I Am Going To Apologize Now, But……

So we are in the middle of our  H.S. season like most teams in our area and being the typical coach, I see plenty that I want to address within our team and with individual players. That is fairly common for all coaches, I think. Most of my training session are in direct relationship to what I observe from our games and from prior sessions, after all, it is a cycle, right? right?

Last night  after I get home from my session with my side, I receive not one, but two phone calls from players that have been on my club team and are now on different H.S. teams. Both players were looking for some guidance in areas that their respective High School coaches felt that they were struggling with (and I agree with those coaches’ assessment). We spoke for some time and got into the nuts and bolts of what those players should do in incremental steps to correct some of those issues and I offered to do some 1 on 1 work with each of them.

What got me going and what I need to apologize now for is that both of these H.S. coaches coach club at a different organization than I do and therefore made the blanket statement to each players that their club affiliation was why they, and I quote, “suck” in those specific areas. Without getting into the competition of commerce (yes, club play is a commercial venture, at its very core it is product given for money received) what I do want to address, is the notion that it is the club coach’s responsibility to develop players so that they are “that player” for their high school program.

Let’s look at the facts:

in club play, most teams will conduct 2, maybe 3 training sessions a week, each lasting about 90 min to 2 hrs. Typical club season is 3 month and there will be some where in the neighborhood of 10-18 games. Total time of player/coach interaction would be around 72 hours, +/- a few hours.

in high school soccer, our season is about the same 3 months, plus (in our area) we are given 20 days of open season in the fall and 2 weeks open season in the summer. Typical training will be 5 days a week for 2 hours a day, plus 22 games (including tourneys and jamborees). If we do the math, we end up with somewhere around 120 hours for player/coach interaction.

High School has an advantage of almost 2 to 1 over club play, yet I constantly hear coaches pressuring players over where they choose to play. I firmly agree that if a player wants to improve their game, they must play at the highest level that they can. But we coaches must also understand that these are children with lives outside of their sport of choice. Their sport must continue to fuel the passion that brought them to it in the first place, if not, we have a player that is no longer committed.

Of course weather needs to factor into the equation but everything else being equal, why would any coach lay fault or responsibility for a player’s  composition on another entity? IF you as a coach, are not happy with how a player is developing or progressing, FIX IT. Your players are your responsibility, if there is an area a player is struggling with, quit whining and put the work in to help YOUR player develop.

High School Soccer and Club Soccer serve two very different, and distinctive roles. Coaches that do not or cannot separate the two need to look in the mirror and ask themselves why they are doing what they do in the first place. My role is to help players become the player that they want to be, at whatever level they feel they are capable of playing. I don’t care if it at club in Classic or Challenge or Premier, or being a supporting player for their high school team or that standout with all of the press. My duty is to help these athletes set goals for themselves and then to set about the process goals of reaching those bigger goals.

Ok, rant over, see, I told you I needed to apologize before I began…

till I see you on the pitch


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