Coaching to Develop or to Win

Today is an article by guest blogger, Andy Barney.  Barney is the president of Legends Soccer Club and Happy feet and writes his own blog here.

In youth soccer coaching culture we are seeing an ever greater divide between potential optimizing methods of teaching and its antithesis where coaches use their players to achieve short-term statistical success. Two very different coaching worlds growing alienated and hateful toward each other with many people wondering if it will always be this way, a house divided against itself.

Although surface ugliness is found in the traditional low risk tactical modes of play it is not inherent in it. There is a simple possession esthetic that those who love the creative game often miss because of its subtlety. This way of playing is straightforward, unadorned, unemotional, economical and carefully proportioned. Its purpose is not to inspire emotionally, but to bring order out of chaos and make the unknown known. It is not an esthetically free and natural style. It is restrained. Everything is meant to be under control. To the creative player or coach this way of playing often appears dull, awkward mechanical and ugly. It’s about pieces and parts, components and relationships. Everything is measured and proven. To the free spirit this approach is oppressive, heavy, endlessly brown, the death of meaningful play.

To players and coaches who value a precise, mistake free, efficient style of play the creative and chaotic ball wizard represents frivolity, irresponsibility and irrationality. He is untrustworthy, mercurial, erratic, shallow pleasure seeking. They view players who play this style as having little substance, as parasites who cannot or will not carry their own weight; who are a drag on the team.

These opposing forces should sound all too familiar. This is the root of the problem. Coaches, players, fans all tend to rationalize and/or emote mostly from one perspective or the other and in so doing miss opportunities to learn and value the importance and strengths of the mode they oppose. Few have the ability or inclination to sacrifice reality as they see it. Only a tiny proportion of the soccer knowledgeable have reconciled the two modes and recognized where order and solid tactics are preferable or vital, but also where improvisation, unpredictability and intuitive creativity are essential. A tinier fraction have figured out how to teach the game so that both ordered precision and creative intuition are integrated and maximized in a visionary soccer and life optimizing curriculum.

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