Coaching Education Key for Virginia Soccer Association

(Haymarket, Va) Virginia Soccer Association has seen the benefits of a focused and robust coaching education over recent years and this year is no different. Since the Fall we have held multiple in-house classroom and field sessions to improve teaching methodology, game management, and curriculum implementation to improve player development. The aim of each session is to improve our staffs ability to think critically and take ownership of their own personal development.

“Over the past three years we have been able to implement a positive learning environment for both players and coaches. The goal now is to really start to provide coaches with more critical (Precise and Constructive) feedback for them to improve their skill set and use specific language that improves the players learning. As our staff has grown and become more consistent we have changed the  emphasis to developing the individual coach verses the collective like in recent years” Matt Lacey, Director of Soccer.

So far, the staff have gone through three main education sessions since the start of the fall season.  Session 1 was led by Matt Lacey, and covered the main aspects of how we structure a training session at VSA.  Session 2 was led by Dale Parker, as the staff were given some great examples on how to implement individual, unit, and team training sessions in line with the weekly periodization structure.  Our most recent session covered game management and how to give effective and efficient feedback to players during games.  This included recognizing common occurrences, making adjustments and specific/to the point half time team talks.  As part of the third coaching ed cycle, Matt Lacey has spent time working with our Jr Academy, putting an emphasis on specific training for our young players in Zone 1.

"As a club, we have put a lot of emphasis on improving our staff to ensure our players are getting a quality experience.  This season we have tried to get the most out of our training week in terms of how we structure our season, and we have put more detail in how we manage game with our teams.  So far we are happy with the process in place and we are looking forward to seeing the progress of our players within our new format" Dale Parker, Director of Coaching.

Once we educate our coaches and staff we can then implement our specific curriculum's. These curriculum's were developed specifically for each zone of development, zone 1 (U6-U10), zone 2 (U11-U14) and zone 3 (U15-U19). Within these zones, we also focused on the specific needs of our player pathways and levels of development. VSA released the new training week structure and pathway focusing on individual training, unit training, and team training. This allows the coaches and players to have a deeper understanding of technical and tactical roles while focusing on player development. Coaches are expected to log session plans and learning objectives for each session.

Outside of the clubs in-house coaching education we have also had Bronson Gambale and Fro Adu completing their U.S. Soccer B licenses as well as Alex Herrera finalizing his U.S. Soccer C license. We also have had full-time staff spend a weekend this summer getting licensed in periodization by world-class instructor Raymond Verhijen and World Football Academy.

Culpeper and Winchester United Visit VSA Practices:

VSA is also looking to broaden its reach with their excellent partner clubs Winchester United and Culpeper Soccer Club. VSA is not only focused on its own coaches, but is also invested in the coaches within their community. VSA has gone out to the partner clubs to run sessions, have held in-house education nights for the partner club’s coaches, and more recently invited their coaches out to Long Park to observe VSA coaches on how to effectively organize, run, and manage a training session within our weekly structure. 

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