Newsletter - Coaches Corner

Welcome Back!  

I hope everyone had an enjoyable summer where they took some time for family and friends. We started Vale seasons again with our carniVALE last weekend and a jamboree on the 1st of September. It’s great to have all the kids back on the field!

Today I wanted to talk about FAILURE! Is it even real? The late Kobe Bryant would tell you it doesn’t even exist and the Japanese teachers purposely want their students to fail/struggle in their classes.

It is said that the Japanese are considerably better than the American students in Math. In the book “Talent Code” by Dan Coyle they did a study to understand why. In the US, our students get their math problems either correct or the answer given to them 98% of the time. That means 2% of the time they get it wrong or have to sit and toil with the struggle of figuring it out. In Japan, 40% of the time they sit in that struggle, they have to problem solve and work to figure it out. It is said that the teachers will give them the wrong answers just so they sit there that much longer.    

This summer my son’s math work was hard for him. On multiple occasions he would say “I knew this during the school year…” He would then go on to get super frustrated, yell, and quit. As the “caring” 🙂 father that I am, I would hear and see this happening, work to bring him back to his work and basically spoon feed him all the way to the answer. In reflection I wonder if I was helping him or hurting him.

If the Japanese students are known to be better than the American students at Math what can we learn from their teaching style? 1. Struggle is good! The kids sitting and working through the problems multiple different ways is a good thing. Trial and error, working and reworking through a problem and going through the steps can help deepen their understanding of how to solve it.  2.  Learning to not give up! This may be the biggest lesson and the most important lesson for me and my children. When those students sit in the struggle for a longer duration and not give up on it they are learning perseverance. This may be the biggest and greatest skill for them to have in life. 3. Is failure even real? In my presentation to my players this week I dug deep to show them my opinion of failure.  Failure is an opinion and a bad one. Within the context of Sport, a finite game with an beginning and an end, rules and a winner and loser we may fail, however, if we have takeaways that will allow us to grow and improve for the future were they really failures? My position is rather than failures, they are opportunities to learn.

Failure is scary. Kids today are so worried about the opinions of their peers that often they won’t give full effort. They want to look cool and trying hard and looking bad is way worse they not given full effort and looking bad because then they can say “I wasn’t even trying.” I would challenge us all to get rid of the negative connotation on failing. I would push that we re-frame failing to be learning. In sport and in life every time we get something wrong it is an opportunity to learn how we can get closer to getting it right the next time. Let’s push our kids to be brave enough to fail. To show them in our daily lives by stepping outside of our own comfort zone. By trying something new that may be hard. For recognizing that learning a new skill or trying a current skill against new people is hard and that is okay.

Starting this fall I push each of us to support our children while they are in the struggle but not solve their problems, I know for me that is extremely hard as it may be for so many others, but I recognize that in the long run it is better for my children.  

Here is a great clip of Kobe talking about failure!

Yours in Soccer,

Zach Eddinger

I AM A SWIFTY!!!! Read more to find out why.

WOW! Did September really finish already?

I hope everyone has settled into their fall seasons. The weather is the wettest I can remember in recent years. This makes it extremely hard on the fields and obviously is not ideal. I appreciate the work going on behind the scenes to make it the best experience possible for our players and I appreciate you, the families for continuing your support in the changes that keep coming. We will continue to communicate as early as possible on how we are working to solve the problems due to the weather.

Today I wanted to talk about FOPO. Fear of Other People’s Opinions. This one can be devastating!  It can hinder growth and most importantly it can cause real anxiety. Michael Gervais hosts “Finding Mastery”, a podcast where he interviews top performers from all walks of life. He introduced me to the concept a few years ago and it has stuck with me since that time. A major barrier for all of us is the opinion of others. Whether that is your partner, your children, your parents, your friends or someone that you don’t know at all, we all want to be liked and we care what other people think. From my point of view this is the ego at work and the better we can remove those opinions the better off we will be on so many fronts.

In this Instagram reel Taylor Swift talks about people criticizing you and how that can become a part of our self talk and internal opinions of yourself. For all of us this can be hard but for children it can be demoralizing or worse. As she continues, we learn that in the moment that we recognize the opinions of others who don’t care about us don’t matter, that we free ourselves! FOPO is real. I feel it every day. In today’s society with social media at the forefront of our children’s everyday lives we watch as they compare themselves to the best version of the person on the other side of the screen. This is not reality. It is that other person’s very best… with filters. It is important that we talk to our children about the reality that the opinions of people who don’t know us, who don’t know our daily struggles and aren’t walking in our shoes shouldn’t matter. On their learning journey the less they compare themselves to others the better off they are going to be. Everyone's journey is different. Help them to run their race the best they can!

