People like to believe time fixes problems.
Yes. It’s important, but only if spent doing the right things.
Consistently do the ‘wrong things‘, or simply not ‘right enough‘, and no amount of time will EVER produce quality.
Part of 3four3 is about illuminating the wrong things, the right things, and the continuum in between.
For instance, our latest talk on jungle ball.
How long do we need until this isn’t the modus operandi at the top levels of our youth, college, and pro scene?
10 years? 20?
- How long does a U12 coach at the highest level need before his team consistently connects 5+ touch sequences against rosters of comparable level?
- How long does a U18 Development Academy coach need to field a quality product?
- How long does a D1 college coach need before his team displays Akron-like performances?
- How long does an MLS or NT coach need?
Well, do you know that 20 years ago, people were saying we needed 20 years?
I’m still waiting …
England has had a Century
Do they need more time? For what?
- Is their league in its infancy?
- Are their ‘athletes‘ opting for NFL, basketball, and baseball instead (another American soccer mythology, by the way)?
- Do they not have enough money?
- Do they not have sufficient infrastructure?
- Do they not have a rich soccer culture?
Wait, let me guess …
They haven’t had enough time?
Yeah, and Ford hasn’t had enough time to beat Mercedes Benz.
That next generation Taurus … oh baby!
Is the fundamental ingredient to creating a top quality product, be it a search engine, a mobile phone, a 3-course meal, a band, a car, a movie, or anything … some grand mystery of the universe?
Ask yourself this:
What creates a product?
Then ask yourself:
What creates a quality product?
It’s not time.
It only takes ‘time” and ‘patience’ to see the end result. ‘Time’ to implement.
The problem is there has been no ‘implementation’ here because there is no unified and correct philosophy.
I find it ironic that USYS and USSOCCER ‘talk’ about possession, technique and ‘development’. And yet the same old way of doing things never changes.
They preach player development over results, yet they still ‘enable’ clubs to go about business as usual.
For example, state cups at u11. National championships at u14? I know Gary has said winning and development are NOT mutually exclusive. But when you refuse (as most clubs do) to adhere to the gold standard, then the results are a synptom of an inferior product.
Not the byproduct of doing it right.
Pep Guardiola is on the market Mr. Gulati!
All kidding aside – I’m a product of the “boom ball” soccer system in the US (as I call it), and I’m trying to implement more possession oriented tactics with my U12G team. Admittedly, I wasn’t a high level player, so what little I know has to be erased, and I need to increase my knowledge in order to further develop my kids. I’ve had some breakthroughs, but where can I gain more knowledge to continue improving (both the team and myself)?
Ken S. says
In all seriousness, get on Twitter and follow @CoachingFamily and many of their follower. Unbelievable resources and contacts being given out free, willingly and with enthusiasm and support. It’s been a revelation.
Ken S. says
Here’s an example of something that was shared by a member of the @CoachingFamily today. 126 pages of Barca Juvenil 2 drills from 2005/2006. Hope your Spanish is good. 😉 Plenty of stuff like this going out every day (most in English haha.)
John Pranjic says
rob a says
As usual interesting question you pose. I don’t think it’s an issue of time. Soccer development at the national level isn’t a linear thing, we don’t just keep improving just because time passes. Your england example is a good one.
I want to point out countries like South Korea and Japan who seem to put more quality players on “big” clubs now than the US does despite our “head start”. To me, they built their success on a foundation of developing good individual players (and their national teams aren’t atrocious) by being sticklers for technical ability. Depending on the player, they have world class insight into the game (or at least the ability to feature at major clubs).
As a soccer nation we tolerate too much mediocrity—too many players can’t really play but because they’re on winning teams it’s overlooked. And this allows are top players to not be pushed further, harder.
