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eNewsletter for Indiana Soccer Club Directors of

November r

2011-12

Coaching


Table of Contents Introduction to eNews Magazine…page 2 U.S. Soccer Names Caleb Porter Head Coach of U.S. Under-23 MNT… page 2 A Woman Amongst Boys…page 2 Global Small-Sided Games…page 3 Goal Safety – An Import Video…page 4 Soccer America’s Youth Insider: Klinsmann Q&A…page 5 Minors Take on Major League Soccer Challenge…page 5 How Goalkeeper Coaches Can Help Keepers Read the Game…page 8 Patience key when coaching boys in transition (Q&A with Manny Schellscheidt) …page 10 Growing Pains: Girls Face Challenge of the 'Commotional' Years…page 12 International Skills Test…16


Dear Club D.O.C.s and Administrators, What’s up D.O.C.? - will be my way of trying to get closer to you and share some important and fun things that are going on in Indiana Soccer. I hope to share with you informative articles, opportunities to grow with the game, and just interesting soccer tidbits. If you have anything that you feel you want to share with the rest of the soccer community please send to me.

U.S. Soccer Names Caleb Porter Head Coach of U.S. Under-23 MNT CHICAGO (Oct. 20, 2011) – U.S. Soccer has named Caleb Porter the head coach of the U.S. Under23 Men’s National Team, effective immediately. Porter will lead the U-23 team in its quest to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games when they compete in CONCACAF qualifying in March next year. In addition to Porter, U.S. Soccer has hired former U.S. international and threetime World Cup veteran Tab Ramos to coach the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team. “We are excited to have Caleb join our youth National Team staff,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “Still early in his career, Caleb has been extremely successful and has demonstrated the ability to mentor and develop young players. A proven winner, we believe he will do a great job of leading our Under-23 Men’s National Team as they look to qualify for the Olympic Games next summer.” “Tab Ramos has been one of the pioneers of the sport in this country and will bring a wealth of experience in his role as the Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach. His addition to our national team program will be a benefit as we continue to concentrate on the development of our youth players at the international level.” The 36-year-old Porter will continue in his role as the head coach of the University of Akron, where he has coached since 2006 and led the Zips to the 2010 NCAA Division I National Championship.


"I am honored and feel extremely privileged to be given this once in a lifetime opportunity to lead the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team,” said Porter. “I'm eager to start the process of putting the pieces together in preparation for Olympic qualifying in March." Entering this year with a 90-13-10 record spanning five seasons, Porter has the highest winning percentage amongst any active NCAA Division I coach and helped Akron to top-five finishes for goals scored and goals-against-average in both the 2009 and 2010 seasons, the only program in the nation to do so. Porter was named the 2009 NSCAA National Coach of the Year, and has won the MidAmerican Conference Coach of the Year award four consecutive times since 2007. Porter has recruited and developed 12 players at Akron who have been drafted into MLS in the last five years, including the 2009 No. 1 overall pick Steve Zakuani, No. 4 pick Teal Bunbury in 2010 and No. 2 pick Darlington Nagbe in 2011. Moreover, Akron set an MLS record with five of the first eight selections in the 2011 SuperDraft and seven draftees overall. In addition to his time at Akron, Porter has contributed to the U.S. Soccer youth national teams as a U-18 assistant coach and U.S. Soccer Development Academy scout. Porter began his professional playing career in 1998 with the San Jose Clash as the 26th overall pick in the MLS College Draft. He joined the Tampa Bay Mutiny the next season before a knee injury forced him to retire only a year later. Porter is hoping to lead the team to its second consecutive Olympic Games and its fifth since the tournament became an Under-23 event in 1992. The USA’s best finish came in 2000, when the team reached the semifinal round before falling to Spain and finishing fourth. The U.S. will hold a training camp next month from Nov. 7-16 in Germany that will feature players from both the U-23 and U-20 player pools. Ramos will run the camp along with U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director Claudio Reyna. The full coaching staff and the team schedule for Germany will be announced at a later date, as well as future camps for the U-23s prior to qualifying.

