Personal Best Performance Philosophy: The Academy Coaching Philosophy The Personal Best philosophy offers a more nuanced approach to the idea of coaching youth than many competition based programs have offered in the past. The Academy has never been a must win club, and though that has created challenges, the philosophy of late has shown some early success. The Academy coaches are focused on coaching either the player or the team, never the game. The idea is that every individual player is to be seen as a changeable, teachable student. The approach is intended to teach them that they can learn to play as an individual and as a member of a team. By using three steps: 1) Goal setting, 2) Work Cycle, and 3) Peak Performance, the player learns a skill that will be applied to soccer, AND applies beyond soccer. They are encouraged to see that they can control their development. They can be in charge (or not) to achieve results. The idea of the fun runs grew out of the concept of Personal Best and Goal Setting. Starting on March 1 and 2, the Academy Coaching Staff have two runs set for players that are timed and results recorded. One run is a 40 yard sprint; the other is a longer distance, ¼ mile. The Fitness Coordinator (FC) is responsible to see that the players practice at these two runs periodically throughout the season, looking to improve times. The players can get timed along the bike path while the teams are in training. The player and the coach know the times, not the parents, not the friends, so whether there is any improvement is up to the player to share. Beyond the fun runs coaches will be responsible for charting the tallies in two soccer activities, juggling and penalty kick shooting. So the Academy Coaching Mission has really evolved on the player level to be about Personal Best: Goal Setting, Work Cycle; Peak Performance. Soccer is the vehicle through which we encourage players to grow as human beings. This philosophy can extend to all activities one chooses to pursue. Personal Best: Idea that we are all as moldable as clay, and we commit to becoming our own potter. Goal Setting: Process by which we identify how we would like to grow. It is the growth plan. Work Cycle: Regimen/Schedule/Whatever the player decides is appropriate to get the outcome that is selected. This can vary depending on the player from working on the psychology or nutrition of peak performance to training at the runs on a weekly basis. For soccer juggling this could involve daily juggling and keeping a count, working toward the goal… Peak Performance: This is the Payoff as in, setting a new juggling record, sprinting a faster 40, The aim is for the cycle to culminate in a performance, representing the peak–Competition Date, Game Day, Tournament, Test–then entering a mode of Recovery before the cycle repeats. Recovery: Essential to the notion of personal best, recovery establishes a physical and mental base from which to recuperate from the physical and emotional outlay demanded of Peak Performance. Recovery is essentially a rebounding from the “high” of Peak Performance to the metaphorical low of Goal setting. Recovery allows for the intellectual charting that is the plan for growth. Healing/Growth: Whether called healing or growth, the rendition of ourselves prior to the emotional and physical expenditure of sport, changes in a way when we engage in the cycle of preparation and performance. With the appropriate intention, this change can be likened to healing. Endorphins and that emotional “high” that athletes experience, manifest to us as something more than merely chemicals or a mood. The state of being has evolved, when sport is aimed at growth.