Former U.S. Soccer Youth National Team Coach On Every Player Should Have A Goal To Work on During The Covid-19 Pandemic
Earlier this week, Diane Scavuzzo asked former U.S. Soccer Youth National Team Coach and two-time Coach of the Year what youth soccer players can be doing now since Coronavurus COVID-19 has shutdown soccer clubs around the country. He had a simple answer. The first interview with Shaun Tsakris was so popular, we asked him for more recommendations, especially as COVID-19 will cause a longer time off the field that initially hoped.
It is true. This forced break from organized youth soccer is an obvious challenge to player development but it does provide an opportunity for youth soccer players and coaches to rise to the challenge.
Shaun Tsakiris is one of the most respected youth soccer coaches in America and an expert in player development. He believes players can still work on their development while we are in this coronavirus hiatus.
A graduate of UCLA, Tsakiris has influenced America’s soccer future for more than a decade. Always a positive force for change and a master at seizing the opportunity ahead, Tsakiris’ first interview on what youth soccer players could do while practices were canceled was a proverbial home run, read by thousands of readers within days of publishing.
Perhaps it is because Tsakiris offer such an authentic and straightforward answer with practical how-to-videos.
The former U.S. Soccer U17 / U 16 National Team head coach who pledged to continue making a difference in American youth soccer has several additional ideas on what youth soccer players can do.
As the Technical Director of Los Gatos United, Tsakiris is leading the way during this crisis and having his staff work remotely with their competitive players, calling them on the phone and discussing their individual development plans.
As the man formerly responsible for selecting our country’s best players for the U16 / U17 National Boys teams, Tsakiris knows what it takes to develop players who can make an impact on the game and earn collegiate roster spots.
A player has to have a relationship with the ball.
SoccerToday Diane Scavuzzo’s Interview with Shaun Tsakiris
Diane Scavuzzo: What are you doing with your players at Los Gatos United — to help them while games and practice sessions are canceled because of the Coronavirus?
Shaun Tsakiris: We are working with them — A big takeaway is that we want our players to know that we are still here for them, even if it is in a less conventional way.
Our players are missing each other and we want to create the sense that we are still connected. It is important that our players know we are here for them.
This Coronavirus experience is all new to all of us but when you ask yourself why you coach, it becomes clear what you can do even when fields are closed.
Being a great coach is about motivating players to reach their potential.
Coaching is about connecting with the player and identifying what motivates and drives them.
Our coaches are working directly their players and helping them identify their strengths and how to improve their weaknesses. The teams are also meeting on Google Hangout to stay bonded throughout this time.
Players should ask themselves what are their short term goals and it is the coach’s job to help them achieve their potential.
I ask our players, “What is separating you from everyone else?”
My advice for all players is to take advantage of this time to identify what your strengths and weaknesses are and create a plan on how to improve.
Often when players are asked about their dreams, 99% hope to play pro. It is very easy to discuss goals for the next ten years, but what are you doing in the next ten days to make them possible.
I love to hear so many young players eager to achieve great things, and it is our job as coaches to help them understand how to get there.
Diane Scavuzzo: What should players do?
Shaun Tsakiris: Players should ask themselves what are their short term goals? Players should make sure that these short term goals are helping them reach their dreams.
Players need to understand their deficiencies. What do they need to improve on?
And, players need to recognize what they are good at and embrace that piece. It is healthy to know what you are good at.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you suggest youth soccer players do since practice is canceled in this forced hiatus? If you were able to talk to players sheltering in place?
Shaun Tsakiris: There is always something you can work on. This could be a good time to work on your endurance.
And, I can promise you are not fit enough. You can always be more fit.
You have to become a more complete player. Everyone has something to work on. Take advantage of this time to get better.
Diane Scavuzzo: How many players does Los Gatos United have now?
Shaun Tsakiris: Los Gatos United has 750 Competitive players and 900 Recreational players.
Diane Scavuzzo: Your club has grown remarkably since you took over.
Shaun Tsakiris: Yes, and we will always focus on creating a fantastic place for people and young players to grow and develop.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why do you coach?
Shaun Tsakiris: I coach to make the sport better. To give back to young players and the sport that has given me so much.
Lastly, I want to stress how we can take advantage of this time to hit the reset button and remember what is really important — our community, our club, our friends and family.
Los Gatos United has developed a series of player development videos to help kids work on their development on their own — perfect for when hundreds of thousands of soccer players are without coach guided practice sessions. Please click here for Part I.