A Woman Amongst Boys By Brandon Parker

Chaminade, a perennial power on the Missouri soccer scene, has found this season that playing like a girl isn't so bad. Especially when that girl is U.S. Women's National Team player Heather Mitts. Mitts, who is married to St. Louis Rams QB A.J. Feeley, has been training with Chaminade this season and it's proved helpful in elevating the Red Devils' play and onfield communication. Check out this video for more on this unique partnership: ESPN Chaminade Boys Soccer and Heather


Global Small-Sided Games “2 vs. 2 Games” Organization: 2v2 situation will be developed in 3 small sided games. Roster: 15 to 22 players including 2 or 3 goalies. Description: Game 1 - 2v2 inside the box with 2 goalies, Game 2 - 2v2 game with 4 goals. Game 3 2v2 game in attack x defense game format, defenders score on the small goals on the side. Coaching Points: -2v2 game development -give and go, support, overlap, diagonal passing -1st and 2nd defender roles -Speed of improvisation and adaptation Equipment: balls, cones, discs, vests, small goals and mobile goals.

“11 vs. 11 Half Field” Organization: 11v11 situation in half of the field. Roster: 22 players including 2 goalies. Formation: 1-4-2-3-1 Description: 11v11 game situation in the half of the field divided in 2 zones: defensive and offensive. This game will develop the speed of pressure on the ball and on the ball side. The team without possession earns points every time that they regain the ball possession with 5 seconds on the zone 1 or 8 seconds on the zone 2. Rule: vertical long passing is not allowed. Both teams play in the 1-4-2-3-1 formation.


Coaching Points: - 11v11 pressuring situation -Game transition offensivedefensive -Speed of reaction and organization from the closest player to the ball and progressed to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th 5th ...... -Compactness -Communication. Equipment: balls, discs, vests and mobile goal.

Goal Safety – An Import Video US Youth Soccer released a video via Youtube that gives an important reminder to club coaches, parents and players of the importance of insuring goals are secured prior to training with them. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6i8KWPxb1j4


Klinsmann Q&A: Parents can set an example (Part 1) Interview by Mike Woitalla Jurgen Klinsmann, whose playing career included winning the 1990 World Cup title with Germany, took a keen interest in American youth soccer when he moved to California upon his retirement in 1998. He became head coach of the U.S. national team in July and took time before the USA's November friendlies against France and Slovenia to discuss American youth soccer issues, including the parents' role, pay-to-play, differences between European and American youth clubs, college ball -- and he offers some advice to youth coaches. SOCCER AMERICA: You have spoken often about the value of unorganized soccer for children -- and you helped found an initiative (FD21) to promote that in Germany. Is there a way to increase the amount of soccer children play in the USA outside the club structure? JURGEN KLINSMANN: The keys for soccer development are for children to enjoy kicking a ball and enjoy playing soccer types of games. It does not take a soccer field or an organized team training to do this. But we may need to help our children learn what they can do on their own or with a few friends to enjoy kicking a ball and playing soccer. In other words, youth soccer training should include lots of fun -- “you can do this on your own” -- activities, including showing examples of how to have soccer-related fun in a backyard, the driveway, the schoolyard, a park, against a wall, or anywhere there is a small amount of space and a ball -- any kind of ball. In the USA, basketball is part of the culture. So young basketball players grow up learning how to play types of basketball games -- like 1-on-1, 21, H-O-R-S-E --- on their own and with small groups. We need to help our young soccer players to be able to do the same thing -- play on their own or with their friends or with their parents wherever they are with whatever ball is available. SOCCER AMERICA: A big change in children's sports is the declining role of schools' physical education and sports programs. Can you speak to that issue? JURGEN KLINSMANN: Of course I think it is too bad that physical education and sports programs are declining in schools. And I understand though do not necessarily agree with some of the reasons, primarily around setting priorities and budget cuts. So, as parents, we have a choice -- sit back and do nothing in the face of this decline or create alternative opportunities for our children. Actually, I do not think that we do have a choice. I think we have to create alternative opportunities for our children. It is part of their lifelong education. We hear constantly about the problems of obesity and other health-related issues arising from a lack of exercise. What can we -- as parents -- do about it? Set an example. Be active with our children. Don’t let them automatically watch TV or go into their rooms to play video games or go online. Encourage outdoor activities year round. Kick a ball in the backyard. Walk or ride a bike to the store instead of driving. Participate in a local community event instead of going to the movies. There are many active things we can do with our children and that they can do on their own, if we make this type of active lifestyle a family priority. SA: One of the huge flaws in American youth soccer is the high cost. (The more talented you are, the more it costs.) Why is this not the case in other countries, such as Germany, and do you see any solutions to the problem in the USA? JURGEN KLINSMANN: In European countries, there are two types of clubs: local soccer/sports clubs and professional soccer clubs, which may also include other sports. The local soccer/sports clubs usually serve people from youth through adulthood. So, there is a lifelong opportunity to participate and adult fees are helping reduce (though not eliminate) youth fees. Plus, the local soccer/sports clubs tend to play 10-month seasons based on local travel and local leagues, not regional leagues and big tournaments with high fees and long-distance travel as is common in the USA. Also, in Europe, the professional clubs have youth programs and they start signing up promising players at young ages and pay for their costs of training. So, the culture of sports participation and the professional club influence are much different and much stronger in Europe than currently in the USA.


