Featured Coach: Jesus Torres of Waunakee Area SC
Our Featured Coach series continues with an interview with Jesus Torres of Waunakee Area Soccer Club.
Torres currently serves as the Coaching Director for the Wisconsin-based club, and is also the Girls' Varsity Head Coach at Waunakee Area High School. He has over 25 years of experience in coaching soccer, which included a role with the Venezuela Women's National Team.
While on the club soccer circuit, he has developed over 60 current college players, with over 30 playing Division I soccer.
You can learn more about his experience in the game by visiting his official Waunakee Area SC page.
1. Who is your favorite professional player to watch, and what is it about his game that intrigues you the most?
Torres: My favorite soccer player is Andres Iniesta of the Spanish National team and Barcelona FC, and who is considered by many, including myself, one of the best Midfielders of all time. One of the most memorable moments in his career was scoring the winning goal against Netherlands in the final of the 2010 World Cup with his National team and being named "Man of the Match" in that 1-0 thriller of a game.
With his club team, Barcelona FC, Iniesta has led them to winning the UEFA Champions League in 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2015. What intrigues me the most about Iniesta's game is his balance, agility, ball control and his ability to see the field and to dictate the flow of the game. He displays great versatility, hard work and creativeness.
Iniesta is a complete soccer player.
2. What are the major characteristics that you try to instill in your players in order to help them strive to become a complete soccer player?
Torres: It depends on the age of the player. At younger ages we strive to instill in our players the love for the game because once the little ones fall in love with soccer; The sky is the limit. Their appetite for learning about the game and how to better themselves at it becomes insatiable. Then we teach them fundamentals; Technical skills: footwork, trapping, dribbling, passing and shooting. Essentially, it is all about touches on the ball, our footwork sessions are designed for our kids to have hundreds of touches during practice and we encourage them to practice at home, we give them homework.
Once the players acquire mastery over the ball, then we work on:
- Tactical Awareness; position on the field, location of the ball, teammates and opponents.
- Positional play: understanding their roles
- Vision: Ability to assess options
- Instinctive Reaction: know how to react immediately in any given situation.
- Creativeness: individual flair, tricks to create opportunities.
At the high school level, besides technical, tactical and team work, we focus on ethics, work harder than anyone else and to take responsibility for their own performance. We teach our players how to deal with setbacks and how to recover from them.
3. Is there a specific individual training drill that you would recommend for all youth soccer players?
Torres: Touches on the ball; footwork, juggling, trapping. Mastery over the ball gives players the confidence, the self belief needed to evolve as soccer players, constantly looking to bring their game a step further.
4. What gives you the most satisfaction as a coach in terms of player and team development?
Torres: Helping young people develop physically (skills, conditioning, health habits, avoiding injury), psychologically (control emotions, develop self worth) and socially (cooperation in competition, working together, sportsmanship). To accomplish that, we closely follow the American Sports Education Program motto:
"Athletes First, Winning Second"
Young people can develop morally through the soccer experience and learn a basic code of ethics that is transferable to a moral code for life.
5. What is the most influential piece of advice that you've received that's helped you throughout your career?
Torres: To develop a coaching philosophy that is based on my personal objectives. These are; 1) Player Enjoyment, 2) Player Development, 3) Team Work, 4) Winning.
I firmly believe that when winning is kept in perspective, positive results will ensue.