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Jason Mejeur

A Leader in Every Locker – Coach’s Guidebook

By | Baseball, Basketball, Coaches Resources, Football, Hockey, Lacrosse, Soccer, Track, Volleyball, Wrestling

A Leader in Every Locker is an interesting read.  It definitely challenges the status quo of having captains and letting them be the leaders of the team.  If nothing else – this will challenge you to think differently about how you “lead the leaders” on your team.  Check out more leadership tools that they offer at www.aleaderineverylocker.com.


Notice to the Reader

WARNING!   What you are about to read may:

  • Seem contrary to a lot of what you learned from your experience as a student-athlete.
  • Turn out to be at odds with the way most teams are run.
  • Challenge the basic premises of leadership; particularly that leaders possess “the right stuff.”
  • Be disturbing because it may raise issues with some of your deepest beliefs.

A Leader in Every Locker takes you beyond the out-dated team captain model of team leadership. After a decade of research and development, this book reveals a transformational leadership model that fuels the growth and development of all your student-athletes.



The Academy for Sport Leadership has designed a practical curriculum and useful resources for transforming your team into a high-performing learning organization. We’ve integrated the 21st Century model of team leadership into our programs and processes. And we’ve designed resources to help you develop a leader in every locker!

Here’s the catch though: It takes more than simply appointing a couple of players to the role of team captain.  At the heart of the leader in every locker framework is the core belief that every student-athlete has the ability to learn and develop leadership skills.

After a decade of research and development I’ve identified eight essential roles that affect the internal dynamics of a team—high school or college. When these roles are filled and played well it makes it easy for team to be close together, helps the team build identity, and creates an environment in which trust, morale, and commitment freely emerge with players focusing more attention on one another through building of interdependent relationships.


8 Roles of Team Leadership

Dobbs’ 8 Roles of Team Leadership sets a foundation for building a peer-based leadership system. The following values and priorities are vital to constructing an infrastructure for effective team leadership.

  • Inclusiveness and participation
  • Influence
  • Initiative
  • Abundance-based mindset
  • Autonomy
  • Self-organizing
  • Community
  • Equitable

What others are saying…

I must admit my professional bias towards the model of “A Leader in Every Locker” that Dr. Dobbs describes in this, his latest book. I too am a proponent of a shared leadership model and believe that leadership is not a gift reserved for a small minority, but that it can be learned and enhanced in most people. It is our responsibility as coaches, educators, and leaders to raise up a future generation of leaders. After all, isn’t helping others in their leadership journey the ultimate testament to our own leadership capacity? With this book Dr. Dobbs gives a clear and convincing argument to the importance and need to adopt this 21st century model and a path as to how to transform your leadership environment from hit-or-miss to intentional.

-Juan Pablo Favero, Associate Head Coach Women’s Soccer, San Diego State



7 Things To Accomplish During Summer Football

By | Coaches Resources, Football

Author Chris Fore is the owner of Eight Laces Consulting.  He has produced some dynamite manuals and books for coaches in their pursuit of excellence.  He collaborated with a number of coaches to put together 7 things championship programs accomplish over the summer.  Check and see how many you’ve accomplished this summer!


As a Head Football Coach for 8 years, one of my favorite parts of the entire year was the Summer time.  For one, there is no school!  But it also meant that we are THAT much closer to “real football” – the season!  I always told our kids and coaches that the 12 month year was broken in to 4 quarters: the season (Aug-Dec), postseason (Dec-Jan), spring ball (Feb-May) and summer ball (June-July). Besides the season, summer was my favorite quarter!

If you ask 10 different Head Coaches what their number one priority is for their summer program, you’re probably going to get 6-7 different responses.  So, I did ask! I was curious to see what other coaches had to say about their number one priority in the summer.  You’ll see me weave their answers in to this article.

Here are 7 things to focus on this summer!



I wholeheartedly agree, and really believe that there is no better time to build Team Chemistry than the summer.  Some of those kids who came out back in January, to try football out, have now dropped off the radar.  Some kids have moved, or transferred in or out.

By summer time, you pretty much have the nucleus of the team.  Now, it’s time to start to really focus on getting them to gel, to actually like one another!  I challenge you to find some ways to build chemistry.  Go to the movies as a team after practice one night, head to the local BBQ joint, have a pool party, go to the lake/beach/closest body of water to you…..


