Words & Actions: An Interwoven Complex

Posted: February 27, 2012 in Life

Its interesting, there has been a theme cropping up in a lot of the things which I have been doing recently.  The power of what we say and what we do, has a far reaching effect, that we struggle to truly grasp.  As many of you know my goal in life is to coach the beautiful game of soccer for a living.  One of the most rewarding aspects of the career I have chosen to make my life is the immense impact we have on the lives of those we directly impact, our players.

One of the things I have really enjoyed learning about, not just in relation to coaching, but in life is the impact & power of our words.  As coaches, we are always being perceived, judged, and mimicked, whether the actions we chose are positive or negative.  Now I have made a fair share of mistakes in my life, I think it is a major part of the person which I have become today, however we want to help those we influence to chose the right way to do things, so often their decisions are helped guide by something we pay little attention to, what we say and what we do.

An interesting quote that I saw the other day, came from something rather mindless, but it was incredibly relivant, “If you act as if people look up to you, then one day they will”.  Its an ever-present reminder that quite often we say one thing with our words, yet do something else with our actions.  How can we ask our players to put in extra work outside the sessions, to eat heathily, to make good decisions, if the people they view in life as role models, us coaches, chose to not follow those words ourselves.

Ken Lolla, current head coach at the University of Louisville, and someone who if you ever get the chance to meet/talk to – I highly encourage you to do so, spoke to us at his recent Coaching Symposium about the power of words, and how as coaches we have the ability to build people up, or destroy them.  Creating a culture of positivity breeds development, tearing people down whether its to “look cool” or “toughen them up” does nothing but breed destruction.  We have the incredible blessing, as well as the tremendous burdon of impacting these young men & women, and one poor choice of words can have a tremendous impact on this childs views & outlooks.  Who are we to say that someone cannot become something, that through blood, sweat, tears and sheer determination they cannot obtain their dreams?  One has to remember that Lionel Messi, the worlds greatest soccer player, as a child looked like he might never have a chance as a professional due to a growth condition, leaving him way too short to ever compete at the highest level… or so he was told.  Now, he is revered and feared as one of the greatest if not the greatest player to every play the game.

Our words and actions are intertwined, and constantly under observation.  Remember that you, no matter whether you are a coach, parent, brother/sister, volunteer, teacher, janitor, whatever… you have the power to build someone up, you have the power to break someone down.  A simple “hello” or a compliment to a stranger might change their entire day, will you be the person who’s words and actions lifts those around you up?  Or will you continue as you are today?  Neither choice is right or wrong, but it is a decision which may define you.

I watched the movie Act of Valor today, I went to the movie theater by myself, turned my cell phone off, and just enjoyed a great movie.  If you have not gone to see it, I highly highly recommend it.  Not to spoil any part of it for anything, but at the end a poem is read by the great Native American leader Tecumseh, and it is one I will leave you with

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion;respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filledwith the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weepand pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

Thank You for your time… Comments are always welcomed!

David Robertson

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“Pass it.. come on.. PASS IT! SHOOT, KICK IT HARDER!!”.. words that often emit themselves from coaches mouths on the sidelines of games.  Although we all want to see our kids make the best decisions both on and off the field, how we guide them on the field may have direct correlations to later years.

An example of relating the pressure we put our kids under as coaches and parents is as follows;

Imagine your child sitting in a math class, all the parents are lined up along the sides of the walls.

The teacher walks in and introduces herself, and informs everyone that today they will be having a test on multiplication.  This is a fairly simple subject right?  My child should pass no problem you think…

As the tests are passed out you see your child fidgeting with his pencil, “whys he doing that?”.. “your fine son just relax” you yell out encouragingly.  He glances over, and looks straight back at his desk.  The test arrives on his desk, and you take a glance over his shoulder 4 x 4 x 2.. come on thats easy!!  As he begins to try to count on his fingers, “24 X 2… you got it.. come one!”.

Class is starting to reach the end, and tests need to be turned in, your child still has 3 questions to do!  As you begin to feel some stress yourself you let out a sigh, “come on.. hurry up, work faster!”.

Imagine whats going through the child’s head?  Now although this is a completely unrealistic situation in real life, it is EXACTLY what we put our kids through on the field.  You constantly hear coaches, parents and even some fellow players constantly making the decisions for our players.  Although this can lead to them making the right decisions and looking like superstars now, we have to ask ourselves are we really doing more harm than good?

As the players get older, the best players begin to seperate themselves based on their vision and ability to make decisions in the heat of a moment.  If they have been “raised” by us as coaches and parents for years to follow the instructions they hear (which often conflict between the coach and parents.. who do they listen to?!), how are they ever going to be able to teach them to make split second decisions.

In the coaching world they are referred to as “Joystick Players” as they follow everything the coach or a parent yells out on the field, hear pass? They will pass it, dribble? Same thing…  Take a look at the professional game today, two of the best players in the world Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, are able to make split second decisions as to when is the best time to dribble and when is the best time to pass?  They shine because they are so excellent at making decisions.  The director of the Barcelona Youth Academy who brought through Lionel Messi, Xavi, and Iniesta said “the reason our players are so good, is we just let them play.  They are not told when to dribble or pass, they feel when to do it, and when they make enough mistakes, they have got it”.

