Note from the Director of Coaching:
As we approach the conclusion of the indoor soccer season and move towards the beginning of the outdoor portion of our travel soccer season, I would like to clarify some of Amherst Soccer’s philosophy on player development. Amherst Soccer is about player development. Our motto is "Where player development comes first." We want to help every player develop to their potential. We strive to meet them where they are at, and bring them along to help them improve throughout their career with Amherst Soccer. ASA is a volunteer non-profit organization, we work to keep our fees reasonable and we work on a break-even basis. We try to provide an opportunity for each player to be a part of a team so that they can learn and grow as people as well as players. We do our best to place each team in a league that is an appropriate level of competition for their ability. There is a wide range of ability on each team we have in the club so players must learn how to work with all different kinds of players and all different kinds of people.
One of the many great things about the sport of soccer is that it is the ultimate team sport. Every player must contribute and every player is just as important as everyone else. Soccer is not coach directed like basketball or American football. Soccer is player driven. Players must make decisions for themselves on the field. There are no time outs and coaches cannot call in plays. Players must take ownership of the game and solve problems as a group through communication and team work. The coach is more of a guide or a facilitator than a general or sergeant.
We have the ability to work with players for 2 hours per week. That time is valuable. It is important for players to take full advantage of these training opportunities and attend practice as much as possible. Since most of our players are not old enough to drive, parents need to be equally committed. When players are at practice, they should make a commitment to work hard and try to get better every day. Players and parents each play an important role in our soccer development philosophy.
It is my firm belief that the most valuable thing that coaches can do with our training time is to give players plenty of chances to practice the most basic skills of the game: dribbling, passing, receiving, and shooting in addition to a large amount of playing soccer. In coaching courses across the country and across the world, a familiar phrase is "the game is the best teacher." This means that players learn best from being put in situations where they have to fend for themselves and learn through the conditions of the game what works and what doesn’t work. When it comes right down to it, soccer is a competition. We have to compete for every ball, every pass, every shot, every save. If we do not, some one else will. I encourage coaches to allow players the opportunity to play small sided games in every practice. This is the most economical way to train. Through small sided games, we can coach all four components of the game at the same time: physical fitness, technical ability, tactical awareness, and psychological toughness.
A Harvard professor once said "the best thing about athletes is that they know how to lose." Dealing with setbacks is a major attribute that can be developed through sports. It is a part of life and we can all learn from every challenge we face. Of course, we need to win a game every once in a while in order to experience the feeling and remember what we are competing for. However, I encourage every coach to keep the focus, especially during the indoor season (where leagues are formed with no concern for a team’s appropriate level of competition), on the performance of the team rather than on the result of the game.
Look for little improvements. Facilitate communication. Never give up. Keep fighting till the end even when it’s tough. If the team is doing those things, that is success. If we are focused on player development rather than wins and losses, we will see those little improvements and be encouraged.
Again, thank you for your commitment to Amherst Soccer and to your young soccer player’s soccer development. We are all in this together and I look forward to working with you throughout the season to make this a positive experience for everyone.
Take care and see you on the field,
ASA Director of Coaching