A Full Year Approach   3 comments

Yesterday, the mother of one of the players we are scouting came across our post on the increase in Milwaukee Public Schools graduates playing college soccer.  Her daughter is a very solid center midfielder who is being played out-of-position by her college coach, both due to a surplus of center midfield options on the roster and the coach’s inflexibility in creating a system of play that would use all three of them in the middle of the park.  I saw another instance of this problem at a game on Saturday, where a player recruited as a defensive midfielder was being utilized at outside back.  In both of these cases, the first-year players have enough talent to crack their schools’ line-ups, but are looking at a loss in these new positions.  For me, it brings up the idea that what we do in the summer from a developmental standpoint (and yes, development need not stop with youth soccer) should both build upon where players are following their most recent college campaign and prepare them to fight for and gain greater playing time in the ensuing college season.

As part of our mission is to see more local players ply their trade at the college level and then shine while there, we are interested in how they are utilized by their college coaches and then building on what already exists.  Nothing is more frustrating for us and for players than to see them being used out of position and then deemed “not up to snuff”, leading to either a player giving up or a coach dropping them from the roster (more on that another time).  In reference to these two players, since we have no control over what the college bosses do/don’t do, we would be looking to work with the players to develop the requisite skills to make a more comfortable transition to these “new” positions, both during training and in matches.  I still scout players with respect to their natural positions in terms of where they fall for first team or reserves, but sending them back to their college teams without a means of making a better go of it on the field that fall would be a failure on our part, as we view college and summer soccer as part of a full year approach to the game, with each element building upon the last so that by the time a player returns to campus for their third season, she either makes the jump to significant playing time or ends up off our radar (goalkeepers are different, because only one can play at a time, but are judged a little harsher in terms of PT and results than field players).  This approach explains why we scout so diligently during the college season, why a one-day combine cannot give us enough or the proper information to make roster decisions (and thus why we choose not to do them), and why building relationships with all relevant stakeholders is critical when it comes to finding and honing talent.

Coming soon, a profile of the Kansas City Shock, one of our fellow organizations working to grow the game and break away from the status quo that exists in women’s soccer.  Meanwhile, remember that our fundraising campaign is still on-going (we’re nearing its halfway point) and we would love to have you partner with us to expand opportunities for local players.

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Posted October 9, 2012 by Scott in Club Philosophy

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3 responses to “A Full Year Approach

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  1. There can be many (non-superficial) reasons why a player is put ‘out of position’ by their college coach. I may be reading too deeply into your post. But injuries is a big one. You lose several players on your team and suddenly you have to put players into new or less-familiar positions for the good of the team. This isn’t necessarily a known factor early in the summer when you’re requesting the information. You’re asking for a lot of predictability that in many cases is not available. [But I do understand what you’re saying in trying to offer players more time in their ‘new’ position, when the opportunity is presented.]

  2. We train our youth players for this very scenario. I played with a legit striker in high school who was turn into a right back in college. The same has happened to the majority of players I know. So we set our kids up to have an understanding of multiple positions and responsibilities.

  3. Pingback: Play For Us « Milwaukee United Soccer Club

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