Last Updated October 17th 1998

My philosophy draws on my experiences with children, both young and old, private one-on-one programs, Ladies, Men's teams in the UK. My father also was a soccer coach for twenty years for a local club in England, so I started quite young. From the standpoint of the child player, my philosophy follows the growing up of a young player to adulthood. Coaches working with the following groups need to understand the importance of development and adopt the following:

Early and young players coaches:

   Young players need to be in contact with a soccer ball as much as possible;
   Practices should be progressive and focus on basic skills of the game; an element of fun should be included;
   Every child has different qualities, do not expect everyone to be able to do everything;
   At this age scoring goals is less important than simply being part of a new and enthusiastic team, therefore focus on the `game' and not winning;
   Scoring should be encouraged but not to the detriment of positive feedback;
   Individual skill development should increase with age - even when the team might lose to more physical and aggressive teams;
   Team play and more technical drills should be introduced when maturity is present;
   Key positional players may develop in isolation - look for them and nurture them - do not keep moving every player around a team just for the sake of it when they show natural positioning;
   For immature players (at recreational level) introduce motivational drills for scoring, going forward, and attacking and good play etc. Enhance players' confidence as they mature and then lessen child-like incentive drills.

Youth and adult players:

   Evolve from simple "go on then, Jeremy" instructions to more meaningful "down the wing, Jeremy" or "cross it into midfield" etc.,
   Physical training and fitness programs need to become important;
   Focus on understanding rules and regulations of the game, and the function and respect of it's Officials and other teams also;
   Focus is more on players interacting with players (team play) and less on individual skill - players should be encouraged to develop their own skills via other programs/coaching;
   Practices need to be more progressive. Set plays and coordination skills;
   Drills need to be realistic to game play;
   Mature response encouraged towards winning and losing; increase positive and negative sides to victory; emphasize defeat is as natural as winning - team development at the expense of victory is desirable;
   Develop mature expectations of players - respect, time keeping, and discipline in and around the field of play and so on.

At the highest of levels (professional) the success of a soccer team is measured on how many games are won. To develop the winning edge in a positive way, players need to understand that winning is desirable and achievable. In my experience, this requires confidence in the team more than any individual player skill. Winning should come from a mixture of commitment from players, coaches and parents. Hard work, skill, and fun are also required.

From the standpoint of the `coaching the coaches' my goals are as follows:

   Widen the overall level of basic skill and knowledge of the game, so that Recreation Coaches can provide the right level of support;
   Educate those not versed with the game - to eliminate the "go on Johnny" and replace with more meaningful and educated "down the wing Johnny" mentality;
   Prioritize the above points for the different coaching levels, and provide novel and focused drills and guidance;
   Provide tools to the coaches in order to manage and set expectations and parental involvement;

In summary, my goal is to provide the most enthusiastic and independent support I possibly can. I enjoy soccer and I feel that all players, parents and coaches should enjoy soccer. Not every person has had the same experiences - by sharing in each other's, we can all benefit.

Nicky White

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