Surf SC’s Senior Director of Coaching Josh Henderson on How Coaches Can Raise the Level of Development
San Diego Surf SC is dedicated to developing top youth soccer players who are willing to go the distance in order to achieve success. Many youth soccer players dream of representing their country, becoming a professional player and or joining a college roster — with a 95% college scholarship rate among their top teams and more than 20 homegrown players being called up recently for National Team pools — the club is known for helping dreams turn into realities.
Youth Soccer News: San Diego Surf SC is one of the top competitive youth soccer clubs in the nation with a powerful history of developing elite talent dating back 40 years. In fact, 2017 is Surf SC’s 40th Anniversary of training top youth soccer players.
Dedicated to providing its players with the best possible training environment and talented coaching, Surf SC is a name internationally recognized and respected. Drawing top talent from the Southern California area, San Diego Surf SC players usually train on the 80-acre property known as the Del Mar Polo Fields — the same glorious fields as where the famed Surf Cup is held.
While there are 68 San Diego Surf SC teams, there are more than 10,000 players across America wear the Surf SC jersey. The Surf SC’s affiliate program — which provides player development curriculum — has grown steadily and now encompasses eleven affiliate clubs in five states.
What makes Surf SC so successful at developing youth players? Senior Director of Coaching and Surf SC Vice President Josh Henderson speaks out on how the club is pushing the boundaries to raise the level of development for all its players.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the role of a coach?
Josh Henderson: It is the responsibility of a coach to create an environment where children can excel.
- To always be prepared for training.
- To prepare sessions that will fluctuate in tempo and ensure that correct learning is taking place.
- To show patience to both the players and their families.
- To create self-motivated players who meet the needs of the team.
- To be respectful, observant and imaginative.
- To provide parents with honest feedback whenever possible regarding ONLY your child.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is your role at Surf SC?
Josh Henderson: My job is to help our coaches maintain these standards, further the education of our coaches and …
provide a place where coaches can ask questions.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why do people think winning sometimes comes at the cost of player development?
Josh Henderson: It always depends on how winning is achieved.
It is well known at the younger ages that a team can be very successful by limiting the chances to make mistakes by the “weaker players” in the defensive third by just kicking the ball forward at every chance with no real purpose.
Pair this philosophy with an early developed athletic player up front and the results can be very rewarding.
Unfortunately, this philosophy hurts most, if not all, the players at the older ages.
There are more and more clubs that have tried to leave this philosophy behind for more progressive ideas but the United States is still in the infancy of this phase.
Diane Scavuzzo: How would you describe the culture of the club?
Josh Henderson: The culture at Surf SC is very healthy. We have been focused on style-of-play for the year 2017.
At Surf SC, we are doing everything we can to become as player-centered as possible.
Everything from our club’s training session to the style of play as well as creating a positive environment and our the facilities are all focused on developing players. These all need to be geared to what is best for each and every player. This is very different than coaching teams to win games on the weekend.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are the goals for developing youth soccer players at Surf SC?
Josh Henderson: Our goals for players are simple — we are a player-centered club that is based on our Principles of Play.
We teach and develop players that can play through the phases of play — on both the attacking and defensive side of the ball — so that they continue to be prepared for the next level.
The next year of play could be at Surf, a call up to the U.S. Soccer National team or moving onto college or becoming a professional player. Our goal is to provide players with the training and guidance to help them reach their dreams.
Diane Scavuzzo: What does it take to be a great impact player?
Josh Henderson: Every player wants to have an impact on the game at every level.
When you are a young player — you are learning, exploring, trying to figure out what you can do and what you can’t.
As you get older and you start to play at the higher levels, the impact that you have as a player will be directly related to how well one played their role within the game.
Ultimately, impact players all share these same characteristics: passion, discipline, creativity and the ability to solve problems.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the role of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy?
Josh Henderson: Simple — preparation and exposure!
Surf SC is one of the original U.S. Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) clubs. The nature of the USSDA, which is the highest level of play possible in the nation with 4 days a week training and 35+ games a year, prepares our players to play at a high level — and, to be ready for the next level.
We have just completed our Double PASS review — all MLS Academies and several of the top youth clubs in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy went through this process of evaluation. It was a great experience and our club performed extremely well. It is all about increasing the quality of the game.
The USSDA provides amazing amounts of exposure with US Soccer scouts at most of the games and catering to college coaches at events like the fall and summer showcases.
Diane Scavuzzo: Surf SC is one of the very few youth soccer clubs to offer the Girls DA and ECNL – can you tell us the difference?
Josh Henderson: I think time will tell the difference, but we are lucky to be a part of the two best girls leagues in the United States and want to be the most competitive club in both, developing the best players in each league.
Diane Scavuzzo: Does Surf SC scholarship talented players in need?
Josh Henderson: Yes, of course and our scholarships are based upon financial need.
Diane Scavuzzo: What if a player is not on a US Development or ECNL team?
Josh Henderson: Every player at Surf SC is important and our goal is to provide a path so each kid can work to reach their own individual goals. Surf SC is very fortunate to have a large player pool.
We have highly talented coaches responsible for every level team.
Diane Scavuzzo: What inspires you?
Josh Henderson: The process of achieving all my goals inspires me every day.
Diane Scavuzzo: When did you first start playing soccer?
Josh Henderson: Living in Wichita, Kansas, my parents would take me to the local park where there was an indoor soccer player who played for the Wichita Wings — I would join in and play. I was 4 years old at the time and from that point on, soccer has been in my life.
My first soccer team at AYSO was called the Baton Rouge Wings! In Baton Rouge, my biggest challenge as a kid was finding other kids that wanted to play soccer. These days it is hard to find a street or corner that doesn’t have a soccer field with kids playing.
Diane Scavuzzo: Who is the greatest pro player today?
Josh Henderson: Antoine Griezmann for Atletico Madrid. He displays all the qualities that we want our kids to display. Passion, discipline, creativity and problem solving. He does this at the highest level in the world with a team that doesn’t have the same financial abilities as the traditional big clubs.
Diane Scavuzzo: Who is your favorite soccer team? Who do you root for behind closed doors?