Mount Washington Valley Soccer Club
Jul 9, 2018

D-License Takeaways

Mount Washington Valley Soccer Club

July 2018

Thoughts from the Technical Director

“D-License Takeaways"

As the semifinals are set and the final is fast approaching in the fantastic World Cup in Russia this year, I thought I would share a few things from my recently completed US Soccer D-License course.

It is good to reiterate the US Soccer Development Philosophy:

"Children learn and develop to their full potential through game-like experiences in an enjoyable environment that supports individual growth."

As coaches, we continue to remind ourselves our training and teaching methods need to be player-centered. Depending on the age group you coach, your structure will be 4v4, 7v7, 9v9 or 11v11. Our session design  should keep this in mind, so it closely resembles the final match system of play.

US Soccer wants us to implement, when appropriate, the "Play-Practice-Play" model of coaching, which I wrote about in an earlier column. Get them playing in a small sided game quickly (First Play). Usually this is 3v3 or  4v4 maximum to small goals or an end-zone. Limit players standing around and watching - get them playing! Provide a Core Activity (Practice) with less challenging and more challenging activities as you assess their  performance. Ask questions and use key words that give players a chance to answer and decide on their own, with some guidance. This is where you do most of your teaching and where you can check for understanding.

A few key elements of the Practice piece are to be sure you are intentional about every aspect of the session. Is the picture you are setting up giving you the environment you want to teach the topic? Is the field the  correct size for the age group and skill level. Less skilled players need more space to give them more time and space to think and make decisions. Are you training in the part of the field where your topic occurs? Most  often the player set up is with an overload situation (numbers up or numbers down) to create a conditioned game. Defenders should always have something to counter too; a mini-goal or end zone or target player. 

Make sure at every restart, the players are positioned as you want them to be so the game situation is accurately represented and the players can see and read the game. Make sure you think about where restarts come  from (ie goal keeper, server at midfield, throw-in?) and why. You as the coach should not, to the greatest extent possible, be playing or serving the ball. You should be set up in a position to coach. End with a    small sided game (Play) with limited coaching reminders about your topic.

The Five elements of a training session you should ask yourself before and after:

  • Was it organized?
  • Was it game-like?
  • Was there repetition?
  • Was it challenging?
  • Was there effective coaching?

US Soccer encourages you, as a coach-teacher to be reflective on your time with the players and soccer community. Continue to ask yourself and challenge yourself to become a better coach. If the session did not work  well, it’s not the end of the world,..go ahead and make adjustments on the fly or the next time you run something similar.

US Soccer also identifies 6 tasks of each Coach. These include: Coaching games. Coaching training sessions. Leading the team. Leading the player. Managing your performance environment. Leadership. All these aspects  begin to define the Culture of the soccer environment. MWV has a good foundation in our curriculum to help guide you in affirming what our Club believes is important. US Soccer and United Soccer Coaches both have  free online coaching courses. I would strongly encourage you to take a few moments this summer (between World Cup games!) to log in and take one of the courses. Even these short online courses will expand your  knowledge and understanding of this beautiful game.

Be a life long learner!

Have a good Summer!

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at or 207.462.0246.

Love the game!

David Hart
Technical Director

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