Monday, April 02, 2007

Soccer Success In Only 3 Games

Over in the ToTehMoon proper part of the site, I have a blurb about my girls playing over in the Chapel Hill United Advanced Development Program this spring for soccer.  However, I have not had a chance to write anything about it thus far.  This past weekend my girls played in their third game of the season and each of them scored a goal - their first each in this new league.  I have to guess that is a pretty impressive accomplishment.  When they attended their first practice, their coach seemed a little bit surprised that they were only 7 years old (and they just recently turned 7 at that).  I think he has been even more pleasantly surprised by how good they are.  They got to start in the first game (though I don't attach a lot of significance to starting in this age group - but the coach seemed to think it was of at least minor note).  Unfortunately, it was a game against a team from the U10 division.  I didn't think the other team was really that much better, but the physical size difference meant our team couldn't get any breaks going (though my girls managed to get off 3 shots combined on the opposing goal - maybe out of only 4 or 5 total for the team).

The second game got rained out.  I didn't get to attend the third game (sick with a norovirus as was one of my girls - eventually the whole family caught it), but our team won.  This past weekend's game was another win with a final score of 8-1.

As far as the switch from Graham Rec, I have some mixed feelings about it.  Overall I guess I'm pleased with Chapel Hill United.  Their Monday practices usually include a group component with another team working on some skills development.  However, it seems like all they've been doing is dribbling around in circles and my girls say they haven't learned anything from it.  The rest of the practice and the Wednesday practice includes some components of skills development and drills and scrimmage time.  I know in Graham Rec, they spent virtually no time on drills, spending practices almost entirely on scrimmage.  So, I think that is an improvement.

On the flip side, I don't think there is much work or emphasis during the scrimmages or games on positioning on the field.  At Graham Rec, we spent a lot of time on trying to teach the kids to stay "home" in their part of the field and get in a position to receive or deliver a pass.  Hardly any of that with Chapel Hill United.  Of course, it is obvious from watching all of the girls on the team that they have a better overall awareness of how not to herd up in a group (at least, not so tightly).  The other thing is that they all understand how to position themselves during situations like throw ins, goal kicks, corner kicks.  There were precious few kids at Graham Rec who seemed to understand that.

Last Friday the girls attended a skills session that the ADP sponsors.   I think there are supposed to be four of them, although the first one got rained out.  Anyway, during that session, the girls were taught and learned some new skills - a "scissors" move, a "double scissors", and a "step over".  They are still tentative about the moves, but I am really happy to see them getting instruction on skills like those.  That is the type of stuff that is beyond me being able to teach them.  Now I just have to work with them to get the moves to be natural.  The other thing would be to incorporate it into their gameplay.  However, I think to do that I need to get them to understand that sometimes you have to slow down in order to speed up.  Their natural tendency now is to just try to speed around or bull through the opposition.  Hopefully they'll get to the point where they understand that they need to use some moves and passes in some situations.  I'm sure it will come with time - everyone on the team (even in the league) seems to have the same issue.

Finally, one thing that really bugs me is that we don't have uniforms yet.  I do have to say Chapel Hill United has really dropped the ball on that.  Overall, I have not been "Wow'ed" by the organization of the league. The other issue of note is the atmosphere, especially during games.  There is nothing wrong with it - just different and it is taking some adjustment to get used to.  In the Graham league, it was very competitive.  Teams were on one side of the field, parents on the other.  It could get very tense.  Chapel Hill United is much more laid back and everyone is pretty much on the same side of the field mixed together - players and parents. In fact, it is sometimes so laid back that I note siblings going on the field during games as if a game is not going on.  I attribute that to the liberal Chapel Hill parents who have failed to teach their kids how to behave or respect what others are doing.  But that is another rant.

I had hoped to be able to post some pictures.  I snapped a few with my camera, a Nikon Coolpix 4600.  However, despite a plethora of settings, including one for sports, it is really inadequate for getting good shots.  I've been waiting for a while to get a good digital SLR.  I had my eyes on a Nikon D80 for the longest time, just waiting for the price to come down.  Unfortunately, that never happened before they came out with new models.  I suppose now my goal is to get a Nikon D40 (the D100 is just too expensive for me).  Maybe then I can get some good action shots.

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