Mad River Valley FC

Our Coaching Philosophy
Coaching Philosophy and Goals

Our goal here at Mad River valley FC is to create an environment that fosters skill development and a love for the game in our young players. Our focus is always on the players. Focusing on the development of our players, rather than wins and losses, is a strategy designed to yield long-term results.

A strong foundation is the first thing built for a house. At that point, the builder is only concerned with creating a solid foundation upon which a house can stand. Soccer is similar. The best time to teach foundational skills is when a player is physiologically primed to learn those skills. Studies have shown that motor learning begins to rapidly decrease after the age of twelve. That doesn't mean players cannot continue to increase their skills, but it does show why it's so important to focus on the development of skills rather than tactics for young age groups. If we focus a lot on formations and tactics in the early stages of our young players' development, we are ignoring the foundation of their abilities - individual control of the ball. Only when control of the ball is established can the rest of the skills and tactics be acquired.

It's important to remember that development and results are not necessarily related. There will be times, especially early on, when our teams will lose games. Sometimes those losses won't be close. The classic strategy for winning games at an early age is to have a player kick it far up the field for a fast player to get into a footrace with the other team and eventually win that race and score. This is a good strategy for winning, but how does it develop those players? The player kicking the ball long learns one skill - how to kick the ball far. The player scoring learns one skill - how to finish when one on one with a keeper. But what about the rest of the team? They barely touch the ball and will more than likely become disinterested in the sport.

There is always a tendency to see winning games as a measuring stick for players’ development. During the early years of development players can feel bad if they're not winning games. To combat this, we need to be extremely positive when interacting with our players and it's crucial that we make a point of celebrating the things we are trying to develop. If a player successfully completes a move she's been working on over the course of the week, celebrate that success enthusiastically! If we give up a goal because of a mistake in technique, but the decision was a good one, make sure you give the players encouragement for having made a good decision and then give them feedback on how to better execute that decision next time.

As we build soccer players, we will continue to build skills upon this foundation while always maintaining the integrity of the foundation. The developmental goals we have set for one age group are a continuation of the goals expected to have been achieved when in the previous age group. Therefore, it's important to try to achieve planned developmental goals so the next age group is able to achieve their own goals without having to do much remedial work. Progressive achievement of goals is designed for the overall development of the skill of our players.

None of our developmental goals will include things like 'win the league' or 'score 20 goals in a season'. These are successes we will certainly celebrate, but they are natural outcomes of our focus on development as opposed to the focus of our training.

The art of coaching is how and when to implement certain sessions and how to get those ideas across in a way that your players can understand. We encourage all of our coaches to communicate with one another and with parents. We define success as giving our players the technical tools to be effective as well as instilling in them a love for the game. Success with integrity strengthens our youth and the communities that we all live in.

Thank you again for helping MRVFC in our vision of developing players to be the best they can be.

Let's Get Better!