Pete Keravedes, Head Coach at Sunny Hills in Fullerton, CA, said that his summer priority is “Probably a tie between strength and conditioning, and installation of scheme to prepare for Fall Camp.”

I like the balance there.  The best programs out there have a strong emphasis on summer strength and conditioning.

Any good Strength and Conditioning Coach will tell you that there are several phases that occur throughout the course of the year to prepare your team physically.  For many, the summer time is the last main phase.  I always would have an 8 week phase that ended right about August 15th.  We tested our kids right around that date, the end of those 8 weeks, recognized our 1,000 pound club guys, etc….


The summer time is a great time to pour in to your leaders.  I advise having a Player Committee.  Some of my favorite memories in coaching over the last 15 years were those summer Player Committee meetings, where we would sit in a living room, or a back patio, or the local Mexican food joint, talking about leadership, football and life in general…..


Sure, your kids have been competing since January, or whenever you started.  But now is the time to really ramp up the competition aspect of your program.  I have seen coaches really do a great job of building competition in to their summer time…..


By August, the fundamental expectations of your program better be in stone, and enforced or you’re behind the 8 ball.  Some coaches run a very relaxed summer camp, and then have to flip the switch when Training Camp rolls around.  I think that’s dangerous because then you have to become the “rule master” all of a sudden, and it can be a shock to the kids….


There is SO much that goes in to the game of football.  I love watching the NFL Films, especially when they show an entire play with slow motion.  To see HOW many moving parts and pieces there are during just ONE play!  22 people, each with a different job, each with a different desired outcome!  And it is YOUR job to put these kids in place for success.  And you’ve got to teach them hundreds of things….


Written organization is a strength of mine, so keeping a depth chart is an easy thing for me, and something I really enjoy keeping.  I keep it two ways: on a white board in the office, and on the computer via Excel.  Keeping you working Depth Chart is key during the summer….

(Want more details?  Read the full version of the article here)

MaxOne Webinar (6/29/17)

By | Baseball, Basketball, Coaches Resources, Football, Hockey, Lacrosse, Soccer, Track, Volleyball, Wrestling

M1 Marketplace Launch and Summer – Best Practices

This past month we held our first ever MaxOne webinar. We were really pumped about the engagement with our MaxOne coaches during this webinar. In this webinar we wanted to highlight some of the upgrades we’ve been working hard on this summer for our coaches.

Some of the topics covered: 

  • The Launch Of Our New M1 Marketplace – allowing coaches to download content directly to their MaxOne account, and deliver directly to their athletes and coaches.
  • Our Upgraded Leaderboard  allowing for best result and now cumulative leaderboard types for tracking activities like shot counter or miles ran, etc.
  • Summer – Best Practices  for streamlining admin and organization and further engaging athletes throughout the summer.

We wanted the share this webinar for those of you that didn’t get a chance to attend. We look forward to hosting more webinars, to give our coaches as much value as possible.



How To Eat To Improve Your Thinking

By | Coaches Resources, Soccer

This article was written by Casey Ames, Head Trainer at Optimal Soccer. See Original Post 


Changing the Way You Eat

Soccer is more than simply being physically capable of outperforming others, we also take on a mental toll whenever we get out on the field. While we can train our bodies to become stronger, there is not an easy way to train our minds. This is where the diet kicks in. Changing the way you eat will have significant effects on your ability to think. By optimizing how your mind works, you can become a serious threat on the field.

There are four main areas we should address when we apply nutrition to optimizing our cognitive performance:

  • First is how we can eat to improve our mood.
  • Second, how the diet will keep us alert.
  • Third, nutrition and its effects on concentration.
  • Last but not least, how the Optimal Soccer Diet can improve memory.

The effects of diet on the brain in these four categories is important for soccer players looking to take their game to the next level because they change the way we play. With an improved mood, you can step out onto the field with a stronger confidence and take down other players that much easier. With a heightened alertness, you can make snappy decisions quicker, and react to the changes in the game that much faster. With a stronger concentration, you won’t make mistakes, you’ll drop into a rhythm that puts you on an entirely different plane of playing than the other players. With improved memory, the work you put in outside of the match will be that much easier to access making you a huge threat on the field.

So let’s get into these categories and see which foods can optimize your mental performance.


The mentality that we step out onto the field with plays a huge role in our performance. As soccer players, we need to understand why we feel confident, and how nutrition can actually trigger this mental state.

