EL PASO, Texas – As soccer rises in popularity across the country, an increasing number of youth coaches will come in hoping to push out the next generation of soccer stars.
Victor Hugo Olivares, Head of Coaching Development & Methodology at El Paso Locomotive Youth Academy, believes an approach that focuses on physical development and game intelligence can help youth coaches make their teams more well-rounded and provide young players with a foundation to be successful.
“I am here to help coaches understand a different methodology and put it in practice so they can help players in the Academy grow and develop,” he said.
An integral part of the Academy's efforts, Olivares was brought in by the Youth Soccer Department as a support specialist who uses his methodology to educate the staff internally. Simply put, Olivares assists with efforts to “coach the coaches.”
In those two years, Olivares worked closely under the mentorship of Francisco “Paco” Seirul-lo, one of the most influential development coaches who helped Barcelona win numerous titles and worked with soccer legends like Johan Cryuff and Pep Guardiola.
With his approach, Olivares hopes to help Academy coaches achieve a player-centric mindset, in which they create environments where players are challenged to experience different in-game situations and find answers on their own.
He works with Academy coaches to create scenarios that focus on specific aspects of a player’s role on the field and challenges players to use their individual skillsets to overcome obstacles.
“Soccer is so complex that the same situation rarely happens twice in a game,” he said “Therefore, why as a coach do we tell players what to do in every step if they will not encounter that situation again? Players need to adjust to many other situations based on the opponent they are up against and this approach is all about helping players develop their perception skills, their ability to adjust and problem solving with what they have.”
Olivares understands that it can be challenging for some of the youth coaches he works with to grasp new ideas because of the perceptions of coaches they had growing up plus expectations from parents to provide their kids with answers on what to do.
Another common argument that Olivares hears is that the game is played on the field and that’s where one learns from mistakes. While he agrees that this is true, he states that learning from mistakes on the field without an understanding of what is happening will take a coach longer to process, delaying solutions that could help teams better adapt.
He emphasizes to coaches to have patience and trust with the new methodology and with time, the community will gain confidence and understand what the Academy is trying to do.
“We’re just barely starting,” Olivares said. “I do not look at the result when I watch a game and try to help the coach; I look at the behaviors of players and coaches. If we have the right behaviors, then we are going to get results and be successful. The coaches that are willing to listen and put things into practice have seen growth.”
And successful they have been, as the Academy teams accomplished several impressive achievements in 2022. As a result, more young and local players will likely consider joining the Locomotive program because they see value in the way coaches run their teams.
With Olivares being an integral part of those efforts, he and the Youth Soccer Department can continue to support player development and the soccer community of El Paso via the Academy.
“We represent an organization that serves the community,” he said. “The real value is what we do every day. How we coach, behave and treat families when we are wearing the Locomotive logo, these are things people notice. That is going to attract people.”
Olivares humbly says that he should not be given credit for the Academy’s accomplishments and the work youth coaches have done with their teams, but there is no denying the importance of his impact in helping the Academy achieve success.
“If we can help players get smarter in a game where they play collectively, that is the next level,” he said. “Any coach around the world would be interested in those types of players and for as long as I am here, my commitment is to those who want to be part of Locomotive because they see value in what we are doing.”