Yours in Soccer,

Zach Eddinger

This has been one of the hardest Fall seasons that I can remember. Mike Tyson once said “It’s great to have a plan, until you get punched in the face.”

That resonates hard with us at Vale this year. We came into the Fall season with a plan, schedules in place, coaches in place it was going to be great. Then it got really really hot, then it started to rain, and things became tough. We really appreciate your patience under what was a really tough fall season. Some teams felt the brunt of it more than other teams and we appreciate you sticking with us. We are finalizing our winter plans and excited to get our HS teams back soon.

VALE + is coming to life, starting this Winter!!!!!

We have just finished our details for our Vale+ program and coaches are having a meeting next week to go over the program. In this program we will bring players together from Vale East and HQ to train and in some cases play games together. For the younger ages, 7 v 7 and 9 v 9 we will be adding technical training on Friday nights in Middletown. Every few weeks we will have a small sided games night. For the MS & HS ages we will identify 6 players from each team to come into a pool to train through the winter and form teams to play in a showcase event in PA and State Cup. This program will showcase our strongest and most committed players and be a great way to bring the club together.  I am very excited about this!

For our HS players we hope that you finish your seasons well! We are extremely excited about your representation of Vale this fall with your teams and want to wish everyone luck in your conference and state tournaments!

Yours in Soccer,

Zach Eddinger

Welcome Back HS Players!

We are excited to have our HS players back. Fall season for the High School kids means playing with their school friends sometimes 6 days a week. It also means, we don’t see them much. We watch from afar and hear about their accomplishments, as a coach, however, we miss them. We miss getting to work with them and being able to see them improve week on week.  hey are back and it brings a great new energy back to the club.

In early December they will play in our College Showcase. We currently have 85 teams registered and will have 4 different venues hosting games. Let’s hope the weather is good and it is an enjoyable way to get back with our teams.

Winter indoor games are happening now as well for HQ and East will be at StarHill starting early in the New Year. Winter is a time to build our skills, our comfort on the ball and continue to develop for when we go back outside.  I push all of our players to work hard this winter and push themselves outside of their comfort zone. Having less players on the field allows for more decisions and more time on the ball. Use it wisely to grow as a player and heading into the Spring you will be ready to take a step forward!

As the holidays are coming we are extremely thankful for our entire membership!  The Vale + program will start on December 15th and will unite our HS players and starting in the New Year our younger players will begin to come together as well. I strongly suggest, when available you take advantage of this programming. It is just another opportunity to improve and enjoy the beautiful game.

Happy Holiday from our family to yours!

Zach Eddinger

Over the next week to 10 days we will get a chance to be at home with loved ones.  We will get a chance to slow down a little bit from the hustle and bustle of youth sports.  While we love youth sports, I encourage you to enjoy this time.  To sit in mindfulness of the fullness of life!  To be present with your loved ones and enjoy the time you have with them.  

As I reflect back on our year at Vale I am both excited about what we achieved but hungry to do more.  I recognize that it is doing the smallest things better that will help us take the next steps on our journey.  That our core business and serving our membership is pivotal to our success and without you guys we would never be where we are today.

2024 is going to be a special year for our club. We will grow and improve in a ton of different areas.  It will be hard, there will be compromise, but in the end we will be aligned in helping the kids get to where they want.

We wish everyone a great holiday season and look forward to getting back to work in 2024.

Yours in Soccer,

Zach Eddinger

A new year a new you?

January always starts with so much ambition and hope.  Then the reality sets in that the month seems like eternity.  How do you get yourself to keep going?  There is a massive difference between motivation and discipline.  Motivation is easy when it is easy.  On a sunny day it is easier to go outside and train or run or anything else for that matter.  When it’s cold and rainy, that is when discipline sets in.  

Vale has improved dramatically since when we started.  We talk about it all the time with our coaches.  But is it enough?  We are ready to take the next jump.  I have recently reopened the book Good to Great.  In the opening paragraphs it talks about “Good” being the enemy of “Great” and the fact that when we become good, we don’t strive, we don’t push ourselves for more.  Business and Sports have a ton of similarities and that is one of the biggest ones.  If we are close, in every game and competitive with our opponents do we push ourselves as hard as when we were getting beat by a lot?  If we are comfortable on our team, one of the stronger players, are we pushing to continue to improve, to lead at each training session?  

Motivation doesn’t continue in the same way as it starts.  That is when the transition to discipline needs to take root.  Are we holding ourselves to the standard every time?  Are we raising the standard and setting a new line that we are climbing towards?  When we reach that line, have we arrived?  I would say no way.  What our players need to learn is there is always something more to strive for.  Not just in soccer, but in life.  Not to the point that they don’t enjoy how far they have come, but to a point that they don’t feel complete.  

