The ECNL hosted its annual Coaching Symposium last week in Las Vegas, where more than 500 soccer coaches, directors, and league officials from across America gathered to align on vision for the league moving forward, hear from a collection of fantastic speakers, share ideas, and cultivate growth and progress in the sport.

The two-day event featured speakers Dr. Drew Watson (ECNL Chief Medical Advisor), Luke Hobbs (Arsenal FC), Ryan Hawk (The Learning Leader Show), Dr. Missy Price (US Club Vice President of Education and Development), Ceri Bowley (ECNL Technical Advisor), Didier Chambaron (US Soccer Director of Coaching Education), and a panel of tremendous female head coaches, Margueritte Aozasa (UCLA), Meg Nemzer (University of Maryland), Tiffany Roberts (Utah Royals FC-AZ, ECNL), and Ronnie Woodard (Tennessee Soccer Club, ECNL). Over two days, the event touched on topics ranging from coach and team development, individual development planning and execution, improving player concentration, the psychology behind injuries, how to grow and support women’s coaches in club soccer, and more.

“It’s just been a fantastic experience continuing to build relationships with some of the clubs that we compete alongside,” said Oklahoma Energy Girls Director David Kunitz. “The ECNL has done a great job of bringing a wide range of speakers in to learn some leadership lessons, and to learn some of the sports science pieces.  There’s just a wide range of topics and I think everybody can take something away from each of the speakers.”

In addition to the speakers, ECNL President Christian Lavers led the league’s annual general meeting, highlighting the vision of the ECNL moving forward in the coming years. Breakout sessions allowed clubs in each conference to continue to share their thoughts and collaborate with one another.

“In terms of methodology, just learning from these bigger clubs, bits and pieces that they have. We want to really impress upon those core pillars and mimic things from those clubs, so I think there’s things we can take and bring back to our own clubs,” said Leslie Fitzpatrick, Director at Virginia United FC.

“There’s just so many soccer people here and you meet all the coaches here and get to talk to them about what we love,” said Tampa Bay United Director Eddie Ababio. “The ECNL giving us this platform to talk to our peers is extraordinary.”

With over 500 coaches in attendance, the ECNL Coaching Symposium provides an opportunity not only for coaches to learn and collaborate with their peers, but also an opportunity to better impact their athletes with information they take home and implement in their clubs.

“Dr. Missy Price put us through some exercises that had a lot to do with concentration, but also mindfulness, and the exercises are really things that we can put into work,” said Erin Sharpe, Director of Coaching for Pleasanton Rage. “They’re tangible things that we can bring back to our girls and put into practice to help with their mindfulness, state of being, and mental health.”

Below are some insights shared by speakers throughout the ECNL Coaching Symposium.

“Sports are perhaps the most impactful way we have to improve the physical and mental health of children in this country.” – Dr. Drew Watson, “The Relationship Between Injuries and the Mind”

“Championship mentality: Are our players driven to improve, driven to challenge, driven to win.” – Luke Hobbs, “The Arsenal Academy: Vision, Playing Style, and Coach Development Program”

“Do what others won’t accomplish to accomplish what others can’t.” – Ryan Hawk, “The Pursuit of Excellence”

“Concentration is the ability to focus on what you need to do in the present moment.” – Dr. Missy Price, “Coaching Athletes to Understand and Improve Concentration”

“Create environments where success is inevitable.” – Ceri Bowley, “Accelerating Player and Team Growth Through Individual Development Plans”

Be on the lookout for more from each of these tremendous speakers in the coming months on Breaking the Line, the ECNL podcast.