… is through deep emotional investment.
Rite of Passage
Until you cry for a team, you probably don’t have what it takes.
Not as a player, not as a coach, not as a fan, not as a reporter, not as anyone.
It means you don’t feel this game in your soul, it means you don’t understand the genuine emotional labor involved and the sacrifice, it means you lack skin in the game.
And without that, why would you go the distance? Why would you pursue and explore the tiniest of details? How can you be devoted to excellence?
I agree completely. The soul, the heart, the spirit, whatever you want to call it, is what keeps you going when your mind and body are screaming at you to stop. Emotional investment is the true driver of performance. And those tears cried for your team are pure and unadulterated – and youth soccer development needs to become pure and unadulterated. I feel hopeful. I have seen many more of those tears shed after a hard fought youth academy loss than I ever have at a college or MLS game. It might not happen for my son’s generation, but if these youngsters can maintain this level of emotional investment, then we just might see a paradigm shift across the coach/player/parent continuum.
I would say, as far as soccer development goes, if you don’t watch a team like Barcelona and almost cry for the absolute beauty that they can achieve. If you haven’t spent literally thousands of hours over the last 6 years searching out and reading books the web for ideas, watching tape of Barcelona and experimenting on different practices, going home at night and analyzing what little tweeks you can bring to your practices, thinking about what it is you are looking for in each player, all in order to figure out how to transform your U-8 boys team to a U-13 team that has the skills, ability and desire to play like Barcelona. If you don’t have enough passion and belief to coach o stick to your guns, go against the flow, to ignore other coaches and parents who say your team is too small, or why you don’t have them running laps.. .to insist that HOW they play is more important that results in the short term, that if they learn to play well enough, the results will come, then you don’t have what it takes. You must have the passion and the belief that the path you are taking is the correct one, while at the same realizing that there is always room for improvement, that there are people out there that can help you and to rigorously search them out.
John Pranjic says
What is so significant about the past 6 years? Just wondering…
That’s when I started coaching my youth team, a largely neighborhood team who are current state champions.
Let me answer a little more fully. Although I have played soccer my whole life, I knew, when I started coaching, that, unlike a coach would normally be able to resort to, I would be unable to use almost everything I had been taught, since I wanted my boys to play a different type of soccer. I wanted them to play like the Dutch play, and by extension Barcelona. There was no roadmap available to an American coach for how to get from a U-7 boy (and his team) to be able to play like this. I knew that the existing methods of youth development in the U.S. were not it. And that’s where 6 years of countless hours of constructing a short term, medium term and long term training plan for the boys from U-7 to U-15 to be able to achieve this comes from. Experimenting, tweeking, learning, and endless process. Technique, technique, technique, youth psychology, youth physical development, looking back its far more than I ever thought I would need to delve into when I started… and its been a fantastic journey, and I look forward to continuing on it.
John Pranjic says
I thought you were making a general statement about something all coaches needed to be doing for the last 6 years… glad to hear you’ve been putting in work! Keep it up!
Hincha, Gary and others,
How are you able to keep players year after year motivated and excited to keep training and playing?
Please share your experience and insights.
What is your weekly, monthly, yearly practice schedule like in terms of duration, times, days?
When do players get off-time?
How many games are played on weekends?
How many tournaments a month and per year?
Since I train with intensity every season I lose 1-2 players because they stop having fun, don’t like it, etc. If I don’t solve this problem I cannot succeed in developing players long-term.
Thank you all!
Oh god! Do you know how many youth coaches I’ve come across that shit all over this? Especially the English ones. They see this as a sign of mental weakness. And then there are the parents. Always the parents….
Brian Kevin Johnston says
Bingo… LOVE this blog, and the “confidence” behind it. My son plays on U12 Surf, and pretty sure we play you Saturday… (be nice!) 🙂 Brian-
Gary Kleiban says
Stop by and say hi tomorrow!
I’ll be filming the matches.
