Summer is right around the corner and there are a number of ways your player can keep working at their game in between seasons. Summer doesn't have to be a no man's land of wondering what to do in between seasons.
I am big proponent that getting better at anything, whether it be soccer, a job, school work, etc. takes time and commitment. Our players are at an age where skill development is huge yet needs continuous work.
I wanted to share a number of opportunities available locally.
Edge Sports Academy in Mount Pleasant, Foothills Soccer Club in Youngwood, and The Pittsburgh Riverhounds East all offer training opportunities. These are primarily focused on footwork, agility, and understanding the game better. Open to boys/girls, all ability levels, and vary in price.
EDGE SPORTS ACADEMY - I've partnered with Edge to offer training sessions this summer. Details below. Learn more about Edge, here.
FOOTHILLS SOCCER CLUB - Although summer details are being finalized, typically most sessions run six weeks and average around $100. Strong emphasis on foot skills development.
Learn more about Foothills here.
RIVERHOUNDS EAST - The Pittsburgh Riverhounds offer two options this summer, a camp and month long training session.
Details and information are here.
Whatever you and your player decide, most importantly commit to something. I can guarantee your player will see tremendous growth not only in their game but their confidence, how they attack problems and challenges, and how to be a part of a team.
Opening day of rec season is like Christmas morning. This year , it felt extra special because of the two weekend weather delay. Wasn't it great to be outside on a beautiful Saturday morning? I love this time of year.
There are few things that bring me more joy as a coach than seeing players smiling and enjoying themselves on the pitch (field). As one of my players told me Saturday morning during our match, "Coach, this is fun!" I thought to myself, "It's working." The time spent on foot work, team practice, kicking a ball around was all worth it for this young player. They earned all of the successes they had that day.
There is a reason why they call soccer the beautiful game. When it is clicking, it is magnificent to watch. The creativity, the subtlety of precision, players putting their hearts and souls into every move. Pretty. Darn. Awesome!
I am a sucker for smart, intelligent, football (soccer). I saw a lot of that on Saturday morning. I may appreciate this aspect of youth soccer more than scoring goals. I guess it reminds me of the player I was when I played. I was not the most technically gifted player but tried to make intelligent plays each match. I also really appreciate players that have a motor and never stop of the field. There's a quote that I think of often, "Good Things Come to Those that Hustle." I think if you were to ask me to describe my life in one sentence, this would be it.
Here's to a great season and continuous improvement for each and every player and coach! Keep working hard, good things will happen!
A big shout out to the volunteers who helped set up and tear down concessions, nets, equipment, etc. We APPRECIATE you!
If you are new to the MPRSL, don't hesitate to jump in and help. We'll welcome you with open arms!
- Coach Jason
This past Saturday was an awesome day of soccer! The annual Spring Fever Tournament was held at Mount Pleasant High School and I had the opportunity to coach a U-8 team.
I had a really gratifying moment as a coach prior to my team playing their final pool play match.
To give you some context, the team knew that they needed a win to get into the finals.
Neither I, nor my assistant coach, Jeff Pastore, mentioned anything about it being a "must-win" match. We're not ones to place undue pressure on our players. Would rather that they just play at this age.
The conversation to the group went something like this prior to taking the field.
Me: I just want to tell each of you how proud Coach Jeff and I are of you today! Every person in this group has played a part in helping us be successful today. From good defense, to making smart plays, to scoring goals, everyone has helped out. Everybody in this group is important.
Unnamed Player on the Team: You mean like good team work?
Me: That's exactly what I mean.
Unnamed Player on the Team (Speaking to fellow players): Guys, if we work together, we can win this last game.
My reaction inside:
They went out and won that last game and made it to the finals.
More importantly, they understood the big picture.
Soccer teaches a lot of really great life lessons. Team work is one of them.
- Coach Jason
The beginning of a new season is always a fun time as a coach. I love meeting new players, their parents, and beginning to build the chemistry needed for a successful season. It is neat to see where each player is in terms of development and skill and what areas they can strive to improve on throughout the season.
My role as coach is a little bit of everything. It varies from psychologist to motivator to prankster to friend and mentor. More importantly, I need to serve as a good example to each player on my team in how I communicate and act when I am around them. If I am not in control of my emotions, how can I expect my players to be in control of theirs?
The biggest impact a coach can make at this level is players wanting to come back and continue with the sport.
