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rockhead

Registered: 05/20/09
Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #1 
I have a very skilled almost 14 yr old girl that has tremendous ball skills, speed and tactical awareness, but...she's very shy and timid. Getting her to call for the ball is all but impossible. Getting her to go in on a 50/50 is difficult at best.
I've tried all the basic drills, even the one where 2 players face each other, grab each others jerseys and tug on each other while trying to break free. She does okay at that one, but it's not translating to the pitch.
Anyone have any success getting a timid player to come out of their shell and up the aggressiveness level?
She has all she needs to truly excel at the game if she could:
1. Communicate
2. Be aggressive
Thanks
TheGiss

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Registered: 09/28/05
Posts: 5,523
Reply with quote  #2 
Is she a part of "the team?" That may seem obvious, but she is at an age where much is going on in her life. Are you doing teambuilding...is she participating in it? IS there "stuff" going on in her personal life? Is there a teammate who can influence her--many times, at this age, the message coming from a peer is more effective than when it comes from the coach.

More later.


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Bird1812

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Registered: 05/06/04
Posts: 4,885
Reply with quote  #3 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rockhead
I have a very skilled almost 14 yr old girl that has tremendous ball skills, speed and tactical awareness, but...she's very shy and timid. Getting her to call for the ball is all but impossible. Getting her to go in on a 50/50 is difficult at best.
I've tried all the basic drills, even the one where 2 players face each other, grab each others jerseys and tug on each other while trying to break free. She does okay at that one, but it's not translating to the pitch.
Anyone have any success getting a timid player to come out of their shell and up the aggressiveness level?
She has all she needs to truly excel at the game if she could:
1. Communicate
2. Be aggressive
Thanks


She sounds a lot like my own daughter.  I'm not sure that you can turn a player that isn't naturally aggressive into an aggressive player, but one of the things that helped my daughter gain more confidence in this respect was getting into a fitness program that included strength training.  Initially the goal was to protect those knees, but the mental side of her participation was an unexpected benefit.  I realize not everyone has the time or resources to do this, but it could be worth talking to her parents about.

Here's two questions about this player. Is she the type of player who plays with her head up and may anticipate getting hit?  Is she one of the smaller kids on the field?  Both were a contributing issue for my daughter as she was the smallest on her club team. It took until U15 for her to grow.  It hasn't made her any more aggressive, but she's better able to stand up to the physicality of the game now.

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"It's the quality of your effort that counts most and offers the greatest and most long-lasting satisfaction." - John Wooden
tftjf

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 50
Reply with quote  #4 
My daughter is very much like this, but she is only 10.

Last fall, somebody on here suggested setting a goal for each game.

This past winter during the indoor season, we did that with her before every game.  During the drive to the game we would discuss a goal that SHE wanted.  At first it was generic goals like try hard or be aggressive, but we got it so that they were more specific and she would set goals like
-steal the ball from somebody (just once)
-dribble by somebody
-get close to the goal
-take a shot

She didn't always achieve the goal, but each game you could see her work at it.  However, with each success, she is gaining a little more confidence.


CoachBobby

Registered: 09/11/08
Posts: 531
Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rockhead
I have a very skilled almost 14 yr old girl that has tremendous ball skills, speed and tactical awareness, but...she's very shy and timid. Getting her to call for the ball is all but impossible. Getting her to go in on a 50/50 is difficult at best.
I've tried all the basic drills, even the one where 2 players face each other, grab each others jerseys and tug on each other while trying to break free. She does okay at that one, but it's not translating to the pitch.
Anyone have any success getting a timid player to come out of their shell and up the aggressiveness level?
She has all she needs to truly excel at the game if she could:
1. Communicate
2. Be aggressive
Thanks


It seems like you are having two issues here: aggressiveness and communication.

First to agressiveness:

I agree that aggressiveness can not be taught, however, it can be brought out of a player by constant encouragement when even the smallest act is performed. I have turned players who were content to run next to an opponent who was dribbling down the field, to now "de-cleating" them.

Constant reinforcement along with drills such as "sumo soccer", "go get it", and lots of 1v1 matches can really bring forth the inner demons in kids!

