Tuesday, January 5, 2016


They're coming. Sooner than you think. 

You might be asking what we're looking for. You might be asking how to make the team. These are good questions to be asking. 

There are five coaches: Raine, Schoenrock, Jaussi, Gasser, and Pia. We each see something different, and not coincidently, we see things the same. So, at the end of the day, after our observations and discussions, we come to a consensus and make a confident decision. 

We look for speed. That doesn't really mean who can run 3-miles the fastest. It means we primarily consider 40 and 50 and 60 and 70 yard sprint times. It means we care about recovery time. Can an athlete make that sprint, and then turn around run it again? And again? And again? Sprint speed is part of the equation; the other part is quickness. We look for the first step, the second and the third. How fast is the athlete off the line? Speed isn't easy to coach. We can help with second and third steps, and even improve time over two or three miles. We can't really coach 100 yard sprints; so, it's something we weight heavily in our decision making. 

We look for movement with the ball--and without the ball. Is the athlete, after possessing the ball, moving directly into traffic and opponents, or does the athlete turn towards open space, and look for teammates? While off the ball, does the player move to open space to receive a pass? Does he look for players to mark? Does he look for open space? This movement with and without the ball is partly coachable, and so we weight this less. The older the athlete, the more important it is, and the more we weight it.

We look for skill with the ball. Traps. Can the athlete actually trap the ball? Can they trap the ball with purpose? Gated traps? Traps to open spaces? Traps to teammates? Dribbling. Is there a clear direction and intent? Are touches for show? Or for go? Are we showing off? Or are we dribbling with the purpose? Passes. Are passes weighted? Is there pace and intent? One touch? Two? Three? Is there discrimination between passing to feet in traffic, and passing to open spaces to teammates to run onto? This is coachable, so we look less. It's important the older the athlete is. In other words, we probably shouldn't be teaching this as a new concept to a senior. Shooting. Left foot. Right foot. Volleys? Shooting in traffic? Is it a wild swing? Or can the athlete place the ball? This is non-stop practice. We look hard here. Players that should be shooting and scoring like forwards and midfielders should have a pretty good grasp of the mechanics and skill set for this. 

Then there's the non-soccer specific stuff. Is the athlete eligible? How is the student in class (yep, we ask teachers)? How is their attitude? How is the student on the field? Do they interact positively with other players? Are they goofing-off? Are they paying attention? How is their work ethic? Are they looking for shortcuts? Are they looking to improve themselves? Practicing hard to have a better first step? Practicing traps? Practicing passes? These are a lot of subjective criteria we look at. They're not easy to judge. And each of the judges has their opinion and voice. But, back to the third paragraph, we make unanimous decisions. 

Our goal is to field the best team(s) we can. We want to win games. Winning, however, is not our end-all-be-all goal. Our goal is to field athletes and play soccer with sportsmanship, learning the sport, while gaining technical skill with tactical awareness. We play hard, fast, and physical soccer. We're physically fit, we're emotionally disciplined, and we are a team. We play with good character. We win gracefully, and we lose with dignity. We never give up. We win together. We lose together. 

Anyway...that's what we look for.