I think more and more players want to know the why. I think gone are the days where it’s like, because I told you so. They want to know why. They want to know the purpose.
On today’s episode of Beautiful Game by WeaselsFC, Tony Nicalo speaks with Jennifer Klein, Head Coach of the University of Michigan women’s soccer program. They discuss the challenges and tactics to develop players while winning at a collegiate level.
Jennifer’s coaching ambitions began when she was team captain at Arizona University. From there, she became the assistant coach of University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and then graduated to head coach. Jennifer recognized her need to learn and grow at a Power Five institution. She went back to being an assistant coach, and she won her first national championship. She credits her resilience and growth to the people around her.
Jennifer believes in a slow and patience process. Jennifer and Tony discuss how training sessions help players learn from failure. Letting your players learn and adapt is important to their development. Jennifer understands decision making is one of the hardest tactics to teach, especially since coaches are trying to make it second nature.
This year, the University of Michigan’s Motto, “Make it Michigan”, was an inspiration to her coaching. She shares two winning experiences on the field, where she saw this motto in action. However, Jennifer also trains her players to look at losses as an opportunity for growth. Jennifers believes in changing the culture of athletics and using Michigan traditions to do so. No matter the amount of time on the field, she wants her players to be impactful with the minutes they are given. She empowered players to believe in their value and embrace their role.
She discusses the recruitment of soccer players and how to find the right fit for the team. She looks for competitive problem solvers, as well as players with great character. She also seeks development and growth potential while recruiting. While coaching, Jennifer builds her players into athletes, as well as strong adults. She grows and leads students in their desired career paths, whether that is to become a professional soccer player or not. To Jennifer, acquiring skill sets on the field are just as valuable off the field.
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Learn more about Jennifer Klein.