While technical skills are important fundamentals for all young soccer players to learn, teamwork plays an equally crucial role in a team’s success. Beyond individual ability, good soccer players should be able to work in harmony with their entire squad. Youth soccer coaches can employ a number of strategies to help their players develop good teamwork skills, including incorporating team-oriented play into each practice.
Instead of simply focusing on drills, coaches should set up team scrimmages and positional plays to help players learn to interact with their teammates in a variety of situations. Players should learn where and how to play each position, as well as how each position contributes to the team as a whole. In this vein, it is important to ensure that all players attend every practice session and fully participate in training activities. Only through practice can players become familiar with their teammates and learn how to effectively react to one another.
Moreover, outside team activities can greatly support team unity, translating to improved teamwork on the field. Outings such as hiking, paintball, or laser tag are all fun possibilities that can help young players bond with one another and develop a true team mentality.
Real Colorado, which offers comprehensive soccer programs to players of all ages and skill levels, now operates more than 350 recreational teams and about 120 competitive youth teams. All of Real Colorado’s soccer programs strive to instill a lifelong love of the game and help players develop strong character and self-esteem. Several thousand families participate in Real Colorado’s recreational and competitive teams, which practice and play in Parker, Highlands Ranch, and Castle Rock.
Beginning with age level U11, Real Colorado’s competitive leagues progress through U18 for boys and girls. The competitive program regularly ranks as one of Soccer America’s Top 20 clubs in the United States, and its teams have won multiple state and national soccer titles. Players on Real Colorado’s competitive teams train and travel regularly, and older teenage players have the opportunity to participate in elite training programs. Graduates of Real Colorado’s soccer teams have played for college and university soccer programs and for professional men’s and women’s teams.
When learning to ski, individuals use a V formation, often called the snowplow, to maintain control and check speed. As they become more comfortable on the slopes, they can begin to work toward the parallel skiing technique, in which skis sit parallel to each other. This positioning allows skiers to move faster, turn more quickly, and look more capable on the slopes.
Fundamental to mastering parallel skiing is gaining the ability to balance on the outside ski when turning. The snowplow position allows for even weight balance in turns, but parallel skiing demands more control. When entering a turn, bend your knees and shift all your weight to the outside ski in a gentle motion. You’ll return to an even weight distribution as you exit the turn.
When shifting weight during a turn, skiers generally press the inside edge of the outside ski into the snow. Through edging, you can turn quickly and with little effort, but you must learn the balance of weight necessary to do so. This technique takes a great deal of practice to master.
By using your weight, you can make gravity do all of the work. Eventually, intermediate skiers learn how to bend their knees and shift their weight in a way that allows them complete control over their path.
In youth soccer, no one has a greater impact on player development than a coach. By acting professionally at all times, a coach can serve as a role model and teach players how to conduct themselves on and off the field. Following are three tips for youth soccer coaches.
Arrive early. As a rule of thumb, you should always show up at least 20 minutes before the scheduled start of a training session. By showing up early, you can teach your players the importance of being on time and maximizing your time on the field.
Prepare the session. In order to avoid wasting time during a training session, you should set up your stations ahead of time and make sure that all balls are properly inflated. This also ensures a smooth transition between drills and encourages a free-flowing atmosphere.
Delegate. If you have one or more assistant coaches, be sure to use them as much as possible. By having them lead parts of your training session, you can focus on big-picture issues and provide players with more targeted guidance.
In the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the United States national team exceeded all expectations by advancing from a difficult group and grinding out a tough loss against Belgium. The 2014 tournament almost certainly marked the last appearance for regulars such as Clint Dempsey and Jermaine Jones, while goalkeeper Tim Howard will have a hard decision to make regarding the 2018 tournament in Russia. It begs the question of how the U.S. team will shape up in four years.
At the goalkeeper position, backup Brad Guzan has displayed impressive form in the English Premier League for several seasons, thus making the potential transition from Tim Howard relatively seamless. Defenders such as Omar Gonzalez and Fabian Johnson should stick around for another World Cup, while youngsters DeAndre Yedlin and John Brooks will look to develop their games and make a bid for a starting role. In the midfield, positioning new players around veteran Michael Bradley will be a tall order for Juergen Klinsmann, who will certainly be hoping his investments in the U.S. development system pay dividends by 2018. Up top, Jozy Altidore should once again anchor the U.S. attack, accompanied by Julian Green or a yet-unknown striker.