Dr. Ron Quinn on Youth Soccer
“Sadly, we have moved from an educational model to a business model in youth sport, and especially in youth soccer.”
A leading authority in youth soccer and coaching education, Dr. Ron Quinn shares his insight on American Youth Soccer today, what we’re doing right and what needs to change. Here is the second part of his popular interview on American Youth Soccer -What’s Right and What’s Wrong.
Dr. Ron Quinn is an Associate Professor, Department of Sport Studies and on the committee on Gender and Diversity Studies at Graduate Program Xavier University — Quinn actually was the primary author of the USYS National Youth License and the State Youth Modules. The coach who taught the youth soccer coaching education program for US Youth Soccer — working alongside Sam Snow — Quinn opened the minds of many and pioneered the concept of going beyond Beyond the X’s and O’s.
A member of the United States Youth Soccer (USYS) National Staff, Quinn was awarded the 2006 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA), Youth Long-Term Achievement Award and in 2007 received the US Youth Soccer Dr. Thomas Fleck Excellence in Youth Coaching Education Award.
SoccerToday’s Diane Scavuzzo asked Dr. Ron Quinn for his opinion on what makes a coach good — we often hear how important a good soccer coach is but what does that really mean?
Diane Scavuzzo: What makes a good coach?
Dr. Ron Quinn: I believe there are many factors that make a good coach.
These factors include content knowledge — understanding the game, pedagogical content knowledge — how to teach the game, and how to make use of resources or curriculum content knowledge.
The most critical factors that make a good coach have to deal with the ability to connect and communicate.
Soccer is a social enterprise, and we must create an environment to develop a positive, and appropriate coach-athlete relationship.
In short, it is all about the relationship.
A coach must also see his or her self as a servant leader, who is there to facilitate the learning and competitive environment.
It’s not about the coach, it’s all about the players.
Finally, a good coach needs to be consistent in their behavior. Players need to know what you expect, and how they can count on you.
The best testament would be if a player — in a situation outside of a practice or game — would say, “What would coach think if I did or said this?”
The coach is also there to protect the players. As I said before if players in the USSF DA’s are only allowed to play one match on a weekend because it is best for their development, then why do we allow non-DA players to play in tournaments, where they play, possibly, two to four matches between Friday and Sunday?
Diane Scavuzzo: How old were you when you first became involved with soccer?
Dr. Ron Quinn: Growing up in the 50’s & 60’s we didn’t know what soccer was; there was no youth game.
I didn’t start playing until the 7th grade for the junior high team, played through high school and college, then amateur soccer in the Philadelphia senior league. I was fortunate to be on successful teams, but the biggest benefit was the life-long relationships that were developed, and the opportunity to travel internationally.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is your favorite memory?
Dr. Ron Quinn: From a coaching perspective, they are countless favorite memories — from an undefeated season at Moravian Academy in Bethlehem, PA in 1979, two Atlantic-10 Tournament Women titles at Xavier University, to the privilege and honor to present the methods of the NYL with Dr. Tom Fleck at the 1999 UEFA Symposium in London.
However, my biggest rewards and memories have been life-long friendships that have developed with my players, coaches, and colleagues.
It is when some of my former players — who are now soccer moms and dads — call for advice or share their experiences with me, and let me know I have prepared them for coaching their children.
It truly is a beautiful game, and I am so blessed to have played a small part in it.