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  • Webinar Highlights: Importance of Technical Training in Youth Development

Webinar Highlights: Importance of Technical Training in Youth Development

Yael Averbuch West
Founder, Techne Futbol

Greg Simmonds
Founder, Own Touch

Skye Eddy Bruce
Founder, Soccer Parenting

We were joined recently by Yael Averbuch West, Founder of Techne Futbol - and Greg Simmonds, Founder of Own Touch and Futsal RVA to discuss considerations for parents when it comes to individual technical training, player motivation, and player confidence. Before starting their businesses, each played for their National teams and professionally. Yael is a UNC graduate who played for the USWNT and Greg is a Howard University grad and played for the Jamaican National Team.

Reach or watch the highlights here. You can watch the full interview on our member site, SoccerParentResourceCenter.com. If you're not a member, click here to grab a free 3-day pass.

SKYE What do you say to the coaches, to the people on Twitter, who say individual technical training that that will not work? 

YAEL I don't think that any player has ever gotten to the highest level with only doing what they're they've done in a group. You see pro players all the time staying after training, practicing free kicks. There's no chance you can get enough repetition, striking the ball, to learn to strike the ball in a shooting drill in a training session. That's your test. For me it's like such a crazy debate and it only makes sense if you're if you're talking about such limited time playing where you have to pick one or the other. But no players play this sport well and don't ever spend time with the ball on their own. That's crazy. 

GREG It depends on where you want to get. If you want to be a D student in school, just give 60% effort. If you want to be a C student, B, or you want to be an A, you have to do extra work. Whatever you do in life, you have to do extra. If you're in school and you're doing math and you're at the B level, you do extra work, you go get a tutor, so you can get an A. If I want to be a pro player or college player, or if you just want to be an elite player at your local club, I think you still need extra work. So it depends on the level you want to be. 

SKYE What do you say to the parent who wants the kid that doesn't want to do the extra training to train? What's your advice to them? How do you build more intrinsic motivation? 

GREG It has to be fun. If your son or daughter is not having fun, it's kind of a nonstarter. So it's critical. I guarantee you, if your son or daughter is playing soccer right now on a club team and you get her or him into an environment where she's doing technical training and it's fun, they'll love it. It's just finding that perfect scenario. Go with some of her teammates. But if some kids just don't like it or they just they're just playing soccer because their friends are playing, it's not that serious. I think it's important that we get to know our kids individually. But you don't want to force it on them. I don't believe in that. My daughter is committed to Tennessee with a full ride. She never started soccer until she was 12. I never forced her. For me, I love the game so much, you have to have the passion to do it or just don't do it. I told her if you don't want to do it don't do it. 

SKYE What about motivating a younger player to put extra work in outside of practice?

YAEL If it's an elongated time of forcing a player to do something, even if it's encouraging, if it's not coming from them, that will only last so long. I've seen players who, at a young age were the next best thing, and they don't even play anymore. They don't even love the game. If it doesn't catch on to become theirs, there are things you can do to try to understand why it is. If it's that they don't enjoy the sport, they don't want to play more than they are, then I think like nothing you can do is worth pushing them on it. Or, maybe a confidence issue. You know, my biggest theory a lot of times is that players either don't know what to do, so they feel kind of lost. And, it's boring to them because they just don't have the ideas or they are asked to commit to too much. Like going out for an hour to do a training session is a lot. And for some kids, it's just not appropriate. So what I would say is make it so minimal that it's almost impossible not to do and see if that helps. So maybe to give the player some ideas of things to work on and say, let's just do five minutes a day this week. And maybe, in that time, they feel themselves getting better and one day they want to do ten minutes or whatever it is. For every person and every player, it's a different and potentially a different barrier to entry. 

SKYE What's what's going on with our structures, our youth culture eco-system within soccer, that confidence and player individual confidence is struggling. And how can we help? 

YAEL It's not for every player to try to be a professional player or play college soccer. And you don't have to do those things to be confident. You don't have to be recruited to be confident. But I do think confidence stems from knowing that you have a competency and that you've done the work. The biggest feedback we got from Techne is the players who use it feel more confident on the ball. Whether it's in an actualized skill, because they can do more, or just because they know they maybe did something that their teammates didn't do. It is so important psychologically for a player to feel prepared or confident. They understand what's going on. They they're coming to this group with a little bit of extra knowledge. 

GREG What brings confidence is success. What brings success? What brings  success is repetition. So the more time you juggle the better you're going to be and the confidence is going to grow. The more time you spend on the ball, whatever drills you're doing, the more repetition you get, the more confident you're going to get because you're seeing success. So like now I used to be the worst juggler on my team. Now I'm the best. Now, you're confident. Or the best dribbler because you're spending more time, which is where individual technical training come in. Everybody needs to understand we're playing a team sport, yes. But individuals have a role to play within the team. My role is individually, I have to be the best that I can be to help my team. When coaches don't let kids make mistakes, allow them to make mistakes, encourage mistakes, that's where confidence is broken as well. Coaches have to encourage mistakes. The way we learn is from mistakes. So try your step-overs a million times. Try it again. Try it again. Once you do it, and it works in a pickup game, your confidence goes through the roof. So we have to encourage your kids. I tell my kids, if you don't make mistakes today, I have an issue with you. You have to take risk and you have to make mistakes. You have to. That's the only way we learn. 

