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I took just one team to a tournament last weekend. We had a great schedule; we played at 8 am and noon on Saturday and Sunday and then we headed home. There were only five teams in our group so we played each of them once. Not having to stay around to play a final against a team we had already played was great!
Having only one team allowed me to spend more time with the kids and parents than I’m usually able to so that also made it a fun weekend.
When I travel out of town with my teams we always travel on the Friday before games start so that the kids can get a good night’s sleep before playing the next day. We have a team meeting (parents and kids) on Friday night to go over our schedule for the weekend, my expectations for the team (on and off of the field) and any reminders I want to go over with the players before sending them to bed.
Today’s question comes from John. His question is about commitment.
John says, “I coach a U16 Girls Club team, and this year I am having a hard time getting all the girls to make practice a priority for them. I have 19 girls on the team and have on average 6-7 girls out each practice, last night I was missing 10! The reasons range from sick, to swim meets, to no rides etc. All which seem like normal issues, but its all the time.
How have you dealt with players that want to play but really don’t really commit to practices, where we can get better together? I suppose I could punish them, but that just hurts the team.. Advice?”
Thanks for the question John!
I’m dealing with this issue right now with my U17 girls. They are involved in so many different activities that soccer isn’t usually the priority. The players are supposed to let me know if they aren’t going to attend a training session or game so that I can plan accordingly.
The group I have is the fourth team in our club so they are playing mostly for fun and to prepare for their high school season. They aren’t motivated by playing at the next level or long term development.
I just sent out a message to the team through our group message asking them to make attendance at training a priority for the next two weeks because we have a tournament coming up.
I’m afraid I don’t have any great advice that will get your players to prioritize soccer practice over other activities. I just try to manage it and work with the players that are there.
In This Episode
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be successful, with wanting your team to be successful. Whether this desire is healthy and helpful or destructive and dangerous depends on WHY you want to be successful, WHAT defines success and HOW you go about it.
Here’s a link to the article by Dave Wright that inspired the topic for this episode:
Get Over Yourself – Dave Wright – Player Development Project.com
I appreciate everyone who has been sending me suggestions for topics. I’m adding them to my list and I look forward to covering them in the coming weeks.
Hey Tom –
I am newer to the podcast, about 9 months now, and I really enjoy your podcast.
I know that I can move up and down on a spectrum of when to try and win a game and when to play more for development. I have generally had younger players so I have rarely felt pressure to win games. However, I did have a team that I felt was at the top of their league and was ready to “be promoted” to the next higher league to continue their development. In order for the promotion we needed to win our league, or place in the top 2 at least. This meant that we had a couple of games where we were really challenged and I felt like I needed to play to win these one or two games in order for the group to continue to develop in the next season. There were plenty of games that season where we moved players around and had equal playing time, but it was interesting how, at least in my mind, I felt like I needed to play to win a game for the development of my players.
I had another group, this time U10’s, so younger players, that was really struggling in their league and thought a win would really help their confidence. If we had a close game in the second half I was always tempted to just play what I felt was my strongest line-up for 10 or 12 minutes to see if we could get a win and when I tried that, if that did not work out then I always second guessed that idea.
Again, interesting topic and glad you spent the time to talk about it. Interested if there are other similar situations and how people feel about almost flip flopping between playing to win in certain specific situations versus sticking to the development focused approach with playing time and positions.
I completely see where you’re coming from and how a win can actually be for developmental reasons now and then.
Good food for thoughts.
Thanks for contributing!
great topic…I like to think I’m more about development of the players (I coach a U10 Girls A team, our club has two teams at this age group). That said, this is a very complex issue, I’ll list some of the things I have been facing and which are causing me not to always give equal playing time. I almost think all the below could make for a good podcast.
– We have 3 players that aren’t nearly as good as the rest, big drop off…2 of them don’t put the time in at home (not asking a lot, just 20 minutes on days we don’t practice), and they miss a lot of practices. I just don’t feel its right to reward equal playing time to these 2 players. What would you do in this case?
– All clubs aren’t about putting the best players together on the same team like yours, where you promote deserving players up to higher level teams. Even though I coach the A team, there are some players on the B team that should be on the A team. Part of this is keeping friends together, something I get…at what point should a player move on to another club where they try to put the best players together on the same team? How does your club balance friendships and putting best teams possible together?
– I mentioned the 3 players above that aren’t nearly as good as my other players…they partly made the team due to politics at our club. How do you deal with that? I’ve heard politics affects all clubs even the top level ones (heard one parent said they would take their $20K donation away if their daughter didn’t make the team at a top level club in my area). What sort of politics have you faced and how do you deal with it?
– How do you balance parents desire to win versus development? I have some parents who really want to win, way too much. I get it in tournament championships if you make it that far or State Cup…but the rest shouldn’t matter. How do you deal with these kind of parents.
OK, a lot here I know. 🙂 I’ve been listening for the past year and this podcast made me want to ask all these questions which relate back to development versus winning.
Thanks for the great podcast!
I’m going to give you my short answers on all of these and expand on them on this week’s episode.
1) If they’re not good enough, I wouldn’t have placed them on my team. If they’re on my team, they play at lease 50% of each game.
2) Every parent has to do what’s best for their child. If playing with friends is the most important thing to the player then that’s what’s best for them. If they are driven to compete and develop then looking for a team with the best players is the right move.
3) We don’t place players with friends in our premier program. That’s what the recreational program is for.
4) I can honestly say that politics has nothing to do with our decisions at tryouts. Our Boy’s Director’s daughter was moved down two teams one year. We place players based on where they fit.
5) I don’t coach to the desires of the parents. There are times that the better players will get more playing time (everyone still gets 50%) but that’s a decision I make based on what I think is best for the team and players.
Thanks for the questions!
Thanks for taking the time to answer Tom! Not surprised by your answers…your club is truly about development…and IMO you can only truly focus on development when you are trying to put together players that are relatively similar both technically and athletically…unfortunately, that isn’t how the club I am coaching at operates all the time. Looking forward to the next episode!
Frank J Kelly
Great Podcast – FYI the article was written by Dave Wright not Dave Williams
Thanks for doing the podcast, great stuff each week
Thanks for that correction Frank.