With so much growth around data and game models in recent years, managing the process alongside culture and recruitment can become a challenge. Alongside Association of Professional Football Analysts (APFA), we were recently joined by head coach by Morehead State University head coach, Chris Fox, who shared how he manages and maximizes all the facets around performance at the Division I college level. Chris presented some ideas and insights around ways to potentially measure a holistic culture and creating a process which includes both data and values, to drive performance at the highest level of college soccer. This interview was an interactive format with coaches in attendance having the opportunity to get involved in the discussion. You can watch the full interview for FREE on the APFA account by clicking here.
It's very rare that a coach can take you through how everything inside their team connects and interacts, both on and off the pitch, particularly at the division one level of college soccer. The deeper you go into an environment, the more aware you become of different contexts and beliefs from the coach. An example of this was when Chris showed the intricacies of his game model at Morehead State and how he preferred establishing possession rather than opting to counter-attack at every opportunity. Chris gave an excellent explanation as to why he prefers this, as well as addressing the fact that others may not share this belief, and that's perfectly fine. Alongside his open mind, I really enjoyed the language that Chris used with his game model alongside the moments of the game. (See below)
Another takeaway for me was the challenges around physical preparation that Chris shared with his periodization model. Anyone who is familiar with US college soccer will understand that the compact playing season of 3-4 months where all the competitive games are scheduled along with travel, can provide a number of challenges for coaches. Hearing Chris' insight into what days he prioritizes the high-intensity work and how he manages the week is fascinating. I thought a key detail here was the piece at the bottom of his slide where he has a 'Focus Team' to show whether the work for that day is centered around their team or the opposition. I have not seen this before and think it's a fantastic tool to keep the staff aligned on the messaging, as well as the players.
Overall, I think Chris' presentation was a phenomenal insight into the amount of variables that are in play for a college coach: psychology, sport science, culture, analysis, player management, and recruitment are all key factors in his presentation. Having the communication skills to manage these and then maximizing everyone's role in doing so is a real skill for a college coach. You can watch the full presentation on the APFA website for FREE by clicking here. Please join Gary Curneen for another webinar this Friday, March 24, when he is joined by another guest to discuss analysis and game models.