Favorite Books from the Director of Coaching

As you settle in for the holiday season and take an extended break from the soccer pitch, I wanted to let you know how grateful I am for the work you do to make the children’s soccer experience such a positive one. I’m humbled by the hours each of you volunteer and feel very fortunate to serve as your Director of Coaching.

In a previous blog piece I had mentioned that I typically spend much of my “off-seasons” recharging the batteries for the coming year and going back through new and old videos, past curriculums, books, etc. in an effort to refine and enhance the product and experience we offer our players. Several coaches asked me to offer some recommendations on my personal favorites so here goes:

Most Impactful Book on Coaching Perspective

InSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives by Joe Ehrmann

“One of the great myths in America is that sports build character. They can and they should. Indeed, sports may be the perfect venue in which to build character. But sports don’t build character unless a coach possesses character and intentionally teaches it. Sports can team with ethics and character and spirituality; virtuous coaching can integrate the body with the heart, the mind, and the soul.”
~ Joe Ehrmann

This is a very, very powerful book. Ehrmann believes there are two types of coaches, transactional (coach first, team second) and transformational (nurturing and transformational with the coaches needs met by meeting the needs of the players). He challenges the modern definition of what it means to be a man and how we can use sports as a platform to make a better society. At times a very difficult read due to personal experiences the author shares, but a really wonderful book on perspective and how important the role of coach and mentor is in society.

Three Favorite Soccer Books:

The Italian Job: A Journey to the Heart of Two Great Footballing Cultures by Gianluca Vialli and Gabriel Marcotti

“A good manager has to have convictions, but those convictions must not be certainties. What’s the difference? A certainty is immutable, it’s a dogma. A conviction is a belief that, based on the circumstances, may or may not change. It’s something on which you can build. As you grow as a manager, you learn and better yourself and re-evaluate your convictions. What may have been true before may no longer be true now. And so, because you have convictions and not certainties, you are ready to change your system. It may be because your opponents have started playing in a certain way or because you have a different set of players or maybe the weather conditions. Whatever it is, being able to change your convictions is a sign of intelligence. I know it’s a cliché, but, ultimately, the great coach is the one whose formation maximizes the strengths of his players.”
~ Marcello Lippi

This book compares soccer culture and player development philosophies on the European Continent vs Great Britian. Some wonderful insights into the game from many of the top coaches in the profession (Lippi, Mourinho, Ferguson, Wenger, Capello, etc.).

Ajax Barcelona Cruyff: The ABC of an Obstinate Maestro Frits By Barend and Henk Van Dorp

“I never practice tricks. I play very simply. That’s what it’s all about. Playing simple football is the hardest thing. That’s the problem of all you trainers. Simple play is also the most beautiful. How often do you see a pass of more than 40 metres when 20 metres is enough? Or a one-two in the penalty area when there are seven people around you when a simple wide pass around the seven would be a solution? The solution that seems the simplest is in fact the most difficult one.”
~ Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff is one of the most influential players, coaches and thinkers in the game’s history.  He was the centerpiece to Rinus Michaels Dutch teams that played “total football” and helped establish the Barcelona Academy as well as being Pep Guardiola’s coach at Barca. His influence is widespread in the modern game. This book came about from interviews with Cruyff over three decades as both a player and manager and was released as a celebration of his 50th birthday. You cannot help gaining a deeper knowledge of the game by reading this book.

Teambuilding: the road to success by Rinus Michels

“Team tactical coaching demands that the coach is able to break down and analyze the match in team tactical components. In other words, how the “football orchestra” operates harmonically in defense, during the build-up and in the attack. You must be able to “read the game”; thus competently analyzing is a must… Which training exercises should I choose to work on our shortcomings? How can I perfect the team tactical guidelines and thus the tactical variations? How can I make my training as meaningful as possible?”
~ Rinus Michels

If you like a dry book, this one’s for you! This book really opened my eyes to all the various aspects of coaching and the tactical considerations for a coach to consider when working with a high level team. I only include this on my list since it is a book I would return to each preseason as a refresher when I coached at the college level. It would be totally inappropriate for a coach that isn’t working in the 11v11 format to try to apply these concepts, but I wanted to include Michels’ book on my list since it had a great impact on me and how I view the game.