Identifying the right person to implement quality play seems to be the most pressing issue here. Finding that right person can speed up the time it takes to produce quality. Look at Liverpool, Rogers is already getting his players to play possession in less than half a year. Liverpool aren’t amazing but they are playing well, are fun to watch, and seem to be a few players away from finishing as a Top 5 team. For the USMNT, Klinsman might know how he wants his team to play but may not be able to implement his ideas or how to find the players to fit his system. Maybe a combination of both. Klinsman is stuck with a core group of players that do not fit into his vision. His challenge is finding those players who can, and that is what can, and will, probably take time. Then there is England’s Nat’l Team. It has taken a huge leap backwards, IMO, by hiring Hodgson as its manager. England have definitely not identified someone who can take his team into the modern era of playing attractive possession-style soccer. Thoughts?
Dr Loco says
Look. Klinsman is not stuck with any group of players. If all the players suck replace them with 17-20 year olds. Build the right team and in 4 years they will be stars. The issue is all coaches lack BALLS because their job is on the line.
Does US have such a worse pool of talent that Hiddink had with South Korea or Australia?
or Bielsa with Chile?
or Gary Speed with Wales for that matter?
Definitely Loco. I didn’t think of that variable. I am sure Klinsman would love to do get rid of Shea and Altidore and begin with fresh players but , as you said, he probably doesn’t have the nuts to do it or he isn’t allowed to do it.
I’m replying to this post because I need a place to vent after matching the deplorable USMNT v Ukraine last night. John Brooks? Fabian Johnson? Jeff Cameron? Onyewu? Please Please Please. They were terrible. Not bad. Terrible. Then listening to TT talk about how Jones is playing better in the second half. If he is a Dmid why is he not showing? Seems he is seldom in the correct place, seldom has any urgency to his game, seldom links play between D and O. He is rotgut and the anthem for all that is wrong with our team. Then I watch the Spain Italy game and it is the controlled phrenia, whirling buzz of quality movement and activity where at any one time the player on the ball has 2 or 3 worthwhile options and 4 or 5 teammates are in a 20×20 box- ping ping ping. I am despondent. I know that team we fielded is not the team for the WC but they were awful. How am I supposed to sit with my kids and say lets watch that?
That’s why I don’t watch MLS after an EPL, La Liga, Serie A game. I try to watch MLS in a vaccum or I’ll start comparing.
The fact that Klinsmann played Onyewu (for example) is classic case of a problem many coaches have, which is they are creatures of habit. It’s one of the things I continually remind myself (as a coach) to avoid.
I tell my players that getting onto ODP or a national team is the hardest part. Once there, you tend to hang around. Even if at the fringes irrespective of form. Klinsmann is no different from the same recycled player pool. There is no way Oneywu is in the top 10, 20, 30 of center backs in USA. Aaaah, but he is “Gooch” and we know him . . .
I see the same thing from fellow coaches in the age groups I coach (U15 and U13).
This is a problem that affects the national team all the way down to U9.
I’ve been reading 3four3 for a while and tend to agree with almost everything written, but I”m also in the same boat as Rich when he posts above, where can I gain more knowledge to continue improving myself and my team? Is there a specific system or method to training for the ways that your teams play that can be shared with us…hints, recommendations, etc? It always feels kinda like an ad for buying a soccer program or soccer self-hep system, I get all motivated, then I don’t seem to find any specific content on fixing it. Any help would be appreciated. We agree with you, can you help us with some ideas about what to specifically do about it in our training?
Ken S. says
Twitter @CoachingFamily. See my response above. This is not a money-making venture, so I’m not shilling for it. But it has been amazing to see the passionate and frustrated coaches out there who are trying to change the game and are more than willing to share their knowledge for the betterment of the sport.
Juan de Dios says
I think depending on what kind of philosophy you relate to? How much soccer you watch? which style of the teams you watch you like the most? then if you like Barcelona I would say watch their games, read books from former coaches, get some training sessions etc…talk to other coaches if you have access visit different training camps etc etc…
Gary Kleiban says
As Ken & Juan suggest, there is no shortage of resources. From books, to video, to audio, to training diagrams, to commentary.
But I feel your pain. There is information overload! How do you sift through it? What’s good? What’s not? What’s proven? What’s not?
Thousands of drills, countless permutations!
Wouldn’t an established and proven framework be nice?
Not a strict recipe … but a framework. A basis to work from.
I’ve been listening Matt. To you and everyone else. And I’ve been building.