I have been lucky in my coaching career that the parents I have worked with have been nothing short of fantastic. This comes from everyone understanding the role they play in this relationship and all of us working together.
I am NOT here to tell you how to run your house. Rather, I AM here to say that the relationship between coach, player, and parent can be beneficial for all involved, if approached with proper expectations and awareness.
Here are some tips for a successful season in working with your coaches and players.
Focus on the Positive When Talking to Your Player- If your child/player did something especially well (i.e. make a nice pass, have a good throw-in, score a goal, play good defense, whatever) tell them. Make a big deal about it! Kids, like many of us as adults, love praise.
I remember as a kid the car rides home after a game. I also remember how much I disliked those rides because it felt like every action I made during a game/match was being scrutinized rightly or wrongly.
I get it. It can be tough watching your player struggle or learn a new game. Remember, they are a lot like the baby giraffe below. Coordination, balance, don't always come easily. I offer the word patience as one to remember.
Even if your child had a sub-par game, find one or two things they did well.
It's About Fun and Continuous Improvement- The World Cup, Premier League title, college scholarship, or any other major soccer league championship is not on the line. (Deep breath).
Truthfully as a rec coach, I stopped keeping score a long time ago. I say that with peace and love.
I am looking for continuous improvement each week, a good attitude, and willingness for your player to have fun and want to learn. That's it, that's the list.
If you're keeping score, stats, or other things that bring personal gratification, I ask that you reconsider. It's about the player, not about us as parents.
Remember, we Only see Your Player an Hour Each Week, Maybe- Our time together for formal practice is limited each week. As a parent, you can help support me and the other coaches by encouraging extra work outside of practice.
I have my current rec team keeping track of their touches outside of practice.
You DO NOT have to know squat about soccer to kick a ball with your player. Say it with me, you do not have to know squat to kick a ball with your player.
This creates fun bonding moments with your child, helps get them excited for practice and allows them the space to try new things and succeed and fail. This is important to note because of the developmental aspect of the game.
As a coaching mentor once told me, "Nothing bad has ever happened because a player put in some extra work outside of practice."
Fun games like sharks and minnows, knock out, heck, even passing the ball, dribbling with their eyes up are all good ways to start.
I hope this was helpful. Would love to hear your take and what's working with you and your coaches. Leave a comment and tell me below.
Working with young game officials/referees can be good for all involved. This gives our young players a chance to see the game from a different perspective. It also gives our coaches a chance to work with our young officials in helping teach them the game.
Some helpful tips :
Coaches, remember, we are working with young people. They can't see everything and occasionally miss a call. Patience. I'll say it again, patience. Tell them what they did well. Try to help them.
Referees, don't be afraid to take control of the game. You're the officiating body for the match. The whistle is your friend. Think about safety.
Our referee coordinator, Jim Fullman is putting together a referee's training for the spring season for all U-10 and up players interested in officiating. Here are the details.
Tuesday, March 28 , 2017, Mount Pleasant HS Room 508. 6-9pm
For U-10 division players and up. Please contact Jim Fullman at – email@example.com, 724-433-2512.
- Coach Jason
The MPRSL, like many soccer clubs , is a volunteer run operation. Translation: We are only as good as the parents and family members we have helping us.
In my time working with the MPRSL, we have had tremendous support. A heartfelt thank you to those who have helped in the past, present, and future.
From coaches to setting up the fields to concessions to those running the league, we are always looking for new help.
From time to time parents have asked me, "Why do you volunteer or coach soccer?"
Soccer is my passion. Love it, love it, love it. I realize I'm probably not in the majority with that answer, however. Other traditional American sports still dominate our landscape, which is okay . Being a soccer person can be the road less traveled some times. It does bring me great satisfaction when I hear other coaches talking about the game or their favorite Premier League team, or US Soccer. Soccer in the US may never reach NFL popularity, again okay, but it has its place at the table of viable options for kids to play.
Besides the tactics and the game itself, the chance to mentor and mold young people is pretty special for someone who is fascinated with leadership and leadership styles.
I am far from a perfect coach. I make mistakes. In fact, A LOT OF MISTAKES. However, I always try to have the kids best interest in mind. I was fortunate to have positive role models as coaches growing up and this is my way of "paying it forward". Whether we as coaches want to admit this or not, we are role models to the kids we coach. Kids are smart. I believe there is an opportunity to model the positive behavior we expect from our children.
