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One of the most challenging roles as Club Director of TempesT FC is to try and convince players, parents and coaches that the long term development of a youth soccer player outweighs the importance of the score of a game. Do we care about winning? Of course we do! We wouldn’t be coaches if we didn’t! However, it is important for coaches and parents to realize that soccer development is a long term process and that winning at the expense of player development is not acceptable. Results at a young age are not necessarily an indication of progression. There are many coaches of young teams that preach, and probably believe, themselves to be good/great coaches because they are winning games now. This is not always the case. Winning at the expense of player development is an absolute NO.
As a coach you have to give player’s time to develop. Unfortunately in today’s society many parents and some coaches are impatient with the process and concentrate solely on the short term results. This is probably due to the culture of professional sports where the paying customer wants instant results or gratification. If a coach gets hired at Real Madrid he better make sure that they win quickly and bring home trophies. Youth soccer is different. If you look at the professional model, for example a youth academy in England, those youth coaches are judged on how many players they bring through the ranks and eventually in to the first team. Winning in professional youth academies is completely irrelevant! The important thing to know is that like school, soccer development takes YEARS. It is not an overnight process.
Like I mentioned before, we would not be good soccer coaches if we weren’t competitive! It’s easy to judge the success of the season on wins and losses. A great coach and one who is focused on development judges the success on how a player progressed from the first game of the season to the last. But, what is more important than winning or losing is that we as a club promote the will to compete. The best compliment you can give any team is to give 100% every time you step on the field.
I insist that ALL of our teams play exciting, attacking, possession oriented soccer with teams playing out of the back. We want our goal keepers to roll the ball out whenever possible and our defenders work the ball out of the back as opposed to playing the kick ball game. This is definitely a high risk way of playing soccer. We will definitely give up goals throughout the season by doing this and by playing out of our defensive third. The long term is encouraging technical quality and retaining possession. In the long term, our kids will be technically more efficient than the kids on the other team that just punt the ball to the super athletic forward who runs onto the ball. I also encourage that ALL coaches allow the players to problem solve during the games. I do not promote the play station coach that tells each and every player where to go throughout the entire game. However, there are times when we do need to direct some players who are out of position. We have to allow our players to problem solve. Training is to train-Playing is to perform! Our coaches MUST make sure our players play in different positions so that they can become technically skilled at both offensive and defensive positions. The worst thing we can do as coaches is pigeonhole a player because it makes US feel better during a game. What does that do for the development of the player? Nothing! We have to take players out of their comfort zone so they get better. From age U7-U13, players should be proficient at all positions. By U14 and up, players start to specialize in those that they excel at.
When do results become a priority? Well that depends on who you're talking to. What I am certain of though is that our development model allows for a young player to nurture his/her skill so that they can continue to play and compete at soccer for life, rather than vying for results at any cost now and neglecting the future.

Coach Shawn Pence
Director TempesT FC
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