Best Take on Talent Identification

The Gold Mine Effect: Crack the Secrets of High Performance by Rasmus Ankersen

“Athletes don’t respond well to too much information. You must only give them a minimum. If one of my athletes has a problem I don’t necessarily tell them so. Instead I get them to train in a way that I think will solve it, without making them aware of it. The last thing I want them to think ahead of an important competition is that they have a problem. There is a feel good factor you have to be aware of.”
~ Colm O’Connell “Godfather of Kenyan Running”

“In the 2010/11 Champions League, the world’s finest club tournament, 79 Brazilians had time on the pitch, compared to only 25 Britain’s, 26 Germans and 49 Spaniards- and not a single Brazilian team takes part in the competition!”

The Gold Mine Effect explores how in eight different areas of the world there is an inordinate amount of talent produced to a particular sport. Why and how do these “Gold Mines” develop? What are the takeaways we can apply to our own coaching to create our own Gold Mines? One concept that I found of particular interest was the idea of identifying “talent that whispers”. Can we look past our player’s current performance and project who will be better in 6 months, 2 years, etc.? The Gold Mine Effect covers a lot of ground and offers some interesting insight on a players Mindset (Carol Dweck), the concept of grit, the 10,000 hour rule and plenty more. It’s a very enjoyable read.

Favorite Book on Leadership

The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership by Bill Walsh with Steve Jamison and Steve Walsh

“My Standard of Performance- the values and beliefs within it- guided everything I did in my work at San Francisco and are defined as follows:

Exhibit a ferocious and intelligently applied work ethic directed at continual improvement; demonstrate respect for each person in the organization and the work he or she does; be deeply committed to learning and teaching, which means increasing my own expertise; be fair; demonstrate character; honor the direct connection between details and improvement, and relentlessly seek the latter; show self-control, especially where it counts-under pressure; demonstrate and prize loyalty; use positive language and have a positive attitude; take pride in my effort as an entity separate from the result of the effort; be willing to go the extra distance for the organization; deal appropriately with victory and defeat, adulation and humiliation (don’t get crazy with victory nor dysfunctional with loss); promote internal communication that is both open and substantive (especially under stress); seek poise in myself and those I lead; put the team’s welfare and priorities ahead of my own; maintain an ongoing level of concentration and focus that is abnormally high; and make sacrifice and commitment the organization’s trademark.”
~ Bill Walsh

A superb book on how to build, sustain, and lead an organization. This book offers an inside look at Walsh, his leadership style and all the intricacies a leader must deal with when running a high performing franchise at the highest of levels. It covers in-depth how to plan and prepare, how to respond to set-back’s, establishing core principles and the necessity of surrounding yourself with good people. This book delves into the many set-back’s Walsh faced along the way to becoming the architect of the West Coast offense and revolutionizing professional football. His tenure with the 49ers began with back to back losing seasons (2-14 followed by 6-10) before winning his first of three Superbowls in his third season. Without the self-belief, guiding core principles and grit to work his way through adversity, Walsh would never have accomplished bringing a new brand of football to the NFL.

Outstanding Blog on Youth Sports


John O’Sullivan, Founder of the Changing the Game project, offers a really wonderful perspective on how to return youth sports back to the kids. John is passionate and consistent in his message that we are dealing with kids, not little adults and this being the case, we coaches need to have a player-centric approach and allow the children to be the major decision makers of what they want to pursue. John is a proponent of the multi-sport athlete and is anti-early specialization. Like any good blog, I don’t agree with each and every one of John’s viewpoints, but I always find myself reflecting on his material again and again. Certainly worth subscribing to John’s newsletter.

There are many other books and blogs that have impacted and helped shape my coaching philosophy, but the list above stands out in that they are ones that I often return to many times over the course of a season/year when I’m re-evaluating or affirming my approach.

Thanks again for all the time you dedicate to the soccer players of Lexington and the community as a whole. Have a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!

Best Wishes,



GU10 Lexington Leaping Lizards Goes Undefeated

Congratulations to the GU10 Lexington Leaping Lizards who went 8-0-2, undefeated this season and won its section, Div. 2, Section D. Over the course of the 10 game season, they scored 28 goals, and only gave up 6 goals.
GU10 LUSC team

U9 (3rd Grade) Spring Travel Evaluations on Sunday, 10/25

In the spring of 3rd grade, LUSC families begin to have the option of having their child participate in either in-town or travel soccer.  Since the fall U9 program is kept exclusively in-town, LUSC will be conducting its U9 player evaluation session on Sunday, October 25th, 2015 at Center Field 1/2 (110 Worthen Road — between baseball and softball field) . 

