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Summer Coaching Symposium: Day 1

In what could end up as one of the organization’s biggest event yet, NorCal hosted the first day of the 2019 Summer Coaching Symposium Friday in Stanford as hundreds of coaches learned from some a slate of world class clinicians.

After watching much of the U.S. Women’s big 2-1 win over France, NorCal Vice President and co founder Shawn Blakeman got the festivities underway with a small speech alongside representatives from the DFB, the San Jose Earthquakes, and Stanford.

“The passion that we have for the game, for football, and for those involved in continuing education and being able to bring top notch football clinicians to our community is huge because it’s not always easy to go over to Europe or South America to experience the wonderful football cultures that are going on,” Blakeman said. “Open up your minds and open up your notebooks and let’s enjoy these three days.”

And with that it was off as Inter Milan Technical Director Marco Monti began his first field session with an exercise designed to teach youth players to cognitively create solutions in creating space, while German National Team Fitness Coach Nicklas Dietrich began the first classroom lesson by asking a simple question: “what is performance?”

After accepting a few answers, he defined what he thought performance was, something that has helped Germany enjoy one of the most successful international runs over the past few years.

“For me in soccer, it’s not really strength and conditioning, for me it’s 90 minutes of playing soccer at a high quality, intense level with everything the game needs,” he said. “I think you can’t really separate these things from each other soccer is a great conditioning program when you do it the right way.”

Dietrich then headed out to the pitch to show these philosophies in action and in stepped Barcelona Youth Goalkeepers Coach Ricard Segarra Aragay, who shared his club’s unique thoughts on goalkeeping, mostly involving the idea that goalkeepers should be more involved in build up than they typically have been in the history of the game.

“Goalkeepers don’t just keep the ball out of the net, they’re also players,” Aragay said. “There are 11 players on the field.”

For him, two things were key: what to do when your team has the ball and what to do when your team doesn’t.

Regarding the former, Aragay explained that in order to become a crisp and smart passer at the top level, it requires a large learning curve, but that having essentially 11 field players is a big enough advantage that it’s worth it.

“If our keeper is good at this, it’s like playing 11 on 10,” he said. “Distribution starts with the keeper…but to reach this level, you must have the patience to allow many goals and make many mistakes when you’re young.”

Finally, the day concluded with Aragay’s field session alongside a panel of San Jose Earthquakes General Manager Jesse Fioranelli, Technical Director Chris Leitch, and Director of Methodology Alex Covelo, who explained how the club has changed so much in just the past few years.

Fioranelli explained that it usually takes 60-90 days for a person to change a habit and how that process has guided their youth development system to produce homegrown players such as Tommy Thompson, Cade Cowell, and Nick Lima.

“Imagine what it takes for one coach, coaching 22-25 kids to change one habit,” he said. “We are trying to expedite that process. Our job is to put the next generation of Bay Area talent onto the field in a position to succeed.”