Youth Soccer Coaching: Lessons from USA WC Game I

Youth Soccer Coaching: Lessons from USA WC Game I

by John Dingle

The US Men’s National team played Ghana in their first game of the 2014 world cup. Each US player possesses a soccer personality that allow them to fill roles for the team. The soccer personality is rooted deep in the player; as it is part of their overall personality, characteristics, attitude, and their physical characteristics. They developed their skill set because their soccer personality lead them in that direction. Youth coaches can help foster the move to the direction of player develop of each type of soccer personality.

Below is a chart of each starting player, the role they played, primary responsibilities, their must-have skill set, and ideas of how youth coaches can help develop these roles. Continue reading

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Improving Youth Soccer

I have looked back on the growth of the game in the United States and see we have made great progress. More players are playing the game, the level of youth soccer has improved tremendously, the Women’s and Men’s National team is playing at a higher level, and soccer is entering the main stream of our culture.

Looking forward, I see four areas that youth coaches need to take to continue the games growth.  US Soccer needs more and better game changers, we need to create a culture of possession in youth soccer, move to proactive coaching with seasonal plans, and teach tactics the appropriate way through the use of visual signs to our youth players.

Developing the Game Changer Attitude The first is predictable to students of the international game. We need more creative soccer players. This is a huge challenge.  We need to understand that each youth soccer player has their own soccer characteristics.  These characteristics come from their personality, body make up, athletic ability, and perceived team role.  Soccer coaches need to develop these soccer personalities differently.  The player who has a safety first personality will not be a creative player, but they can learn to protect the ball by shielding and dribble to open up angles for a pass.  The player who is fast and likes open space needs to learn how to run with the ball and change directions explosively.  They also will need to learn how to beat players into space.  The player who likes to be in a crowd, challenges the conventional way of getting things done, and likes the ball at their feet can develop into a creative soccer player.  All of these personalities and others can be game changers if they are guided to play within their soccer personality with a “no fear of failure approach”.

Players will enjoy their soccer experience more if they are set free to use their imagination, creativity, and problem solving abilities in the game. These players are not robots and coaches can’t expect to control every move the player make. Remote control coaching needs to end. Challenge yourself to allow players to be free to take chances, free to make mistakes, free to be special, and free to be game changers.

In 1998, US Soccer started project 2010. Project 2010’s goal was to ensure the US Men’s national team could become a legitimate threat to win the 2010 world cup. At the time president of US Soccer, Alan Rothenberg, stated “Somewhere out there we’ve got a 9 year old Ronaldo, and we got to find him.” Continue reading

World Cup Day 1 Observations


World Cup Day One Observations

South Africa  Vs. Mexico (1-1)

South Africa came out with a buzz kill approach for the first twenty minutes that nearly paid off at the end of the half as they were clearly the team with more energy.  They saved energy by being content to get numbers behind the ball while they allowed Mexico to use up energy and emotion.

Mexico crossing was very poor as they served balls that the keeper was able to cut off.  The first principle of crossing is to eliminate the keeper with the cross and Mexico failed in this area throughout the match.

South Africa made a great substitution to start the second half by changing the left side defenders.  Mexico exploited the left side throughout the first half.  Mexico did not have the success attacking from the left flank in the second half due to this substitution. Continue reading