If your child does decide to participate in the travel program for the coming spring, it is important that families make every effort possible to have him or her participate in the evaluation.  The data collected will be a critical component for proper team placement.

Note: This session is for U9 (3rd grade) players only.

Evaluation times:
3rd Grade Girls (GU9): Sunday, 10/25/2015 – 1:30pm-3:00pm
3rd Grade Boys (BU9): Sunday, 10/25/2015
       Last names A-N:  4:00pm-5:30pm
       Last names O-Z:  5:30pm-7:00pm

Please arrive 20 minutes ahead of time and sign in (look for the table near the field).  Your child must sign in to participate.

There is no fee associated with the evaluation.

Participating in the evaluation is not the same as registering for the Spring 2016 travel program.  Registration for the Spring 2016 program will open in the next couple of weeks at http://lexingtonunited.org/register/. A player must be registered by the registration deadline of December 1, 2015 in order to guarantee a spot on a travel team.

Please Note:  This is an evaluation not a tryout!  The difference being no player is “cut” or excluded from playing travel soccer.  LUSC will offer as many travel teams in the U9 age group as registration numbers dictate. However, the evaluations are vital in that they help place the players on the proper team from a skill based standpoint. Having proper skill based teams helps aid in the continued development and enjoyment of those that choose to play travel soccer.
Please see additional information below regarding the format, frequently asked questions and the choice between travel and in-town soccer.  Thanks for considering the programs we are offering this season.  If you do choose to sign-up, please select the appropriate program from an enjoyment, development and commitment standpoint.
Brendan Donahue

Evaluation Format:

The majority of the LUSC Evaluation will involve placing players in small sided games (4v4 or 5v5).  Small sided games provide players with the opportunity to have maximum touches on the ball as well as the opportunity to make numerous decisions in a game like environment in a short period of time. Evaluators will be observing a player’s comfort level on the ball (technique), decision making ability (tactical ability), and athleticism. Another reason for placing players in small sided games is that it is a familiar environment for most, if not all, LUSC players.  Hopefully, this takes away some of the anxiety that a more structured format may bring, while also allowing evaluators to observe the players in “game” conditions.


How important is it that we attend?
It is very important that every player come to the evaluation. The evaluations from this process plus the input and evaluations from this year’s coaches are the factors used for placing your child on a team that is developmentally appropriate.
Who conducts the evaluations?
While the evaluations are organized by LUSC, the evaluators are professional coaches from outside Lexington to keep the ratings independent. The evaluators may include college coaches, high school coaches, club coaches and so forth. A rotation process is used so that every child is evaluated by multiple evaluators.
What if my child is unsure about playing travel soccer next year?
Come to the evaluation! If the player decides to participate in the travel program in the spring, this data will be used, along with coaches’ input, for appropriate placement. If the player chooses to remain in-town, the information can be used to help balance the teams for the spring.  
What if my child isn’t in the “typical grade” for his/her age?
For travel soccer teams, LUSC follows the rules set by BAYS, the league in which we play. U9 for the spring 2015 season would typically be children born from August 1, 2006 to July 31, 2007. However, LUSC can ask for a waiver so your child can be placed with his/her peers. We advise you discuss your options with your child’s Division Director or coach before attending the evaluation session.
Is there another evaluation time for travel soccer?
No. This is it. Please attend.
Can parents watch the evaluation?
Parents are welcome to watch from a designated area, but must not involve themselves in the process.  Please refrain from cheering one group or another and make no specific remarks to any player.
What equipment do kids bring?
Please have players come as they would for a practice, including water bottle, properly inflated ball, shin guards, cleats or sneakers and sunscreen / bug repellent, if appropriate.

When will I learn the results of the process?
Team formations typically are finalized and communicated in January/February.

What if my child really truly cannot attend?  
Please notify your coach and the division director. We will do our best to place your child appropriately with the data that we do have.

Choosing between travel soccer and in-town soccer

It is the desire of Lexington United to create a proper learning environment for the game of soccer which is both fun and develops proficient skills in the game of soccer.  The values of fair play and sportsmanship are ones we hope to instill in all of our participants.  LUSC offers two distinct programs for players to participate in.