And I know you want it yesterday!
So you are saying it does take time to create a quality product. Sorry, that was too easy.
Gary Kleiban says
Was wondering who’d be the smart-ass.
“■How long does a U12 coach at the highest level need before his team consistently connects 5+ touch sequences against rosters of comparable level?”
My response; within a few games, possibly one. Make connecting 5 consecutive passes the objective of the match. When winning is the objective, trying something new is understood to be risky and contrary to winning, hence something new is rarely tried and development is equally rare.
Present the objective, let the players figure it out and develop their own strategy on how they will accomplish the objective. Provide guidance, not answers, so the solution becomes the players and they understand the why, not just the how. Example: Ask them where it is easier to connect 5+ passes in row on the field and why. Ask them what does stringing 5+ passes in a row cause the opponent team to do and the effect it has on the game.
This weekend, my team’s objective is when the possession of the ball is won; it has to be cycled back to our goal keeper before we attempt to score. I will discourage the “booting” of the ball up field as a means to clear pressure near our goal forcing our backs to stay open (wide) and relatively negative to the ball. Each pass will need to be a connect, not a 50/50 “jungle” ball.
My predictions are my players will be able to provide most of the solutions and strategy on achieving the objective, but in learning this we may even concede a few goals to the opponent. The opponent coach will instruct their team at half to start pressuring our goal keeper more. My instructions to my team will be continue play as is and not resort to the direct game when the opponent starts to pressure high. Instead, use the new intensity of pressure in the second period to improve our ability to play out of our back line and keeper. Indirectly I suspect we’ll learn where it is easier to possess the ball with passing, how our support to the ball needs to look, (both for keeping the ball and safety if it is lost on our half of the pitch), and the effect it will have on our opponent (physical, mental, heart) relative to where the ball is on the field.
I do not have the expectation of winning this game, but I do know when the team starts to think strategically on how they are going to keep the ball, results such as winning will start to occur on their own. This is a mixed age U14 (11, 12, 13’s) girls rec soccer team. I’ll repost a follow up upon the completion of our game Sunday on what happened and it will be extremely biased in favor of my team, so take it for what you feel it’s worth. Just figured it’s enough time talking about what is right/wrong, enough with the excuses and waiting for something concrete to be suggested. Time for action using creativity, trial and error, and learning from experience to develop my coaching.
Gary Kleiban says
“My response; within a few games, possibly one.”
At the highest level? And against rosters of comparable level?
… and the methodology is just talking about it, and letting the players figure it out?
Rob A says
I’m in this strange boat, because I’ve seen them execute it. One time we went up 5-0 about 4 minutes into the second half. I didn’t even say a word and they just went into keepaway mode. For 26 minutes! The other team touched the ball maybe a handful of times in that half.
So for the strange part they haven’t come close to anything like that again. Sure they can do 5 pass sequences routinely but if they could, at will, just say “you’re not seeing this ball again” why not do it all the time? There’s some disconnect between what they’ve obviously already learned and why they choose not to play that way.
How long does it take to get a U12 to make 5+ passes consistently in games against comparable levels.
I think the coach is the biggest factor – as the saying goes EVERYTHING rises and falls on LEADERSHIP. My story: I had a pretty much brand new U11 team last year. Decided to commit to possession soccer. Juggle balled our way through the fall season, while I ripped my hair out. 🙂 Finished 4th in silver level for the area. I was searching for answers and did lots of trial and error. Focused a ton on technique specifically for passing and receiving, along with a lot of drills on vision. Huge parent issues and problems with kids attitudes. This made it hard. Continued to work on the same things through the winter. Constant communication with parents and lots of Barcelona you tube homework for the boys – mid spring the light bulb came on and the boys started killing teams 8-0 and 10-0 that we lost to in the fall – with total possession soccer.
The team is now U12, we have continued to work on technique, mostly opening the body up and weight of passes, as well as some basic pattern play out of the back. We have out possessed every top team in the city playing in the highest level this year. So to sum up – if you know what your doing – my guess is one season. Depending on the kids you should be able to by week 5-7 of the season see some major improvement. If you don’t (like me) almost a full year (as long as you really study good possession teams and learn anywhere you can) before you are legitimately can play possession and if you can’t get parent support maybe longer or never.