Hormones play a huge role in the way we think, especially in regard to our mood. The two hormones that we need to address in regards to confidence are dopamine and serotonin.


Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays key roles in regulating movement and emotional responses. [1] More specifically, it helps you see rewards and work to achieve those goals. This is huge for soccer players as it creates a mental state in which we can move better, and we are better motivated. Motivation is important going into a game. You want to step out onto the field motivated to win, no matter what. Triggering dopamine will make it easy to get into this mental state.

There are a number of ways to maintain healthy dopamine levels, including getting more sleep and taking certain drugs to trigger it. However, dopamine can be safely triggered by simply changing the way you eat.

Certain foods produce the chemicals that trigger dopamine, and these chemicals are found in foods that are already part of the Optimal Soccer Diet. Specifically, ingesting fish oil, L-theanine, L-tyrosine, and phosphatidylserine.


Fish oil can be supplemented, or you can simply include more fish in your diet. Salmon, tilapia, and tuna have good fats, protein, and omega-3s in addition to these fish oils that will improve your performance.


L-theanine is a supplement that should be added to your morning cup of coffee. It produces a calming effect like drinking a cup of tea that triggers dopamine. [2]


This can also be supplemented and is accredited to providing a stimulant effect on the body. [3] When purchasing, be sure to look at the dosage, some recommend taking multiple doses throughout the day equaling to a total of 150 mg of L-tyrosine. The best time to take this is 30-60 minutes before the game to ensure it is fully digested and working through your system.


As with the other ways to trigger dopamine, phosphatidylserine can be supplemented with doses of 100 mg taken 3 times a day. [4] As it is taken throughout the day, making sure you have been supplementing it for at least a week will help you to see results and change your cognitive performance.

With these nutrients in your diet, your performance as a soccer player will greatly improve.


Serotonin is responsible for regulating mood swings and is generally attributed to treating depression. With regards to soccer players and motivation, the last thing you want to be is gloomy when you step out onto the field. Instead, look to optimize serotonin to come out feeling confident and motivated to win.

There are a number of ways to trigger serotonin through the diet, but fruits and nuts appear to have evidence behind their ability to trigger serotonin.


Specifically, the fruits you want to be eating are bananas, kiwis, pineapple, and plums. These fruits contain the amino acid l-tryptophan which is critical in the creation of serotonin. [5] Adding these to a smoothie is an easy way to trigger the serotonin you need to stay in the game.


Along with fruits containing l-tryptophan, the body needs carbohydrates to trigger serotonin production. [6] Good sources of carbohydrates can be found in pistachios, almonds, peanuts, and cashews.

Eating these as a light snack before the game will help push your mind in the right direction. Not only are they easily digested, but they also won’t make you feel heavy before your game.


Alertness is very important to soccer. You need to be able to react quickly to a changing game, and the way to do this is to change your diet.

Physiologically, alertness is caused when our bodies produce adrenaline. The problem with adrenaline production is that it is often accompanied by cortisol. Cortisol, in high doses, makes you feel lethargic and will not improve your performance.

The solution to this is caffeine in addition to l-theanine.


The addition of l-theanine to coffee is best attributed to bulletproof coffee. While the coffee acts as a stimulant through the caffeine, the l-theanine establishes a calming effect that maintains the alertness without giving you the jitters or leaves you feeling anxious.

If you don’t like coffee, don’t worry. Caffeine can be accessed in a number of ways aside from coffee. It can either be supplemented, or you can drink tea. Either way, making sure you get caffeine and l-theanine into your system an hour before your soccer game will leave you feeling alert and ready for anything.


Concentration relies on the mind’s ability to send and receive messages between brain cells. In order to do this effectively, brain cells need oxygen from blood sugar.

The best ways to provide the mind with the nutrients it needs to concentrate is to cook with olive oil, eat fish, and to eat nuts.


Olive oil contains oleuropein which is important due to its anti-oxidative properties. [7] Anti-oxidants are important for cell function and overall nutrition. By cooking your meals with olive oil, your mind stands to gain a lot.


Fish contain oils and the precious omega-3s which make them essential to concentration. Omega-3s help build maintain myelin which is a fatty substance your brain cells need to communicate effectively. [8] By simply increasing the amount of fish you eat, your concentration on the field will improve.


