Open Letter to Cape SoccerParents
Over the last couple of years Cape Soccer has been moving from an old model of teaching and playing soccer to what is a more modern and universally accepted model. In doing so, we are making a lot of effort not to isolate or alienate anyone by providing as much information as possible (given that this is all run on volunteer man hours).
And this approach seems to be succeeding based on the survey results we have gotten back from the parents. Sure there have a been a couple problems, but the program overall has really taken off.
Cape Soccer Mission
Cape St. Claire Soccer’s mission is to provide the best level of training to the players as possible while maintaining as much fun in the program as possible. To this end we have training sessions and training material readily available for the coaches to use. A properly trained coach can provide a better learning environment for their players, which in turn leads to the kids further developing their skills while having fun.
We have a lot of information on the website, but to summarize, training young players boils down to touches on the ball (how many times does your child touch the ball with their feet) at practice and in games.
The Senior Clinic program has two levels to provide more fun and better soccer for the children. The levels are really determined by a child’s athletic ability and aggressiveness, which at 6 yrs old is all innate. We are not looking for super stars, but trying to advance all the kids’ technical and game skills at once.
To do this we want our kids to touch the ball as much as possible and learn to observe and use the space around them on the field. All drills and games should be designed to accomplish these objectives. Small-sided games, 4-on-4, are played to reach this objective.
We don’t do formal evaluations for that would be a waste of time and counter productive to the child’s well being. But we do separate them for two reasons:
The aggressive kids have more fun and learn more playing against similar kids;
they can’t just snatch the ball!
they have to work for it!
The less aggressive kids have more fun and learn more playing against similar kids;
the ball is not snatched!
they can’t just hide on the field or just watch, they are needed!
they get many more touches!
At the age of six, fun is all about how often you get to touch the ball, make a play, and score goals (this is true at all ages, but more pronounced here).
Intramural is a little different, we have grouped them back up at game time, we are playing 7v7 with a goalie, they are now seperated by gender, and it looks more like a traditional soccer game. Hopefully, after 1 or 2 seasons at senior clinic the kids are starting to understand space around the ball, not bunching up, etc.. The effect of the Senior Clinic has been tremendous, our Fall 2008 intramurals have been the most skilled players on the Broadneck pennisula as proved out by the responses to the interclub play this fall.
Even though we will have ‘positions’, the emphasis on training should not change all that much. It is still ‘touches on the ball’, technical skills (ball control), 1v1 skills, 2v2, 2v3 (or 4), and 4v4 skills. We never want to lose the small-sided game! We want kids to work in small groups and every practice should have this built in.
After Intramural there is county ball ages 7 ½ and up. At this point the Cape program now separates based on gender, speed, ball skill, and the child’s ability to work in small groups. This is done for many reasons, but the primary one is that we play in the Anne Arundel Youth Soccer Association (AAYSA).
Remember that none of those things are written in stone for any child, since adolescence is an equalizer to most of it. That is why we continue to carry out evaluations for the older age groups, recognizing that players develop athletic ability and skills at different rates.
At any rate, we move back to the multi-level system at this point. We evaluate the kids and place them on teams based on their overall ability at this time. For kids that have played Intramural, we will informally separate them with coach surveys, for the U8 county spring season. Why do this at this point? We will do it, because the Cape always gets one team moved to the upper division and we are tired of that team (which has been randomly thrown together in the past) getting beaten up for entire season. It is not fun and the kids quickly lose their interest in soccer.
Those kids on the lower division teams will also have a better time; they will get more touches on the ball during games, they will have nowhere to hide, they won’t just give the ball to the fastest kid on the team, they will work in small groups, the training will be as good as the upper division team, they will learn just as much, and they will have more fun! And for those who become more athletic they will be prepared to move to an upper division team.
Evaluations will be held each spring from now on for all players that will go into U9 the following fall and all players that wish to be place on a higher division team in U10- U14 (if we have enough players to make two teams). Right now, we don’t envision having enough for two teams in U13 or U14 for the fall of 2008.
U18 is a different segment of the program all together. Right now they go back to playing on teams with their friends, remember all the super competitive kids are either on elite travel teams or playing high school. So this should be a fun time for them to continue with soccer as a sport, keep them engaged productively, and healthy physically.
Cape is continually trying to provide opportunities for our players to have access to the best training around! During the summer we bring a number of vendors to the Cape to achieve that goal.
This year we have the following Camps:
Strictly Soccer: June Camp:
Ukelite: July Camp:
Cape Soccer Cape: August Camp: This camp will enter its second year this summer after it's successful debut last year. It is a very well thought out camp and is low cost. Becuase it is run by the Cape Coaches, it also generates a lot more funds for the Program.
To register, go to www.capesports.com and click on Special Events. There is a lot of information about the camps on this site. When you are ready to register, do not log on, just click on the Register Player link. That will take you to the registration form.
Professional soccer games are a great opportunity for kids to learn by watching. The kids also have a great time while they are there. I admit, younger players can’t focus for a full outdoor soccer match (though indoor is faster and more exciting since you are right on top of the action) but Crystal Palace has a fun center and half time events for the kids.
Why Crystal Palace and Baltimore Blast? They are closer, more local, and less expensive! D.C. United keeps knocking at my door, but I don’t think they are as affordable, so I don’t follow up with them.
But the point is it is easier for our children to learn to play a sport if they actually go and see how the professionals play. I know that we learn best when we start mimicking what we see, and it provides more interest in the sport. This is why I organize and promote the Cape Soccer Nights with Baltimore Blast.
Advanced Soccer Clinic
In a separate clinic, we will offer an advanced clinic for our players who really want to excel. This clinic will be for 6 or 7 weeks and will be offered for about $75.
It will include skills and techniques that most of our coaches can’t demonstrate or teach. If your child is loving soccer and really wants to excel, I am hoping that this clinic will really motivate those players. Look for more information later in the spring and over the summer.