Bryan Gonzalez, a youth soccer coach with the Carson-based Los Angeles Galaxy professional soccer organization, had a question for Coast Valley Soccer Club boys U18 players he was working with Saturday.
"Why do I ask you to slide (your feet)?"
After getting no response, Gonzalez quickly answered his own question.
"It creates more passing options, but more importantly it gives us a better passing channel."
During a clinic at the Crossroads soccer fields in Santa Maria that lasted approximately 90 minutes, Gonzalez, along with four other L.A. Galaxy youth coaches, gave technical advice along with encouragement as each worked a station.
CVSC boys and girls in soccer age groups ranging from U9 to U18 participated in the clinic,
The players rotated between the five stations and spent approximately 15 minutes at each station.
Stations ranged from full-on miniature games, to partner passing in which partners tried to get the ball to each other through as many "gates" (which were actually cones set apart), to three-on-one and two-on-one passing drills, to combination shooting and passing drills.
Gonzalez said, "I volunteered for a while then I got on full time," as a Galaxy youth coach.
He emphasized footwork and thinking ahead to the players, and his message definitely resonated with Alex Lee, a midfielder with the Righetti High School varsity who will be a senior next year.
"Probably technical things, placement, thinking ahead were what I got most out of the clinic," he said. "Bryan talked about that a lot."
Besides Gonzalez, other Galaxy coaches at the clinic included Jeremy Linden, Natalie Sanchez, Karina Flores and Lauryn De La Torre.
Linden and Sanchez recently graduated from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and Cal State Northridge respectively. Flores will be seeking a degree in athletic training from Cal State Fullerton.
De La Torre said she works with the Galaxy foundation. "I do clinics like this on the side," said the Loyola Marymount graduate.
The clinic was designed to assist local coaches and players in soccer techniques as the coaches observed and players worked with the Galaxy coaches.
"All of our coaches are encouraged to attend," said CVSC President Becky Crowe. "The Galaxy coaches are here to mentor our coaches and help them improve on drills and practice."
CVSC Vice President Gerry Rodriguez worked to make sure the clinic came together.
"It took me a good seven months," said Rodriguez. "There was a lot of back-and-forth, back-and-forth," communication with local CVSC officials and the Galaxy. "I made a presentation to the board. There were e-mails. The board voted.
"This is one of two clinics we're doing. We hope to do another one for our teams in Santa Barbara."
Rodriguez said the CVSC is based in Santa Maria, but also has teams in Santa Barbara, Paso Robles and Morro Bay. "We have 45 teams," he said.
Djibril Coulibaly, the CVSC's director of coaches, surveyed the crowd of coaches and players before the clinic began and said, "The turnout looks good." The clinic was indeed well-attended.
After some prep work, the Galaxy coaches got right to it with the players.
"That was good, but a little too hard," Linden said to a player about his pass at the outset of the clinic.
"That's perfect," Linden said to another player after another pass.
"All right!," Sanchez exclaimed after Zorah Coulibaly, 12, knocked the ball into the net during a U13-14 girls miniature game. "Good."
Afterward, Zorah Coulibaly, who will be attending Lakeview Junior High School next school year, said what she picked up most from the tournament was "learning to work with other people."
During one of the stations she worked, De La Torre told her U13-14 girls group that she had seen some good work during a passing drill but, "I saw three teams come together at one of the gates. That shouldn't happen. There are more gates than (partner teams). That means you're not moving enough."
Then she praised Alexis Medina and Karla Martinez. Those two got the ball to each other through the cones the most times, so they were excused from the 20 pushups the other teams had to do.
Afterward, Medina said what she picked up most form the clinic was the need to work her way open to give teammates better passing options. Martinez said she learned "how to communicate a lot, how to get open."
Flores had the U9 players first.
"Talk to each other!," she implored players during a drill. "Get open for him!," she shouted to another player.
Bryan Gomez was a defensive back for the Santa Maria boys soccer team that made it to the Southern California Division 3 Regional final last spring. He was at the U18 clinic Saturday.
"I think what I learned most was how to play the game quickly and work with teammates all together," he said.
Gonzalez seemed to register the progress the players made.
"When we started, there were players who were standing, not understanding," Gonzalez told the U9 group after his session with them was over. "By the time we finished, everybody was moving!
"The stations lasted around 15 minutes, and it was amazing to see the progress the players made," Gonzalez said. "I can only imagine the progress they would make if we worked with them, say, an hour at a time. That goes for all the clinics."