Going forward, MLS clubs will have more influence in the USA, including providing free opportunities to play for talented players. Plus, we may see more American youth clubs partnering with international clubs, which will pay for the training costs of talented young American players. Chelsea, for instance, is experimenting with this right now. Obviously, a big difference between the USA and European countries is that most promising young American soccer players will end up playing college soccer, while promising young European players have the goal of being professional players. There are many, many more college soccer programs in the USA than there are professional clubs in any European country. But colleges cannot pay for youth development programs like professional clubs can. So, in summary, there are significant differences between the European sports culture and the American sports culture, which will not dramatically change anytime soon and which do impact the costs associated with youth soccer. SA: Is the enormous geographic size of the USA a problem for the national team program as it scouts for talent and develops it? And if so, what are the solutions to overcoming the challenge? JURGEN KLINSMANN: I look at the size and diversity of the USA as providing us with a tremendous opportunity, not a problem. We are blessed with a large, relatively wealthy, sports-oriented population that has invested in soccer facilities and organizing soccer so that millions of youngsters are playing soccer year-round. And, more attention is now being paid to developing soccer programs for underserved populations and geographic areas. While we may have different and sometimes competing youth development soccer organizations, there are certainly opportunities for children to develop and play. In terms of scouting for talented players, youth clubs are doing it, youth organizations are doing it, colleges are doing it, professional teams are doing it, and our U.S. Soccer scouts are doing it. So, I think we are probably able to identify most of the very talented young players. There are also more comprehensive and more consistent training programs being made available across the country, for example the U.S. Soccer Development Academy and MLS academies. One trend I encourage, which has been successful in other large countries such as France and Germany that committed to youth development and which can now also be seen here in the USA, is to regionalize programs. This will cut down on costs, allow the youth players and their families to have more normal lifestyles, and provide for more development opportunities. SA: If a coach of an under-8 team came to you for advice, how would you respond? JURGEN KLINSMANN: Have fun! Let the children enjoy themselves! Help them learn the excitement they can experience kicking a ball and playing soccer-type games on their own, with their friends, and with their parents wherever they are with whatever ball they have available.