Along with fish, nuts also contain omega-3s. Taking in walnuts and flax seed is a good way to get omega-3s. I suggest eating these before your game if you want a small snack before you get out on the field.


At the heart of learned behavior is memory. A sharp mind can access skills built from memories and execute actions quicker than a mind that has neglected the maintenance of its memory. To improve memory, soccer players can look to their diet.

There are many foods that have been credited with memory improvement, but only a few are suitable to the Optimal Soccer Diet. Of these foods and nutrients, a soccer player looking to take their game to the next level should begin eating eggs, quinoa, broccoli, and start either cooking with coconut oil or adding it to your morning cup of coffee/tea.


Eggs are already an important source of nutrients because they are packed with protein and fats that soccer players desperately need in order to pack on muscle and fuel endurance. However, they also have an essential B vitamin that studies show improve memory. [9]

Eggs not only provide soccer players with the nutrients needed to optimize physical performance, but the research suggests they also can play a key role in your cognitive function. Implementing eggs into your breakfast will do wonders for your performance on the field.


Quinoa is an excellent source of carbohydrates. For soccer players, the intake of carbohydrates is especially important because cells break them down into glucose. Glucose is essential for brain cells to send messages to each other effectively. [10]

This makes it very easy to recommend including quinoa in the Optimal Soccer Diet. It is easy to cook, and it can be added to just about anything. The nutrients you stand to gain and the versatility of this food make it essential for soccer players looking to step up their game.


Broccoli should already be a part of your diet. It is particularly nutrient-dense as it is full of calcium, vitamin C, fiber, iron, B vitamins, and vitamin K. [11] Soccer players are surprisingly deficient in these micronutrients due to the amount of stress we put on our bodies, but broccoli also is important for the mind.

With regards to the brain, broccoli helps keep the blood clean, allowing the free flow of oxygen and other chemicals in the body allowing brain cells to work more efficiently. If you were wondering which vegetables you should be eating, then turn toward broccoli.


Coconut oil is popular among Paleo diets and is gaining traction among nutritionists everywhere. There are medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil that the body uses for energy, allowing the brain to tap into our precious glucose stores. [12] Not only that, coconut oil is also anti-inflammatory.

Soccer players stand to gain a lot from implementing this into their diet. It is easy to put in coffee or tea, and cooking with it adds a sweet taste to whatever you’re cooking.

Most soccer players tend to focus on the physicality of the sport, but there are many nuances to the game and your performance that training hard only does so much. The diet is particularly important in stepping your game to the next level, in regards to both your physical performance as well as your mental performance.

Soccer is a fast-paced sport that requires a great deal of snappy decision-making and impeccable reaction-time. In order to train your mind, your diet must be addressed. As you can tell from the foods suggested to improve your cognitive function in each of the four categories, the nutrients required overlap with foods essential to improving your physical performance. Our bodies are complex machines, and it is our job to make sure they are given what they need to perform well.



[1] //www.psychologytoday.com/basics/dopamine
[2] //www.drugs.com/npc/l-theanine.html
[3] //examine.com/supplements/l-tyrosine/
[4] //examine.com/supplements/phosphatidylserine/
[5,6] //nootriment.com/serotonin-rich-foods/
[7] //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002804/
[8] //www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1276881/The-brain-diet-Eating-right-foods-improve-memory-lift-mood-help-concentrate-longer.html
[9] //www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2065732/Chicken-eggs-boost-memory-Scientists-discover-nutrient-slow-ageing-brain.html
[10,11,12] //www.sunwarrior.com/news/brain-foods/

Lessons from Dennis Bergkamp

By | Coaches Resources, Soccer

This article was posted at //www.gocoachsoccer.com/ , a great resource for all soccer coaches!


About Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis Bergkamp is widely regarded as one of the finest and most creative players to play in the English Premiership League.  He joined Arsenal in 1995 and helped the club to win three Premier League titles, four FA Cup trophies, and reach the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final.

With the Netherlands national team, Bergkamp scored 37 goals in 79 appearances and helped his team to two semi-finals of major competitions – the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship. At the individual level, Bergkamp finished third twice in the FIFA World Player of the Year award and was selected by Pelé as one of the FIFA 100 greatest living players.

In 2007, he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame, the first and so far, only Dutch player ever to receive such honour. Bergkamp is currently assistant-manager at Ajax (Holland) and has previously worked in the clubs famed youth academy.