Please consider the differences in philosophy and commitment between the two programs prior to selecting the one that is appropriate for your child. The game of soccer is a team sport; therefore attendance at practice sessions is important for the development of not only the individual, but the group as a unit.

The distinct programs are In-town Soccer and Travel Soccer. The four major differences between the programs are:

(1) Team Formation

  • The in-town program forms teams by mixing players of varying abilities in an effort to provide balanced teams to ensure that games will be competitive each weekend with no team having more “strong” players than another team. In-town teams will often try to accommodate requests to place friends together on the same team as long as team balance is maintained. 
  • Travel teams are formed through placing similarly skilled players on the same team.   Teams are formed and then adjusted each year on the basis of player evaluations that are conducted each year by independent evaluators.  Minor adjustments to teams may be made between fall and spring to accommodate such things as: changes in fall to spring registration numbers, new players moving into Lexington and significant changes to a player’s performance during the fall season.  
    Note: Both In-town and Travel Teams are volunteer coached. 

(2) Game Locations

  • The in-town program will play all their games in Lexington against other Lexington teams.
  • Travel teams are placed in the Boston Area Youth Soccer League (BAYS) and are placed in divisions with other towns according to team ability.  Travel teams will play half of their games in Lexington and half in other BAYS towns.  These away games could be as close as Arlington or as far away as Southborough depending on the other towns placed in the same division.

(3) Scores, Standings, Post Season Play (Spring)

  • In the in-town program, no scores are kept during the game and no standings maintained.  There is no post season play.
  • While LUSC places no emphasis on winning (or losing), the BAYS travel league does maintain an on-line system of scores and standings. For U12 ages and above BAYS offers the possibility in the spring of post season play and participation in a statewide tournament.

(4) Practices and Games

  • All in-town teams will have a pro-clinic session and the coach can choose to hold a second practice (recommended), with a game on Saturday.
  • Travel teams will practice 2 times per week (pro clinic/team practice) with a game on Saturday. 

For more details, please see these links:

BU14 Minuteman Win in Columbus Day Tourny

The BU14 Lexington Minutemen were the champions of their group of 12 teams in the Natick 2015 Columbus Day tournament. The boys scored 19 goals  and gave up 3 over the 5 games in the tournament. They won their final 2-0 over Northboro.

BU14 Minutemen

Pictured teammates are: (front row kneeling, left to right) Fynn Jeuppner, Nate Sheehan, Dan Winter, Barney Brandon, Elijah Wiesman (keeper), Robert Lloyd, Oliver Ivarsson, Tora Dohi, Niko Lupone. (second row standing, left to right) Zach Kaufman, Oliver Clackson, Emin Abrahamian, Sam Andrews, Felipe Palacio, Conor Murphy, Malte Steines, Greg Pisculli, and Coach Jack Lloyd. (missing from photo) Coach Nick Brandon.

Estabrook Field

Estabrook Elementary School
117 Grove Street
Lexington, MA 02420

Rte. 128 to Exit 31B. Merge on to 225W/4N/Bedford St. towards Bedford. Turn right on to Eldred St. Turn right on to Grove St. Turn left into Estabrook Elementary School.

[Click here for map]

Winter & Spring 2016 soccer registration >


New Coaching Videos!

New Coaching Videos featuring LUSC DOC Brendan Donahue now available on our Coaches site. Videos cover a variety of topics including heading, passing & receiving, and 1v1 exercises.

Go to the Videos >

April Clinic 2015 Photos

 Click on any image to view as a slide show.

Sam at April Clinic 2


BU16 LPDA Royals Win BU16 Title in Indoor Program

The Lexington Royals reformed late in the fall to play in the Teamworks Acton indoor program. Picking up from where they left off, they won the BU16 Division 1 title. In the final game of the playoffs they won an exciting game against Arlington by a score of 3 – 2, with the winning goal coming in the last 3 minutes of play.  

Top Row L-to-R: Tim Carruthers (coach), Simon Carruthers, Nick Barbesino, Josh Lane, Michael Bove, Aram Havan, Alfred Joseph, Nick Havan (coach)
Front Row L-to-R: Sagan Patarroyo, Ian Corbett, Hagop Kouchakdji, Eric Shiple, Zach Chan.

BU16 LPDA Royals

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