SC Gjøa is a place where players of all ages can improve crucial life skills such as teamwork, leadership, learning to cope with both failure and success, and learning to compete in a positive and productive way. Our attention to these aspects provides a solid platform for us to improve all of our players within the sport that they love.
We are committed to an attacking, possession-based style of soccer where each player has the opportunity for many touches of the ball. We want players to play the beautiful game, regardless of age, in a technical and attractive style. We play the ball out from the defense and we take risks, playing creatively.
We manage this through the following four principles:
The Individual The individual player is at the heart of our philosophy: we believe that by focusing on all aspects of the individual player’s learning, each player can achieve their potential. By improving each player within our teams, our teams see a lot of collective improvement as a natural consequence of how we work. Rather than focusing solely on any team and its results, or developing specialists within areas, we aim to create fluid, flexible teams with intelligent, versatile players. In this way, players have the best preparation possible for joining a high school or college team, with more knowledge, understanding and options than many other young players.
Fun At SC Gjøa, we believe that players work harder and improve quicker if they are having fun. Throughout all our teams, we strive to create a positive environment at both practices and games, where players can enjoy themselves and learn a lifelong love of soccer.
Creative Freedom Paramount to our philosophy is the opportunity for players to think for themselves. Soccer is a fast-paced game that changes very quickly, where any one player can use a variety of techniques. Unlike other sports, with special roles or regular stoppages, there is a lot for a player to process. Whether or not to pass, who to pass to, where the spaces are, where the pressure is, which foot to use, etc. are all factors that a player must process in a very short space of time. As coaches, we let players make their own decisions rather than telling the players what to do. We also prevent parents from directing the player. As a result, our players become creative and unpredictable. Mistakes are often made during this process, but these mistakes are often the best way to learn, as the players realize why something works, rather than doing what the coach tells them to do without any true understanding. Creative freedom provides a much deeper learning experience and allows players to express themselves and play without fear.
Age-Appropriate Phases While individual focus, fun and creative freedom apply to all our players, we split our philosophy across three age phases. Players of different ages have different needs and priorities, so we divide our teams as follows:
Foundation Phase – players from 7-10. 95% of neural development in the brain is achieved by the age of 10, so this the most important thing for this age group is to master all their technical skills and to identify coming to soccer with having fun. Players can play in any position at this age.
Junior Phase – players from 11-13. With a solid technical basis and the ability to play 1v1, players continue to work on technique but basic tactical ideas are also introduced, with topics such as possession play and finishing. Players will play at least 5 different positions in a season.
Senior Phase – players from 13+. More detailed tactical ideas are worked on, players will learn to take care of their bodies, and game management becomes more important. Players will play 3 positions.
We believe that practices are the most important part of the week and that they are more important than the weekend games. The reasons for this is that they are playing without the pressure of being watched and that their repetition of activities is much, much higher. Whether the practice is for 7-year-olds or 17-year-olds, there are much more touches of the ball and repetition of the relevant topic at a practice than at a game. We make the most of these practices by getting as much work and repetition done within our 60 or 90 minutes as possible.
With our belief in individual development, practices are aimed at improving each individual within the team, rather than improving the team at any one specific weakness. In line with our philosophy, we have a focus on fun at practices and create an environment where players aren't afraid to take risks. After 45 minutes of focus on a particular topic, we switch to playing relevant and specific games or scrimmages to let soccer itself be the teacher. The majority of the world’s best soccer players come from a ‘street soccer’ background and in the second half of our practices we try to replicate this. This leads to a higher level of creativity and game intelligence than having players perform drills over and over.
Game Day Philosophy
We use games as a way to continue learning throughout the season. The aim of our games is not to win at any cost, but to produce what has been worked on at practice each week and to play in the ‘Gjøa way’. Any league or cup trophies that the club has won are as a byproduct of this focus, rather than the goal. This focus on performance over results has a significant impact on player development, but also creates a much higher morale – often players who feel the pressure to win through any means necessary do not enjoy the game.
In keeping with our key principles, we rotate players to maximize learning, relevant to their appropriate phase. Players will have the opportunity to make contributions in different areas of the field, recognizing the different patterns than occur in these different areas.
With our focus on the individual, each player is guaranteed at least 50% of the game’s playing time, providing they are fully fit and have had good practice attendance and behavior. Different players will start on the field and on the bench each game, to give everyone an equal chance to gain experience and to develop their skills.
We also work proactively with all our parents to create a positive sideline atmosphere, where players can enjoy creative freedom. Together, we achieve positive reinforcement for any good play on the field, while prohibiting any parent coaching that can be counterproductive for player development. In this way, we create a triangle between the players, the coaches and the parents. With everyone buying into the same philosophy, the positive results for our players are accelerated.