I also constantly reinforce the fact that soccer is a rude sport. There is no place for manners. There is no time that you are to politely allow an opponent into "your house"! This lesson is NOT a condoning bad sportsmanship, (which I will not tolerate) but to be aggressive.

I allow kids to do whatever they want in practice as far as aggression goes, so what you would normally see during 1v1s are kids occasionally doing things like pulling shirts, elbows high, pulling each other and downright "de-cleating" their teammates.

This actually does two things. First, I always teach that "if you can see the numbers on your opponents back, don't touch them!" and they actually don't foul much during games, but still keep the same aggression as they have in practice. When they are confronted by very aggressive opponents, it doesn't faze them in the least. The other thing that it does is desensitizes the parents. Now that they have seen MUCH worse during practices, they say nothing during games, because fouls from opponents that are called or not called are for things that are WAY less than what they have seen weekly.

Some may not agree with this methodology, but I have been able successfully turn many otherwise timid kids into aggression machines.

As to communication:

One exercise you might want to try is to lay out an obstacle course (random cones) in a 10x10 or so, area. Blindfold one of the girls and have the girl who has the communication problem guide her teammate through the course. You can also pair up the girls, expand the grid and have them do this simultaneously.
rockhead

Registered: 05/20/09
Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #6 
Thanks for all the tips. I'll see if I can incorporate some of them.
However, here's the pickle- tryouts (trials) are beginning in this area. She really wants to get onto an elite level club. I've told her that to do so it's imperative that she communicate loudly and win every 60/40, win at least half of every 50/50 and occasionally win the 40/60's. She understands this mentally, but putting it into action is the issue.
She told me yesterday that she doesn't feel right about telling the established players what to do with the ball (call "ball" or "pressure") and she doesn't want to foul them or upset them during training scrimmages. In other words, she's really just too nice and an absolute joy to coach. I've told her that here in the US (for the most part) coaches of U-15 elite girls clubs are looking for fast, strong, aggressive players first, and then skill comes secondary ( evidently the coaches feel they can teach the skills easier than pay attention to strength and speed). I've seen this scenario played-out time and time again. I think this is backward, but I'm not choosing the players.
So, I really need to find a "quick fix"- more than likely some psychological trick to get her to fix her deficiencies. The fact that I've told her straight-up that if she doesn't talk and go after every 50/50 ball with grit and determination she will not make any elite team in the area hasn't really had a major effect on her.
I'd hate to see her loose out to a speedy fouling machine and then become discouraged and give-up the game we all love. Anyone have any luck with bribery, extortion or the like?
By the way, she's one of the youngest (a 95 by 3 days) but one of the strongest pound for pound (5'2" 115 lbs, can do 12 overhand pullups, 50 crunches in 60 seconds and knock-off 30 push-ups in 40 seconds- an ex-gymnast and a green belt in Kenpo Karate) so she has the physical tools.
mzbrand

Registered: 01/08/05
Posts: 1,721
Reply with quote  #7 
Can you practice with her?  1 v 1, you and her?  Sometimes that can make a difference quickly.  I find many aggressive players have a parent or sibling who constantly challenged them 1 on 1, even if its just trying to go through the bedroom door with a ball.

Also, is the problem aggressiveness or confidence?  If it's confidence I don't think there's a quick fix.  Instead, if she doesn't make it, I'd work on confidence above everything else next year.  Give her one position and let her get very comfortable there for awhile.  Then move her to a position where she has to contribute more.  Put her in situations where she can succeed, or in situations where she can't rely on someone else to bail her out.