Thanks for your input Alec.
Seems pretty consistent with my experience.
What are your parents saying now?
Do you think that it will be easier next time you get a new group now that you a trackrecord to point at?
My parents love it now! The kids love it too. Partly cause we win and partly cause they like the style. Every group has its own challenges, but yes it does get easier. Got u9s and I’m always talking to the kids and parents about the u12s. I tell them, ” If the boys listen and work hard they can play like the u12s!” What’s the story with your teams? How long has it taken u and what ages?
“Sucess” depends on context: starting point, oposition, potential, age, etc
One of my favourite things about working with younger ages is that you can mold them, build goo habits, and really see good progress
Again everything depends on context, but in 6 months you should be able to see good progress for U11-12
For example I’m in second season with 13G, we have a couple of strong players, but about half of the roster likely would have no made cut in other A teams at U11…we are point where we beat kick and rushers from Club 3 times bigger by margins of 8 goals…that tends to get parents on Board
pg 19 says
We finally played yesterday, against a rec club that has been known to put together decent possession soccer teams. In fact, the opponent started the game with the kickoff and before the whistle, the coach yelled to his team to possess the ball. They succeeded in launching the ball forward into our corner of the field which we handled. I guess if you count the touch on the ball from the one forward to the other, they succeeded in completing one pass before turning the ball over.
Our team’s objective was to cycle through our goal keeper whenever we got the ball. The girls understood this, but did not execute and it did take some “reminders” from me to start that type of play. Prior to this game, negative passes were extremely rare and the number of times we strung 5 passes in a row was zero. Also consider we played our first two games not allowing passing to improve our technical ball handing abilities and individual possession. This was our 6th game of the season.
Once we settled in to working the objective, we clearly were stringing 5+ passes together frequently. Was it true possession soccer; no. It was very mechanical, but it was our first game with the objective. As we play our next two games, the girls will be asked to continue the style of play, but read the opponent. When we only passed forward, what did the opponent do? As we start to cycle backward, what does our opponent do? Can we recognize the difference and advantage we can gain from their shift to our tactics and create an opportunity upfield to score?
What was interesting was listening the parents of the opponent screaming to their girls that we were running the same play. There were no plays, we simply were keeping the ball. To their coach yelling at his team to wake up and not fall asleep, I wanted to say they were awake and under a realization that they could not get the ball from us and had given up trying.
The issue at this point is how can we incorporate this into an attack? We started to connect a few give and goes late in the game and closed the game with a couple of shots. Probably too late in the match and definitely when our energy level had waned as well (played with no subs). Is this a team that can consistently string 5+ passes in a row? I think they can against similar competition and maybe even slightly better like they did yesterday. Do they understand why? Not yet, but they will.
Dr Loco says
“Do they understand why? Not yet, but they will.”
We played an awful game yesterday. After 8 games in a row playing nice possession soccer that all came to an ugly halt. Against stronger, faster players we looked like every crappy team playing kickball . Under pressure we just resort to our bad habits that have been ingrained in our brains. This kickball behavior has been programmed and very difficult to erase from muscle memory. The worst part is players blamed me for making them play possession soccer. This is what makes coaching so frustrating.
Even at older ages, teams often revert to kickball when othre team plays kickball. It’s contagious . . . remember. Part of developing a soccer player is right mentality, discipline, composure . . . it’s not all about technical and possessoin. Need to be smart and disciplined. Most USA coaches make the tradeoff in favor of size and power. I think the equation needs to be more tilted to favor technique, smarts, tactical awareness. Players who have that discipline should be what US Soccer looks for and what youth coaches need to heavily work on.
Juan de Dios says
There are some factors that I can see, I live in Ok, I have been living for a year now here in the US, and in one year I have been to different soccer games, at different levels, and the quality of the games have been “really poor”, almost no tactics, no idea of what they were doing, just relying on their speed and strength it is sad, cuz if you develop their technical-tactical abilities you have a high chance of doing something more, first thing that amazed me was that here it is so expensive to have your son play soccer, it is crazy!! the philosophy of “if you want your son to be better you have to pay more”, I do not like…I don;t know if in all the US is like this but here it is.
