By Sheldon Cipriani
I had an issue arise recently at my club. I went to observe my U16 girls play at a tournament two weeks ago and realized that they were some serious issues that needed to be addressed. There was nothing that resembled soccer to be very honest, so I decided to help them in any way I could the following week.
I mandated that the team train with another girl’s team in the club, so that they could play more 11v11 soccer. The team only has enough players to finish 6v6 or 7v7 at best. The problem with this is that they never play in realistic dimensions. They also never have to deal with 11v11 scenarios. The spacing is different, passing lanes are smaller, the bigger ball is non existent, the work required is not adequate enough to make a successful transition to the 11v11 game.
The coach of this U16 team expressed that the girls did not want to play 11v11. This explained why the team performance I observed was so poor. The coach was acting as a facilitator and the girls were actually running the practices. I had the coach of the other girls team speak with the U16 girls coach about working together at training by merging the girls and coaching within the 11v11 game. I also ran a session for the both teams that week, so we could address some principles of attack, defense and transition. The girls really seemed to grasp the concepts.
I received an email from the coach expressing her concern with the intervention. She cited that “her” team was different and that she knew how to bring the best out of them. She also explained that some parents were asking questions about the difference in practice that week and the involvement of me and the other coach. (The other coach worked with this team for 2 years by the way). She also included the team parents in the email. Huge mistake!!
It was explained to her that the players joined the club before they joined that team. That she was part of a coaching staff that worked together and stuck together. That all players were influenced by every coach, because they all had something to offer. The most important point expressed was that this was bigger than she was. The players came first. What they needed that week was more important who got this accomplished. My coaches are responsible for all of our players and together we stand a greater chance of reaching every kid in the club.