United States Soccer Federation, it’s regional and state affiliates, and several other organizations offer plenty of opportunities to receive coaching education. The price tags vary. So does the content.
Are they worth the money? The time? The energy? The bruises from going up against other out of shape coaches during the scrimmages? Not sure if I can tell you yes or no.
A couple of years ago, I was at a tournament in Irvine, CA with the college club team that I was coaching at the time (Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo). I knew there was a U11 team training just a hop, skip, and a jump away from where I had been staying that weekend. I had several players traveling with me that could care less about watching these little kids practice. But I dragged them along with me anyway. They slept on the grass after going to get Carl’s Jr. (Hardy’s for you East Coasters) while I sat as close to the touchline as I possibly could. That was probably one of my greatest moments of my coaching career and will forever be engrained in my memory.
It was the first time I got to see Brian Kleiban work. The first time I shook Gary Kleiban’s hand. The 3four3 movement had already changed my life… but this moment… this was the moment that it actually came to life. (read more about that day here: Coaching Soccer is an Art)
For me, this was the single most educational day I have ever had. And to them, it was just another Sunday.
What I’ve done since then is take advantage of every opportunity like these that I possibly can. Driving long distances to watch other coaches train. Getting up early at tournaments and going to watch different teams play. Re-watching high level games online and on TV over and over again. YouTube has also been a good friend to me. The free or cheap stuff is where I’ve learned the most. Non-traditional and informal education opportunities have provided the most benefits for me.
It’s been a fun and wild ride. Here’s a few worth mentioning:
-Regularly watched Cal Poly-SLO Men’s and Women’s Div. 1 teams train at 7AM (30 minute commute at the buttcrack of dawn!)
-Driven 3 hours just to watch Barcelona USA (now Chivas USA) U13′s practice and play tournaments
-Posed as a photographer to gain access to private United States Youth National Team U18 training camps (thanks J.R.)
-Driven 3 hours to watch private United States Youth National Team U14 training camps from the bushes/parking lot
-Attended professional training sessions and posed as media or staff in order to gain access
But here is what I want to know…
When did you have your AH-HA moment? What did you see, hear, or read that influenced you to become the coach that you are today? Or are you still waiting for this moment to happen? And what are you doing now to further your education?
Some of you are familiar with my #letstalksoccer Twitter challenge. I want to hear you guys talk about what has shaped you into the coach you are today. Make a 3 minute video and talk about your experiences. Post it on Twitter and tag some other coaches. Let’s have fun with this one.
On that note, I’m going to start packing my bag and get ready to head to Los Angeles to watch a youth camp tomorrow morning. Seven hours of driving to watch three hours of training. So excited!