CoachBobby

Registered: 09/11/08
Posts: 531
Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rockhead
Thanks for all the tips. I'll see if I can incorporate some of them.
However, here's the pickle- tryouts (trials) are beginning in this area. She really wants to get onto an elite level club. I've told her that to do so it's imperative that she communicate loudly and win every 60/40, win at least half of every 50/50 and occasionally win the 40/60's. She understands this mentally, but putting it into action is the issue.
She told me yesterday that she doesn't feel right about telling the established players what to do with the ball (call "ball" or "pressure") and she doesn't want to foul them or upset them during training scrimmages. In other words, she's really just too nice and an absolute joy to coach. I've told her that here in the US (for the most part) coaches of U-15 elite girls clubs are looking for fast, strong, aggressive players first, and then skill comes secondary ( evidently the coaches feel they can teach the skills easier than pay attention to strength and speed). I've seen this scenario played-out time and time again. I think this is backward, but I'm not choosing the players.
So, I really need to find a "quick fix"- more than likely some psychological trick to get her to fix her deficiencies. The fact that I've told her straight-up that if she doesn't talk and go after every 50/50 ball with grit and determination she will not make any elite team in the area hasn't really had a major effect on her.
I'd hate to see her loose out to a speedy fouling machine and then become discouraged and give-up the game we all love. Anyone have any luck with bribery, extortion or the like?
By the way, she's one of the youngest (a 95 by 3 days) but one of the strongest pound for pound (5'2" 115 lbs, can do 12 overhand pullups, 50 crunches in 60 seconds and knock-off 30 push-ups in 40 seconds- an ex-gymnast and a green belt in Kenpo Karate) so she has the physical tools.


She sounds like a beast!

For a "quick fix", bribery might work. Tell her you will get her something if she just knocks someone down in practice. She can apologize to her teammate later if she wants. You could also try hypnosis! heh

You know, a coach might see her size/speed/strength/skill and decide that aggression is something he can draw out of her or put her into a position that aggression isn't as important.
rockhead

Registered: 05/20/09
Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #9 
I've practiced with her numerous times 1v1 and she has no problem working me over- but it's not translating to the pitch. This may sound horrible, but last season I offered her $20.00 if she fouled someone (no intent to hurt), but she never collected- I upped it to $40 for a booking- she still didn't collect. Part of me is wondering if it's the whole Zen, karate thing to where she can't separate violence from aggressive physical contact.
Confidence- yes- that's a huge part of it. All of her previous coaches and trainers have said the same thing. She can do "Maradonas" and "Rivelinos" with her eyes closed among other "moves". In training she won't do them so as to not embarrass her teammates. (She did a triple scissor and blew by her opponent early in the year during a friendly and the other side called her names- she has never done it again).

Bird1812

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Registered: 05/06/04
Posts: 4,885
Reply with quote  #10 
It sounds like, she's going to have a very hard time transitioning to a new team if she's that concerned with what other girls think of her.  I've seen lots of good players (girls) who just withdraw into a shell, because they don't want to stand out and perhaps set themselves up for ridicule with their new teammates.  Some come around after a year with the team, but in the meantime everyone suffers.

Perhaps the best thing you can do is let her know that by not communicating to her teammates she's letting her team down. The girls on her current team might not be aware how important it is, but a higher level team should. Make her understand that her teammates do not have eyes in the back of their heads, so she must become those eyes to help her teammates play better.   I think coaches like Anson Dorrance, Lauren Gregg and Tony DiCicco have commented on this and because girls don't want to stand out from the group, but do want to contribute, they've played that card.  I seem to recall Lauren Gregg had a really good piece that was someone posted, maybe in this forum, that might be good for her to read and then understand.  If I can find it, I'll post it.

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Bird1812

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Registered: 05/06/04
Posts: 4,885
Reply with quote  #11 
Well, what do you know.  I did at search and found it in this forum and who do you think posted it.  Me! 

Quote:
Excerpt From Lauren Gregg's New Book
1999-05-02
by Tim Nash


Being Competitive

The following is excerpted with permission from “The Champion Within”, a new book by U.S. National Team assistant coach Lauren Gregg, a former All-America at UNC. The book is due out in June. To order your copy now, call JTC Sports at 1-800-551-9721 or go to http://www.jtcsports.com.

Which is more important to you, making friends or becoming the best player you possibly can? That’s a dilemma many girls face as they attempt to advance to the next level. However, it doesn’t have to be an either/or choice. You can do both.

“I remember growing up, I wanted to win, but not at all costs,” says Carla Overbeck. “You had friends on the team and you wanted everyone to like you. It was hard. It’s part mentality and part process. Just knowing that it’s okay if you beat this person because you are trying to make her better. When I got to school, I certainly did want to win, but I didn’t win a one-v-one my entire freshman year. I had to learn, and I learned from the other players around me. When you see someone going after it in practice, it’s contagious. When you see someone busting their hump, you want to do it too.”