I set some goals for myself and for my team for this year.  It is my responsibility to lead them in a way that we set ourself up for success.  I have to lead with discipline so that the modeling is what they need and it helps them on their journey.  It isn’t easy.  We need to refocus every day, but if we can, it is worth it.

January is an interesting month every year.  I hope we can be more than January.  I hope we can choose to be disciplined for the entire year!  I hope that when we meet the bar we have set, we set it again, higher and then go and chase that!

Yours in Soccer, 

Zach Eddinger

I transformed myself as a player after a major setback!  I was 15 years old, had traveled to play soccer in Argentina, was the captain of my team the prior year and coming into tryouts I had no clue that I would get CUT!  

What a major setback.  I felt like I couldn’t leave the house, I didn’t want to see my friends, my ego was so deflated I didn’t want to do anything.  

I had been comfortable with my quality.  I wasn’t pushing to get better I was just floating.  Pat Riley is known to say, “You are either getting better or worse.”  I think that is true.  When we push ourselves outside of our comfort zone we improve, sometimes we get forced outside of it, but it still isn’t a bad thing.  I am in the process of working on something really big, it is important to me, and because of that it is really scary.  I don’t love the feeling and often doubt myself.  I recognize though that it is in these moments that I get better, I improve working through this discomfort and pushing myself.  

This week you will see that we are opening up tryout registrations.  With clubs going earlier and earlier with tryouts there is an added level of anxiousness that comes with it.  Some players are going to be offered spots early in the process and others are going to have to wait.  They may feel unwanted or fear that they aren’t good enough.  These feelings are hard to process.  The parents may feel the same things.  We don’t want our kids to feel sad, or have tough emotions that they have to work through.  I am here to tell you that it is okay for them to feel this way.  It is okay for them to have to go through these things.  In life we have to learn to deal with hard.  

So this tryout season, while it is going to be hard for certain players, I would suggest you help them lean into it.  Don’t pass your doubts or struggles on to the player, rather support the emotions they are feeling.  This time of year is always hard for players, parents and the club.  Soccer isn’t life or death.  It may feel that way sometimes, the agony of defeat or the jubilation of victory.  At the end of the day, our children are learning valuable life lessons through this sport.  Things that will transfer off the field and into other areas of life.  That is what is so amazing about sports.

We acknowledge that players in our program will have discomfort over the coming months.  We can’t hide from that and it would be a disservice to them to try and keep their eyes closed to where they are developmentally relative to their teams.  We also acknowledge that good or bad information today or tomorrow will not be the last milestone they will deal with.  Development comes in waves and we hope you ride them with your child an order to be successful in the ultimate game, LIFE.

Yours in Soccer, 

Zach Eddinger

“April showers, bring May flowers”… But do they always bring them or will they be there regardless…

I really squirm at the saying “it has always been done that way” my point being that doesn’t mean it is the best way.  

In April we look like we made the right decision to train our 7 v 7 groups inside or get all of our other teams at HQ on turf. At East we have a turf option now, especially when the fields are saturated, but it isn’t perfect. You see, there is no perfect or right or best way. There are the ways that work and sometimes they work at the start and then they don’t work later. That is when we reflect and pivot if needed.  

Vale has an indoor home base in Middletown that allows us to control our space and time through the winter months and train so much more than others do. We are proud of this fact.  This year we have decided that we want our HQ teams to be on turf for our training and games and that comes with some challenges. As those challenges come up we will continue to meet them head on. We are always exploring and learning about what we want our performance environment to look like. Hopefully in the future we will have even more control than we do now!

My point in sharing all of this is there are ultimately 2 things in our control as people. Our effort and our attitude. Tonight I am teaching a group of our 2011 boys about attitude. Attitude is a choice that we get to make and train. We can choose to be someone that makes the best of situations or who chooses to make the worst of them. We can choose to show up as the kind of teammate we would want to play next to or the one we wouldn’t. When exploring how to teach this I came across information that I think hits home for everyone. Living in a space of gratitude for what we get to do, be, see, explore makes us happy and less stressed out.  

The plants are more beautiful when they get the rain in April. We are grateful for the rain because then we have nicer grass or flowers and we know it tends to go away in May.  

An attitude of gratitude is a great way to live! Each day we either “get” to do things or we can “have” to do things. I choose that I get to do them. Whether it is the rain, or anything else in your life by choosing to be happy and look at it from an experience of gratitude we are modeling happiness to our children. May flowers are beautiful and that may be because of the rain in April or just because they bring joy to our lives. This April, choose to look at life from an optimistic perspective and see how that makes you feel.

I am grateful for all of you reading this!

Yours in Soccer,

Zach Eddinger