What age/level do you coach?
High School JV Girls and U14 Girls Premier
How long have you been doing this?
This will be my 7th year
What do you find is the most difficult for players at this level?
The best players at this age/level have good body mechanics - they are agile, physical and have good balance. There are many players that struggle in these areas when they first join my team.
I also see players that are behind in their general ball handling and foot skills. They are just not comfortable enough with the ball.
I often see female athletes at this age purposely holding back and not reaching their full potential in order to not upset their friends/teammates - self confidence can be a huge challenge for some players.
How do you overcome this challenge in your training?
We spend a lot of time in the off season and pre season doing speed and agility training - quick ladder, hurdles, etc. We have also started doing some weight lifting and yoga for strength and balance.
We spend about 30 min each practice doing individual skills training with the ball and then the players continue these types of drills at home.
We spend a lot of time in team meetings discussing how we can be a strong team (good team chemistry) and yet allow each player reach her full potential.
How would you describe your coaching philosophy?
I spend a lot of time building true teams - teams that share the same goals and want to work for each other. I also try to coach the "whole" soccer athlete because a player with natural abilities will never be the best she can be without the right attitude, self-discipline, health and fitness, etc.
What are some of your favorite drills for practice?
We are a possession-style team so we spend a lot of time on passing, receiving and possession drills. We do many versions of large field possession. We use a different number of teams, neutral players and/or different objectives in order to work on different aspects of possession such as speed of play, switching the field, combination play, etc.
What do you believe is the best way for players to train for soccer when they aren't with their team?
I always encourage my players to go and play against a wall or rebounder. This way, they can continue to develop their first touch (ability to trap the ball with any part of their body).
Best piece of advice that you have for someone who wants to excel in soccer?
Spend a lot of time with the ball and have fun with it. The best players at this age/level are the ones that just like having the ball at their feet. They spend a lot of time (outside of our normal team practices) juggling, working on dribbling moves and moving the ball in small spaces.
What three words best describe the sport to you?
Beautiful, exciting, collective
What has been a highlight of your coaching career?
Too many to name. I guess I really enjoy seeing the growth and development of an individual player that I've coached over a period of a year to two years...especially that type of player that struggles a lot in the beginning either technically or psychologically. I also will always remember the way my U14 premier team played in the first round of Michigan State Cup this year against the eventual State Champions - they worked so hard and so well together. We put up a really good fight against a very strong opponent.
What is the most memorable moment of your own soccer career?
Winning State Cup with my own competitive club team (Santa Rosa United) when I was about 14. I will also always remember my last game with my club team, Sonoma County Alliance (before moving away to college). We made it to the State Cup semifinals and had a great game. I will of course always remember my first college game with UCSB.
Your favorite professional soccer player, why?
Kristine Lilly because she outworks everyone on the field, even after all of these years.
You're not seeing double. Kristin's team has won several league and tournament championships over the last couple years. Kristin attributes this to their hard work and good team chemistry.