So what were some of the attributes that made Bergkamp such a great player and the key attributes in young players that he has identified as a coach?

Constant strive for Perfection

His teammate at Arsenal Robin Van Persie recalled working with Bergkamp as they both worked their way back from injury. He recalled that in a 45 minute technical passing and shooting session Bergkamp did not make one mistake – he did everything one hundred percent, to the maximum of his ability. He shot as hard as possible and his passing and control was decisive and direct.

Enjoy the process of practicing and getting better. As a young child, Bergkamp used to kick a ball against a wall and try new things – the inside of the foot, outside of the foot and laces. He changed the rhythm from fast and slow and made the ball spin. He recalls being fascinated how the ball bounced off the wall and enjoying the mechanics of doing it and the pleasure he got from practicing.

Be unique

When coaching a young Luis Suarez at Ajax, Bergkamp recalled that Suarez was always looking to create something and was always thinking how to gain an edge over his opponents.  At the Ajax academy, Bergkamp saw many good, tidy, technical players but felt, unlike Suarez, they weren’t special, flexible or creative.  His definition of the best players are the ones who adjust to the situation they’re given in the best way.

Demonstrate hunger and desire

By his own admission, Bergkamp was driven. He does not understand why he was but knows that as a player he set himself goals and targets. And once he achieved those he wanted to raise the bar and go further. Once he climbed one mountain (goal/target) he wanted to see the next one. He said that his drive was more based on passion, than ambition and that he always had to do the difficult thing and once that was achieved, then he has to do the next difficult thing. He felt that to not do things that way, would have been a betrayal of his deepest self.

Focus on individual skills versus Tactics

Bergkamp is a firm advocate of not thinking about teams anymore in terms of youth development. Youth development he feels is all about developing individual players and that must be the focus. He feels that teaching young players tactics before the age of 14 makes no sense – it just goes in one ear and out the other. A better approach he feels is to focus on developing young players with great technique, who have good habits. He also feels that the mental aspect must be developed with young players so that they are intelligent and have good values as people.

Player Tips:

Develop a genuine passion for practicing and making yourself better.

Coach Tips:

Focus your work on developing talented individual players, rather than focusing on building teams who will achieve short-term outcome goals such as winning

Parent Tips:

Support and help foster your child’s passion and love of the game. Ensure that they are in a positive learning environment where this will be developed and supported


Source: Dennis Bergkamp – Stillness and Speed

Passing and Receiving Training Session

By | Coaches Resources, Soccer

soccer drills movement off the ball

The following session from Wayne Evans was originally posted by the National Soccer Coaches Association of Canada on their website at NSCAC.ca.

Learning Objectives:

  • Quality of Passing/Receiving Skills
  • Awareness/Decision Making
  • Movement

Technical / Tactical: Technique on Demand, Ball Mastery & Manipulation, Game Intelligence/Understanding

Physical: ABC’s, Acceleration, Deceleration, Change of Direction, Contact

Psychological: Awareness, Confidence, Concentration, Composure, Decision Making

Social: Demo Independence, Are Good Learners, Leadership, Recognize Importance of Teammates

Session Principles:

  • Keeping the Ball
  • Game Intelligence/Understanding
  • Technique on Demand
  • Movements Off the Ball
  • Awareness of Surroundings
  • Decision Making In & Out of Possession

Position Specific:

  • Understanding Specific Positional Play
  • In & Out of Possession Roles & Responsibilities
  • Game Understanding (Shape – Attacking/Defending Principles)

 Passing Gates

  • Playing 1 or 2 Touch
  • Alternate Feet
  • Middle/Outside
  • Middle/Outside Bottom of foot

Area: Gates 2 yds apart / Players 2 yds away

Time: 30 secs – Count passes through gate

passing gates

 Diamond Drill

  • Passing/Receiving
  • Movement off Mannequin
  • Awareness
  • 1st touch where?
  • Follow Pass

Area: 16x8yds

Time: 10mins

diamond passing drill soccer

4v4 Directional Possession

  • Create Width/Depth
  • Angles of Support
  • Movement Off the Ball

Area: 30x15yds

Time: 2x8mins

S.S.G Diamond Shape

  • Aware of Surroundings
  • Decision Making
  • Movement Off the Ball

Area: 36x24yds

Time: 2x8mins

Wayne Evans is a UEFA “A” Licensed coach who also holds the FA Academy Managers’ License & the Advanced Youth Award. He also has the experience of working through the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP/Doublepass) set out by The FA & English Premiership & now MLS.