I often think to myself when I'm coaching my team, there are future business men and women, maybe a doctor, lawyer, engineer, sales professional, communications person, etc in this group.
Heck, who's knows, maybe even a professional athlete. Well, maybe. One can dream, right? The point being, they can and will make the world a better place.
I want my players to believe anything is possible in life with a little hard work and determination. That, to me, is what soccer is about: hard work and gritty determination. Think about the work that goes into manufacturing a goal sometimes. Players have to be in sync, work together, communicate effectively. All life skills for the work place, by the way.
I believe in civic pride. Like you, I am proud to call Mount Pleasant home. It has been a great place to raise a family and want to do my part to help the community continue to be a thriving place to live.
Lastly, the memories I have made with my son are priceless. I am far more interested in spending my life on experiences than on things. Soccer has allowed those experiences to happen.
Judging from this video, I think I will be helping awhile.
You should too, here's how to get involved.
We have been fortunate in southwestern, Pennsylvania to have had a relatively mild winter to this point. Although I hear there is snow in the forecast for tomorrow. Eeeek!
My son and I have been able to get outside and play a little footie from time to time on the mild days which has helped pass the time during winter. Side note : not the greatest fan of this time of year.
Getting touches of the ball in, even when it's cold and yucky outside, does not have to happen exclusively on grass or outside.
Don't fall into the trap that soccer practice only happens during team practice each week.
All your player needs is some motivation , a flat space (basement, garage, family room), and some time. This is an example of an exercise or group of exercises where a little bit of work goes a long way to them becoming a better player. Some of these are advanced drills but many are the foundation for good, solid, footwork.
The term "technically skilled" in soccer/football is based around the idea that a player has strong fundamentals. I want each of my players to be "technically skilled" among other things (having a soccer IQ, creative, and having passion for the game).
Here are some things your player can be doing now to improve their foot work. Video courtesy (The Soccer Essentials)
I am relatively new to the winter indoor tournament circuit.
Last weekend marked tournament number three for me and my U-8 players as a group of players that I have been working with regularly.
WHAT A BLAST!
If you haven't been a part of a winter indoor tournament it is a little of what you would expect it to be. It's chaotic at times, emotions run high, players play a ton of games in a short period of time and things move at Usain Bolt-like speed.
Over two days, we played 7 games. We also played against some fantastic competition from across the area.
In talking with some fellow coaches, they don't care for tournaments because of the condensed nature of things. Are they a true test of how your team is doing?
I say yes. You have to be ready from the first whistle until the very end. It is as much of a test of physical endurance as mental fortitude. This is important for a young player because having a soccer IQ is as equally important as being naturally skilled in my opinion. Soccer teaches you to keep pushing even when you're tired.
The good news; what we are teaching our players in MPRSL is working. There was noticeable improvement from the fall rec season to now. We didn't win every match but I can say we were competitive in every match.
This was consistent across age ranges for other MPRSL teams competing.
Here are some photos of our U-8 teams from Sunday at the Somerset Snow Ball Tournament.
- Coach Jason
When I was a child playing youth soccer, one of my coaches pushed a lot of conditioning drills during our training sessions. Soccer is after all a sport that requires a certain level of fitness. I was a chubby kid so this makes sense, right?
In many of our training sessions, we almost never touched a soccer ball. How could this be possible? Although we may have been one of the better conditioned teams in the league, we lacked foot skill development, team work, and understanding of why we were doing what we were doing on the field/pitch.
Thankfully, how we teach soccer/football in the United States has changed. Youth coaches should spend the majority of practices focusing on what really matters, a player touching the ball.
Foot skills, ball control, passing, and the basics of being able to do multiple things at one time are the foundation. Soccer /football is all the instruments of an ensemble coming together at one time.
In other words, we as coaches are teaching coordination, balance, body control. If everyone is doing this, the ensemble is in synch. Young players need to consistently work at this as their bodies are changing and developing at a rapid pace.
Here is an example of what I mean. (Video Credit : Alex Eby via YouTube)
I have often told parents this; these drills are not the most fun. I get it. They are hard work. They don't come close to the joy of scoring a goal. Again, I get it.
However, they work.
I have seen with my own eyes the improvement players/coaches make when they opt-in to this philosophy.