You can put a hard, clean tackle on your best friend and remain buddies. You can destroy your teammate in a one-v-one drill and laugh about it later, and you can be destroyed in a team-wide competition without ending up hating your fellow players. This situation is a daily occurrence on the U.S. National Team, but at other levels being popular replaces often replaces being good. One of the best examples of friendly, yet fierce competition is the Tisha Venturini vs. Angela Kelly wars at University of North Carolina practices.

Angela Kelly, a four-year teammate and roommate of Tisha at Carolina, played for the Canadian National Team in the 1995 World Cup. For UNC, Tisha played attacking midfielder; Angie played defensive midfielder. In practices, they were frequently matched up against each other, often to the horror of their coach, Anson Dorrance. They would hammer each other to the point, where Dorrance would cringe at every thunderous tackle or violent mid-air collision. He just knew a season-ending injury would occur at any moment.

“Lots of girls are afraid if they make a hard tackle they are going to make the other girl mad,” says Tisha Venturini. “Or they’re afraid if they score a goal, their teammates will get mad. But me and Ange are great friends. We went at each other hard, very hard. But with us, it was more about respect than anything else. We were going to work each other hard and not give the other one an easy way out. A lot of little kids are ashamed of working their hardest or afraid of winning. But we go out and try to make the other player work hard, and to do that you have to give it your best. When we go against each other, we are like, ‘I’m going to give you my best shot to help you out.’”

There is no substitute for intensity. The most effective training environment is the one where players are going full-speed, tackling hard and trying to win every single competition with which they are faced. April Heinrichs, the former captain of the U.S. National Team and an All-America at the University of North Carolina, was the ultimate practice player. Whenever she stepped on the field, she was there to win. Even in what some would call meaningless situations, April was competing like a world championship was riding on it because, in her mind, it was.

Along the way, she angered some of her teammates with her aggressiveness in practice. “Why is she playing so hard,” they thought. “It’s just a practice.” But April’s play soon became the standard upon which the U.S. National Team and UNC were founded. “April refused to sacrifice her own level of excellence just to be popular and wonderfully mediocre,” says her former coach, Anson Dorrance. “I admired her tremendously for that. She became the standard that we tried to live by.”

You probably all know players like April, players who seem to give it their all and play all-out in seemingly meaningless situations. When you talk to your friends about these players, you usually say, “... but off the field, she’s really nice.” It boils down to setting standards for yourself and living by them.

“I think players have to be mature enough to understand that on the field it’s okay to be a different person,” says Cindy Parlow, who joined the UNC program as a 17-year-old. “It’s okay to go in hard for a tackle, knock someone down and not help them back up. They have to realize that it’s nothing personal. But off the field, you have to come back together again, be friends and forget about that tackle ... and maybe even joke about it. That’s just the level of maturity that you have to have.”

It is not an easy process to begin, but once you establish your standards, it becomes easier and eventually second-nature.

“I found it hard, especially when I came to Carolina,” says Cindy. “I didn’t know many of the players, so my first thought was to prove myself on the field, then people would respect me. I was very, very shy. I still am, and I didn’t talk much. When I came to school, I think people might have taken my shyness as stand-offish or arrogant.”

Laurie Schwoy had to prove herself almost immediately when she arrived at UNC. Much in the same way April Heinrichs did, Laurie established herself as someone who would not back down. “I was having a heading duel with a senior, and she said she won but she really didn’t,” says Laurie. “So we had some controversy.”

The easy thing for Laurie to do would have been to bow to the senior’s popularity and sink back into the group of intimidated freshmen. She chose another way. “Anson asked me if she won, and I said no,” remembers Laurie. “So we had another duel, and the whole team was chanting her name because she was the senior and I was the newcomer. It was scary, and I was nervous because they all wanted me to lose. They weren’t pulling for me. But you just have to go for it, be bold and show your personality.”

Laurie won the duel.

