The Power of a Program



About a year ago I ran across a book called The Wesleyan Way. It is a book written about the Wesleyan Christian Academy Men’s Soccer Program. I wanted to share a breakdown of their program with you.

Robbie Hinton and I both read the book. We would like for our programs to look like this. If you are interested in formulating a plan to match the below let me know, and we can sit down together and see what we can do. I realize it might cost money. We are in budget proposal time, so now is the time if we want to go to another level. Read on and let me know if you want to discuss. Also if you want to read the book come by. I have extra copies.

  • The primary focus is on the end result. Not winning. That happens as a byproduct if other things are in line. The focus is on the purpose athletics as a whole. We wrote our focus with the goal of answering the question “What life lessons will my child learn from playing sports?” Go back and look at our answer in the Athletic Handbook. All is important, but the last sentence says, “equipping students to face and overcome issues creates transformational experiences and the need for God.”
  • More than one coach. A program has a staff of coaches. Each of them play a role and focuses on different needs of the game. AND these coaches are growth mindset coaches that are always learning and looking for ways to be better coaches.
  • Create a year-round culture dedicated to your sport. Not all of it has to be training but at least another quarter of the year should. Maybe it is indoor vs. outdoor. Maybe it is getting together as a team to watch other championships in your sport. Is the high school team coordinated with the middle school team(s)? Maybe it is off season physical training. The sky is the limit!
  • Create or coordinate efforts for lower school programming. When I first came here I was surprised to see so many students “trying a sport” in the 6th grade. To be excellent we must have our students learning sports early. Imagine if we started teaching our students in the classroom in the 6th grade and did not provide K through 5th?
  • A vision to win it all plus high standards for fitness and keeping track of metrics for everything. Sometime read what Anson Dorrance does at UNC for women’s soccer. They track every drill daily and post results the next day as to the ranking of the players in each drill. Now that is excessive for our level but could we track statistics and remind our players regularly whether we are succeeding or failing in each of those categories?
  • Out of town games, training retreats, or tournaments. Nothing helps team chemistry more than out of town overnights. Teams that commit to this level of detail (and there are lots with out of town events) seem to bond better and work better together.
  • Play stretch games early. A stretch game is one that we will have a difficult time winning. This allows us to play good competition and see where we our weaknesses are. Contrast this with playing easy teams early. Much smarter to play harder teams. The goal is not to be undefeated. The goal is to win it all.
  • A playing manual devoted to our style of play. A playbook that defines our skills, drills, tactics, and strategies. This means we are intentional with our approach. This creates sustainability over the long haul. It also helps as coaches come and go. We can interview coaches to fit our model as opposed to starting over every 5 or so years. And this style needs to go all the way down through every team.
  • Refocusing for the playoffs. Now instead of the focus being developmental, it shifts to performance. This is what we have played for all year. Looking at other teams and who we might play. Turning the training and the intensity up a notch when playoffs begin.
  • Time in the classroom. Time spent in film sessions. Time spent in chalk talk sessions. All are critical before the season, during the season, and especially as you enter the playoffs.
  • A community approach. This is not just coaches and players. This is a coordinated effort with coaches, players, and parents. It takes a lot of people to run a successful program. If you don’t have solid parental support annually you will have ups and downs, thus rebuilding years (see next point).
  • There are no rebuilding years. When fully implemented from elementary grades to high school there are no surprises or big drop offs. This does not mean championships every year but it does mean being competitive. Since Wesleyan implemented this program in 2003 they have won 10 state championships, 2 state runner ups, 6 semifinals, and 4 quarterfinals.


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