During his rewarding coaching career, he has helped develop many players that have progressed to professional soccer careers, represented their countries at youth level, & have also joined US & Canadian universities on soccer scholarships.

Having been a Coach educator with three Provincial Associations, he is now specializing in Coach Education & Club Curriculums through his business, WE Soccer.

The Importance of Self-Motivation

By | Coaches Resources, Soccer

This article is an excerpt from “Play the 1 v 1 Way: Soccer Tips From and Emerging Talent Centre.” This book is aimed at parents, coaches and players, and details both McClurg’s philosophy on development, as well as practical tips for building young male and female players looking to take their game to the next level.

Self Motivation

A recent interview with Arsène Wenger, manager of the topflight English club Arsenal, outlined the importance of young players learning to be “consistently motivated” in order to play at the highest levels of the game.

In his typically thoughtful style, Wenger defined a motivated person as “someone who has the capacity to recruit the resources to complete a goal.” He then gave an example of how he got lost jogging in Japan. He explained how he was motivated to come back to the hotel but could not find his way back. He could have hailed a taxi but as a sportsman he was determined to find a solution himself and find his own way back. In summary, Wenger believes that when you look at people who are successful they are the ones who are consistently motivated and always willing to made sacrifices to achieve their goals.

This mirrors what I see at our academy at 1v1 Soccer. We have had players join our program at various ages and abilities. The ones I focus I most on and believe will go on to play at higher levels are the ones who are determined to truly make themselves players. During training, they simply get on with it. They train like it will be their last session and are constantly on the edge during our technical warm-ups, trying new things and not being content with their current level of skill.

Your Behavior Tells All

When we play small-sided games and constantly change conditions, they are the players quickly working out how to succeed within the changing environment. They are the players who are capable of playing at a high level themselves but also inspiring and helping other players around them. In football (soccer) your teammates are the best judge of your performance. Despite what parents and even coaches see on the sidelines, teammates are the ones who truly know if you’re making yourself available for passes, making runs off the ball into open space, changing the point of attack based on what the opposition is doing, making tracking runs back to assist the defense and able to produce something a little different when the pressure is on.

Players and their parents do not often realize how much coaches learn about players when you observe them off the field. Are they mixing well socially, do they carry their own boots and training bag, do they tie their own laces? These behaviors can all be indicators of how self-motivated players are and can give a very good idea of whether or not take responsibility for preparation themselves. Do players ask questions during training to the coaching staff as they try to understand instructions? Can they work things out for themselves, solve problems, and are they determined to overcome obstacles?

Continued….Get the rest of this article in “Play the 1 v 1 Way: Soccer Tips From and Emerging Talent Centre”.

3 Reasons Why & How Coaches Need to be Great Listeners

By | Coaches Resources, Soccer
This article was posted at //www.gocoachsoccer.com/ , a great resource for all soccer coaches!

Qualities of a Great Coach

If you have ever been or are currently an athlete, odds are is that you have ran into a coach that loves to hear themselves talk. Coaches, by trade, have to be able to communicate effectively in order to have success. However, far too many coaches are under the belief that having their athletes listen and strictly adhere to their instructions is the only way for an athlete to be successful. The old slogan ‘my way or the highway’ is not just ridiculous because of the negative aura surrounding it, but more so because it shows that a coach with that mindset is unwilling to listen to what the athlete is going through.

I have found that the best coaches can not only speak effectively but are outstanding listeners. They listen effectively by the way they look at the person they are speaking with, they don’t let their ego get in the way of the conversation, and perhaps most importantly, they are open to the idea that how an athlete feels [both emotionally & physically] matters. Let’s get into some more details on why a coach being a good listener is so important:


1. Great Listeners also have Great Eye Contact

When was the last time that you have a great conversation with someone and they did not look at you or you were not looking at them? Odds are is when you think of those moments where there was no eye contact from both parties, the conversation was not as good as what it could have been. Great coaches know that when an athlete needs to speak with them, they need to look at them dead in the eye and take in everything that they say seriously. No conversation is as important as the one that they are having right then. And it is not just that the coach is looking at them that matters, but how their body is positioned during the conversation.

