Sporting CT

Taking a Holistic approach to player development

Non-Profit soccer club Middletown, CT


Do you like to be healthy?  If you want to stay healthy you can take vitamins for the following; fiber, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B1, copper, potassium, and calcium.  These would help your immune system to be healthy. 


You can take a bite of a perfectly ripe juicy orange. 

I was listening to a podcast from “The Way of Champions “as I drove to New York last weekend.  John O’Sullivan is a friend who I met in Barcelona and he mentioned this orange concept.  Not everyone likes oranges but taking vitamins is the worst.

We are working to build the perfect orange.

The club atmosphere is very interesting in youth soccer.  You see some programs that are win now, win today because the winning is their marketing.  You have other clubs that believe it is all about development and will to a fault sacrifice results to their ideals when it comes to the game of soccer.  In my mind, it is a balance.  I don’t believe in winning ugly just to get a result at the youngest age groups, however, I do believe that winning is an important skill. 

We want to build 3 things with every player that we coach – this was originally from the TOVO Academy coaching course, but I believe in it wholeheartedly. 

1 - Cognition – decision making requires thinking.  Problem-solving is the key to unlock our opponent.  Players even at the youngest ages are awesome with pattern recognition and we can help them to recognize these patterns and how to respond based on that knowledge.  The problem that we see is that we isolate the skills and the decision making and split them into two buckets.  This does not help the player with how to use a specific skill to solve a specific problem.  We are working on new training methods that put the skill-building and problem-solving together.   We look for our coaches to add elements of decision making to every portion of training.  This helps the players to think about these situations and the best outcomes. 

2 – Competence -  Having the ability to hit a clean pass with no pressure is important, however if you cannot do it while moving, it means nothing.  When we think about competence, we go beyond just the learning of the skills and move to the execution of them.  If we use a pass as an example there are a lot of factors that go into it.  Does the pass have the correct weight, is it to the correct foot?  Does it give the receiving player a chance to be successful?  Does it help them to be successful?  All of these items go into the type of competence we want to build with each player.  We want to build them in a game setting at the fastest speed the player is capable of.

3- Character – What is the player like when the going gets tough?  We feel that we can directly impact the character of these young players.  I have often had a conversation with parents where they say “when you tell him he will listen” We hope this can be the same for character building.  We will share this journey with our families and work to build players of strong character that will show through when the strain happens. 

When we put all of these parts of the club together we start to build the perfect orange having all the important, necessary elements to sustain and thrive. 

What comes next is the taste.  This for me is the atmosphere that is created around the club and that takes into account all the awesome members.  We recognize that parents are trusting us with their most prized possession and we take that seriously.  We want to have an environment that is inviting, but at the same time, pushes the players to be the best that they can be.  We want it to be FUN –  this is why we play the game.  We also realize that connection is the life blood of everything that we do.  We want to connect with our players and our parents so that the relationship builds on all sides.  This is how we approach every relationship.

The last part of the perfect orange is the skin.  Not only does the skin make us allow aware that we are about to eat a tasty orange but it also protects the orange if it falls (or gets thrown like in my house).  We market our club so that people know what they are going to get from us when they join our membership.  We wear the kit and play a certain style across all of our teams so that we can be recognized as a club.  We protect the players by putting them in the environment that will push them but also allow them to be successful.  We try not to throw them in the deep end before they can swim, and we make sure they are properly educated to what the next challenge will look like.

I don’t claim that we have a perfect orange but I do believe we are making strides in the correct direction.

Author, Zach Eddinger


Sporting CT

P.O.Box 852

Middletown, CT 06457