Time…well let’s take Mexico, How many years it took them to win something International? A lot, but then they started investing in the most important thing…the youth…let’s recap… 2005 U17 world cup Champs, 2011 U17 Worldcup Champs, 2011 U20 Wroldcup 3rd place, 2012 Gold Medal at the Olympics, there is a pattern, they invested in develop a better system they correct their mistakes and improved and we are talking about a Nation that breathes, eats and pray soccer! It could also be lack of knowledge at least over here when I attended a Highschoo, or college game, crowds were excited by “crazy” tackles, or “headers”, crazy! But like I said that is over here, and coaches just yell and yell, pass! pass!!! but then I see their practices and they do not train what they want them to do on the field, “pressure! they scream, but during practice they do not train How to pressure, where to pressure, where to win the ball, how to do it and when you do it, then what do you?? All of those things are important, it was amazed to me that some U10 U11 coaches didn’t teach the proper shooting technique to players, how to position the foot, how to give a good header (?), etc etc…too many things, to just blog about it…but nice posts everyone.
What creates quality? Quality instruction. Where does this quality instruction come from? An open mind to evaluate honestly your own techniques, and the determination to explore a variety of learning opportunities and be able to identify what quality is from the instructors providing those learning opportunities.
But more than that, once you have all the right education and the rest of it you need to have the right teaching style – suitable for your players. Then, even moreo, you need a group of players who also recognize what gold standard is. And you need parents who support that through thick or thin until such time as the gold standard is producing results because it’s being applied appropriately.
Juan de Dios says
Also if you only have the players for 2 days a week, and some coaches try to do a different practice everysngle time, (like proving they know a lot of training sessions), then the kids will never develop anything, they need to have sessions game related, always with the ball, short but intense, and then some days to work on tactics, but the Technical-tactical-physical trainings are the best..I took the US soccer course and they wanted to relate your whole practice on one subject for example: shooting…so you do your practice based on that…to me that is a waste, you need to try and work on every single aspect of the game…possession, pressure, recuperation of the ball, passing, turning, moving, sprints, 1,2 touches, bumpers, make them think before they get the ball, etc etc…
Juan de Dios says
Based on your philosophy, if you want to play kick and rush then train that, if you want possession then train that, if you want playing it simple, etc etc…depending on How you want your team to play is how you should train, Not train and then see what happens during the game…
Dr Loco says
“depending on How you want your team to play is how you should train, Not train and then see what happens during the game” Excellent!
I agree with this – my practices focus on passing (how to pass, how to receive, how to move off the ball), and there’s always pressure to go in 20 different directions – “they need to shoot more”, or “they need to work on throw ins!”… Of course there’s value in that, but I’ve been promoting the same view PG19 has…”girls, make 5+ passes before you take a shot”.
Now to be fair, my team is only 1 year old, comprised of predominantly rec-level players that will need lots of touches and instruction to get where they need to be. We did play one team that on paper was much “higher” than us in flight, yet we moved the ball around with authority. It was a breakthrough that got the kids believing more in the idea of passing over bulling their way to the goal.
Still, I feel like I need to improve in order to get them further….my current quest helped lead me here, appreciate the comments and the suggestions from everyone.
Dr Loco says
“Also if you only have the players for 2 days a week,” Remember Gary’s team only trains 2 days.
“some coaches try to do a different practice everysngle time, (like proving they know a lot of training sessions), then the kids will never develop anything,” Yes, most coaches want to show off their big ego. Kids need repetitions to master the sessions.
“the Technical-tactical-physical trainings are the best” Perhaps for the older ages groups.
“I took the US soccer course and they wanted to relate your whole practice on one subject ” Good for younger age groups.
“you need to try and work on every single aspect of the game” Not sure. Might be overwhelming and lack focus.
Focus and intensity is key just like the game.