(Part 2) Klinsmann Q&A: 'We are on the right track' Jurgen Klinsmann’s stint as Germany's national team coach in 2004-06 coincided with the nation's rebirth as a world power. We asked Klinsmann, U.S. head coach since July, to compare the German player development efforts with those in the USA. SOCCER AMERICA: The World Cup is less than three years away, but, for example, your German 2006 World Cup team and Germany's 2010 World Cup team included key players who were in their teens just a couple years before the World Cup. How likely is it that players who are in their late teens now might be able to help your U.S. squad? JURGEN KLINSMANN: Age is not the key per se. Pele was 17 in his first World Cup. Michael Owen was 18. Lionel Messi was 19. But, as young as they were, these players had already established themselves as stars for their professional clubs. So, having a very successful professional club experience will be the key as to whether or not any of our young players contribute to the national team, particularly in the World Cup. SA: You played against the USA in 1993 (twice) and at the 1998 World Cup, and have been observing American soccer closely since then. How would you assess the talent pool for the national team now compared the 1990s? JURGEN KLINSMANN: I can look back on the U.S. teams that I played against in the 1990s and identify some very talented players. For instance, Claudio [Reyna] and Tab [Ramos] had international and MLS club careers, and, consequently, I am glad to now be working with them at U.S. Soccer. Kasey [Keller] is only now retiring and Brad [Friedel] is still playing. So, there have been talented American players capable of playing at high levels for a generation. But, certainly, there are now more American players capable of playing at the professional level and they are doing so in MLS as well as in many other leagues around the world. SA: The German national team's rebirth as a national power -- and that it plays entertaining, attacking soccer -- is credited


largely to the DFB's and the Bundesliga's change in approach to youth development within the last decade. Are there examples of the German approach that can be applied to the USA? JURGEN KLINSMANN: In Germany, both the federation and the professional clubs made a commitment to youth development --- and this has helped create a player development environment that contributes to renewed success for the German national team. In the USA we now see a similar growing commitment by both U.S. Soccer and MLS to promote youth development. U.S. Soccer now sponsors the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, the new youth development curriculum announced by Claudio [Reyna] this year, extensive training and competition opportunities for youth national team players as well as other programs. And, MLS clubs are now investing in player development academies, the benefits associated with developing “homegrown” talent, playfor-free opportunities, 10 months a year youth training programs as well as other programs. So, we are on the right track -- although it may take time to see a dramatic improvement in international results for U.S. national teams. SA: How much of what the DFB (German soccer federation) implemented in its youth development was thanks to you? JURGEN KLINSMANN: The thanks go to the youth coaches who dedicate themselves to working with young players. I am pleased to have been a part of promoting youth development and then showing that entertaining, attacking soccer can be successful on an international stage like the World Cup -- while playing young players. SA: How closely will you be connected U.S. Development Academy in hopes of finding players who can help the national team program? JURGEN KLINSMANN: The U.S. Soccer national teams program currently includes youth teams at the U14, U15, U17, and U18 levels as well as senior teams at the U20 and U23 levels, which more directly feed the full national team. Currently, the U.S. Development Academy has teams in two age groups: U15/16 and U17/18. Both these programs --- U.S. Soccer youth national teams, which include player identification opportunities and training camps as well as competitions, and the U.S. Soccer Development Academy --- are carefully monitored by Claudio, the U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director, and his staff of youth technical advisors. They provide regular updates, including updates on players that appear to have national team potential, to the national team coaches, including myself. But, in fairness to the youth players, they really must establish themselves as regular players within a professional club environment before they will be ready for the full national team.

How Goalkeeper Coaches Can Help Keepers Read the Game By Tim Mulqueen

The goalkeeper coach, or the person filling that role, oversees every aspect of the goalkeepers training. This means running the keeper drills and suggesting strategies as well as overseeing the keepers’ interaction with the rest of the team. The more involved the goalkeeper coach is, the better he can guide the goalkeepers’ development and nurture their ability to read the game. Early in the keepers’ development, the coach may move the keepers around to the appropriate angles as the play changes directions. For example, some keepers may be hesitant to leave the goal line; the coach will move these keepers a little farther out so that they can intercept a through ball or catch a ball that’s hit over their backs’ heads. As the keepers progress, the coach can focus the keepers’ attention on the finer points of reading the game. One way a coach can help a keeper anticipate the play is to explain that the keeper is responsible for two-thirds of the field behind the backs. The first third of the area behind the defensive line is too far away for the keeper to cover, but behind that section, the keeper who has the ability to read the play can anticipate through balls and intercept them. In addition to training the keepers individually, the goalkeeper coach must be a part of functional team training. (If the team doesn’t have a keeper coach, then the assistant coach who is responsible for the


keepers should be there.) During team training, the keeper coach should help the goalkeepers direct the team, solve problems, and answer questions. The keeper coach should be constantly analyzing plays and evaluating the keepers’ positioning and decision making. The keeper coach will assess, for example, whether the keeper is in the right starting spots when the ball is in certain areas. If the keeper sticks to the line when the action is farther out, he may not be close enough to comprehend the immediate danger. The keeper may be lulled into a false sense of security, and if he doesn’t read things quickly, he’ll be punished. Alternatively, if the keeper strays too far from the goal, he’s vulnerable to a shot chipped over his head and into the goal. The keeper coach should have the ability to stop training and make corrections when necessary. The coach might offer comments such as the following: * “Here’s where you’re in trouble. You need Jackie farther to the right and Sally penalty spot.”

