physial athletes with poor or underdeveloped decision-making skills.

Over the years of coaching I had arrived at this conclusion without ever expressing it in words.  Experience as both a player and a coach provided examples of great athletes who were mediocre players.  People who could thrive on individual talent but never seemed to mesh well in team settings. People who dominated weaker opponents with sheer physical talent only towily when faced with playing against good athletes with better decision-making skills.

In the end, it is the mind that seperates the truly great from the merely good, the good from the average. The players hat are able to "think the game" instead of being satisfied with just playing at the game are the ones I want. This is what enables career "role players" to last as long as they do in some sports. They know who they are as a player and how their abilities fit in to the grand scheme of the game. It is also what allows an all-time great like Michael Jordan in basketball to move from being an incredible athlete his first few years in the NBA to a 6 time NBA champion in his later years.

Decision-making can be an acquired skill. Coaches must provide players with the necessary tools and ample opportunities to practice decision making on their own.  A coach must be comfortable in the knowledge that good decisions come from experience and experience is often the product of poor decisions. 

A fascinating discussion that affirmed what I have come to realize as a coach.  That realization has come from 30+ years of making mistakes as a coach. Many, perhaps most, of the decision making skills I have today are a by-product of mistakes I have made along the way.  I've learned from mistakes and have been able to apply what I have learned to not only help myself but also to provide others the value of my experences.  I'm not done learning though.  I still make mistakes.  My decision-making skills still have room for improvement.  And that is the most valuable lesson I can impart to the players I coach.


High School Rule Changes

Details can be found at this lnk:  http://www.ohsaa.org/sports/so/girls/2013/2013NFHSSORulesRelease.pdf

In short, coaches and players may now huddle during injury stoppages, more subjectivity given to referees when obvious goal scoring opportunities are denied by foul, further uniform restrictions - this time pertaining to socks / tape.


What is your coaching philosophy?

What is your coaching philosophy?

Hopefully you have given this question proper consideration as coaching involves so much more than rolling a ball out for practice and making out a line up for games.  This article will atempt to provide the reader with an outline for defining their own coaching philosophy.  It's pefectly acceptable to model yours after that of a respected coach but you must make it your own.  That is, you cannot incorporate something into your philosophy that you do not fully understand or do not believe in just because it works for someone else.