Tips from One of the Best

UNC’s women soccer coach, Anson Dorrance is one of the best.  His teams have won 72% of the NCAA National Championship games!  He has developed some core values for his players and you may be able to use some of these ideas with your team.

So with these things in mind let’s look at where we stand and our teammates stand with our core values.  First, measure yourselves against all twelve of them:  “how many of them do you live and to what extent?”.  Then measure your teammates against them.  (Obviously the freshmen just do a self-evaluation for now.)  The grading scale is “1” to “4” with “1” being “an extraordinary example of this core value and “4” means this person rarely embodies this core value or is the embodiment of an “over-bred dog” or whatever the negative opposite extreme of that core value is . . .


  1. We don’t whine:  this tough individual can handle any situation and never complains about anything on or off the field.
  2. The truly extraordinary do something every day:  this individual has remarkable self-discipline, does the summer workout sheets from beginning to the end without omission or substitution and every day has a plan to do something to get better.
  3. And we want these four years of college to be rich, valuable and deep:  this is that focused individual that is here for the “right reason” to get an education.  She leads her life here with the proper balance and an orientation towards her intellectual growth, and against the highest public standards and most noble universal ideals, she makes good choices to best represent herself, her team, and her university.
  4. We work hard:  this individual is the “indefatigable human spirit” and never stops pushing herself.  She is absolutely relentless in training and in the match.
  5. We don’t freak out over ridiculous issues or live in fragile states of emotional catharsis or create crises where none should exist:  best example is the even-keeled stoic that is forever unflappable and resilient.  The worst example of this is the “over-bred dog” that high maintenance, overly sensitive “flower” that becomes unstable or volatile over nothing significant.
  6. We choose to be positive:  nothing can depress or upset this powerful and positive life force, no mood swings, not even negative circumstances affect this “rock”.
  7. We treat everyone with respect: this is that classy angel that goes out of her way to never separate herself from anyone or make anyone feel beneath her.
  8. We care about each other as teammates and as human beings:  this is that non-judgmental caring and inclusive friend that never says a negative thing about anyone and embraces everyone because of their humanity, with no elitist separation by academic class, social class, race, religious preference or sexual orientation.
  9. When we don’t play as much or we would like we are noble and still support the team and its mission:  this remarkably noble self sacrificing generous human being always places the team before herself.

10. We play for each other:  this is the kind of player that works herself to death covering for all her teammates in the toughest games.  Her effort and care (her verbal encouragement) make her a pleasure to play with and her selflessness on and off the field helps everyone around her.

11. We are well led:  this is a verbal leader on the field that is less concerned about her popularity and more concerned about holding everyone to their highest standards and driving her teammates to their potential.  This inspirational person competes all the time and demands that everyone else do as well!

12. We want our lives (and not just in soccer) to be never ending ascensions but for that to happen properly our fundamental attitude about life and our appreciation for it is critical:  this is that humble, gracious high achiever that is grateful for everything she has been given in life, and has a contagious generosity and optimism lights up a room just by walking into it.


3 Steps to Help Players Compete Better

You want your players to compete hard and to improve their effort and fight with each match.  Here are some ideas to share with your players when you talk to them through the fence.  There is a lot of information so pick and choice some keys points for each visit and or repeat a key point.

1. Encourage your players to view every point as an opportunity to compete.  A player can wear down an opponent by competing on every point but it can sometimes be tough for your players to compete when they are losing. Offer hope and encouragement with the idea that the next few points can turn a game or match around.  Have your players focus on the process (competing hard) and not the outcome (winning the point).

2.  Educate your players on what points are the swing points (30-15 and 15-30) and the significance of these situations. Emphasize controlling things that are controllable in these situations like staying positive with constructive self talk.

3. Remind your players not to beat themselves on big points.  The focus may be on hitting a larger target, increasing the amount of shots in a point or doing what they do best such as adding more spin or repeating a shot pattern.

Here are some practice drills from to help players compete better;

  • GC129 60% Tennis
  • GC234 Practice and Play


Your time at the fence is valuable and a coachable moment to help your players compete better, enjoy it and it can help you players learn to like to compete!

Simple Solutions

Simple Solutions

When talking to your player through the fence you want to suggest simple solutions. Often winning at most levels is just a matter of returning one more ball back over the net. It’s usually not a matter of hitting 8-10 shots but more like 3-5 shots a point.  Use short, easy to remember and positive ideas.  For example, if your player is hitting a lot of balls into the net you may suggest “aim higher over the net, think of a target window six feet above the net” rather than saying “stop hitting balls into the net.”   Here are a few practice drills from to emphasize beating the net;

  • GC143 Beat the Net
  • GPr173 3, 6 and 12

For players this is not as easy as it sounds because very often they would rather lose hitting the ball hard and hitting a few winners than to win by getting the ball back. However, if your players learn this strategy first they will be more successful and they can always and quickly add the power after they have developed some consistency. So have your players just get the ball back one more time to win one more match!

Through the Fence “Coachable Moments”

In this section we will share ideas and thoughts from coaches during matches.  What Coaches say through the fences to help their players learn and improve (and possibly even win the match)!

Focus on the Positive

I was talking with Coach Tom Lang from the DC area and he made a good point about a coachable moment.  One of his players had just lost the first set badly and Coach Lang heads to the fence.  The player starts telling him everything he is doing wrong but Tom stops him immediately and asks “what are you doing right”, “tell me something positive!”

This is a great coaching strategy for a couple of reasons.  First, you do not want your player to become too analytical trying to figure out what is going wrong, at least not during a match. Second by focusing on something positive you can build on one or two things going into the next set. Players will also increase their energy level by being positive.  Here are some of drills/games to use from to help emphasize staying positive and gaining some momentum;

  • GaC612 Two in a Row
  • GC125 Love the Battle