Effective coaches don’t stand two-inches from a players face and listen. This creates an environment that is not just ineffective, but intimidating to those who are trying to speak. When an athlete talks to you, you want to create an environment that is open to free communication in which the athlete feels that they can say what is on their mind and the coach is showing that they are fully invested and taking in their concerns.

Think about when you talk to a loved one. If they are in your face or not looking at you, you feel anxious, more than likely hesitant to speak openly, and may even become angry. Your goal as a coach should be to create the same type of open, free, and communicative space with your players as you would with someone you care about at home. By looking them dead in the eye and showing them you have their attention, is where great conversations can begin.

2. Great Listeners don’t let their Ego get in the way

When a ‘my way or the highway’ coach listens to an athlete, more than likely when they hear a complaint they think, ‘this kid is not doing it my way, the hell with him, I’m gonna blow up on this kid.’ And we have all seen coaches do this. Nothing is wrong with re-enforcing your coaching philosophy and explaining to a young person why you are doing things the way that you are doing it. However, when a coach is so wrapped up in his or her own ego, when they have no intention of listening to the athletes issues, the reaction of the coach will more than likely be overly upset, aggressive, and will have the potential of losing a potential teaching moment.

Remember that in times where people are frustrated and want to have questions to their answers, great communicators understand that cooler heads always prevail. Ego is thrown out the window when you have an athlete that does not understand something. In these instances, it is more important that the coach becomes a teacher and explains things in a way that they themselves would want to have it be taught. That is the point where you will not just be able to communicate effectively, but have a deeper connection with the person than you will have had if you just ‘blew up.’

3. Great Listeners understand that how an Athlete Feels Matters

From high school to college to the professional ranks, athletes are not just athletes, they are people. They have issues that go on in their daily life that potentially could affect their performance for the better or worse. ‘My way or the highway’ coaches don’t seem to understand that. Coaches all wish in many ways that athletes could be robots, can just automatically dial-in, and are ready to compete or practice no matter what is going on in their lives.

That is far from what an athlete is. Great communicators understand the importance of asking the question ‘how do you (or) how did that feel?’ In this answer is where you can first understand the best way of coaching an athlete on that day, and also, create an environment in which an athlete can talk to you about the outside factors, misunderstandings, or other issues that may be negatively or positively affecting how they perform.

“That felt weird because of this’ or ‘I’m pissed off today because of something you [coach] said yesterday in practice’ are all things that you want to hear from athletes. One of the keys to a great coach/athlete relationship is honesty. Honesty with how the athlete is performing and honesty from how the athlete feels about their performance. This does not mean that the coach needs to be the mother, father, or counselor – it does mean however that in order to have an effective performance, both coach and athlete need to understand where one is coming from and how they can best get the job done in that moment.


So the next time you chat with a player, don’t be afraid to stand upright and look them in the eye. Don’t be afraid to let down your ego for a bit and listen to your athlete’s point of view. And pay attention to how they are feeling. If you can do these three things, odds are is not only will you see positive performance increase, but the investment from that athlete because you took the time to listen to them will be worth its weight in gold.

Preventing The Cross

By | Coaches Resources, Soccer

This article was posted at //www.gocoachsoccer.com/ , a great resource for all soccer coaches!

How to Stop the Cross:

It is no secret that a large number of goals come from crosses. However, as coaches do we prepare enough on stopping the cross or delaying the cross so we can add numbers on the defensive end.

This exercise below looks at the roles and responsibilities for the back four when the ball is wide, which will prepare defenders to deal with the cross. Individually, defenders must make sure they close down space and stop service. Collectively they must provide cover and understand which areas are vulnerable.


Blue team are organized into a back four with a goalkeeper. Red team have six players – two center forwards, two wide players and two servers. The play takes place in one half of the field with channels marked out for the wide areas. (See below)


Server starts the play and passes to one of the wide players in the outside channel. The outside defender (circled) must go and apply pressure to the ball as quick as possible but do not commit to a tackle. We want the defender to delay the defender for as long as possible. The other three defenders in blue must drop in behind the ball and make sure that they are in the middle third and stay connected.  (See Below)


If blue defender delays the red wide player for as long as possible, this should result in that red player dropping the ball back to the server, who now acts as a center midfielder. The red center midfielder then switches the ball to the other red wide player on the other side of the field. The blue defense must react to this by shifting across and changing their shape. The blue left back must now apply pressure to the ball, the other three defenders must shift across to provide a form of cover. The blue left back must now be in line with the far post and have an open body shape to see attacker and the ball. (See Below)


After working on this defensive shape and shifting across, we now progress it to an 11v11 game on a 3/4 length of the field. We keep the channels out wide to coach in the game and work on the shape of the back four. With a smaller field, the defenders must now make quicker decisions when to pressure the ball, when to shift across and when to step up.

