Club Philosophy

Club Philosophy

Club Philosophy

Polaris Soccer Club Philosophy

(1) The Capacity to Learn

  • A Challenging Curriculum: In our youngest competitive age groups, a solid foundation must be built. The Directors in this club are in agreement that too often, young children are not given enough credit for their capacity to learn. Although there are limitations to the way children see things, it should be the effort of coaches to ensure players learn to their full capacity over cautiously delivering information assuming a child cannot comprehend an idea. This concept will be the same in all our age groups.

(2) Communication

  • Terminology: Coaches must infuse their coaching with the terminology detailed in this document. For example, using the term “Defender” can be limiting for players, whereas using the positional number (#2,#3) reflects a position that has roles both in and out of possession.
  • The Literal Nature of Young Players: Be aware that when you tell a player: “Next time, pass in that situation.” The “situation” they experienced will be more broad than what you saw. You may have meant: “When you’re along the goal line, at a tight angle from the goal, with a goalkeeper hugging her near post, and a teammate arriving in support.” That player will often hear the original comment as: “Next time you could shoot, pass instead.”
  • "Right" and "Wrong": Coaches need to be cautious when describing an action as “wrong.” There are details that may be preferred or encouraged by a club / coach, but that doesn’t make them “right.” There is a coaching urban legend of a coach who told a player using the outside of his foot to pass, that his technique was wrong, despite the fact each pass was accurate / on the ground / crisp. Do not limit a child’s development by eliminating actions that are creative.
  • Language: Coaches will use appropriate language while representing Polaris SC.
  • Players, Learning to Communicate: Communication is a skill just like dribbling, passing, shooting, etc. It must be practiced and players must be given allowance to get it wrong at times when speaking to coaches, teammates, referees, and parents.
  • Communication with the Parent Group: Coaches will communicate regularly with families to share updates, thoughts on progress, etc. This can include meetings in person at the end of training or e-mail.

(3) The Coaching Focus (Foci)

  • Player Welfare: Polaris SC is committed to providing an emotionally and physically safe environment for young players to develop within and outside the confines of sport.
    • The club will follow all mandated return to play protocols and will always err on the side of caution when considering whether an athlete is ready to return.
  • Improvement: It is your goal each day, each season, each year, to ensure players are improving.
    • A coach’s success will be based on (among other things) the potential for his/her players to be promoted to a higher team within the club, another club, and/or their next level of play (ECNL, High School, College).
  • Technical Proficiency: The club is dedicated to helping develop more creative, technically proficient players.
  • Education in Tactics and More: A large portion of the development of players in Polaris SC will include education on tactics, varying styles of play, nutrition, conditioning, college planning, and much more. Players will experience classroom and field sessions as well as support from online supplemental materials and social media challenges.
    • Sessions will be offered to players and parents.
    • The club will also put an emphasis on Coach Education to ensure our staff is keeping up with current trends in coaching and the game itself.
  • Fun: Our players will want to return to the club because they enjoy the experience. Our hope is to help foster a love of the game within all our families.
    • A portion of a coach’s evaluation will be based on the interest level of all players from his/her team to return to the sport, and our club.
  • Playing to Win: The aim of a competitive club is to promote competition, an effort to win and to have teams promoted to the next division or league.
    • We will do so however, using the players selected for each team in each game.
    • Potential exceptions to established rotations include: Tournament Finals, matches for advancement / promotion, and such.
  • Effort: Coaches must focus on effort over outcome when dealing with players in this club, especially at the youngest age groups. The game is more complex than simply a scenario where winning means you played well and losing means you played poorly. Players can make all the right decisions and be subject to a tremendous save by an opposing Goalkeeper. Your immediate reaction in this moment (coaches and parents) is paramount to the long term development of a player. Your focus must be on the process, the decision(s) made.
  • Hard Work: Hard work needs to be encouraged over results. From our coaches to our parents, we need to emphasize and reward players for working hard. After a match, regardless of the outcome, if the players worked hard they need to hear that first. If they took risks, that needs to be celebrated. If they played with confidence, it needs to be positively noted.
  • Elimination of “Fear of Failure:” Polaris SC will support decision making and risk taking among players. It will be the goal to get parents quickly in line.
    • Shooting and missing is not failure. Not shooting when the situation says “shoot,” is the error. The same is true for taking an opponent on 1v1, playing a “Killer Ball,” etc.
  • Realistic Views on Performance: On the smallest competitive fields, with the youngest competitive players, the majority of matches will be decided before the game kicks off. The team with the tallest, strongest, fastest player(s) will often win.
  • Ball-Centered Approach: Players are more engaged when training with the ball involved.
    • Polaris SC coaches are encouraged to incorporate a ball as a stimulus in as many activities as possible during training sessions.
  • Interactive Nature: Polaris SC will support a guided discovery style of learning.
    • Our coaches will ask questions (and promote responses) to guide our players to their own learning of the concepts we promote.
  • Character Building: It is important that our players show respect for teammates, coaches, the parent group, referees, tournament officials, etc.
    • It will be a goal of the club that we leave spaces cleaner than they were when we arrived (benches, locker rooms, parent sidelines, stands, etc.)
    • The inter-club atmosphere will be a focus from directors. It is challenging for kids to feel a part of the group when they travel to and from events with little interaction beyond that. We hope to have older players impacting the development of younger players, teams on different levels within the same age groups working cooperatively, and interactions throughout the club that go beyond matches.
    • Polaris SC players will (when possible) contribute to local community service projects.
  • Technology:
    • Drones, Action Cameras. The club is excited about the use of popular cameras for new perspectives on play. We will be using footage from training and games in video review sessions.
    • GPS Trackers. It will be our goal to acquire GPS trackers for players as soon as the technology is affordable within the club.
    • Online Interactions. With the growth of Zoom and live social media opportunities, Polaris SC will take advantage of these avenues to share education opportunities.
  • Multi-Sport Athletes: Our entire staff supports participation of players in multiple sports. In each situation, the club will consider the overall impact of events that overlap with soccer to best serve the team as a whole. The players will be permitted to participate in another sport (or equivalent event such as Dance, Choir, Religious Classes, etc.) as long as soccer is chosen when a conflict arises.
    • Exceptions include: Coach permission for one-off events or coach permission for multiple conflicts only if shared before an offer for a team is made during the tryout process.

