Week of April 5, 2020
Hope this message finds you healthy. Your families are important and hopefully we are not going to see anyone affected from the virus.
As a side note we are hopeful to release more foot skill videos tonight. The goal is to at least provide a platform for our players to have something. Of course there are millions of videos but the idea is to create something for our players so they continue to feel connected to the club. Hopefully, you are sending messages to your players. I've heard of some Zoom meetings taking place. They work. But some advice- the parents will take over if given the chance. So allow for some interaction with parents and then bring it back to the kids. We don't want a message of "no parents" that is NOT what is being said. The goal is to allow the parents who are participating to talk, reconnect, laugh, tell stories and then our players can share the same platform. For the younger teams (U12-U8) make sure the parents are participating. Zoom is difficult enough with adults. Little kids will be fascinated to see themselves on the camera. So don't get offended if little Steamer players are not talking. They are more visually stimulated than verbally stimulated. So ask each player some questions. Be real and connect. If it's (U12-U15) parents probably will set up the Zoom and then leave the room. Players do miss you and their teammates. We miss our players, coaches and parents as well. As for today- I've made my mind up to have a good day and I hope you do too. Stay healthy.
Here we go-
When conditioning for soccer players, the key to progressive development on the field is to keep challenging their skill, their speed, their strength, and their stamina. If you let up in any of these areas, development in that area will be stunted. Sometimes we don’t realize how a lack of development in one area might affect the development of another. For instance, without the quick foot drills of speed ladders and agility drills, the athlete might not have the base quickness to perform the skilled moves that you are teaching. A lack of skill training (moves) could result in the inability to separate from a defender.
But more importantly, the two components actually work together. We have combined the two components to bridge the gap between agility and soccer skill. Conditioning for soccer drills like this are essential building blocks that connect training and performance.
Our BALL AGILITY program originated, not as a stand alone program, but as a bridge from the quick foot ladder and agility drills to the skill and touch that they need in the game. We have taken several basic moves with a ball and combined them with some quick foot movements. Or you might say we have taken soccer skill and combined it with the conditioning for soccer. This type of training is what we refer to as our sport specific bridge training.
It might be a shock to us as coaches, but the natural progression from speed and agility drills in a training environment to speed and agility with a ball or against a defender is not an automatic thing. When asked why we do quick foot drills (ladder, line and dot drills), most young athletes will answer something to the effect of, “To get me to run faster,” or “To improve my agility.” When in fact the only thing you are working with the quick foot ladder is the attempt to improve the reaction the athlete has to the ground or to decrease Ground Contact Time (GCT) which is really a form of plyometrics.
The goal needs to be an increased level of communication between those that train or research the game, and those that coach. The coach’s job is to coordinate the skill and tactical part of the game while putting players in the position to reach their potential.
Neuromuscular patterns developed in strength training do not generalize over to sport specific patterns of movement unless there is a bridge. To bridge this gap we need to develop new and better ways to incorporate skill into the training sessions as well as athletic development training into the practices.
If this gap is not closed, and integration strategies implemented, then the unstable (diamond shaped) model above becomes the result in regards to sports performance. This represents injury potential, performance inconsistencies, and a very unbalanced approach to an athlete’s development. In the fall of 2005 the Nigerian Sports Commission sent representatives over to United States to learn more about CAP Programs. They were amazed with the technology and the education available to the young athletes, but when we went out the fields to watch practices they witnessed the uni-directional approach to skill.
Their comment after witnessing this session was something like, “How is it possible, in this country, with all you have at your disposal, that your young players lack the very basic foundation of athleticism (strength, power and speed)?”
To overcome this problem in development we need to work with each other to provide a very well rounded experience for the players. A foundation of athleticism, skill, tactics and an understanding of the game and its history will be essential to develop world class athlete’s with passion, pride and the confidence to compete with the rest of the world.
BALL AGILTY is something that each coach can create on his or her own by combining moves with the ball and quick foot / agility drills. Bridging this gap and incorporating more coordinated skill work with the increased emphasis on athletic development (strength, power and speed) is the path to success!
The message, then, is a simple, but very important one: Young children have different physical and psychological needs and abilities than adults and the latter must coach to the needs of the former, not to the needs or abilities of a fully mature adult. Children generally play sports for exercise, fun and skill acquisition, not to win, and some plain advice to you “Coaches in this club should judge their success this year not based on wins and losses, but rather on the number of kids who sign up to play again next year.”