Coaching points:

  • Apply pressure to the ball when it goes into the attacking third
  • Make sure the other three defenders shift across
  • When pressure is applied to the ball, the other three defenders can push up and ‘squeeze’ the play. When no pressure is applied, the defenders must drop and cut the space between the back four and goalkeeper.

The Warrior vs. Winner Culture

By | Baseball, Basketball, Coaches Resources, Football, Hockey, Lacrosse, Soccer, Track, Volleyball, Wrestling

This article was provided by Coaches Network.  Coaches can often become blinded by the desire to win. This article provides coaches with an alternative mindset around winning, as well as a guide to giving players the best overall experience when playing on your team.  We believe these are principles that all coaches can implement into their programs!


Developing a “Warrior” Culture

Too much emphasis on winning can distract from the true value of sports. Longtime soccer coach and internationally known speaker Reed Maltbie explains why it’s important to develop what he calls a “warrior” culture as opposed to a winning culture.

Coaches can often become blinded by the desire to win. This single-minded focus forces people to sacrifice their values and can hurt the growth of young athletes. But as Maltbie explains in an article on Changingthegameproject.com, the goal should be to achieve excellence. Winning is just a by-product of this commitment to positive values and embracing the challenge of competition.

“In a values-based, purpose-driven team or mindset winning is not the focus, but the expectedly pleasant by-product. It is not ‘wanted’ as the main desire but simply expected as something that may happen if things are done right,” Maltbie writes. “Winning and losing are both mere waypoints on the journey and both should be viewed with the same desire to learn from and grow from them.”

Like many coaches, Maltbie struggled with this approach when he started out over 20 years ago. He had winning mentality and all he cared about was acquiring as many trophies and accolades as possible, often bragging about not having a losing season as a major part of his success. But after seeing the way that this mentality left him feeling empty and took away from the experience of his players, he began to change his approach.

What he discovered was this: “All warriors are winners, but not all winners are warriors. The simple commitment to personal excellence, high standards, and an ethereal quest to be better than the day before makes a warrior a winner.”

With this mentality he stopped treating winning as the ultimate goal and started treating it as a simple step on the path to excellence. Since then his goal has been to help athletes develop into “warriors.” He does this by encouraging athletes to live by unbending values, strive for improvement every day, take challenges head on, and respect the nature of competition.


Here is his guide for changing your focus from winning trophies to striving for excellence:

• “Warriors are purpose-driven WHILE winners are trophy-driven.” Winning a competition is a fleeting moment. What lasts longer is developing the desire and drive to always do your best and to seek excellence everyday. This motivation goes far beyond the pursuit of a piece of metal.

• “Warriors are internally motivated WHILE winners are externally motivated.” When you focus on being the master of yourself, true excellence can be achieved. Competing for the sake of winning is an external motivation that relies on comparing yourself to others rather than seeking self-improvement.

• “Warriors have a growth mindset WHILE winners have a fixed mindset.” People focused solely on winning often think they are entitled to the trophy, while those with a growth mindset understand how much work it takes to get there. Even when the competition doesn’t go your way, the value lies in the opportunity to learn and grow.

• “Warriors are process-oriented WHILE winners are outcome-oriented.” Instead of worrying about the endgame, stay in the moment and enjoy the journey. When you always have your eye on the goal, it can be easy to miss what’s going on around you.

• “Warriors are values-based WHILE winners are glory-based.” It’s important to develop the values that you want to fight for and then to instill these values in your athletes. When acquiring trophies is the focus, you are looking to boost your own ego rather than create a legacy of excellence.

“We have a chance to teach our children and our athletes the awesome joy of being a warrior. Of seeking challenge, battling for personal excellence, of striving to be a better person each day, and living and playing with a purpose and embedded in values,” Maltbie writes. “They have the opportunity to experience deep satisfaction in mastering the game, enjoying the journey, and being part of something bigger than themselves. We make this choice to create warriors not winners and we may not fill our mantle with trophies, but we will fill the world with happy, resilient, purposeful people who will make an impact beyond the game.”