Canberra United search for special touch

When Canberra United W-League Coach Jitka Klimkova was asked if she wanted a Specialist Skills Coach for her team this season she grabbed the opportunity.

By Eamonn Flanagan

When Canberra United W-League Coach Jitka Klimkova was asked if she wanted a Specialist Skills Coach for her team this season she grabbed the opportunity. “Normally most teams will have a fitness or goalkeeping coach but few have a technical skills coach<” the United Head Coach said. “When I was offered Jason Lancsar (Coerver Coaching ACT) I was so happy to have this kind of coach with the team. His technical skills, with his psychology are important. The players love working with him, he-s so kind and supportive. He sees the real possibilities for players, he-s not a negative person.

“We set out with the players- technical goals for the team and individuals. Some need first touch, and different positions require different skills. We don-t expect short-term benefits. It-s not one or two training sessions, but in time players will become more confident with the ball.All the players can benefit. Caitlin Munoz has played in many National teams, has great experience and she was one of the first who came and asked if she could work one on one with Jason for two hours,” added Klimkova.

Munoz and Michelle Heyman are two United stars working hard with Lancsar with Munoz excited to be working with a Skills Coach “It-s awesome to work with Jason. We-ve never had a specialist skills coach in any squad I-ve been in. I need one versus one practice and this is where I can get the most out of the sessions and I can talk to Jason to discuss where I can improve. It looks like I-m playing midfield this season so I-m working hard on my first touch and how and when to make that killer pass.”

W-League top scorer Michelle Heyman is equally enthused. “I came late to football and when I joined NSWIS (New South Wales Institute of Sport) they expected you to have all the skills. I-d never been shown how to do them like some of the other girls had when they were 10 or 11 through Coerver Coaching,” Canberra-s star striker commented. “I-ve been working on one touch passing and how to beat a player in the final third. I-ve been shown the scissors and stepover, skills I-ve often thought about using but was normally running so fast I-d fall over my feet! I-m now focusing on when to use them in a game to get me out of a difficult situation a little bit faster. I love the sessions I think it-s really going to help me.”

No other W-League team has a Specialist Skills Coach and, as with many activities United are leading the way in this aspect. So what of the man himself, how has Lanscar found his time with the team so far? “Working with the United players has been fantastic. They work so hard and are so keen to improve. They are already great players, fit and skilful but top players can always improve,” he said. “Manchester United Coach Rene Meulensteen who learnt the Coerver method under Wil Coerver was first employed by Sir Alex Ferguson as Technical Skills Coach in 2001. His brief was, apart from improving the technical skills of all United-s youth teams was to give all United's players the armoury to out-manoeuvre any opponent in any given situation. Ryan Giggs, and Ruud Van Nistelrooy were two who benefitted. Rene is now United-s Head Coach,” Lanscar added.

"At Coerver we believe players can always improve and the Coerver skill set and curriculum enables players of all ages and skill levels to do that. Obviously with Canberra United players we are working at a very high technical level and we adjust our coaching accordingly. All A-League and W-League teams should have a Specialist Skills Coach. Teams have goalkeeping coaches but have in the past tended to neglect the outfield individual skills, preferring to work more as a unit, or a team. This is beginning to change across the country and it-s great to see Canberra United taking the lead.”