CoachDeck – Practicing With A Full Deck

I recently received a sample of an interesting instructional product to help soccer coaches run drills in practice. While most ‘how to coach soccer’ products are books or DVDs with full illustrations and text, the CoachDeck for soccer is just that. A deck of cards, each with a different drill, broken up into four different categories: Shooting, Dribbling, Passing, and Defense.

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This is an interesting idea. I’ll freely admit to having a horrible memory. I can sit through a soccer drill DVD and forget 90% of what I watched 5 minutes later. So I find myself writing up cheat sheets with highlights from drills that I liked. By packing dozens of drills into an easy to carry deck of cards, you can take your reference material with you. Plus, by having them in a ‘stack’, you can develop your own method of sorting them. Trying to keep things ‘fresh’? Move drills you’ve done to the back of the deck and choose new ones from the top. Or you can sort the cards in preference order. Since the categories are color coded, finding a favorite defense drill would be as easy as looking for the first few blue cards.

CoachDeckThe compilation of drills put together primarily by Guy Newman, a veteran US Soccer player and youth soccer coach, aren’t revolutionary. I’ve done many of them in practice and seen almost all of them in one form or another in coaching classes, other instructional books, and just talking with other coaches about drills. But it is a solid and complete collection of drills ideal for youth soccer players. I chuckled seeing ‘All drills in this deck copyright CoachDeck LLC’. I can certainly understand the illustrations and text being copyrighted, but many of the drills themselves are very common drills – I sure hope they aren’t trying to claim the drills themselves as intellectual property. They do have a patent pending on the deck concept though – very smart move.

Anyway, the drills are very clearly illustrated using easy to understand graphics. The text is laid out in an easy to follow way, with Setup (“Line them up”), Execution (Bullet List), tips for running the drill (“Key Points”), and my favorite, Make it a Game. This last part is what makes the drills stand out – many have ideas for turning an ordinary drill into a game to keep the kids interested. This makes some of the more common drills ‘new’ because a few of them have ideas for turning them into a game that I hadn’t seen before. Great concept.

CoachDeck LogoOverall I see the CoachDeck as an interesting idea that allows coaches to take their drills with them to the fields and lookup anything they might forget. That said, I think they could be improved upon. First, the back of each card is just the CoachDeck logo. Half the printable space is wasted. I’d like to see each drill card, or at least some, expanded a bit, maybe with ‘Alternatives’ to modify a given drill, perhaps some additional illustration, and maybe some expansion to ‘Make It A Game’ for drills that have that section (or for drills where it was left out due to space constraints). If I’m carrying these cards around, the more information I can pack into the form factor, the better.

Second, the cards are printed on ordinary paper card stock, though they seem to have some type of glossy coating. But I doubt they’ll fare too well if they get wet. While my coaches bag is water resistant, I’ve also had players get into a water fight and soak my equipment sitting in my open coaches bag. Printing these on some type of water tolerant media would be great – but would likely cost much more to produce. Might be cool to provide it as a more expensive option – thinly laminated maybe? At the very least, it would be nice if the box the cards came in was plastic with a seal instead of ordinary cardboard like any deck of cards box. It will wear out quickly. If the cards were in a water resistant case, that would ensure they survived in the coaches bag longer and were only exposed to the elements when used.

Speaking of expense, the CoachDeck is expensive – $19.95 in single quantities. You can get them for $18 for 20-49 quantities and $15 for 50+. While that eases the bite a bit, it still makes it pricey for the coaches that need it most and don’t usually have equipment budgets to spend – Recreational Coaches. Most soccer drill books retail for $10-$15, so $19.95 seems a bit high just for the unique form factor. If they came in a sturdier case or were printed on something less likely to tear or fall apart if they got wet, I could possibly see spending that amount, but as it stands, it doesn’t feel like a good value.

Overall I think the CoachDeck is a neat idea that will provide a beginning coach with an easy to use and carry set of drills for their soccer team. However, it would be nice if the cards contained more information for each drill on the back and were at least in a water resistant case given the cost. In their current form, it seems hard to justify the $19.95 price. In light of that…

I Give CoachDeck 3.5 Nets -> 3.5 Nets

Note you can also get CoachDecks for baseball, and later this year, basketball.

Disclaimer: I received a free sample copy of the CoachDeck for soccer, which I based this review upon, but did not receive any other type of compensation for writing this review.

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  1. If I’m not mistaken, Guy Newman is the son of Ron Newman, a very popular and well respected coach who last coached, I think, in the indoor league. He was the first coach of the KC Wizards, then called The Wiz.

    I had a deck like that a while back. I think they were done by Reedswain. They were useful, but not as useful as I thought they were going to be. I found myself getting good ideas from them and then tweaking things to fit the skill level of the players I was coaching then. If I remember correctly, those cards listed a broad age range of kids who each drill was for — like 6-12. Which, of course, wasn’t realistic.

    OSG

  2. I tried to find a decent bio to link to, but didn’t find one. The marketing materials from CoachDeck note that Guy is a USSF ‘A’ License coach from Portsmouth, England who first coached the Sockers in 1986, winning a National Indoor Championship, then on to the Las Vegas Dustdevils – a CISL expansion team. He oversaw the development of the MLS Kansas City Wizards minor league affiliates for three years and has focused primarily on youth soccer for the past ten years, serving as director of the Del Mar Sharks.

    As for the age range – CoachDeck lists the range at 6-16 years :)

  3. Yep. That’s the guy. Hopefully, there will be cards for like 6-8 year olds, etc. Like I said, I found them useful, but that was a few years back. These are probably better

  4. Thank you for your review of CoachDeck. I’d like to address a couple of your comments. With respect to the use of the back of the cards, we are subscribing to the theory that “less is more.” There are thousands of books and manuals out there that are hundreds of pages long…and if you give one to the average youth soccer coach he’ll give up before he’s read one chapter. We designed CoachDeck so that a coach can show up five minutes before practice, changing his shoes from work, and, without any study or prep time, run a challenging and fun session. If we filled the backs with additional information we believe the cards would be too intimidating (and more like a book), for the average volunteer coach.

    As for the weather option, the cards do have an aqueous coating that makes them water-resistant. If we were to laminate them, the deck’s thickness would more than double and 52 wouldn’t fit in a standard box, nor would the user get the same “feel” of a deck of cards that makes the product unique and fun to use. We do, however, plan on offering a CoachDeck clipboard with plastic sleeves that would enable a coach to slide up to six drills into sleeves for quick reference, and a snap pouch on the back to house the deck. It will have a clip ring so that it can be hung from the chain-link fence. Still, with all of that said, the reason people love the product in its current form is that the unique format provides just the right amount of information and presents it in a manner that is fun, compact and easy to use. That is why we believe any youth soccer coach would get more than their money’s worth from CoachDeck.