Letter from Coach Whose U-15 Soccer Team
Came in 5th in State Tournament
Replacing Soccer Players When They Move to Select Teams

Hi David,

Hope you are well. SoccerHelp just continues to get better and better, and I love my Premium membership.

Thought I'd drop you a line with an update on this past season. Due to the rain, we missed a lot of soccer practice and were only able to play 7 games out of an 8 game season. We just ran out of time trying to make up that 8th game. We competed for the first time ever in our State Rec Cup Tournament. It is a State wide competition that takes place all over the state of Georgia over a two weekend period. You must win your District Championship to advance to the State Finals the following weekend. We did just that, winning the District in four games, going 6 - 0, 6, - 1, 5 - 0 and then 3 - 2 in the Championship game to advance. We were not as lucky in the Stat Final round going 3 - 0 in game 1, then 0 - 2 in game 2 and 1 - 2 in the semi final, so we did not advance to the State Championship game, but that was OK. We played well in games 1 and 3 and I am OK with losing if we play well (game 3). The game that got under my skin was game 2, where my girls started to feel the pressure and the entire midfield and front line played like individuals rather than a team. I tried to regroup them at halftime and they played the second half of that game better, but the damage was already done. Additionally, the thing to remember is, at that point, ALL your opponents are District Champions, so the competition is stiff as can be. Really and truly, I did not have the strongest team there, but we competed well and had we won game 3, we would have gone to the Championship game, but it was not to be. As I said though, the competition at that level is extremely tough and my girls competed well I thought. The bottom line is, if you calculated the final points, when all was said and done my girls finished tied for 5th place in the entire state of Georgia and that is not at all bad.

We have some tough times ahead though as next season we age up to U16s, which in and of itself is not a bad thing, but the challenges will be that of my current roster of 17, 10 will be returning while the other 7 either go off to play volleyball, or Select Soccer. Those that are going Select are doing so to be seen by the High School Coaches that coach the Select teams. They hope this will give them a leg up at the High School Soccer Tryouts in the Fall. So, I am looking for players now, trying not to leave my destiny fully in the hands of the league. We'll see, but it may well prove an interesting and challenging season!

Keep up the great work. I love to read the letters from those coaches that use your methods to go from getting thrashed to winning all their games.

Tony, Atlanta USA
(rising) U16 Twisters

Hi Tony,

I always greatly enjoy your letters and thank you for taking the time to write.

Congratulations on your success. I see it exactly as you do -- you faced some very tough competition and GA is a very strong soccer state. It's very tough to avoid a bad game -- that happens at all levels of play, even college and professional. Sometimes it's mental, and sometimes the ball just doesn't bounce your way.

I know the feeling of losing players you enjoy coaching and of watching them grow up and move on to other things. Some of my fondest memories are of the U-14 and U-17 teams I coached -- at those ages they play because they want to, not because their parents are making them.

Here's an idea about how to get new players who are compatible with your existing players: Ask your players if they have friends who used to play who might like to play again. A lot of kids quit for various reasons (burn-out, other sports, jobs, cut from a travel team, etc.). Your coaching style, personality, knowledge and enthusiasm are such that some of those kids might enjoy coming back to play for you. I did that at U-17 with good results -- otherwise I wouldn't have had enough players for a team. I told them they could come to practice if they wanted to, or not. My practices, like yours, used Practice Games and were fun, so they came if they could. I had several kids who played other sports or had jobs. We did well and won all our games but one -- we lost one and won one against a team that had not lost in 2 years. The kids and I did it for fun -- because we enjoy it, not because we had to.

I really enjoy the letters from coaches too. I remember the satisfaction of turning a team around and of seeing players go from feeling like failures to believing that they could be successful.

Best wishes,

David at SoccerHelp