One of any coach’s objectives on any team is to find a way to connect to their players. For skills coach Tanner Chassman, his experience makes connecting to his players easy.
Chassman, much like the players he coaches, spent a majority of his childhood climbing through the ranks of the U.S. Soccer development system. Unfortunately, due to several knee surgeries by the age of 18, Chassman’s dreams of reaching the highest levels of soccer came to an end.
However, while his dreams might have had to change, his passion for the game never wavered.
“Soccer is my life, that’s what has taken me around the world,” Chassman said. “so that’s what led me to deciding ‘hey I think I would be a good coach.’”
At the College of Charleston in South Carolina, Chassman became an undergrad assistant coach, while also running his own personal training service during the summer. He was able to find a medium to continue his love for the game and also pass his knowledge down to a new generation of players.
When his undergrad career was coming to an end, he hoped to find a professional place to continue to develop his own coaching skills and understanding of the game he loves so dearly. He started applying to several different development academies with the hope of one of them answering his call, and letting him further his career in coaching.
The Dynamo Academy answered.
“What Paul (Holocher) wanted was a young coach who has a learning and growth mindset, and I fit the bill for that, which is awesome,” Chassman said. “Things just kind of worked out in the universe and brought that together to where I’m here now. And it’s a great situation right now; I love what I’m doing.”
With a coach on the roster that focuses entirely on the players’ technical skill, the academy has opened up another avenue for its players to develop. Along with the IQ building and mechanics training the players receive, they can also get specific instruction on the techniques they can use to improve.
“Having a staff member whose sole focus is on technical development, and not coaching a collective team, has allowed us to help players more on an individual level, and improve and fall in love with becoming a technical player,” Academy Director, Paul Holocher said.
Since becoming the skills coach for the Academy, he has been an integral part of player development for the young footballers. Technical skill is an important part of the game, as any action on the field requires proper technique to execute. Chassman can have a singular focus on helping the Academy players improve their technical skill at any level.
“A lot of people think that being technical relates to fancy moves, but really it relates to the players ability to be efficient in how they handle and execute actions with the ball in all the various moments within the game,” Holocher said. “Blocking a shot requires technique, so does heading a ball, and receiving a ball out of the air. There are literally thousands of techniques in soccer. Mastering fundamental techniques and layering in more challenging techniques, that are perhaps just out of the player’s current ability is important. You never stop developing, especially when you are deliberate in your training.”
Also, as the youngest coach on staff, he has a close point of reference to modern obstacles of an aspiring professional soccer player fighting through the U.S. Soccer Development System.
Despite being young, he has already developed a strong understanding of his own coaching philosophy that can be simplified into two parts. One, never stop learning; and two, every action should be for the good of the players.
For the first part, the goal for all people should be to continue to learn and improve. This is especially true for players in sports, and equally true for the coaches charged with leading them. From the beginning of Chassman’s tenure with the Dynamo Academy, he’s been surrounded by a culture of coaches who have a desire to always improve their craft.
“Even for the experienced players, they ask questions amongst each other, everybody is learning from each other no matter what your age or experience is,” Chassman said. “Everybody can learn something which is an important mindset for coaches to have in general.”
The other half on his coaching code, is to always make decisions for the good of the players. Every good coach has a roster of dedicated and quality players behind him. Especially for a development academy, whose goal is to help improve its players; every coach has to place their emphasis on making good decisions that will positively affect a players’ development.
“It’s about them, it’s not about us as coaches; always make it about them, their development and their growth.” Chassman said.
As someone who has had to push through hardships throughout his career, Chassman understands that the players going through the development system have a rare opportunity to further their own careers. He hopes that he can impart how fortunate the players are to be in the situation they find themselves in.
“I remind them every day that you are blessed with what you have right now, with the facilities we have, with the coaches you’re exposed to,” Chassman said. “And they’re way more talented than I ever was and I made it pretty far in the academy system. So always reminding them stay: humble, know you’re blessed and keep working hard because that’s all you can do.”
Chassman has developed a mutually beneficial relationship with the academy. He gets to continue his pursuit of his passion and the Dynamo Academy players get to benefit from his knowledge and attention to detail. He has proven to be another valuable piece to the Academy’s mission of developing its players.
“Tanner works with all our teams - at each age level in the Academy,” Holocher said, “His personality and ability to relate to the players of all ages have made him a huge hit around the Academy fields. He watches each player closely and takes notes on their technical qualities and which techniques can be improved. It is an eagle’s eye on how to help that player grow technically.”
For more information on the Houston Dynamo Academy, or to view the Dynamo Academy Skillsbuilders program and videos go to www.houstondynamoacademy.net