I had a wonderful trip to Clemson a while ago and was extremely grateful for the generous access the staff provided. Clemson’s women’s program places an emphasis on a player's mentality and personality, with particular attention to her resiliency. The underlying philosophy is: if a player is not seeing minutes, do they have the mindset and attitude to continue working hard to develop, and do they consistently turn in the quality of play and effort required? The word that comes to mind when I think of the Clemson program is family. The women’s team is a product of the program’s family environment, which is of paramount importance to the coaching staff and players. Love for one another is a huge part of their culture.
In the pre-training meeting I attended, the team analyzed their previous game. Coach Eddie and his staff expect their players to problem-solve in real time on the field. The coaches challenge each player to make decisions inside and outside the box, to get out of difficult situations, and to create opportunities.
What was also apparent from the session I attended was the attention the coaches place on the nuances of the game: when to speed up, when to slow down, when to counter, and which defensive choices are appropriate. This type of guided discovery environment yields confident, independent players who are imbued with the trust of the staff and their teammates.
In training, as expected, the players worked extremely hard, with their level of competitiveness and communication skills akin to what I have witnessed at other top programs in the US and abroad. The speed of Clemson’s play is incredibly high and I left my visit impressed and excited for the team's future.
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Chris Bart-Williams is the founder and owner of CBW Soccer Elite. After an extensive career in the English Premier League, Chris now uses his vast soccer knowledge to assist families throughout the college recruiting process and prepare players for the mental and physical challenges of collegiate soccer. You can reach Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org.