closer to the

* “Jose should be playing farther out to close off the passing lane down the side.” * “You need to be farther off your line so that you don’t give them so much space behind our backs to pass into.” * “You need to be farther out when we’ve got the ball in their end -- this makes it easier to communicate with your teammates. You’re a quick keeper; you can move out because you’ll be able to recover in time if they launch a long one.” Coaches must be careful not to overdo it or become a distraction by spouting nonstop instructions. Keepers need to learn how to make their own decisions. But when a coach judiciously offers advice and points out positioning flaws, this helps the keepers learn to read the game better. Also, when the field players hear the coach demonstrating the kind of directions to give, those field players will better understand why they’re receiving such direction from the keeper. To test and expand the keepers’ ability to assess a situation, the keeper coach should also use questions such as the following: * “Why do you think that’s happening?” * “Where’s a better position for that defender?" This kind of problem-solving exercise will help build the keepers’ confidence.


Patience key when coaching boys in transition (Q&A with Manny Schellscheidt) Interview by Mike Woitalla

For insight into coaching boys* when they hit puberty and how to challenge early-bloomers, we spoke to U.S. Hall of Fame coach Manfred "Manny" Schellschiedt, the technical director of U.S. Soccer's U-14 boys National Identification Program and one of the nation's most experienced youth coaches. Schellscheidt has coached at all levels of American soccer, including the U.S. U-17 and U-20 national teams, and is currently head coach at Seton Hall University, where he arrived in 1988 after winning two U-19 national titles (McGuire Cup) with the Union (N.J.) Lancers. SOCCER AMERICA: What should coaches be aware of when coaching boys who are transitioning into adulthood? MANFRED SCHELLSCHEIDT: The body does change and there are mood swings. Maybe they get aggravated easier. They get clumsy. They feel awkward. The rhythm isn’t there. The balance gets lost. They get the Osgood-Schlatter thing going on where their bones grow so fast that the other apparatus doesn’t follow suit. It’s not only a physical thing to deal with, it can also confuse them. Things that had come easy become difficult. That’s a period during which one needs to be careful and not think that all of a sudden they don’t know what they’re doing anymore, or they became bad guys. SA: How can coaches help players during those stages? SCHELLSCHEIDT: It’s patience, No. 1. And you can always engage them in conversation and say, “Look, we understand. Everybody has to go through it.” Not only does the coach need to be patient, he can tell the player, “You need to be patient with yourself.” Rather than thinking something is going haywire or there’s something seriously going wrong with you, this is actually something you need to go through and it’s normal. SA: Are the players at the U-14 level experiencing these challenges? SCHELLSCHEIDT: Some, but it usually comes a little later. And for some kids it comes much later – as late as 17 sometimes, 18 in some cases. I’ve seen guys who are small little fellas at 17 and all of a sudden they became 18 they grew a foot. SA: A boy who matures early can have a big advantage at the youth level … SCHELLSCHEIDT: … He’s a man playing with kids the same age. … In some cases, the best players come out of the group of late-bloomers, because they had to put up


