Coaches

In the beginning of AYSO, especially during the first three years, former experienced foreign players, now parents, provided AYSO with the highest caliber of coaching in AYSO. During the next few years, not only were experienced foreign players joining the ranks of the AYSO coaching staff, but in the expansion of the coaching staff was the addition of American-born coaches who were either assistants of the previous year coaching staff or former American sports' athletes who had a strong background of working as coaches with American youth. Many American experienced coaches, in varied sports, attended one of the first soccer coaching classes in 1969 at the overcrowded Knights of Columbus Hall in Redondo Beach. "Coaching instruction" videos from the British and Germany Embassies, located in the Los Angeles area, including the Pele series of coaching youth in soccer plus other famous foreign players with their coaching videos, continued through the early years. AYSO, from its beginning, was advantaged by quality coaching and when the AYSO graduates became parents and coaches, the best of creative soccer emerged.
 
It is important that we recognize the "value" of the foreign born coaches of the first years. Not only did they start AYSO with a high level of knowledge concerning the sport of soccer but they also had their own offspring on the team and, and as a result, a high level of "sportsmanship and fair play" dominated the early aggressive years. Naturally, each coach brought his "old country" specialties in the style of play and quite often the opposing coaches had their historical but different styles. The first years of AYSO Coaching resulted in a strong foundation of play. The coaching capabilities coupled with the different styles of play provided AYSO with a unique opportunity to develop an American Philosophy in coaching in both style and conduct. This opportunity was not to be lost in AYSO. The task during the first ten years was to develop an American style of play and with American born coaches who excelled in other sports in the USA, coupled with coaches of orther lands, this creative element was to advance the growth of AYSO coaching. 
 
Naturally, there would be some major initial hurdles such as coaches retention of players from year to year. While this was a coaches' major point of concern, the sixth year of AYSO resulted in major changes. The concern for the growth of each player in developing skills was of prime importance. For example, if a player was limited to the same coach for three years and the coach implemented but one "style of play" the player would be limited, especially if the coach was not the best qualified. The development of the AYSO Coaching philosophy was in its infancy and the best procedures for the advancement of the player took precedence over team play. The "no retention rule" in the sixth year found much opposition from coaches but common sense prevailed. It was the year of "formulated balancerd teams, no retention, increased playing time for everyone to play, everyone invited, etc., that initiated a "maximum number of players" returning after their first year of play. The AYSO coaching philosophy was advanced by the fact that some youth had optimum "growth periods" and the player had to be encouraged to continue until the maximum skills development period coincided with the "capabilities growth period" of the individual player. This factor became one of the most vital in the AYSO Philosophy of coaching, patience.
 
A management level review of the previous centuries stumbling blocks of affiliated youth soccer growth necessitated that the pitfalls be avoided in order to grow in quantity and quality. AYSO was blessed by having many nationalities in the coaching ranks with a flexible system for intermingling of the players from year to year and their experience of different styles. Quite often, the East coast experiernced coaches who migrated to the West Coast brought the solutions with them. The independence of AYSO, especially during the first ten years, brought forth an AYSO Philosophy of quality coaching 
 
With growth in the number of players, the coaching philosophy during the addition of new players included not only the development of the players' skills but the search for gifted athletes. Herein lies a major advantage of the AYSO Coaching philosophy and AYSO National management. Working together when Everyone is Invited became a hallmark of the AYSO Coaching philosophy. Not only was the players' skills being developed by the "no retention" rule, but also the search for gifted athletes accelerated the quality of play.  The addition of thousands of players each year throughout AYSO necessitated strong adherence to "player before sport" without losing any player's desire, hunger, and energy.   In recognizing the complexities in coaching a new team every year and the natural desire "to win," the AYSO Coaching philosophy resulted in a unique balance of coaching and parenting. After my many years of AYSO, the parenting factor became the more important ingredient in developing playing skills. The objective of a "happy player" resulted in a greater hunger to perform than the robotic player. It is the inherent factors of youth soccer, its un-regimented play, and the player's hunger that taught the players to be more creative in their play, individually and collectively. The "love" of the game with the "hunger and energy" coupled with "opportunity" allows the coach to extract the maximum of skills from each player. Coaching is an art with flexibility to teach and the coach with teaching abilities and parenting abilities will elevate all players resulting in the best developed players of skills attainable.
 