(4) Style of Play

  • The Principles of Play provide a long standing, consistent base for teaching the game. They remain true regardless of a team’s preferred style of play. Within the club, there will be a focus on ensuring players understand the following principles to play.
    • In Possession (Attacking): Penetration, Support, Width, Mobility, Improvisation
    • Out of Possession (Defending): Pressure, Cover, Depth, Balance, Compactness
  • Assertive Creation of Goal Scoring Opportunities: We all want to see goals and we will promote players taking chances and finishing progression toward goal with confidence.
    • Upon winning possession, players will first consider “can I score?” “Can I give the ball to someone who can score?” “Can I go forward?”
  • Possession With A Purpose 
    • Keeping possession simply for the sake keeping possession is not enough to stake the claim that we play “good soccer.” Our actions must have a deeper meaning than simply “finding feet.” We need to make decisions based on the moment, the over-arching goals for the match, and every moment between. We need to be able to play at different rhythms and over varied spaces, but most importantly know why we are playing that way.
  • Set Pieces 
    • Set Pieces account for more than 25% of goals and our players will develop a thorough knowledge of Corners, Throw-Ins, Free Kicks, Goal Kicks, etc., both in and out of possession.
  • Effective Decision Making / Confidence 
    • Building out of the back will be based on the situation presented to players.
      • We will train to build through dribbling, short passes, intermediate passes, and long passes. Players will be taught to read the situation and will be given the freedom to choose the right course of action, with a focus on “Possession with a Purpose.”
    • Players will view coaching points as advice. In the end, they will own their decisions with the support of coaches.
    • Players will often be asked to explain how they came about their decisions.
  • The Four Moments of The Game: The game is often described as repeating actions surrounding four specific moments: In Possession, Out of Possession, Transition into Possession, Transition Out of Possession.
    • Many professional coaches feel an understanding of the transitional moments are the most important in the modern game. Our players will view these moments as important.
    • Some teams are developed completely around the concept of Counter-Attacking. This is an intentional effort to allow an opponent to have possession until arriving into specific spaces, then quickly countering upon winning possession. Our teams will understand this style, whether or not we choose to employ it.
    • In reaction to the growth of a counter-attacking style, many teams now are Counter-Pressing. That is to say, instead of dropping off upon losing possession to protect the space behind our Line of Defense, teams will Press quickly to prevent the opponent from Counter-Attacking.
    • Each of the concepts above show how important it is for players to understand “Transition.”