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"It's the quality of your effort that counts most and offers the greatest and most long-lasting satisfaction." - John Wooden
irnmadn88

Registered: 09/15/08
Posts: 3,479
Reply with quote  #12 
There are many conflicts to resolve on the pitch- in no particular order:

player vs opponent
player vs self
player vs elements
player vs pitch
player vs fans
player vs team mate
player vs coach
player vs referee
player vs ball

I think a discussion on how to perceive each of these may be in order... as in which of these a player has control and/or influence over and how best to deal with them.


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rockhead

Registered: 05/20/09
Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #13 
Bird1812,
Fantastic excerpt- it really addresses the issue, at least one of the major ones that she's having. I'll make sure she and her Mom get a copy. It sounds like a great book as well.
I have a copy of Mia Hamm's book lying around here somewhere. I didn't even think of recommending that one as well.
It sounds like I may have some options now:
1. Sumo soccer, lots of 1v1 with "fouling" encouraged
2. Goals, bribes, encouragement, positive reinforcement
3. Reading thoughts and comments from female pros
4. Watching her favorite players in action- see how they force contact and accept it as well.
Thanks everyone for the help and I'll let you know how it progresses.
skuramoto

Registered: 03/08/04
Posts: 502
Reply with quote  #14 
The other thought is to use her natural skills - speed, quickness, intelligence to win the ball.  Not everyone has to be a bone crunching tackler, or go clattering in on every 50/50 challenge.  If she can't win the first ball, have her read where the second ball is going (read where the opponents first touch is going to take the ball).

Hope this helps!

tony75

Registered: 09/21/07
Posts: 503
Reply with quote  #15 
It's more a question of assertiveness than agressiveness.

Get her to list her qualities, and you do likewise.  This will let her know what she's as good as anyone and has as much right to demand the ball, and make the game her own.

PRAISE HER, and as someone esle said give her some goals for each game.

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paulee

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Registered: 11/29/04
Posts: 7,622
Reply with quote  #16 
In one of Dorrances' books, he identifies a couple of different soccer personality types.  One of them is the warrior, and this is the player that he recruits to UNC.  Athletic, fearless, a ruthless competitor.  They win every 50/50 ball, they never back down from a challenge, and leave their blood on the field.  Then there is the artist, who can make the ball do anything they want to.  Then there is the visionary.  This player is aware of everything going on, they see the entire field.

It sounds like you've got a visionary that no-one can recognize, being blinded by warriors.  you're right, coaches over here in the girls game seek those warriors because it's a lot easier to develop them than it is to develop an artist or visionary.

Bird is correct, girls are much more concerned with fitting in with the group then they are in winning the game.

Take a look at some of the stuff from Pat Summit, she and Dorrance are in frequent communication, and they are in complete agreement that they want athletes, not girls.


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rockhead

Registered: 05/20/09
Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #17 
Without a doubt, around here anyway, the warrior is always chosen over the other two. I've attended hundreds of matches, tourneys and trials and have seen it time and time again.
Warriors first (especially if they are large, big boned and have some speed), artists second (only if they have pure, natural blazing speed) and visionaries last (they have to have at least some of the other two of too bad).
What else is interesting is that most of the elite level clubs have coaches from the UK.
I've seen girls with just a bare minimum of ball skill and no tactical awareness or vision be chosen for an elite level team based on size and the fact that if they can't win the ball cleanly, they foul every time. It's a shame really, but such is the state of the game in this area.
Kiery

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Registered: 02/17/09
Posts: 337
Reply with quote  #18 
This might not be what you are looking for but I would start with general assertivness.

at the start of the session/practice tell her to take the warm up or tell the other players to form a circle round her while she yells out the stretches to be done and then does the count an tells them to swap leg etc.

Then at the games you could ask to go over to the parents and ask the parents to move back or something and if she asks and nobody moves then tell her to go over again.

at the end of practice ask all the players about what went well and poorly in the session and start with her, ask her by name and wait for her answer to be loud enough for the team to hear.

you could also try the numbers game, where in a warm up job or movement you number the players and they have to shout out their number in the correct sequence. It is just a bit of fun but it loosens everyone up and if you can highlight the importance of the chain breaking down if nobody can hear her it might hit it home to her.

I think these small things all make a difference and nothing will change overnight and soon you will probably be thinking that she never shuts up
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