Brian Kevin Johnston says
Will Do Gary! Brian-
Gary you are correct. My ten year old boy went to his room and cried when Chelsea eliminated Barcelona. I was sad too but was shocked at his reaction and happy he reacted at all. You are of Argentine and I Cameroonian. I remember my dad crying when Cameroon beat Argentina a long time ago…remember that?
Angelo Agulha says
Life is made of pure emotion when you are brazilian and a Santos F.C. fan…..your blog is a beauty Mr.Kleiban !
NOVA Mike says
You should’ve seen my daughter bawling her eyes out when the U.S. lost to Japan in the WC. She’d watched just about every minute of the tournament and was absolutely inconsolable. Of course, she was only 3 1/2 at the time. She’s much tougher now. 🙂
Dave C says
A real Passion for the game is required. A passion for the teams you support. A passion for the teams you coach. A passion for breaking down the play of teams who are successful.
Dom R says
Amen… you’ve hit the nail on the head Gary! In my mind that’s the single biggest issue we’ve been faced with here in the US. The lack of commitment to the sport some of us live and breath. This is unfortunate because soccer/football in this country has such a large number of youth playing the game, but until we get to a point where it’s as highly regarded as American football, baseball or basketball there will always be those that have NOTHING invested. I look forward to the day that I can flip on SportsCenter on ESPN and get all of the scores (and highlights) from around the world. I’m not discounting FSC or any of the other news outlets out there, but until soccer can become an everyday part of our entire “sports” society… lack of skin in the game will always be an issue!
Kit Elliott says
Well, I’m German so I don’t tear ducts, or emotions for that matter. But in all seriousness, I’ve cried tears of joy on many an occasion. I’ve never cried tears after a loss, but people know when I’m sad about a game because I tend to not say anything for a long time and just want to be left alone to my thoughts.
Kit Elliott says
*correction* “don’t HAVE tear ducts”
The problem with deep emotional investment, is that it sometimes leads to the loss of objectivity when considering the game.
You love your team so much, you cannot see the inherent problems which are mounting.
Ken Sweda says
I cry every time I watch MLS. Different reason, though. 😉
Interesting piece on Oscar De La Hoya about the passion that comes from being Latino and playing the game:
Are you passionate about soccer?
De La Hoya: “If I didn’t become a boxer, I’d have been a soccer player. It’s our passion as Latinos. I was raised in a Mexican family and when we traveled three or four times a month to Mexico, we would box and play soccer with our cousins. My dad was a boxer and so was my grandfather, so my career path was set in stone. But to me, soccer is a passion. It’s a family game and one that the whole world shares.”
“To me, that’s the most important thing right now. We have to make the right choice in bringing in a DP. I want him to be a Latino. But in general, he has to be able to help the team.
Why aren’t there more Latinos on the Dynamo roster?
De La Hoya: “It’s strange to have a city like Houston where 45 per cent of the population is Latino and not have more of our guys on the team. We must make the right choices. I know that we have to cater to fans so that they feel represented, but we must also make sure we have a great team like we plan for the Dynamo to be.”
Great comments by Oscar about the passion and culture he is trying to instill in the Dynamo. That plays a huge part in how your club is represented, the style it plays, and how it relates to your fans, how they live and breathe the club. And as Gary mentioned in the blog without any real skin about the game or your club you lack passion which in turn means everything you do will never measure up to the best.
Kephren, thanks for sharing. I don’t know why but my passion is also soccer and boxing. I think it’s because it was part of my family since birth. It is a part of my soul.
It’s passion for sure that can set apart players at higher levels. Skill is about 15% of the game. The rest is combination of many other things. Passion is the glue that binds. There are kids I know at U14 that spend 5 – 10 hours practicing or playig pick-up games weekly. They have that passion. They get angry when they play poorly and push themselves to be better next time. That’s passion. The spend personal time working to master tiny details. That’s passion. These are the kids who are stepping it up. I think something kids don’t realize is their competition is not their nemisis on other team: it’s the rest of the world and their own inertia.
Have you seen this?
Paul Greengrass is going to make a documentary about Barca’s possession culture. Right on.
Think this is just the thing I needed to finally sort out my mental block. Thanks man!