I have been away for the past couple of weeks working with young players at soccer camp. The camp I work with is a resident camp and utilizes every possible moment to further player’s development. Our day begins at 6:30 a.m. and ends at 10:30 p.m. with over 10 hrs of on ball contact each day. Players who choose to come to camp do so knowing they will leave a much better, more accomplished player when they leave.
My 1st week had me working with a population I typically work with and we got after our work everyday with a positive mind-set. The players worked their drills and games with a good attitude but not much passion to push themselves beyond just getting the job done. We had a chat one evening about how each of their parents, coaches, and camp staff were all putting opportunities in front of them to develop into the best player that they wanted to be but it was up to them to make those opportunities personal and find the connections for themselves. Our next day out saw a huge improvement in participation and engagement through all the drills and games.
My 2nd week found me being assigned with a group of 8 and 9 y/o boys, which is a population I have never worked with before. We were the youngest group in camp and the 12 of them had to compete each night against 11 and 12 y/o boys or girls teams. Our 1st night of games saw us out matched, out run and just about out anything’ed you can think of. The following morning, I told the boys that we would outwork every team at camp and that we would be the ones that took the most knowledge away from our sessions each and every day. I challenged them to be the 1st to every training opportunity and to be the last to leave each one. These little fellows took everything to heart and it was absolutely humbling to watch how they got after everything each and every session.
We play 4 games every night during camp and it is a round robin type of situation so you face every team in camp. So, by our 3rd night, it was apparent that our team was learning and putting into play all that they had been working on as our games were improving to the point where we were winning some games. As we went to take the pitch against the u13 boys teams, all our little guys stood staring at these other boys who stood head and shoulders above our tallest player and I kept hearing “we are going to get killed” or “we’re gonna get creamed”.
At that moment, I called them all together and told them I was going to let them in on a secret that not many soccer players knew about. The secret I told them was that the only thing any soccer player has any control over during a game is their own work rate. I reminded the guys that they were the team who got to sessions first and stayed till last so I knew that we had the best work rate in camp, so just go out and put that same attitude into play during our match. I honestly cannot recall ever seeing a team work harder in my life, including pro teams. At the end of the match, not a single boy could walk off the pitch on the their own, they had left every thing they had on the field. The score? We won 7-0.
We went on to win all but 3 games for the remainder of the week and 2 of those were ties. We came in 2nd place for the camp against 9 other teams, all of which were u11 or up. The boys worked each minute of every opportunity they had, to be better players, to be better people and to test themselves all ways in all manners. Yes, I learned a lot this week, thank you team 01!
find your passion, live your dream.
till I see you on the pitch