Coaching the Individual Within the Collective

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Coaching the Individual Within the Collective

Featuring Colorado Rapids 1st Team Assistant, Chris Little

A native of Fife, Scotland, Chris joined Colorado Rapids as an assistant coach on Feb. 26, 2021, with a focus on developing and integrating young players from the Rapids Academy. He was named interim head coach following Robin Fraser’s departure on September 5, 2023 until the club appoints a permanent successor.

Little previously served as head coach of the Tacoma Defiance of the USL Championship, as well as Director of Coaching for the Seattle Sounders FC Academy. Prior to joining Seattle in 2017, he holds a USSF ‘A’ License, was head coach of Elon University and also served as Director of Coaching and Player Development for the North Carolina Youth Soccer Association.

“Teams don’t learn. Individuals within the team learn. Development is a personal process, even when conducted in a team environment.”

Coaching and planning for the needs of the individual within any specific theme often gets overlooked for the team principle or sub-principle. In discussing the content for the session, Chris described his approach to how he does this, and the value in sharing this with the club coaches was obvious.

Sometimes in searching for educational opportunities, it is the complex systems and themes that gain the most attention, when in reality, simple thoughts and processes executed based on the needs of key individual players can be most effective. Chris’ topic wasn’t simple, but breaking it down to share his methodology in the classroom, he was able to create really impactful pictures on the field.

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Presentation Overview 

Key points:

In his presentation, Chris used the Johan Cruyff quote above to set the scene for the youth club coaches who had joined us at Regis University. The quote and the topic “The Individualization of Coaching the Player within the Collective” helped frame the education session, which was then delivered within the context of the practical topic ‘The Creation and Use of Space’.

In essence, Chris used the session to illustrate how we, as coaches could, and should consider the role of the player (singular) in the moment.

  • What are the demands on the individual?
  • What are the different situations that a player can receive the ball when looking to create and use space?
  • What is it that the game is giving us?
  • What is the success criteria?
  • How is connected to the sub-principle, principle, team values and identity?

While we ran out of time on the evening, Chris provided a full overview of the planned activities in the presentation. The 3 main components prior to a game at the end of the session are available to view.

Activity 1 – Receiving in Isolation

Activity 2 – Receiving Under Pressure 1v1

Activity 3 – Receiving & Finishing

CRYSC Final Thoughts

The concept of coaching the ‘individual in the collective’ is not something that we as coaches often fully focus in on. A final take away was how we can be more deliberate in the planning process for what the demands are on the player and what success would look like supporting the ‘individual’, ‘line’, or ‘unit’.

As a club, we continue to work to provide clarity of the vision, philosophy, and methodology from our Player Development Plan (PDP) that supports your own success as Rapids Youth Club coach. Thank you to those that joined us this September.