Follow James on Twitter @coachgalanis
Who is James Galanis
I am a dedicated coach looking to help the game grow through my own development methods.
Where did you grow up playing soccer?
I grew up playing soccer in Australia. I spent most of my career playing in the Victorian 1st and 2nd Division playing against ethnic teams that helped me become tactically aware due to the different playing styles that I had to play against on a week in week out basis.
You played under world soccer legend Ferenc Puskas. What did you learn from him as a coach?
The biggest thing I learned from Ferenc was that the game is played with the mind and not with your feet. He taught me how to slow the game down and speed it up at the right times and how to exploit space.
You founded Universal Soccer Academy. What is the Universal Soccer Academy, and why is it so important?
Universal Soccer Academy is a small soccer school located in New Jersey, USA and Cordoba, Argentina. We work only with serious soccer players that are looking to play at the highest level. Universal has its own training curriculum that has been responsible for producing National Team Players and Pro Players.
You’re the Head Coach for Atlanta Beat. What’s one of the key challenges when working in the WPS?
The women’s game is way different to the men’s game. You need to be able to manage the women players’ minds with a lot more detail than you would with the men’s. Women soccer players need full detail on what you expect from them. They all come from teams where they were the best player and all of a sudden they are on a team where everyone is talented. It’s an art to keep them all focused and confident.
What does WPS need to do in order to be successful?
WPS needs full support from US Soccer, State Associations, Youth Clubs and Youth Coaches. If we want the game to be successful then there needs to be a collective effort from everyone. US Soccer needs to be actively involved, State associations need to promote WPS and Youth Clubs/Youth Coaches need to make more of an effort to take their teams to games. WPS also needs to be more sensitive in a schedule sense. Games cannot be played at the same time that most youth teams are playing games.
Where do you see female professional soccer in 10 years time?
I’m not sure at this stage. As stated above, unless there is unity from US Soccer, State Associations and Youth Clubs/Youth Coaches then the women’s game will never be a success.
Who is your role model?
Ferenc Puskas is my role model but I admire a lot of coaches. Coaches that promote youth players and give these youngsters a chance to play are the coaches I admire most. Coaches like Marcelo Bielsa (Athletico Bilbao) and Pep Guardiola are my favorites. Both coaches give young players the time to adapt to the highest level. I also look up to coaches in other sports like Peter Laviolette (Philadelphia Flyers NHL).
What advice would you give a young player wanting to improve their game?
It’s all about the miles you clock up on your own. You need to play on your own and with friends in a free environment where you can try different things and take risks without a coach evaluating you, and play in games where you can play in new positions and try different things. I tell my students that they need to be touching the ball for at least 8 hours per week if they want to have any chance of playing at a high level.
You’ve coached some very successful athletes (Carli Lloyd, Heather Mitts, and Hope Solo) What’s the one key element that these players all have?
In general all three have an unmatched work rate away from the practice field. They never switch off. They go home and continue to search for ways to keep improving. Carli has clocked in more training miles then anyone in women’s soccer. She is by far the hardest working women’s soccer player on the planet. She is inspirational because she has achieved so much but trains like she has achieved nothing. Admirably, Heather has improved her ball handling skills and is a better player now then she ever was. Her entire life is dedicated to improving. Through injuries and setbacks she has continued to grow as a player. Hope is the fiercest competitor you will ever meet and is super intelligent tactically (organizing defense). She just loves to win and this desire brings her to a training level that is out of this world. Her training habits are the reason she is the best Women’s Goal Keeper to ever play the game.