2008 id2 blog: New Jersey
the id2 blog: 2008
Zarephath, N.J., Regional Training Camp
SAT., OCT. 4 | 11:11 PM ET | QUICK UPDATE:
After returning from evening games, players were also able to listen to some words of wisdom from the second Hall of Famer to visit the New Jersey id2 camp: John Harkes.
A few pictures from the O'Reilly and Harkes visits are available on today's photo page, and more information, including quotes, an interview and additional photos, will be available in the near future.
Tomorrow's session - the last at the New Jersey id2 Regional Training Camp - takes us to a new venue: Rutgers University's Busch Campus soccer fields in nearby Piscataway.
SAT., OCT. 4 | 2:21 PM ET | HEATHER O'REILLY VISIT:
The girls' players were greeted by a special guest at this morning's training session, as current U.S. Women's National Team star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Heather O'Reilly paid a visit to the PDA Soccer Facility. She not only spoke to the players and answered questions after training - she also took the field. USSF Girls' Scout Mike Dickey ran the session, which consisted of some technical work, small-sided games and eventually a full-sided game. It was quite an experience for each player involved, as many never have the opportunity to share the field with a player of O'Reilly's caliber during a session under the direction of a USSF staff member.
O'Reilly passed around her gold medal from this summer's Beijing Olympics and also gave away a gold Women's National Team jersey to the first player to correctly answer her trivia question.
The question: What country is U.S. Women's National Soccer Team head coach Pia Sundhage originally from?
The answer: Sweden.
FRI., OCT. 3 | 9:44 PM ET | TIME FOR BED:
Three very competitive and entertaining games concluded the day's on-field sessions.
Teams 1 and 3 battled on Field 5, while Teams 2 and 4 played an exciting game of their own up on Field 1. Tomorrow's game action will pit Team 1 against Team 2 and Team 3 against Team 4. The two girls' teams also played on Field 5 in the finale of the evening's three games.
The first round of games on the boys' side were seen by the entire U.S. U-14 Boys' National Team coaching staff as well as USSF Head Academy Scout Tony Lepore, while USSF Girls' Scout Mike Dickey was in attendance for the duration of the girls' contest.
Gerry McKeown and Rory Dames addressed their respective groups at the hotel after dinner to bring the busy day to a close. Among the items discussed:
- the importance of off-the-ball movement
- proper diet, hydration and stretching/cool downs (tomorrow's morning session will be the players' fourth session in 48 hours)
- a recap of the evening games; all agreed that the games were fun to watch, as there was some good combination play and players were doing well to express themselves
USSF Head Academy Scout Tony Lepore also spoke to players about the youth national team system. More from Tony's lecture will be available soon, but here are a few highlights:
- the U-14 program is a feeder to the U-15 program, and the U-15 program is a feeder to the residency program (U-17)
- U-14s and U-15s on youth national teams are often viewed as a "pool of players" rather than as a team, due to the variance in players at youth national team camps throughout the year
- Lepore stressed the importance of working out on your own during spare time - a key component of individual player development and something that Tab Ramos also encouraged during his speech last night
FRI., OCT. 3 | 2:11 PM ET | BETWEEN SESSIONS:
This morning's training sessions are over and players are relaxing for a little bit before heading back out to the PDA Soccer Facility for their second and final on-field session of the day.
Players worked on possession this morning before playing small-sided games to goal, with keepers. Some teams also incorporated a few crossing and finishing drills into the session, and there were some fantastic finishes. Like this one:
Believe it or not, this went in the net (the goal is out of the picture to the left...that's right, his back is towards the goal).
Beginning at 3:15 p.m., players will head back out for some full-sided, competitive games.
Check back for details about the evening sessions and also tonight's guest speaker.
THU., OCT. 2 | 9:17 PM ET | RECAP OF DAY 1:
And we're live. The 2008 edition of the id2 Regional Training Camps has kicked off with the arrival of the 104 players that are participating in the New Jersey camp.
Check-in began at noon and the first round of training sessions commenced at 3:30 p.m. The boys were split into four separate teams - each with a different head staff coach, and Teams 1 and 2 took the field from 3:30-5 p.m., while Teams 3 and 4 played from 4-5:30 p.m. Thee 5-6:30 p.m girls' session concluded the day's action on the field.
All sessions today took place on PDA's turf fields, necessitated by heavy rains in the area over the past few days. The 10-field PDA Soccer Facility is extremely well-maintained, and it is anticipated that some training sessions over the next couple days will take place on the natural grass fields.
Following dinner, all players met with staff coaches as one big group to recap the day's sessions. The coaches sought to elicit feedback from the players and while also providing valuable advice.
Among the items id2 Boys' Director Gerry McKeown stressed was player creativity. McKeown stated that the importance of player creativity is often overlooked by many youth coaches, yet it is highly important to any player who desires to play at an elite level.
Similarly, McKeown and the rest of the staff coaches also spoke about players developing their own "technical toolbox", or a variety of moves that one can use to maneuver out of tight spaces or to beat a defender.
Among the most beneficial ways to develop a "technical toolbox" is by practicing 1 vs. 1 and 2 vs. 2 drills, and that is exactly what comprised a good portion of the day's sessions.
Those drills progressed to other small-sided games, first to cones and eventually to goal. Goalkeepers were separated for the first part of each session before becoming integrated with the field players for small-sided games to full-size goals.
Day 1 sessions were pretty free-flowing, with limited coaching instruction. Players were encouraged to take their opponents on and "show the coaches what you've got", so to speak. The players seemed to enjoy that freedom and hopefully will carry that mentality through games as well as those sessions that may be slightly more structured.
Players were also treated to a guest appearance by Tab Ramos, a three-time World Cup veteran and also a member of the Soccer Hall of Fame. More information about Tab's visit, including photos and highlights of his conversation with the players, is available here.