The first ten years of AYSO were vital not only in AYSO's ability to support the players ability to qualify for the next level of high school play thereby takling the first step of the American Way but also to provide the conditions that resulted in creative players innovating into an American style of play. The AYSO Philosophy of Coaching especially in its devolopment phase found it necessary to reach out to all regions and assist in creatively initiating advances in coaching. Special coaching schools were organized at the National level to assist at the regional level. Dettmar Cramer of national fame in Germany, England's Ken Aston of  the FIFA referee's staff, became one of the many foreign teachers that conducted AYSO coaching and refereeing schools and clinics throughout the regions of AYSO and soon the expertise gathered plus other foreign coaches and referees (Diego DeLeo) accelerated the coaching schools and introduced parents to the intricacies of coaching youth soccer. AYSO coaches required special skills in teaching soccer primarily because many players' parents were not experienced and their assistance (at home) was in a learning curve. The rapid growth of AYSO required special attention to coaching. The coaches who were former soccer players had an advantage and, quite often, the parent with excellent parenting skills would emerge on their enthusiasm and reflected an advantage in the play. The task for the Pioneers of AYSO was to combine all of the coaching requirements that would result in the best of play and in an American Style and in an  American Way.  
 
In review, the "no retention" ruling provided a unique benefit in that each player would evidence different styles of play and the combination therein would allow a young player to develop skills accordingly. While each nation will develop their own style, the eventual result in America will be a combination of the best of all.   
 
The graduates of AYSO soon played in high school, colleges, and professional teams and in the 1970s and 1980s, a cadre of coaches emerged as former AYSO players with their sons and daughters joined the AYSO coaching ranks. It was this balance of foreign born coaches and American born coaches that soon swelled the coaching ranks of AYSO during the early decades of AYSO.
 
AYSO National Office moved forward with coaching materials and coaching instructors to attain a high level of proficiency in coaching. The AYSO Positive coaching program developed a strong avenue in the growth of AYSO players and soon former AYSO players were competing in the Olympics and the World Cup.   A complete coaching program was necessitated by the addition of new teams especially in the newer regions.
 
The values obtained by positive coaching were always emphasized and with a rapid growing number of regions and players therein, AYSO National Office reached into both the techniques and tactics of multiple foreign advances to include in the AYSO Positive coaching program and the abilities of AYSO coaches provides a sound basic foundation for AYSO to promote the AYSO PHILOSOPHIES that have marked measurable growth in player skills.
 
It has always been the AYSO EVERYONE PLAYS philosophy from our very beginning and the action of play conducted with Balanced Teams that accelerated the growth of skills in AYSO play and locating that special gifted player from the source of Everyone Invited that not only provides the learning skills for our youth during their playing days but also fulfills the multiple purposes of AYSO that is evidenced today.  AYSO inhaled all the coaching advantages provided by the experienced former soccr players and the experienced American sports' players and, most importantly, the fact that the coach had a son or daughter on the team and the highest of interest by the coach was to teach "fair play" while developing the best of skills of all the players. In the first years, the transition from the "old approaches" in forming youth soccer coaches to a youth soccer organization that allowed the coaches to have EVERYONE PLAY on  BALANCED TEAMS and, most often, each player had the opportunities of a new coach each year through the no retention rule allowed for improvement in the search for the gifted players. The AYSO Philosophy of providing each coach with the training material and youth rules, that each player truly benefitted by, made the coaching experience an excellent adventure each year. The high percentage of returning coaches provided each player with an ever increasing "skills dfevelopment" program.  The evaluation of the AYSO Coaching Philosophy is best accomplished by the fact that a near-perfect number of returning players catapulted the growth process.        
 
Coaching in AYSO is a joy especially after watching our youth advance through the Divisions of playing levels and into the ranks of high school and college where their start in AYSO is our hallmark. At the foundation of AYSO, the coaching philosophy (quantity and quality) succeeded in not only a statistical success but also, most importamntly, a love of the game by all. It will not be long before the play of soccer in our high schools will posses the best of coaching with the best of results in team play and gifted players of highly developed skills. The developing formula for the American Way is well underway.    
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