Our Head Soccer Coach Discusses The 21st Century Skills You Learn Playing Sports At Summer Camp
We have some amazing coaches and teachers at our overnight camp in NH. We scour the earth each year to find the most talented, nurturing adults who not only understand how to teach their sport or art, but are skilled at helping our campers gain technical proficiency while also developed their vital 21st century skills – skills like leadership, creativity, resilience, critical thinking and collaboration. If you'd like to see a complete list of our activities please click here.
Over the next few weeks I will use the blog to introduce you to some of summer camp’s our amazing coaches and teachers. First in the series will be Tom Shanks, our head of soccer. Tom spends his winters at his home in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the United Kingdom, though his heart is really in Wilmot, NH.
Coaching qualifications - FA Level 2 coach (pursuing UEFA B license)
Coaching experience – U17 Kingston Park C.A.F.C. coach. U12 North-East of England district (Newcastle) manager and head coach. Previously coached in the UK, USA and Africa.
Other coaching attributes – fluent speaking of English, Spanish and French. Studying Portuguese.
Tom coaching a group of Evergreen soccer players
As a coach, the goal I set for myself every time I step onto the field is to make the game relevant, appropriate and enjoyable to all of the players I have in my care. Instead of focusing on the end goal of winning, my coaching focuses around the technical and tactical development of my players.
I believe that my role is to develop players technically. Examples would be teaching them how to pass a ball, how to control a ball, how to control a game, how to cross, how to head and how to shoot.
Once we have achieved these basic, fundamental skills, we introduce opposition and targets into practice sessions to encourage players to think about ‘when’ and ‘where’ to execute the skills they have been coached ‘how’ to do. This, therefore, develops not only their technical abilities but also their knowledge and understanding of the inner workings of the game. A successful soccer player needs to be able to work well with others, and make snap strategic decisions on the fly.
Because of this, I think it is crucial that we acknowledge that there are deep psychological roots in youth sports.
Young people grow physically in sports, but also emotionally, socially and psychologically, so I always ensure these areas are focused on as well in the soccer environment I create as a coach. At Camps Kenwood and Evergreen our goal is to make sure that our campers improve their 21st century skills, along with their sports skills. Sports become one of the many tools that we use to teach these important life skills. I use playing on a team as an opportunity to help children develop into teammates and leaders who can collaborate, think critically, and persevere through the challenges that come in sports, and ultimately, in life.
Kenwood campers giving it their all on the soccer field during Color War
Positive reinforcement and observation are crucial parts of my coaching style, and this helps to maintain high confidence amongst players. This facilitates an enjoyment factor amongst young soccer players and helps them to identify personal goals. Essentially, sports become the vehicle for personal development, instead imposing unrealistic expectations on players.
As a coach, seeing players who start the summer with varying abilities perform technically well on the field is incredibly rewarding. Observing players develop their knowledge and understanding of the game gives me great satisfaction, too. Watching my players improve their creativity, leadership and sense of responsibility is why I love coaching at Kenwood and Evergreen.
Tom running a soccer lesson for beginnners
When I see my players leave the field with a smile across their face, satisfied that they have accomplish something meaningful, having pushed themselves to be the best they possibly can be, and having achieved something perhaps they thought was out of their reach -- that is the best thing about being a coach.