From the sunny coast Florida to the northeastern U.S., the Academy’s Dr. Bill Steffen has been sharing his wealth of knowledge with coaches throughout the month of January.
Steffen, the chairman of the Academy’s Sports Coaching department and former collegiate soccer coach, recently returned from a speaking engagement at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention in Philadelphia on Thursday, Jan. 16.
Steffen was asked to address the issue of mental toughness in athletes to the crowd of more than 800 soccer coaches.
“Right now mental toughness is a buzz word,” he said. “A lot of people are talking about the way it’s defined and developed.”
Steffen used research he had gathered to instruct the coaches in attendance on how to make their athletes more mentally tough.
“It went very well,” Steffen said. “I got a lot of questions and requests. I gave out between 100 and 150 copies of my presentation to coaches.”
Steffen came to the Academy to help coaches further their education, after spending decades on the sidelines of collegiate soccer pitches, first as an assistant for the University of North Carolina (UNC) women’s team and then as head coach of the University of Oregon women’s team.
“I’ve enjoyed my time at the Academy,” he said. “Helping coaches further their education, I think that’s a great thing.”
Steffen was a successful assistant at UNC, as part of a staff that helped lead the Lady Tar Heels to three out of four national titles during his tenure there from 1993 to 1996. During that time the team had a record of 73-2-1. He spent nine years as the Lady Ducks’ head coach from 1996 to 2005. Steffen earned his doctorate, while working as an assistant coach at UNC-Greensboro.
Steffen, a former professional soccer goalie, gave tips to coaches of elite goalies during a session in Sunrise, Fla. earlier in January. Steffen spent Jan. 6-12 helping to train a collection of coaches on technical and tactical issues as well as fitness and psychological development.
Steffen spent six years as a player in the American Soccer League and the American Pro Soccer League, precursors to Major League Soccer (MLS).
“When I played in those leagues it was a bit more shaky than in the MLS,” Steffen said. “Occasionally checks would bounce, but it was fun. It was soccer at a high level.”
The upstate New York native played goalie for the Albany Capitals, or as Steffen puts it, “we called them the lack of capitals.”
“It was a great experience,” he added.