State DOC Blog

A blog from Jacob Daniel, Georgia Soccer's State Director of Coaching. If you have comments, questions, or topic suggestions, please send them to


Value of Coaching Clinics

Jacob Daniel- State DOC

One of my most common tasks as a state DOC is to deliver free clinics throughout the state.  I find that although most Club DOC's intuitively know that clinics can benefit their coaches, they are so busy running the day to day affairs of the club that coaching education is often neglected.  This is a reminder of the impact coaching clinics can have.

After conducting one such clinic at one of our member clubs I received the following email from one of the coaches attending the clinic:

Coach Jacob,

Thank you again for the great instruction tonight at the coaches clinic. I have to say it was probably more helpful than I expected or that anyone would have realized, but it really energized me as a coach. I had a bad practice on Tuesday with my u8 boys team. My u6 team practice went fine, but I couldn't get my u8 kids to listen they kept running off and doing their own thing. I was trying to show them something I thought was essential to creating a good team. I got really frustrated and discouraged. Afterwards I told my wife I don't think I'll coach that age group next year.

After the clinic I realized it was my fault. I was doing drills that were too hard, too slow, and only occupied one or two kids. That was why tonight was so important. Beyond just learning a couple of new drills to run. I realized what TYPE of drills to run. I came home from the clinic and I was really excited about my next practice.

This note from an appreciative coach hit home as to the value of these clinics.  It also reminded me how important the clinic is beyond just the X's and O's and a recipe of activities.  These clinics, when properly structured and delivered, can influence the coaches in many aspects of coaching, such as the correct player development philosophy, the best way to motivate and keep players enthusiastic, while teaching them to become better players.

And just as important, clinics help keep coaches fresh and energized.  Youth soccer cannot afford to lose coaches to frustration and despair.



Playing Style, Formations and Mismatched Opponents

Jacob Daniel- State DOC

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Barcelona La Masia training complex in Spain.  This is the famous Barcelona FC youth academy that produced Messi, Iniesta, Xabi, and al.

We watched youth league games involving the boys u10's and U13's and the girls U12's and U16's.  The u10 boys and the U12 girls played 7v7 in a 2-3-1 formation.  The u13 boys and u16 girls played 11v11 in a 4-3-3 formation.

The most striking observation was that all the Barcelona FC youth teams played the same possession playing style, using the same passing patterns and patience exhibited by the first team.

The other notable observation was that all the games were a mismatch, meaning the Barcelona team was much stronger than the opposition and the scores were very lopsided for three of the games, something like 13-0, 10-1, and 5-1.  Yet, the intensity of the Barcelona FC teams was high throughout the games and they didnt slow down or ease off or get complacent.  I can imagine if the same scenario happened here in Atlanta, the adults on the side lines would probably get upset at the mismatch and the score.  The parents on the losing team would probably complain about the winning team's lack of sportmanship or compassion running up the score so mercilessly and the parents of the winning team would probably complain that the game was a waste of time.  But in Barcelona, no one seemed to think this was an issue.  The Barcelona FC youth teams have the best players in the province and are expected to be much stronger than everyone else, so no big deal.

The last observation was that the girls teams were accorded the same facilities and investment in coaches and resources as the boys and the result was there for all to see.  It's no wonder that Spain reached the Women's U17 world Cup Final this year (they lost to France in the final).  Spain will be a major force in the women's game soon, judging by what we saw in Barcelona. 



In Search of an American Playing Style

Jacob Daniel- State DOC

There is considerable debate among coaches and fans about the American playing style and how to create a playing style that will bring success at the international level.  The following two quotes describe the play of an American team. The first one is from a Ridge Mahoney article on Soccer America on the national team game versus Ukraine:

“On a few occasions the midfield clicked to create effective attacking moves, but seldom was the USA able to hold the ball to establish tempo and make Ukraine chase”

The second quote is from a technical report by the coaching staff of one of our Region III Boys team following an international trip:

“We turned the ball over far too easily and often due to poor technique, poor support position, poor decision making……This caused us to defend more than we would have liked….We could not establish a rhythm and flow to our game due to too many turnovers.  But in spite of these deficiencies, we battled and defended well and had some good individual moments.”

These quotes succinctly describe the state of our game in international terms.  We have been struggling to possess the ball ever since I can remember.  This brings a lot of questions to my mind:  Can our youth clubs make a difference?  Does it all depend on what our youth coaches are teaching our players?  Is it fair to expect our youth clubs to make a serious commitment to teaching our players to possess the ball?  Is it the responsibility of our youth clubs to prepare players for the international arena?  Is US Soccer doing all it can to help the process along?

Thoughts anyone?