with the struggle of being a little bit behind. Since they physically weren’t always the best, they had to use their head a little more, being smarter. SA: The early bloomer may be the fastest kid around, can succeed simply by blazing past opponents, and might neglect developing other parts of his game. What can a coach do to assure an early-bloomer doesn’t become too dependent on athleticism? SCHELLSCHEIDT: You have to challenge him differently. You can ask more of him. One thing you could do at times is say play two-touch, so now he has to think how fast he can move the ball rather than just running with the ball at his feet. Or pair him up with another and play two against three. … Stack the numbers against them so they rely more on combining. Sometimes it can be a numbers game. Sometimes it’s putting a condition on the exercise. SA: Like forcing him to play in small spaces? SCHELLSCHEIDT: Right, that’s a challenge for a guy who just wants to use his speed, because when it’s a tight area, then speed in itself, long sprints, don’t help. No one gets it out of first or second gear in a tight area. By that time they’re off the field. It shouldn’t take a scientist to figure out little ways to tweak things and make things up that create a different need for that guy to respond to. It’s what players are challenged with that brings out qualities. If you’re looking for things to get good you need to create a need for things to happen. When you’re putting your training session together, create conditions that challenge them play in a certain way, because there are so many different items you want to address at one time or another that round out the package of being a good player. It’s usually what a player does best naturally that gets his foot in the door -- and then you need to round out the package to be successful. SA: Obviously, a strong skill base will help players when they face the challenge of growth spurts and body changes … SCHELLSCHEIDT: Besides what you’re trying to address, there are issues that are long-term. I’ve always used the phrase from day one, “When they run they can’t think, and when they think, they can’t run.” How do you get the two together -- anytime during their development? The more they can get to the point where it’s about ideas -- it starts in the mind -- then eventually the body and the ball become instruments of your great ideas. Most guys, all they do is get a workout. They slug it out with the mechanics, even at high levels. Special ones, with them, the body and the ball have become an instrument that expresses their brilliant ideas, and that’s when soccer gets truly interesting and fun to watch. People would argue and ask what makes a great pass? You ask that question and you get a lot of


good technical answers. How it should be struck. On the ground. Firm enough. Chipped. Dipped and curled -- whatever it may be. So you get all these things that spell out the skill portion of how the ball got delivered. I say, look, if I have the ball and I want to give it to you, if I already know what you want to do with the ball when you get it, that puts you on your way to do just that and I give you a great pass. Whatever that pass may be like. But that’s executing ideas. The highest level of skill cannot be accomplished unless it begins with ideas. Skill is executing great ideas. The rest is just technique. You can have technically very, very astute guys who are dumb as hell and can’t play. SA: What can a coach do to create intelligent players? SCHELLSCHEIDT: That’s where coaching has its limits. As I've often said, coaches took care of defending and god took care of the attack when there were no coaches around. That’s when they try their darndest and try the impossible, until it works. (Manfred “Manny” Schellscheidt was the first coach to receive a USSF A license, in 1971. Currently Technical Director of the U.S. U14 boys identification program, he has coached at every level of U.S. men’s national team program and was a Region I ODP coach for 25 years, including a decade as head coach. He’s won national titles at the pro, amateur and youth levels; his the Union Lancers won McGuire Cup (U-19) titles in 1987 and 1988. He has been head coach of Seton Hall University since 1988.) (Mike Woitalla, the executive editor of Soccer America, coaches youth soccer for East Bay United in Oakland, Calif. His youth soccer articles are archived at YouthSoccerFun.com.)

Growing Pains: Girls Face Challenge of the 'Commotional' Years By Mike Woitalla Age-appropriate coaching has been cited as extremely important in player development. The Youth Soccer Insider begins a series on this topic with a look at the challenges faced by female players as they transition into their teen years by checking in with Tad Bobak, one of the most experienced and successful girls coaches in American youth soccer. Bobak, who served almost three years as U.S. U-15 girls national team coach, is currently in his fifth cycle of coaching a team from U-11 to U-18 at the So Cal Blues, an all-girls club in the soccer hotbed of Southern California. Bobak is also co-director of the Blues, which have won four U.S. Youth Soccer national titles and sent scores of players to the higher levels. “These are very sensitive topics, because, to me, boys’ growth is different than girls',” says Bobak. “We’re talking about the mental and physical.” Bobak defines the physical part as speed and strength. “If they’re fortunate to keep the speed they had when they were young, that’s already a big success,” he says of girls moving into their teens. “In many cases, that speed does not move up through the years the way it does with guys. Many times the speed of females drops through the years, unlike guys.


