FC Pride Soccer Club in Indianapolis, Ind. is a United Soccer Coaches Member Club with over 1,200 players. Staying engaged with coaches and players during this time of social distancing can be hard. When reached via email, Jamie Gilbert, Executive Director of Coaching for FC Pride, had this to say about how his club is staying connected to both its coaches and players while in-person activities are forbidden.
How is your club responding and adapting to the current postponement of in-person soccer-related activities as it pertains to coaches?
For the coaches, engagement with the players, families and teams is critical right now. We are fortunate to have a tremendous staff, many of our coaches are very creative and as we all know, a coach’s job doesn’t end when we step off the field.
We have provided our coaches with an eLearning curriculum (attached) that is broken down daily into psychological, physical, technical and tactical components. On a light day, they will have the players hit two of the areas, on a heavy day they will complete three.
Our belief is that if the coaches can hold the players accountable, then the percentage of players working on their own will be higher. I will say that so far the response has been fantastic from coaches, players and their families. We also have to hold ourselves accountable as a staff. This week we surveyed our team managers in relation to coach’s engagement and curriculum effectiveness and the results were very pleasing.
Obviously this is a great opportunity for education with the coaching staff. Our full-time staff members are participating on regular video calls as a group. Last weeks calls were very much in relation to refining the E-Learning curriculum we have implemented. However, this week we are focusing on education and knowledge share. Each full-time staff member is responsible for designing two training sessions (one assigned topic/one preferred) and presenting them to the group using screen-share.
Over the coming weeks, we hope to build an updated session library. All of our staff members will be able to use this as a resource when we are back on the field. If we can come out of this with a tangible asset it would be a fantastic use of time as a staff.
How is your club responding and adapting to the current postponement of in-person soccer-related activities as it pertains to players?
We hope that by creating the E-Learning curriculum, it gives players a structure and direction while being away from the typical training setting. Hopefully, players can also use this in future when they need self-led training inspiration or they are dealing with practice being cancelled due to weather.
From a technical perspective, we have produced six videos focused on 1v1 moves, turns, receiving techniques and a variety of ball & cones exercises designed to enhance ball familiarity. From Monday to Saturday each player completes the assigned technical work for at least 30 minutes.
In order to focus on the physical section of the curriculum, we have created a video to demonstrate core, strength and agility exercises. This is to be completed for 30 minutes, on three of the days. On the other three days, players are asked to send in data from their runs via the ‘Nike Run Club’, which is a free app, and tracks a player’s progress everyday. One day we may focus on the quickest mile time, the next day may be focused on distance and the last day could be designed so the player with the best average time per mile is rewarded.
To educate the players tactically we have sent out our player analysis form and match analysis form to everyone. On a Tuesday they all have to analyze a match, this week Maryland vs. Duke from the Men’s NCAA 3rd Round in 2018. Then on a Friday each player is asked to pick someone who plays in a similar position to themselves and analyze their performance from an assigned game (this week, Stanford vs. UCLA, 2019 Women’s NCAA Semi-Final).
We feel that there is also an opportunity to educate from a psychological standpoint during this period too. This week, the players were asked to watch David Epstein’s Ted Talk ‘Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger?’ They were also asked to read one of three articles;
- Guardian Article: Benfica’s Youth Academy
- 9 qualities of a sports leader
- ESPN Article: Player Development at QPR
Visualization is a tool that I really do believe in and I have found it powerful as a player and a coach. As a player, at the beginning of the season I would go to the stadium that the Cup Final was being played in. I would then visualize warming up for the Cup Final in that setting. Right now, I am challenging our players to visualize being back on the field, scoring their first goal when we are back, finding that killer pass or making a big tackle/save to keep their team in the game.
I will say kudos to every coach and player working on his or her craft right now. I feel that in this situation we should be thinking about holistic gains. This is a time to put rivalries aside and come together to share all of our resources to get better as a soccer community.
Since arriving from England in early 2009, I have always felt that the culture around soccer needed to change if we all want to get better. Imagine when players adopt the attitude that they are going to ‘Live’ the sport (away from the training ground) in terms of frequently watching it, training on their own and once we are back outside, participating in pick-up games. The improvement will be dramatic. Maybe the creativity and enthusiasm you can see on the social media channels right now is the shot in the arm that our soccer culture needed?
Executive Director of Coaching
FC Pride Soccer Club