The SCYS Coaching Education Staff have just wrapped up another round of coaching education courses across the state. Beside the blistering heat, 115 degree heat index and the lightning delays it's been a wonderful summer of courses. A total of 126 coaches have taken and passed the E and D courses this summer and we still have a wave of coaches to go through various Youth Module courses across the state in the next month. Great numbers for a state our size!
The focus of the E and the D courses are to introduce coaches to the methodoly of coaching, teach them the basic techniques players need to be successful. A brief flirtation with basic tactics and the importance of Long Term Player Development. Notice that we didn't mention winning in the above discription. This may upset some and many that take these courses come in with an attitude of "I just want to see a bunch of drills that is going to help me win with my U10 boys team." Well last time we checked SCYS, USYS and FIFA were not sponsoring any type of U10 championship. So we put winning on the back burner during these courses and teach coaches the importance of developing players for the future. Talk about a topic for discussion. Development over winning!
We are going to focus on competition and coaching and teaching players how to compete. Coaches this is for you and for those parents that read this take note and pass the word on.
There are two ways to coach competition to our players. Coaching Competition as a Threat and or Coaching Competition as a Challenge. For fun let's see which one you identify with or you identify your players coach with.
Coaching Competition as a Threat Coaching Competition as a Challenge
Emphasize Winning Emphasize Effort & Fun
Think Short Term Think Long Term
Lack Emotional Control Deal Well with Setbacks
Link Self-Esteem to winning Link Self-Esteem to committment & Development
Young Players Respond Young Players Respond
Lose Motivation Become more Motivated
Lose Confidence and Self-Belief Gain new levels of Confidence and Self-Belief
Collapse under Pressure Cope with Pressure
Blame others for Setbacks Take and Accept Responsibility
Which coach are you? Which coach do you want to be? Who do you want your players to play for? Do we want to win now and be rewarded now only to see our players drop out because the proper foundation hasn't been laid when they get older?
Happy Summer to all of our SCYS Members. With the successful completion of the USYS Region 3 Tournament hosted at CESA and with the USYS National Championships beginning in a few days at Discoveries SC in Rock Hill our state is being overrun by college coaches recruiting players for their various programs. A perfect time if any to discuss the realities of the college soccer scholarship.
The importance of Technical Development and more importantly FUN can not be stressed enough at the youngest ages and even at the older age groups. Fun is pivotal. If a sport or activity is not fun young people will not participate. Technical and skill development is a major part in a player having fun. Ask most players and they will tell you that getting better is more important than winning. As a players skill level and comfort level increases they will seak out greater challenges. It's the coaches job and yes even you parents can help to facilitate this by encouraging development over winning. Encourage your players and your children to spend at least 2 minutes a day, 2 MINUTES, 120 SECONDS a day with a soccer ball at their feet when they are away from practice. Don't coach them, encourage them and if you're feeling up to it actually play and have fun with them. You just might learn something!
We all have visions of our children receiving full scholarships to play soccer or any sport in college and with the cost of higher education these days it's a great vision. But before we frame that picture of your little kicker signing the Athletic Grant in Aide on National Signing Day let's look at some facts.
College Soccer Teams and Affiliation
Aaffiliation Men Women
NCAA Division 1 198 310
NCAA Division 2 179 225
NCAA Division 3 400 425
NAIA 217 223
There are approximately 61, 000 players playing college soccer. This does not include athletes participating in soccer programs at Junior Colleges or National Christian College Athletic Association programs. Each year coaches need to replace graduating seniors and players that do not return for a host of reasons. On average college coaches will need to replace between 5 and 6 players per year on their rosters. This equals out to approximately 15, 000 players that are being identified and recruited to play college soccer per year. How does this affect your child and what about scholarships?
Most schools offer some sort of athletic scholarship to help entice the student-athlete to their institution. Let's look at the breakdown of total number of scholarships that is permitted per division and affiliation.
Affiliation Men Women
NCAA Division 1 9.9 14
NCAA Division 2 9 9.9
NCAA Division 3 0 0
NAIA 12 12
A few things to keep in mind here when looking at the above numbers. This number represents the total number of scholarships schools are allowed to have. Most schools are not maxed out at the above numbers. There are various reasons for this. Budgets, fund raising dollars, athletic conference rules, lack of funds and the list goes on and on. The above number varies greatly from school to school and not every school will offer the full allotment.
11 players play on a field during a game. As you can see even at the total number of scholarships an NCAA Division 1 men's program only has 9.9 possible scholarships to offer. Most men's and women's programs carry anywhere between 25 and 30 players. This means that coaches have to decided how to break up their scholarship dollars amongst their players. When looking into college soccer programs for your players be sure to find out how many scholarships the program has to offer and have a realistic understanding of your players value to the program. As a men's assistant for a NCAA Division 2 program in Florida for 5 years the average scholarship amount we gave out was $3000 per year. That's right scholarships are only granted one year at a time. So a $3000 scholarship to go to a school that costs $33,000 per year isn't a massive price break.
So what does all of this mean? Well it means that we need to be sure to explore all avenues of scholarships for our children. South Carolina offers a variety of scholarships for Academic Achievement such as the Hope, Life and Palmetto Scholarships. Most schools will combined or bundle athletic grant in aide with academic grant in aide and truth be known your student athlete will most likely receive more academic money than athletic money from colleges.