“The physical strength of a player can increase through the years as the body evolves and gets more mature, but it can also decrease.” The physical changes happen at different times for different girls, but in general, says Bobak, “Everything kind of comes together at about 14. It’s a very emotional process from 11, 12 and 13. Those are very commotional years on the soccer field, especially here in the States where there’s so much screaming, so much competition, so much [focus on] winning and so much hype wound up. “It’s a storm and I feel for these kids to go through such pressures. Year in and year out, I see that continuously on the soccer field and it’s not a healthy arena for the girls because there’s so much pressure on them in competitive club soccer. “If they are able to survive that and things are kind of kept in healthy way, then at 14 I kind of want to see them perform their best.” But girls often struggle as their bodies change and Bobak has seen players who were dominant in their pre-teen years no longer make the impact on the game that they used to. The ones who manage to come through the difficult transition period are those who have a solid skill base and a high level of mental aggressiveness and competitiveness in them. “If a player body-wise is light in her frame and gets knocked around a lot, but she still puts herself into 50-50 situations, even though she ends up on the ground, because she has aggressiveness – that player, when her body fills out, regains her productivity,” he says. “But if from the beginning she’s a more passive player mentally, and she gets knocked around, the confidence level drops a lot where many times it cannot be regained.” Bobak says that he’s come to the conclusion that mental aggressiveness can’t be taught. “Thirty years ago, I found the girls needed to be more mentally aggressive in this competitive arena, so I used to work out drills where there’s a lot of 50-50 battles, a lot of physical confrontations, to bring out mental aggressiveness in the players,” he says. “I believed that I could extract that mental aggressiveness. But I found out in this 30-year process that I can’t draw mental aggressiveness if they don’t have that makeup. “Now the ones who have it, I notice what I’m doing is I’m polishing what they have. But if they’re not able to have that aggressiveness, I’m not able to bring it out. I can’t polish something that doesn’t exist. I haven’t seen anything out there to bring it out. “I can only keep aggressiveness going in a positive direction in the ones who have it.” SKILL BASE IS KEY. Players who are technically sound can persevere when their athleticism lags. “The key thing is the skill base,” Bobak says. “If they have good body form when they pass the ball, when they collect the ball, when they dribble the ball, when they shoot the ball – it might get shaky a bit during those tumultuous years but when everything catches up, when their bodies fill out – they regain in their impactfulness. The base is still there and that base can even be shined. “But if the base is not there, it’s never going to be there later on.


“These are very sensitive things, because they’ll say, ‘You’re giving up on a kid already.’ But what I’ve seen is that players who are 11, 12, 13 and are very helter-skelter in their base of skills, I haven’t come across a player who’s found those skills later on in my 40 years of coaching. So I have to go with what I’ve experienced. Now people who haven’t gone through that experience are hanging me from a tree.” A problem in youth soccer is that the very young players who are endowed with physical strengths and mental aggressiveness are not allowed to refine technically and tactically, says Bobak, because they’re winning games with those attributes. “We have players who have an incredible mental, physical strength, but their ability to handle the ball is choppy and inconsistent,” he says. “Our arena doesn’t allow the ball-handing to be refined because they relied so much on the mental and the physical, and our arena kept rewarding them. ‘Oh don’t worry about your skills out there because you’re getting the results we want you to get.’” STRENGTH AND SPEED. Bobak is skeptical about the strength and conditioning coaches, and all fitness centers that promise to help kids become more agile, quicker, speedier, stronger. "These centers profess they can make a major impact on these players, because obviously they want your money,” says Bobak, who cites a scale of measuring strength and speed from 0-50, and considers the 40-to-50 zone that of an elite athlete. “What they do, is they can add 5 steps. That’s the most that they can add in physical speed and strength. If you’re 30 on that scale and you’re adding 5, you’re at 35. “Have you added to your speed? Yes. Are you in the competitive zone? No. Your speed has improved, so there’s merit to their work. But it’s a very small merit. If they were 33 in their strength, now they’re 38, but they’re not in the competitive zone. “Let’s say they’re 40 in speed and 40 in strength. They’re in the competitive zone. They go to these people and they’re at 45. So they’re going against an athlete who’s 40, and that athlete doesn’t do that, obviously the one who did it is going to be 45 and the other one is at 40. “But the information comes back to the layperson that there’s these miraculous changes out there, and the changes are only five steps. “Well, I don’t recommend this at all for the girls out there ages 12, 13, 14, 15. “What I’ve seen when they do that, these girls having private soccer coaching lessons, they have their own club coaches, they go to these centers, they go to these soccer camps, and what I see is girls at 16 burnt out of soccer. They’re burnt out. They don’t want to come to practice or games. They’re burnt out here in America. I see that over and over. “Going to these centers when they’re young is nonsense. But these parents are driving them in car pools to these things. When they’re older, OK, start doing a little beginning sort of program.” PRIORITIES CHANGE. On the mental side, as girls grow up, their focus on soccer can change and affect their play. “The mental part when it comes to female soccer can change through the years because their interest in the sport of soccer changes a lot,” Bobak says. “When they’re engaged and very much interested


