The first step for any player, regardless of age or current level of play, is passion. Passion for the game, and enjoyment throughout the process, throughout endless and tiring training, is essential. For the road to development is narrow, and full of trials, tribulations, and hard work. However with passion and joy, the work is not seen as a hindrance, but instead is relished, and in fact does not seem like work at all. On the contrary, the work is play. It is play filled with blood, sweat, and tears. It is filled with high peaks and deep valleys. Ups and downs, but with the right mindset, it is an upward climb, with dips that serve to strengthen one’s resolve to continue the reach ever-higher heights.
Mastery never comes easy. But the lessons learned throughout the process towards mastery teaches invaluable life lessons that extend far beyond the pitch. Lessons such as perseverance, persistence, selflessness, commitment, dedication, cooperation, and self-expression serve to develop players, and more importantly, leaders that understand the value of these lessons and are able to contribute to society in meaningful and impactful ways.
There are four main components of player development: technical, tactical, physical, and psychological. These four components interact, and overlap, in myriad ways. The technical aspects are first touch, dribbling, shooting, passing, receiving, etc. The tactical aspects are speed of thought, decision-making, principles of play, and the general understanding of when to do what and how. In short, the tactical part of the game can be summarized as “Soccer IQ.” Physical aspects are speed, quickness, agility, balance, and power. Psychological aspects are willingness to learn, ability to compete, ability to perform under pressure- to name a few.
Both parents and coaches are integral to developing these components. Just as a team must work together in perfect synchronicity to achieve maximum results, so too must the team of support staff work together to maximize the player development process for each player. To be sure, the club’s technical staff, coaching staff, administrative staff, volunteers, and parents must work together in a perfectly choreographed dance to provide the best possible environment in these critical, formative years in our young players’ lives.
For our coaches, each training session is carefully planned to provide economical and age-appropriate sessions that combine all four components of player development. In the younger ages, sessions are heavily focused on the technical and physical components. Ball mastery and physical ability are key components of player development and have tremendous impacts on building confidence. Without ball mastery and the ability to execute, conceptual understanding of soccer tactics is meaningless.
To use the analogy of building a house: technical proficiency is like the cement, 2x4s, bricks, nails, and pipes that make up the house. Tactics are architecture. Without having the building blocks established first, the architecture is pointless- no matter how beautiful the design. In order to build a beautiful and coherent structure, both components (technical/physical + tactical/psychological) are essential. First we must build the physical and technical while illustrating how they interact with the tactical and psychological. After the technical/physical foundations are established, we then focus on polishing the technical/physical while beginning to focus on the tactical and psychological components.
This is how we build self-confident soccer players. Confidence is the cornerstone upon which leadership qualities are built. Building leaders on the soccer field, and in the community, is our highest aim. Developing leadership qualities that serve our teams on the pitch translates to leadership qualities in all aspects of life. This is what we strive for at LMVSC. We believe there is no higher calling than developing young leaders. Sure, like everyone else, we want to win. We want our kids to fight in each individual battle, each match, and each drill as if it were their last. We want our kids to be competitors. We want them to be relentless on the soccer field. But we want them to be relentless in achieving each and every short and long term soccer goal. But we also want them to be relentless in school, in their convictions, and every aspect of their life. Match results are secondary to them learning the game, mastering control of the ball, and in becoming mentally tough athletes and human beings.
Please stay tuned and follow as we share ways in which you, as parents, can help us build our kids into stellar athletes, and exceptional leaders, on and off the soccer field. With our training curriculum, game management, and the work you do at home, our partnership with us working with your children on LMVSC fields, and the work you do with them at home, our collective engagement with these kids will make a lasting impact on their lives, and will be certain to help them to reach their goals on and off the pitch.
Yours in Soccer,
Julian Lee Chang
LMVSC Director of Player Development
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