SKYE As kids grow and change and mature, their body changes and their confidence often changes because they can't move at moments as well as they used to. 

YAEL That passes for a lot of players. Everybody grow into their own physical identity. But still, as a physically mature player it may fall anywhere on the spectrum of athleticism. And that's one reason that I love, love, love the technical side of the game. It provides that consistency and there's no physical separation. If you're going through a growth spurt or not and maybe a little bit smaller of a player, that's the one equalizing thing. Between girls, boys, tall, short, whatever, if you're not as good on the ball, it's because you didn't put in the work to be good on the ball.

SKYE Respond to the idea of sports specialization. Just like individual technical training gets a bad rap, I think we have this idea of like sports specialization is evil and wrong. And like we want our kids to be interacting with the ball as much as possible. 

GREG Am I OK with doing multiple sports? Sure. But it comes a point where I think at a certain age you have to decide. So if we want to talk about being the college player there comes a point in time where you have to spend time with the ball technical side that we talk about. And again, that window of time, if you missed the boat there, it can affect how far you can be. So, I mean, am I OK with doing different sports? Sure. But at a certain point, you have to decide which way you want to go. 

YAEL I think that everybody should be so blessed in their life that they find their one passion and don't want to do anything else. Everyone's an individual and shouldn't be forced to specialize if they don't want to. But the most ideal scenario is that your player loves soccer so much, like I did as a young player, that they couldn't be convinced to play another sport. The second I started, no chance I was not going to do any other sport because there wasn't enough time. I wanted to be playing soccer all the time. But that being said, no one should be forced to do that. 

About Yael:

Yael Averbuch West is the founder of Techne Futbol, a training app designed to help players form an individual relationship with the ball.  She is also the executive director of the National Women's Soccer League Players Association. A professional soccer player, she last played as a defender for Seattle Reign FC in the National Women's Soccer League.

During her career as a center midfielder at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Averbuch was named national player of the year by both Soccer Buzz and Top Drawer Soccer. Averbuch was selected in the first round of the 2009 WPS Draft (4th overall) by her home state team, Sky Blue FC. She later played for Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC in the Damallsvenskan and the UEFA Women's Champions League and made a brief stint with WFC Rossiyanka. She is a two-time WPS champion with Sky Blue FC and the Western New York Flash.

Averbuch played for the United States at every level of the youth national teams and represented the United States women's national soccer team from 2007 to 2013.

About Greg:

Before turning professional, Gregory Simmonds was his high school's (Sherwood High School, Olney, Maryland) first ever All-American athlete - the second is US National stand-out Oguchi Onyewu. He also still holds the record for goals scored at his alma mater, Howard University. Simmonds began his professional soccer career with the Hershey Wildcats where he scored 35 goals, had 16 assists and was named USL-1 Rookie of the Year in 1999 and Team MVP in 2000. Simmonds also played for D.C. United in the CONCACAF Champions Cup in 1999.

Simmonds also boasts international experience, having played with the Jamaican National Team youth and senior teams (Reggae Boyz) in 1999. Signed by the Miami Fusion in 2001, he tallied 4 goals and 2 assists in league and Open Cup matches. After the Fusion folded in 2001, he signed with Rochester Rhinos in 2002 where he led the team with 9 goals and 6 assists. In 2003, he played in 27 games with the Richmond Kickers. Simmonds played for USL First Division team Charleston Battery for the 2004 and 2005 seasons and was the team’s leading scorer both years with 18 goals and 9 assist. In 2006 joined Virginia Beach Mariners where he was team MVP after leading the team with 9 goals and 5 assist and being named to the league’s ALL STAR TEAM.

Simmonds finished his professional career with 75 goals and 37 assists, last playing for the Puerto Rico Islanders.

Simmonds retired from professional soccer shortly after he founded the Soccer and Futsal programs at U-TURN Sports Performance Academy where he served as Director for over 3 years.  Simmonds then became the Co-Founder and President of Own Touch Soccer, as well as Co-Founder and President of FutsalRVA. Simmonds holds a US National A License Coach.  FutsalRVA has produced four US Youth National team players from and currently has five US Youth Futsal National Championship titles.

Looking for More? We have the full interview available at SoccerParentResourceCenter.com. Grab a free 3-day pass here.

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Skye Eddy

Founder, SoccerParenting.com
Skye is a former All-American goalkeeper, professional player and collegiate coach. She holds her USSF "B" License and USSF National Goalkeeper License and is an active youth coach, soccer parent and coach educator.