Continuing in our effort to highlight the best youth soccer books available to players, coaches and parents, this week SoccerWire is taking a look at Dan Blank’s two-part series entitled, ‘Soccer iQ: Things That Smart Players Do‘, a collection of short pieces of quality coaching advice.
The Soccer iQ series is one of the most popular resources for those who want to immerse themselves in the mental aspects of the game, which become increasingly important throughout your soccer journey.
Blank has plenty of experience to draw on, having coached college soccer since 1991 for schools including the University of Georgia and Ole Miss. In 2010, Blank founded SoccerPoet.com, where he maintains his blog and promotes the nine books he has published over the last decade. Blank released Soccer iQ, his first published work, in 2012 while he was working at Ole Miss.
Many in the soccer community embraced the book, with a testimonial from six-time Big 12 Coach of the Year Colin Carmichael stating, “Dan Blank has just written soccer’s first definitive textbook.”
Even with all the wealth of information contained in the two volumes, the book feels much less like a vague entity projecting knowledge at you, but rather a soccer coach walking you through key concepts on how to play the game more effectively. The tips are all easily digestible, with most chapters running for exactly two pages. Almost all of these tips are incredibly easy to comprehend, and when you combine all 100+ tips laid out in the two volumes, it can dramatically increase how you think about the game.
One of my favorite examples of his short, yet extremely effective, tips is in Volume 1, Chapter 24 about throw-ins. Blank says that one of the most important things you can do is to cock the ball behind your head from the moment you receive it, because if you want to see the open target before taking the ball behind your head, your opponent will certainly swarm your target before you have a chance to complete the throw.
He also recommends making sure you throw the ball to the outside of your teammate when throwing down the line to prevent the ball immediately going to the other team, and to make sure the ball doesn’t bounce before it reaches your teammate, because falling balls are easier to control than balls rising off the bounce.
Within this page-and-a-half chapter, which takes about a minute total to read, Blank has not only given the reader three simple and effective tips to improve their throw-ins, but has also done a thorough job in explaining why these tips will help optimize your play.
At the end of each chapter, Blank leaves a quick “Note for Coaches” about the best ways to go about practicing the optimized methods laid out in that chapter. Another helpful resource Blank provides is 10 video companions to the chapters on his YouTube channel, which go more in-depth on certain chapters and help provide visual references.
I would recommend this book to anyone in the youth soccer scene, but most of all to youth coaches for themselves and their clubs, especially if you’re in an area of the country that has made it very difficult to have in-person training. Lots of youth soccer coaches are involved with multiple teams and can be responsible for upwards of 100 players in a given season. While you would like to take the time to work with each player individually, sometimes that’s not feasible. Instead, you can give players chapters to read for homework based on what the coach wants to emphasize, or a coach can assign it as a preseason read and reference it throughout the season.
I would also recommend this book to parents looking for a nice gift to get their soccer-obsessed middle schooler to help them massively improve their game. At the modest price point of $9.99 per volume ($19.98 total), the books can be found in paperback or on Amazon Kindle. And if your child isn’t much of a reader, the two book collection can also be found as an Audible Audiobook, so you can even listen to it on the car ride to their next game.
In addition to Soccer iQ, Dan Blank has also authored:
Every Thing Your Coach Never Told You Because You’re a Girl
Possession – Teaching Your Team to Keep the Darn Ball
Shutout Pizza – Smarter Soccer Defending for Players and Coaches
Rookie – Surviving Your Freshman Year of College Soccer
Happy Feet – How to Be a Gold Star Soccer Parent (Everything the Coach, the Ref and Your Kid Want You to Know)
High Pressure – How to Win Soccer Games by Smothering Your Opponent
In My Tribe – Creating a Culture of Kickass in Female Athletes