The ever-so popular Coach Spotlight Series is back for another round! We're headed back outdoors and to the pitch this week as we interviewed Lauren Richards, a superstar soccer coach from Frisco, Texas. Coach Lauren is one of our top soccer coaches in the country, so we wanted her to impart some wisdom for other leaders, athletes, and coaches out there. Without further ado, enjoy our chat with Coach Lauren and go book her if you're so lucky to be in her area!
CoachUp: Hi, Lauren! Can you tell us about yourself and your experience with soccer?
Lauren Richards: Yes! I've been playing soccer since I was just three years-old. That early start helped me get into coaching quickly as well and I started coaching the U6 teams when I was just sixteen. Long story short, I enjoyed it so much that I haven't stopped since. For most of my life, I was a forward, but later dropped back to defense thanks to some injuries. Unfortunately, these are the same injuries that have since forced me into retirement, but that hasn't stopped me from coaching! I enjoy coaching clinics, teams, and individuals equally, and all for different reasons as well.
CU: What is your coaching style or philosophy?
LR: I try to break every skill down into the most basic of movements, it's really that simple. Once those are established, I build on them consistently in order to continue the advancement of my athletes. I like to think I'm approachable and I want my athletes to count on me as a mentor in life too, not just in the game. Ultimately, patience is key. My athletes should know that I'm on their side no matter what and that I'll always support them no matter the result.
CU: What can a client expect from private lessons with you?
LR: Any of my clients can count on working towards achieving their goals every time they train with me. Although we may not make large leaps and goals every session, we're constantly working together to make those goals happen, no matter how long it takes. We'll spend as much time as we can together to master the skills needed to achieve our big picture goals.
CU: Can you describe any big or little “wins” that you’ve had with the athletes that you train?
LR: Every time somebody makes an improvement, no matter big or small, I get so excited. There's nothing more fulfilling in my career than to see it click for an athlete and then see them succeed. Personally, my biggest "win" would have to be when I had a player that didn't make her high school team as a freshman despite working really hard. We'd worked all summer and for her to not make it was devastating, but to have her turn around and work even harder to achieve her goal was so satisfying. She ended up making the team during the second round of tryouts, and I couldn't have been more proud of her!
CU: What do you enjoy most about coaching?
LR: There is nothing I value more than creating relationships with my athletes. Being able to joke around with them is wonderful, but also being the person they seek advice from both on and off the field is probably the best part of my career.
CU: What sports-related publications do you read?
LR: I'm a member of multiple coaching groups including the NSCAA. Additionally, I read up on the happenings on every possible level, both men's and women's from the local to International programs. I'm a religious ESPN and Bleacher Report reader -- we're talking multiple times per day -- so I can keep up with what's happening in other sports as well.
CU: What’s your mantra or favorite saying (in the context of sport and/ or life)?
LR: It may seem simple, but practice equals results. You can't improve if you're not testing yourself physically and mentally as much as possible. If I only get to see you for an hour every week, I fully expect you to be working on the homework I give you in between our sessions. There are many ways you can improve, you just have to be dedicated to the task and higher goals at hand.
CU: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a coach?
LR: Coaches need to remember that every athlete is different at every age. In order to make sure I'm able to make the most out of our sessions together, I need to make sure that I understand my athlete and what they need from me. Once we're both on the same in order to make our sessions as efficient as possible. Every athlete needs something different from me and that's the biggest thing I've learned while venturing into my private coaching career.
CU: Do you have any specialties within the sport that you coach?
LR: Working on foot skills is not only my favorite thing to do, but it's also my favorite thing to teach as well. Ensuring that an athlete is getting the as many touches on the ball as possible every session is what I'd consider my specialty. I emphasize exercises for injury prevention, so that's also a major focus of almost every session. Remember, you can't be on the field if you're hurt, so take care of yourself!
CU: What’s your favorite night-before-game meal?
LR: Pasta with meat like lean beef or chicken, most often. Typically with as little sauce as possible as the salt in them tends to dehydrate you quicker. The combination of carbs and protein makes for a great meal to help get your body ready internally before a game.
CU: Where do you train with your athletes and why?
LR: We typically train in parks that offer space and changes in elevation. The hills allow my athletes to work on their speed and gives them an environmental hurdle to build their leg strength. That's not to say I don't need a flat space to work on as well, but, like I said before, doing work in small spaces is what we tend to focus on the most.
CU: What’s the most important advice you give to your athletes?
LR: As always, just don't give up, I cannot stress that enough. If something isn't clicking right away, it doesn't mean it's never going to. Sometimes it just takes longer for your brain to connect it to your body to make it happen . I promise that if you stay focused and work hard, it will happen, sometimes it just takes longer than we anticipate.
CU: What’s the most important advice you’d give to other coaches? To athlete’s parents?
LR: Be patient. Most of my athletes are still kids, it could take them days or even weeks to master a certain skill set. But when it finally happens, it's the most wonderful thing to watch their excitement over their hard work paying off.
CU: How do you recommend athletes train in between sessions? During off-season?
LR: I always give my athletes homework in between sessions with directions for specific drills that focus on reaching their major goals. In the offseason, I like to see my athletes train, but I like them to do it in an organized pattern. That means alternating your hard and light workouts depending on the day of the week and making their nutrition a priority. Thanks for the killer answers Coach Richards, your mantras and knowledge are truly inspiring. If you're in her area, you should definitely consider booking Coach Richards. But for any coaches, parents, or athletes out there looking to re-focus their strategies and training, maybe her wisdom will point you in the right direction!