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There Is No I In Team, But Maybe There Should Be

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Santa Clara University Head Women’s Soccer Coach Jerry Smith (@SCUJerrySmith), a PCA National Advisory Board Member, has established a standard of excellence few can match, ranking as one of the five winningest women’s soccer coaches in NCAA Division I history.

Here, Smith says the biggest mistake coaches make is "trying to speak to the team too often and not talking to the individuals enough" and acknowledges noticing "glazed-over eyes" when he talks too much to the whole team at once. He puts a lot of emphasis on the individual meeting to connect with his athletes 1-on-1. In these meetings he's able to build trust and show that he cares, which allows him to be demanding because deep down they know he has their best interest in mind.

Smith understands that youth coaches may not have time for individual meetings like he does at the collegiate level, but he still advises to find 20-30 seconds for players. He suggests youth coaches not miss opportunities to connect with players, during warm-ups or in between drills, or even walking to and from the field. Use this time to give advice and set goals for your individual athletes. Spending more time connecting on an individual level will have a bigger impact than too many full-team meetings or lectures.