Juan de Dios says
I am sorry I was talking about U10 and older, What I do is try to limit the kid, only 1 touch exercises, at a short time, but intense, using bumpers for both teams etc.. in small sided spaces to promote chasing the ball and recovering it, at first it looks bad and sloppy, but within a few 3 or 4 exercises they starting to get it, you make them think, “what do do before I get the ball?” I only have 1 touch so I need to force myself to look before receiving, a lot of people like to talk about how important is a Number “10” in their team, what does that mean? Well the onle player that thinks, that makes a difference, can take that crazy pass or assist, well I think I rather develop my players so I can have 10 number “10” players on the field…everyone thinks, everyone is anticipating the play…But to do that requires dedication, and work, something that I have seen Gary do with his boys just by watching his videos….
Juan de Dios says
And yes I am saying you CAN have a good team practicing twice a week, but it takes a little time, the experience I have right now, I started implementing some exercises in my sons team, and it has been for at least 4 months and I can already see a big difference in their passing, moving, even “talking” to each other, possession etc etc…we have played 5 games, 5 wins, and had possession of the ball almost like 80% of the game, it is crazy, my first experience and it has been good 🙂
I play a lot of 4 goal games so the kids are always trying to figure out how to move the ball around to attack one of the goals. Another variation that is fun to watch is have your assistant coach stand on one side and you on the other. The rule is, if the coach is behind a goal, that is the only one you can score in, if the coach is between the goals, you can score in either one. Heads start to pivot like the kids are possessed :).
Arsenal Coach says
What creates a product?
1- Demand for the Product: The type and the description of the product
2- Equipment, Mechanism and start to end plan (Flow chart).
3- Trial and error
4- People to manage and run the process with good ability to do so
5- People or machines to produce who are well trained (or well run) and well supervised.
What creates a quality product?
1- Quality Demand
2- Quality Plan
3- Quality Managers
4- Quality Machines or workers
5- Critiquing and fixing errors
Our Demand : Tackles, balls in the air, 50/50 boom ball, booting …
So our First step we have is wrong.
The demand has to be: nice soccer, skillful, smart, passing and moving, …
So as worker in this factory, I get messages from my COO or VP (US Soccer), College soccer (supervisor), … etc that my players has to be stronger physically, win 50/50, run faster …. When my players try to build out of the back, my shift manager (Parents), gets all mad and asks me to hit it.
So as a worker, I need to adjust to my factories demand or find another place.
My point: for any product .. The demand has be the right things.
Sorry, but this is BS excuse Arsenal Coach
The real reason is one of:
– you don’t believe in possession soccer
– you don’t know how to develop possession soccer teams / players
– a combination of both (the most likely)
For purposes of clarity changing your blogging name to Stoke City Coach or Big Sam Coach would be helpful
That’s a bit harsh.
I think Arsenal Coach has painted a pretty accurate picture of the problem. And yes it is a problem. There are a lot of coaches on this blog, and they mostly focus on coaching solutions. But there is a very large Financial and Parental influence in all this as well.
When a parent is spending $2500/yr for a basic Club Soccer experience, and they don’t see improvements, they are either going to yank their kid out or move them to another club. To most that means winning now.
Educating the parent is as important as educating the coaches.
Dr Loco says
“When a parent is spending $2500/yr for a basic Club Soccer experience ….To most that means winning now.”
Gary’s team solved that problem. I solved it too. Don’t charge anything or just the minimum.
If you believe in it and can deliver a quality product (possession soccer) the big majority of parents will be your biggest supporter…agreed that it might not be as easy or immediate as to set up your team to play kick and rush
Come on, there has been plenty of (video) evidence put forward in this blog that delivering a quality possession soccer product is possible right now in the US
It is not “easy” but it is possible, and the only way to go (if you do believe in it)
Time to start to separate the wheat from the chaff
Gary Kleiban says
There is one, and only one, fundamental ingredient required to create a product.
Dr Loco says
What creates a product? A person
What creates a quality product? A better person
Helps us out Gary.
Dr Loco says
Was at a car museum this weekend. Realized that many car designers copied designs from other top cars. This led to continual competition and a race to evolve the best cars. Many cars were surprisingly similar but the quality was always there.
