There are development soccer coaches and then there are locusts

ZEE Goalkeeper Academy Florida - Goalkeeper Training, Camps and Clinics > Blog > US Soccer > There are development soccer coaches and then there are locusts

I would start by going straight to the point and define clearly and completely the difference between the two breeds of coaches out there.
When I state “Out There” I’m talking about the United States, reason: I’t pay-to-play and is seen just like a fresh crop of lettuce that yet has to be treated for insects and pests, in many cases it attracts large amounts of locusts!

Let’s take a close look at what a Locust is and what it likes to do: A large and mainly tropical grasshopper with strong powers of flight. It is usually solitary, but from time to time there is a population explosion, and it migrates in vast swarms that cause extensive damage to crops. Widespread devastation, it will move on only after there is nothing left to consume at the field and will then move on.

Over the years the United States Soccer Federation has taken models from other countries, both European and Central-South American but has not taken the time to build our own country’s soccer culture. So, we have the largest military and political influence on a global scale, but we drag our butt in the largest sport to ever be played on this planet? Yes! We need to get this great nation of ours to eat, drink, breathe… “Soccer” from the youngest of ages and agree that our style of play does not need to be modeled after another country’s.

Now please don’t get me wrong, I myself was not born in the US, but I am a proud citizen of this country that adopted me more than two decades ago. I also love to watch Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte style of play, not to mention Manchester City and Pep, but are we in Great Britain??? Do all our children at our youth soccer clubs and in our academies have access to elite performance environments like they have in Italy, Spain and the UK? Maybe one day and certainly not any time soon, but for now we need to focus on establishing our own soccer cultural foundation instead of depending on outsources that claim they’ll fix it for you, they’ll put your child in a soccer college program. Do not even get me started!!!!

Before the age of 12-13, is what I define the time of specialization, U.S. youth soccer should be played locally and the focus should be totally on development instead of winning and putting the players in never-ending and exhausting tournaments . There is no need for a 10-year-old to be traveling 150-200 miles to play in a soccer tournament when the same level of play can be found in their same county. This travel is associated with high costs for parents and benefits the CEO’s of the youth soccer clubs.

We also need to take into serious consideration in giving access to soccer locally through access to fields. My son’s elementary school has a full size space soccer field, but it is unused by the students that attend that school. The elementary school I went to in Europe had one and we used it nearly every day, the middle school I attended in Italy had a full size soccer field, with pro-full-size goals and floodlights, it even had 200 seats. Now sit back for a second and think about the soccer culture that would breed in a nation our size with soccer fields in EVERY school.

Then we have the coaches, matter the level, I think that they should be able to have access to quality coach education and development without having to travel 400 miles to get it and to pay out of pocket hundreds and in most cases thousands of dollars. If we truly want to build a soccer culture and develop our own Ronaldo, Messi, Buffon or Neuer, we need to invest in the ones teaching the game.

Over the past three years, the percentage of 8 to 12 year old’s playing soccer at last once a week has dropped close to 14%, to 2,300,000 players, according to a study by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, which has analyzed youth athletic trends for 40 years. The number of children who touched a soccer ball even once during the year, in organized play or otherwise, also has fallen significantly.

High burnout rates from pushing children into travel soccer too young as well as the high costs of programs have also contributed to the lower numbers. The money in youth sports isn’t going toward expanding participation for all kids, in many cases it’s ending up in executive directors pockets and this can be found easily by doing a deep search for the clubs and associations public records. While the smaller club struggles, the franchising is making record profits, but at the same time they’re destroying the crops.