The NCAA calls them student-athletes for a reason. They truly are students first and athletes second and are awarded finaincal grant in aide as such. So before we think about spending hundreds and thousands of dollars on individual trainers, lessons, camps, teams and tournaments be sure that our sons and daughters understand that academic success although not as glamorous pays more than on field success.
With the final 4 teams in the SCYSA Bob Brantley Publix Challenge Cup being decided a few weeks ago and with the ink drying of the names of the recently crowned South Carolina High School State Champions in soccer in our local and state wide newspapers I think it's a good time to discuss the importance of club and high school soccer in South Carolina.
I always hear comments like "high school soccer isn't as good as club soccer," or "why can't we have club soccer year round?" Well for those that want club soccer year round it's available to you through US Soccer's Development Academy. The Development Academy is moving towards a 10 month schedule in which the players involved in that program will not be allowed to play high school soccer. Make no mistake about it, if you're good enough to play at this level and this is the soccer avenue you want to travel on than by all means go for it. Pour your heart and soul into it and make the most of it. You will be receiving some excellent coaching and training so be sure to take advantage of it. This level is for a select few in our state. What these players will gain in traveling and competing against some of the top teams and players across the country they will lose in school, community and possibly state wide recognition that only high school soccer can bring. The Development Academy is great and if given the opportunity I highly recommend watching some of the matches.
Lets get into the meat of the issue here which is club soccer and high school soccer. Let's take a look at what club soccer has to offer our players. Now please remember that we are speaking/writing in general terms here and as always there will be exceptions and factors to take into account. Club soccer offers more time to develop players starting at a very young age, U6 all the way through U18. Club soccer offers better players, many times teams are comprised of players from across the state that come together on one team. Better competition within a team as well as teams of like or similar ability. A higher level of training, nationally licensed coaches and better facilities. Club soccer also offers the ability to travel outside of the state on a consistent basis to play outside competition in regional and national events.
High School soccer allows players to represent their local communities, the student body, faculty and alumni of their school. A camaraderie develops between players that go to class together, sit in the cafeteria together and travel to away games together that is hard to replicate in the club environment. High school soccer offers big games that are played under the lights against local rivals for bragging rights that are watched by big crowds. High school student athletes must maintain certain academic standards to remain eligible to play during the season. The media coverage for high school athletics in local and statewide newspaper, tv and publications is something that is unique to the high school athlete. What of the accolades? All Conference, All Region, All State, Player of the Year. Again something unique to high school sports.
Do negatives exist in both. Of course! I have seen great coaches and bad coaches at both levels. I've seen some amazing games and some awful games at both. I've been to some 1st class facilities for both and some facilities that a cow wouldn't graze on. I've heard about the financial burdens of club soccer and the depleted budgets of high school soccer. I've seen blowouts, shootouts, yellow cards, red cards and last minute heroics at both. I've seen players of all levels and abilities being recruited at both (a topic for another time) and I've seen tears of sorrow and celebrations of triumph at both and I have found memories of playing both.
Club and high school soccer offer the opportunity for our players to experience different levels of play, different atmospheres, environments and pressures. Most importantly both offer an invaluable opportunity for our sons and daughters to grow and mature as young adults and become lifelong supporters that give back to our game and our communities.
Until next time. Play Hard. Play Smart and have fun!
One of the most frequent questions or a variance of the questions, that I get asked at just about any and every soccer event I attend across South Carolina is "Will soccer ever make it in the US?" or "When will soccer arrive in the US?" The person asking the question usually follows with a quick comment of "You know I just don't think soccer will ever be as big as football, baseball or basketball in this country." An invitation into the debate ring if there ever was one.
It is very difficult to take these questions and sly comments seriously when all one needs to do is stop, turn 360 degrees very slowly and deliberately and survey the soccer landscape in which the question is being asked. Look at the overflowing parking lots, lines at the concessions stands and ladies restroom ( a sure sign of a busy event), hundreds of players expanding more energy on the playground waiting for their next match as other players compete on the same fields and what about the soccer balls flying in every direction? Oh and dare we leave the parents and grandparents setting up their folding chairs, tents, umbrellas, smart phones and video equipment to vigilantly support, cheer and track every movement of their sons, daughters and grandchildren. The scene I describe is an ordinary weekend at most soccer clubs across the state and the country.
So let's answer the questions. "Will soccer ever make it in the US?" or "When will soccer arrive in the US?"
4.04 million registered soccer players between the ages of 5 - 19 years of age that play in one of the 8,200 registered soccer clubs in our country say YES! Soccer has already made it! Soccer has already arrived!
750,000 high school athletes across the country say YES!
1,001 and 1,194 men's and women's college soccer programs say YES!
ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Soccer Plus, GolTV, Telemundo and Univision say YES!
Major League Soccer, United Soccer Leagues, North American Soccer League, Major Indoor Soccer League and the Women's Professional Soccer League all say YES!
Our children that are running around in DC United, LA Galaxy, Barcelona, Liverpool, AC Milan, Chelsea, Manchester United and US National Team Jerseys are all saying YES! Soccer has arrived and soccer is here to stay in the United States.
Will soccer ever be as big as football, baseball or basketball is in the United States? Probably not and for the majority of us that is just fine. We have found our spot in the landscape of American sports, we are nestling in and building a strong foundation that will last for generations. Soccer has "made it" and soccer has "arrived" in the US. We hope you enjoy the greatest game on the planet with us.