American quality players need to be modeled after world quality players.
What creates a quality product? Similar quality products.
Dr Loco says
Competition from similar quality products.
Modern Business 101
Who new they “needed” an iPad before they came out? Or an iPhone?
Demand does not produce good products!
Good products produce demand!
Possission soccer is the iPhone, but it hasn’t launched in the U.S. so people know they “have to have it!”
Short answer: Coaching
Not lip service coaching, putting nice statements on web sites coaching, but quality product on the field coaching
And a support system that rewards quality coaching
“Many times myself why good soccer doesn’t have may fans among coaches and journalists. One day Johan Cruyff answered me: “Because you have to know it” ”
“Many times I asked myself why good soccer doesn’t have may fans among coaches and journalists. One day Johan Cruyff answered me: “Because you have to know it” ”
Juan de Dios says
I agree, what is funny is that this was developed back in the 70’s and there is still people that won’t believe in it, so it’s a matter on how you see the game, how do you like your team to play,,,
USA, nor England, will ever catch up. When players like Alan Gordon for USA are being selected for the national team you are in big trouble.
USA will have a tough time, I am convinced. If anyone is old enough to remember, think back to when Princeton played Georgetown in the 1989 NCAA tournament. Georgetown was the big, bad #1 seed in the tournament, and Princeton was #16 (and probably not even a top 100 team in the country then). Princeton’s coach – Pete Carrill – ran a quirky, possession oriented offense that required patience and accurate passing, not to mention movement off the ball to create what was called a back-door pass / layup.
Princeton lost the game by 1 point (50-49), even though they were something like a 30 point underdog. Save for a ref’s call on a foul, Georgetown wouldn’t have won, and their coach actually said Princeton was the better team.
In a contrast of styles – the boom ball team (Georgetown) couldn’t handle the possession oriented team (Princeton). You’d think there would be a massive shift to the possession style, but the game went the opposite way. There are no real Princetons anymore, because American culture likes acrobatic slam dunks and the core skills sometimes get lost.
It would take a major shift to get the US to play possession oriented soccer. I AM seeing it more, but it’s not happening broadly enough. I’ve played maybe 50-60 different teams, I may have seen 1 team actually play a similar style. That’s kind of a bummer because when I watch Liverpool or Swansea, I find it so engaging and entertaining that I can’t believe more coaches don’t follow suit.
And I believe by “doing the right things”…it does not take that much time to see a measurable change and improvement. In order to reach to gold standard you need both of course (right things and time)….but to see movement in that direction…not as much time as you think.
I coach an average U10 girls team. Practice focus this season changed from individual technique to possession and movement. Game last weekend, 11 different 5-pass sequences in our game. Not great…but they are trying. Way better than last season (which was go forward as fast as you can, and try to dribble past the entire other team).
And I am not sure we are working on the exact right things yet in practice….but they are certainly not the wrong things either.
11 5-pass combos is pretty good in my book for a U10 team! If I get half of that, I am excited (although we probably average around 10 per game).
I 100% concur with your thought – I am doing the directionally correct things, but my team doesn’t look anything like the Kleiban’s team…
Dr Loco says
“People like to believe time fixes problems.” Time makes you old.
“What creates a quality product?” The desire to remain young, novel, innovative.
You ask Gary “What Creates a Quality Product”? I can draw from personal business world experience:
Right people, resources, processes, procedures to achieve the vision / goal
Understanding what the market wants (top quality players for soccer)
Identifying and developing right raw material (in soccer’s case the right players AND coaches)
Learn, model yourself from top competition
Always look to improve, never settle
Set highest standards
Build proper network
Understand that the only constant is change
Manages / leaders need to surround themselves with people smarter than them
People are your # resource
In reading as much as I can about top academy like Ajax, La Masia, Bilbao, Real Sociedad, and so on . . . they have much in commen with above business model.
Dr Loco says
How long does a U12 coach at the highest level need before his team consistently connects 5+ touch sequences against rosters of comparable level? About 3 months or 1 season.
How long does a U18 Development Academy coach need to field a quality product? About 1 year of training.
