What makes a Soccer Club?
I have always done everything within my power to stay up to date with coaching education. I was lucky enough to be on the first NSCAA premier course and in the inaugural two year Master coach diploma. Perhaps one of the best aspects of being ENYYSA Director of Coaching Instruction is that I get weekly and sometimes daily updates in coaching education from some of the best soccer minds in the country. As I have alluded to in prior articles, now, is perhaps the most exciting time in soccer education with both the USSF and the NSCAA rewriting courses and introducing new and exciting ideas. The newly rewritten USSF D course is unveiled this year.
Perhaps one of the most important is the NSCAA club standards program. I have been asked a good number of times in the last 20 years to evaluate clubs from top to bottom and suggest developmental changes that would enhance player development within the ranks. Much to my frustration most clubs seem unable to get parents or coaches to accept change. I remain amazed by how many clubs still do not have their 5 year olds playing 3v3 or how many clubs have no coaching curriculum to operate from.
Our partners at the NSCAA have done a first class job with their club standards program. This program (offered at different levels) examines all the major components of player and team development. I would advise all club leaders to spend a moment completing the free introductory questionnaire that can be found at; http://www.nscaa.com/education/clubstandards
In completing the questionnaire, what should soon become apparent to all is that they are not really clubs, in the true sense of the word. Rather in most cases simply a group of kids who play under the same name, and sometimes but not always in the same uniform.
As a gentle nudge in the right direction I believe that to be considered a club, all of the following must be in place;
1. An age appropriate developmental curriculum for all coaches to follow.
2. Player and parent handbooks for each age group within the club that build on previous years.
3. A playing style that stays consistent throughout the club and all its teams so that player movement is smooth.
4. A club wide tryout system (not run by parent coaches) with kids within that group.
5. A player feedback system.
6. A comprehensive coach development system specifying unequivocally the coaching standards required to coach within the club at set ages.
7. A well thought out and frequently re-evaluated, systematic developmental approach to game days, i.e. 3v3 no outs, 4v4 pass in, 5v5 etc…
8. Monthly coach and board meetings with dedicated time on player and team development.
Perhaps I am haunted by training teams in a town where the A team embark on one training journey while B and C teams follow another route or perhaps it is my youth in the UK where I played in "real Clubs", or possibly reading so many articles about Barcelona, Manchester United and Ajax has left me disillusioned. I tend to think that I just see what could be, if clubs within ENYYSA were more determined to become true soccer clubs.