Now over 70, Fred Immel is the oldest CYSA coach to ever attain the National “D” license.

I wrote the first part of this story the day after the National “D” Course ended (May 2, 2010). It is interesting for me to read it now, several months later. As you might recall, some people told me that a coach my age could not and would not pass a CYSA-sponsored course. I have added an update that includes a contrast in the two differing opinions.

I hope you find the evaluations interesting and informative. In Part 1, I evaluated the various aspects of my experience immediately following the course. In Part 2, I look back with five months of hindsight on how the lessons I learned in the course actually applied during the following season. I think you will like the ending, as for me, it was a great experience.

Part 1: May 2, 2010 – One day after completing the National “D” Course

  1. Evaluate your instructor: I thought the instructors were very professional and thorough.
  2. Evaluate the classroom sessions: Informative and right on topic. Chalk talks were valuable, game analysis was fun. Subconscious mind taught me a lot about what not to say to players.
  3. Evaluate the field sessions: Grade C here … the instructions of what they wanted, and how long to go with an exercise, were not detailed enough. Comments after the sessions were not particularly helpful. ‘The Serve’ was too repetitive, and when it was discontinued to go into small-sided games, not a lot of direction was given. The function of the second defender as he takes up his position and what position he takes was not the same that I learned in E/D or training that I have received since my E/D. On Sunday, several of us thought that it was being presented wrong and we sought out Clay to clarify. He confirmed that what we were thinking was indeed correct. So as the wrong representation was given again and again, it was not corrected.
  4. In the E/D, ‘The Serve’ was merely three cones on the ground in a six-by-six triangle. It was therefore very confusing to adapt ‘The Serve’ to the theme, as everything we do in training via Odyssey and the Academy, is not presented that way. ‘The Serve’ is technical and should be presented in the technical portion of training. To go to small-sided games, incorporating the technical with tactical, is not logical to me. I like the ‘9-Step’ approach, but we do it even though we are not following it exactly. We follow:
    1. Warm up
    2. Technical
    3. Small Sided
    4. Scrimmage
    … with the theme running throughout from the beginning. Without direction, we always have a beginning of practice when we greet the players and layout the training session and theme. We always have an end of practice where we go over what we have learned and shake hands with the players before they leave to evaluate how they feel after the session. ‘New’ to this method, then, is the halftime, which is very good …. (+) and (vs.) in small-sided and scrimmage, which are both excellent and which I will adopt to my training. And, of course, the cool down, which is not done by many — if any — teams. I have to redo my field session. The one that I failed was ‘The Serve,’ 1+2, a push-off and first touch. Wow, first touch — how can anyone fail first touch? The most important part of the game! I could never fail first touch in any of my team trainings. So, in this part of the course it was not logical for me and I guess I did not figure out “the rules” as soon as I should have. The “players” did not understand what to do after the touch and basically said, “Now what?” So, I told them to play the ball back. NOTE: Since then, I learned that I did not fail this part … just thought I did.

I would present the ‘9-Steps’ differently: i.e., “this is how we want your practice session to be run. This is technical and this is tactical.” Leave ‘The Serve’ at technical and move on. There is no doubt that ‘The Serve’ as tactical is a valuable tool, but it is not logical to incorporate it into small-sided or scrimmage.

Part 2: Reflection

Since the above was written soon after the class, a couple of things have been cleared up by talking to class instructors and students. I do not need to elaborate here on that.

Once I received my makeup theme, “3rd Man Run,” I went to work with my team on making the ‘theme’ work while following the ‘9-Step’ format. This was good for both myself and the team. It organized the training session to a finer degree then the four steps that I was using. ‘The Serve’ is technically sound, and the girls became proficient in it faster than the coaches did in the class.

The theme, 3rd Man Run, was something that I have used a lot with my JV girls, because they are older and pick it up quickly. My first challenge was to show the U13 girls how this is not a wall pass, but a play to incorporate a player off the ball by using a third man. It’s a big concept for 12-year-old-minds, which in the past two years learned the wall pass and how to attack effectively using it. It’s like giving a shovel to a labor and making his life much easier with the new tool. She must learn how the wall pass has helped her and now add a new tool. We worked on this in three sessions (not without some drama from certain girls). Soon, we were ready to go live in a field session.

In the field session I was extremely proud of how the girls executed all that they had learned the previous week, in each step. To see them try again and again in our small-sided game (4v2), then achieve success, was totally gratifying. To showcase those to an onlooker who they knew was evaluating them in the theme made me so proud.

The real success came during the evaluation in the scrimmage. The rule was that you could not score until you made a “3rd Man Run” pass. Then it happened — in the competitive phase of the scrimmage — wall passes combined with a player off the ball making a run. WOW. The results of the evaluation were not as important as the knowledge that my players in competition can and will use the third man in their bank of soccer knowledge.

It was a great experience and I’m a better coach for having gone through it. Karl Dewazien and his staff have done a lot of work with the ‘9-Step Practice Routine’ and it’s in some aspects their body of work.

Well done!!!