The idea for La Academia took shape over the spring and summer of 2022. As coaches, our goal has been to prioritize players’ growth across several dimensions – technical (on-ball skills), tactical (a theoretical and real-time understanding of the game), physical, psychological, and social. As former athletes, parents, and adults with lengthy experience working with young people, we recognize that we are responsible for creating an environment that supports the growth of our players through the sport of football (soccer).
Not all coaches or football clubs share our vision and values. In our highly competitive society, we have observed environments in which wins and losses for teams determine “success.” The short-term prioritization of results (tournament trophies, league championships, and other extrinsic motivators) leads to quick fixes rather than building a foundation for long-term success. The result is that groups of players are left behind – potentially quitting sports – and that the remaining players lack skill sets that will help them succeed at higher levels.
More fundamentally, players in a results-oriented (win at all costs) coaching environment often have failed to “learn how to learn.” We see this type of coach “joysticking” players in practice and games – instructing from the sideline on how to perform every action rather than letting players explore and learn through mistakes and reflection. Players prioritize winning the approval of the coach and avoiding criticism – rather than their personal growth and engagement with the game.
Our vision is that the training environment and classroom form the basis for creating sustainable growth in the sport. The player – rather than the coach – is the center of the learning experience. Our logo reflects this belief. Embedded in the logo are three elements:
- The schoolhouse represents the Academy as a place of learning
- The open book symbolizes the basis of our teaching methods and content through research and best practices
- The football (soccer ball) represents the game as performed by the players and facilitated through coaching
In La Academia, we recognize that the game is about more than the on-ball activities. In addition to field training, we are providing programs that specifically focus on the physical and psychosocial elements of player development. We also use classroom sessions and online materials to support the tactical knowledge of our players.
We are excited to bring our approach and programs to the players of the Monterey Bay Area. We believe that our model of player development will provide opportunities for players to grow in the Beautiful Game.