and focused, there is that mental enthusiasm that they display because it’s sort of the primary thing they’re involved in. But when it becomes secondary and third-place, obviously the mental enthusiasm is not as big now. “Sometimes you see that mental aspect in the female player change because there are other priorities in their lives and their activities start getting bigger.” Their passion for the sport may also diminish if they’re being asked to do too much. “In my case here, State Cup ends for these young ones end of February, beginning of March,” he says. “Our season starts the middle of July and it goes all the way to the middle of February. Nonstop besides two weeks for Christmas. When it comes to February, we have tryouts. All of March and all of April, I give them off. Parents are upset. Parents go beserk. “The ego of the parents drives this whole female soccer phenomenon. ‘I want my daughter to be better. I want more. Give me more, give me more because I want to stick out my chest.’ That’s the mentality of the American culture. “In May, we get together once a week, non-mandatory. And we play in two tournaments, nonmandatory in May, just to get a little bit of team chemistry with the new players. End of May, I give them another six weeks off and parents are going crazy. The kids, when they’re 17, 18, they come back to me and they thank me for those six weeks I gave them off when they were young. Because they’re so burned out.”

International Skills Test Below is a great Skills Assessment Test which Bobby Charlton, former English International player, developed to challenge his players individual skill sets. Diagrams, explanations and scoring procedures are found below.


DRIBBLING This test is designed to improve close control whilst at pace. Player must dribble around each mannequin in slalom style. Once passed the final mannequin, player must run with the ball back down the middle and stop on the finish line with ball fully under control. Player scores 200 points for completing course in 30 seconds. 10 additional points for every second under and 10 point deduction for every second over 30.

LOFTED PASS This test is designed to develop accuracy. Each player has 4 attempts. Player must touch the ball forward and strike before ball reaches designated marker for their age. Points scored upon where ball first hits floor. If the ball hits mannequin without bouncing 100 points is given. Player is allowed one attempt with weaker foot and will be given double points for that effort.


SHOOTING This test is designed to develop accuracy and shooting. Each player has 4 attempts at a divided goal. Player must touch the ball forward and strike at goal before ball reaches designated marker for their age. Each strike must be realistic and capable of beating a goalkeeper. Player has 15 seconds to complete test.

PASSING A test to encourage the use of both feet by passing over a short distance. Each player using both feet have four attempts at passing a ball through gates. For each successful pass player scores 50 points. Player must use alternate feet. If all 4 passes are successful and player crosses finishing line in designated time, they receive a bonus 50 points. ** Bonus only applies if all passes are successful.


JUGGLING/CONTROL TEST The aim of this test is to keep the ball off the floor for as long as possible and so improving the use of body parts to control the ball. Each participant is looking to keep the ball in the air for 1 minute (60 seconds). However if he only manages part of a minute he will receive the following points. 0-5 seconds

50 points

6-10 seconds 100 points

11-20 seconds

120 points

21-30 seconds 140 points

31-40 seconds

160 points

41-50 seconds 180 points

51-60 seconds

200 points


This Month’s Photo(s) of the Month Kasey Keller’s Final MLS Regular Season Match - 64,140


2011 November What's Up D.O.C.?