Said that, let’s go back and talk about the locust soccer coach:
This kind of breed, exploits, they are here for you (so they say)for youth soccer development and they’ll tell you your son/daughter will be the next Hope Solo or Tim Howard. They come at you with a smile, they tell you everything that you want to hear and talk trash about everyone that surrounds them, they tell you they’re the very best you can ever find. They don’t stay in one location for that long, simply because they burn their surroundings and when there is nothing left to rake they move on. How do they burn the surround grounds they step in? Well, parents figure them out! Parents assist the session and parents pay the bill…

Let’s take for example parents that bring their children to my Goalkeeper Academy here in Port Orange, the first sittings they all pay attention to what is happening on the field, they look at the setup, they see that the field is filled with equipment and later they find out why. The keepers go through the various drills, the parents are even more glued to the session and its surrounding. The parent then realizes that all the thousands of dollars of mannequins, hurdles, agility poles, ball shooting machines, rebounders… are not a flash in their face, but are there for a very good reason, they’re a learning tool that are all essential for your child – The Goalkeeper – development.
The locust coach will charge double, if not more, smooth talkers, very smooth talkers, once they have you in their hands, they’re going to squeeze you for every single penny you have.
It wont take time for the parents to figure them out, a couple of training sessions at the very most. a bald green field that has a few cones and a bunch of balls, a ladder here and there. Nothing on the field that can put your child in a real-game-set situation, nothing for them to rapidly comprehend the game and the drill.

The locust coach will try to snatch, grab and steal, simply because they don’t know how to gather students ogranically, they poach other peoples work. Most of the time with horrible results, the tactic really never works.

A locust-style coach once told me: “New coaches don’t charge enough for their services, which will eventually lead them to max out on the time they spend coaching and drive them to overwhelm and financial stress.”, first of all he was totally clueless that I have been coaching for the past 27 years and that I have a UEFA B licence. Second of all, I have a day job that pays the bills, I’m not in the goalkeeper development ring to make a living, I can do that in the close future with my ZEE Goalkeeper Gloves Brand.

I told this Barrel scraping coach: “I’n in this for the development of the keepers, I want to send as many of them to college on a scholarship as possible”, he laughed and told me straight out: “This is a pond to fish out of and not to put fish in”. I’m lucky enough to say him and myself are on totally different paths.

Parents for me are parents, parents for the locust coach are ATM’s:
Why do you think that my goalkeeper academy is the best equipped in the country? I’m not rich! So how did I get that to happen in just 24 months?
Everything that parents have put in to get the training for their kids has gone right back out. First of all Field Rentals. The academy rents and for thousands of dollars a year, then everything that is left over goes on equipment. Every month the students get to use new and more innovated goalkeeper equipment, the best that the soccer equipment suppliers have to offer.

But yet there again the locust coaches will state that you don’t need it. They say that simply because they’re pocketing every cent that you give them, nothing or close to it is being re-invested in the academy. “YOU DON’T NEED IT THEY SAY!!”

So lets let’s analyze it shall we? Education, Schools: Is your child going to comprehend and learn faster in school if he/she has all the books they need? Maybe a projector on the wall to go over certain subjects and how about computers alongside the wall, where they can look up everything they meed, add to that a printer per PC to print out your findings a huge amount of pencils and paper and other stationary. That would be the classroom I would always want my kids to be in!
Locust coaches offer a classroom with a blackboard, desks and chairs, a few pencils to go around and that’s about it.

Now what if I were to tell you that the fully equipped classroom would cost you a lot less to place your child in rather than the empty classroom? Would you pay more for less?

The development coach will throw out free additional sessions, will give private lessons at a third of the average cost, just enough to pay for their time. He will go to watch the goalkeepers during their high school and club games at not cost, he will stand on the sideline and assist that keeper. Maybe he will have to leave a little early, so that he can attend another students game on the other side of town. He will “at no-cost” follow his students at ID camps even if they’re hundreds of miles away and he will give out free tuition for families in need, so that they can pay the electricity bill and still see their kids not miss out on goalkeeper training.

The locust coaches? Nothing of the above, unless you’re ready to pay, pay and pay more!

There’s a good reason why my academy is at full capacity (my camps also) and that people travel great distances to attend our sessions and events. I have drastically lowered the tuition fees for goalkeeper training in Central Florida and it’s hurting them that are used to overcharging. The fact that I’m hurting the pocket of these individuals that want to take advantage of hard working parents, makes me feel great!