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Growing the Team v Growing the Individual

Growing the Team v Growing the Individual

What opportunities should a player choose to meet their desired goals over all options out there in youth soccer?

It has been a desire for us at Coerver that all our players maximize their potential and reach their goals, whatever they may be. I am often asked my opinion about ‘what is best for my child?’ I also see many try their best to do the right things for their child without the knowledge of what works well and what does not, both on the field and financially. Here is what I believe:

The options parents have are various, but can be divided into ‘individual development’ or ‘team development’. Here are the different options and what areas they work on:



Individual 1 on 1 session

Club soccer (including US Club, Developmental Academies and ECNL)

Most summer camps (excluding team camps, including residential camps)

Team camps

Coerver Performance Academy


Coerver Kid program

School Soccer

Coerver COE

Coerver 5v5 Cup

Small group training


Speed and Agility training


Pick up



Obviously inside of each program there is a percentage of crossover. For instance, a coach at a club could focus on individual development for 30 minutes and the team for 60 minutes.

My suggestion regarding this is to look at the hours you are doing and analyze how much of the focus is on the team compared to the individual, plus incorporate playing time and use into the equation. If you are not a key player for the team, you are not developing an awful lot in comparison to the players getting the most touches.


Are you a role player or a soccer player?

The main goal for ‘team development’ is to create good role players. The coach has a team and needs to put players in positions on the field. Generally the best players will be looked at and the formation will be predicated around their talents. From there, the rest of the players will be used to enhance the best. Techniques will be taught for players to maximize the productivity. For instance, we may teach the wingers how to cross effectively if we have a tall striker.

A ‘soccer player’ will need to be in an environment where they can find their own brand and style of soccer for them. In this environment, they should learn an array of skills, techniques, etc. to gain success from multiple situations that may arise. This allows players to see various occurrences in the game and become more rounded as a soccer player. This aids the team, as I believe with Coerver, ‘any system of play (formation) is only as good as the players involved.’

‘Role players’ will be found out when a situation occurs on the field which is new to them and they need to figure out how to generate success. Perhaps our tall striker from before is marked by two giants and cannot win a header. Will our winger figure this out and have the ability to diversify, or will they continue to cross without success?

In retrospect, will the ‘soccer players’ turn the game into pickup and only worry about their own individual success, or will they have the ability to know what is best for the team at any given moment? Would our winger not understand that they need to be wide and open up the field tactically for others to gain success?

The solution is to find a balance. Neither individual development, nor team development, is more important than the other. Each player will need 50% of each to succeed. Most players are looking to progress themselves just as much as their team, if not more so.


Evaluate what you are doing

Now with this knowledge, look at the hours you spend developing as a role player and a soccer player. An easy matrix is to look at the age you play at and understand what the team is doing during practice. Any situation with opposition above 1v1 will be geared towards the team. With 2v2, you can still grow as an individual, but you are losing out on touches by 50%. The further away from 2v2 you go, the more opportunity you have to pass the buck and not grow as an individual. Each coach is different, but normally the older they go and the higher level you play, the less focus on the individual and the more focus on the team.

Mathematically per week you will have 2 or 3 practices. Let’s work with 3 and a game on average. That would work out to be around 1.5 hours on individual development and 4.5 hours on team. Over a full season, that will be 24 hours of becoming a ‘soccer player’ and 72 on becoming a ‘role player’ over 4 months. ODP, school soccer, etc. would work similarly to this, if not worse, as a lot of school coaches do not have a qualification in youth soccer as to know what to do for their players.

Looking at our equation, players are 48 hours behind in becoming a ‘soccer player’ per season. The hope from this point is the players are playing pick up at school during recess and are taking part in an individual development process with whomever. Some clubs have a skill night and there are local programs with good people all over the USA similar to Coerver who are there to help.

Understanding this, we try to make every hour of serious fun with us as effective as humanly possible, using all our 33 years of experience and sessions to our benefit. We try to make any hour as productive as possible, but there is only so much you can do with the time you have. The main thing to understand is to not expect to get any better than teammates by spending the same amount of time on the field.   


What should I do?

In conclusion, understand that if you are doing club, school soccer, ODP, Coerver 5v5 Cups, and a team camp over the year, and you want to make it at the collegiate level, you will more than likely not do very well. If a player focuses on pickup, Coerver programs, 1 on 1 training, small group training, speed and agility, and summer camps, they will probably not make it either. It is for you to decide what would be the better path of the two, but a healthy balance of both is always the key.

In addition, look what you are getting for the money you pay. Do not put all your resources into getting no time on the field. Look in your area for the best hour to dollar ratio with qualified individuals in a setting where serious fun can happen. Like players with positive mindsets around helps, but the desire of the player will always find a way to be successful. The best team is not always the best scenario, as being the key player can be just as, if not more rewarding, to the individual.

I hope this guidance helps and we hope to see you soon!

Coach Chris


Coerver Carolinas

Irmo, South Carolina 29063

Phone: 803-553-0224
Email: [email protected]

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