This is a policy we HAVE to adopt here in the United States at the youngest ages especially if we are to ever produce a world class national team.  What does this mean for us directly at the young ages?

 – We have to be willing to lose
As weird as it may sound, we need to encourage our players to take risks.  How often have you ever seen a coach allow a central defender to take on a forward when hes the last man back?  How often do you see U8 players play the ball back to the goalkeeper?

The answer is NEVER… why? Because we are so competitive we cannot accept that in order to get better we will actually have to take some risks that may result in defeat.

With player development winning is not important at the young ages.  While competition is healthy and natural, especially amongst boys it is something we need to grow in the right way.  Let’s teach our players how to make decisions on their own, let them take risks, even if it costs them a game.  If it does, in training we can help to show them (once again not tell them), how to make a better decision.

When we reach the point where youth coaches no longer scream at their players, and where parents trust and buy into what the coach is doing (remember he is who you chose to train your child in the art of soccer), let the coaches do the coaching.. and please JUST LET THEM PLAY!

I spend quite a bit of time reading other soccer experts blogs, articles, Facebook threats etc. It seems like the dominating question over the past few days is how the USA have a shot to defeat a Marta inspired Brazil team yet to concede a goal this World Cup.

Having watched quite a few of the USAs recent matches Including all of their games this World Cup I think we will be able to pull of a much needed win tomorrow. The rest of the world had obviously made tremendous progress in catching up to the US in the women’s game since their domination of the sport in the 90’s. I think all the media negativity is unwarranted though, the US is still top 2 in my opinion with the other team being the Germans. The pipeline of youth players coming through is exciting as evidenced by Alex Morgan and Amy Rodriguez.

We have learned quite a lot about the team these past few games, and Sweden did a great job of exposing some weaknesses (Albeit to a not full strength USA team). To me, one of the keys is Abby Wambach needs to adjust the way she plays. Her physical presence is unmatched by most teams in the world, however she fails in my opinion to effectively utilize it. While Abby has made some good runs in the group stage games, these are runs she should not be making. The runs to draw the defense wide should be left to Amy Rodriguez. Abby needs to stay central, and look to use her body to post up, be a target player and look to lay the ball off to either Chaney or other streaking players, primarily O’Reilly. Like I mentioned earlier, while her runs are good, they completely unbalance our forward line as Amy is not showing she can effectively fill the space that Abby leaves.

Another absolute key is going to be our midfield and who is on the field. It was painfully obvious that without the influential Heather O’Reilly playing out wide the USA is completely unbalanced in midfield and lacking width, which is so crucial at the international level, especially against a brazilian team who will look to feed Marta through the middle. Now who else do we partner in there? I would love to see Lauren Cheney brought into an attacking central midfield role, I think she excels there, and would provide a great option for abby to lay the ball off to. On the other flank I would love to see Tobin Heath, a great little player who possesses the flair and speed to tear open the brazilians. You have to remember that brazil plays a 3 back system, meaning they are extremely vulnerable to not just the switch but the counter attack.

This leaves the last central midfield spot open. I have seen a lot of arguments that Boxx should be reinserted to the starting XI to man mark Marta, however it was exposed against Sweden that Boxx has lost a step to much, and although she is a veteran I think it’s just too much to ask her t neutralize the 5 time player of the year. My vote would actually be to bring Rapinoe in to man mark. Whenever she plays in a wide position she always cuts inside, so why not let her start there. She has the physical present to not get knocked around too much, and I think knows it would be a make or break point in her WNT career, thus playing with a chip on her shoulder.

I think one final thing to look at is if the USA goes down a goal, and is still trailing around the 60 minute mark that Alex Morgan MUST be in the game. Brazil playing in a 3 back would not be able to cope with a 3 front of Abbey as a target with A-Rod and Morgan streaking either side of her. The lethal combination of technical ability and speed would unsettle anyone.

There seems to be an innate fear of playing a 3 front in international women’s football, however America is primed for it I believe. Look at two of the leading coaches in the women’s game here in the states;

1) Anson Dorrance has won 22 national championships with UNC, not to mention his immediate success with the women’s national team. I have had the pleasure of meeting Anson and hearing him break his true belief in the 3-4-3 down, it really does work.

2) Tony DiCicco, both in his books and in his ’99 World Cup winning team evidenced the success of the 4-3-3 formation. Once again a 3 front high pressure system.

Pia sure has her work cut out for het tomorrow, I can’t wait to see what she decides to do.

Yours in Soccer

Coach David

Ps – let me know your thoughts!!!

Hello world!

Posted: July 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

I hope everyone is doing well!  If you have landed on this page, I am excited to have you reading my first venture into the blogging world!

To give you a brief description of who on earth I am here is some bullet points;

  • 24 Year Old Male
  • Soccer Coach in Cincinnati, OH
  • Coach for Cincinnati United Soccer Club
  • Soccer Fanatic!
  • Born & Raised in Europe and then moved to the US

Hopefully over the next couple of blogs you will learn more about me, and feel free to interact with me at any time, I would love to hear from you.

I am planning on blogging about life, soccer, review some games, and my thoughts on everything from tactics, formations, players, to coaching ideas!

I am leaving tomorrow (Friday) for Regional Camp in Overland Park, KS.  I am hoping to be able to have enough internet access to be able to update the blog daily!

Goodnight World – – – Play Beautiful Soccer

Coach David