How long does a D1 college coach need before his team displays Akron-like performances? About 2 years. 1 year to recruit and 1 year to train.
How long does an MLS or NT coach need? 20 years and counting but you could do it in 1 year.
WRONG! If you have players that were raised in a soccer culture of possession it is instantaneous. They do not know any other way. Wynalda’s band of brothers proved that this summer. A knowledgeable coach and a culture is what is needed.
I’ll go on to add that time is a crutch, a reason to slow down, not take things seriously, procrastanate.
Instead of time, set short-term goals and work towards them. Never say “we have lots of time”. Someone else will have more urgency and pass you by.
Amen… work like you are behind.. because you are! There are kids playing, living and breathing soccer from the time they leave their crib. Your 10 year old kid in the suburbs of America didn’t know what soccer is until they were 4 or 5 and then they only do something with the ball 2x per week for 12-14 weeks per year.
One last thought: The best time to change is when in a positon of power. When you try to change and you lost your competitive edge, the path is exponentially more difficult.
This may be difficult for some to understand, but it’s a proven business model.
Having had the Kleibans coach my son’s team for four years from U12-U15, I can give you some anecdotal evidence for how long it takes for things to happen. Over those four years, we had some kids every year that would leave and some we would pick up. It was like clockwork on how long it took each new player, at ANY skill level, to “get it” and work within the system. The magic number seemed to be approximately 6 months of beating it into their heads by the Kleibans before they looked like they understood the system and played it.
I understand on a massive scale it would take time, but it isn’t rocket science and it can be done and has been done before. This post reminded me of the saying, “Practice makes permanent, not practice makes perfect.”
Dr Loco says
“Practice makes permanent,” Yes whether it is permanently bad or good.
Juan de Dios says
Time is irrelevant. It mainly requires commitment and focus while it looks really bad before it starts to look really good. Liverpool is a great example right now. Can you resist the pressure as a manager to go back to the shitty you way you used to get your results while you teach your
Arsenal Coach says
You certainly miss understood me, Nuno. I am highlighting the problem, I am not saying I do so.
I am highlighting a problem we have in many state in the Country. Its easy if you live in CA or TX or FL to say recruit passionate players that the demand is good skillful soccer but if you live in IA, MS, OK, AL … it a bit different. I am not finding an excuse I am agreeing to the topic of the article and I would like to find a solution like many others.
Dr Loco says
Have you guys seen Colombia play?
They’re looking good!
Some of you have made business references, some may apply, but the one thing that matters most is PEOPLE! if you dont have good, knowledgable, united, and committed people (i.e. Coaches), good luck! You can have the fanciest drills in the world, it wont matter.It starts with the FA of the nation to insitute a plan, expecially in Canada/US. We do not have the privilege of relying on Pro clubs for an identity like other soccer nations.
For a nation, it does take time, probably a generation. It took Spain 20 years to get to where they are, infighting etc.was a huge barrier (somthing like what France is going through now. Mexico, Germany all revamped their infrastructure, but you need the right people to get it done from Administrators, FA’s, coaches, and of course the players are the beneficiaries.
Juan de Dios says
I agree with you Mario..
Juan de Dios says
Have you guys heard of Project “Q” or “WE CAN FLY” the infamous US project to win the world cup in 2010 according to a US Soccer report they created it, right after the 1998 world cup….
Interview of Montoya who coached girls U -17 NT.
I think the problems are identified ( repeatedly). Do we have the will to fix it? Can we allow the right people who have the knowledge and will to fix it?
Some will disagree with AM’s first statement.
Can we develop a system at a grass roots level?
A country like Japan who is quite new to soccer systematically has trained 10,000 kids with the Coerver system. Now you may have problems with this if you’re Brazilian, Argentenian, German and heck even the Dutch never accepted Weil fully. But what it gave Japan ( and I think N korea) is a system of technical development. Its shows at the women’s level and they certainly are producing more quality men too.
IMO we’d be better off with a committment to a system such as this from U-6-U-10 then the hodge podge of “voices of experts” and lack of direction that I now see in the states. The trouble is that everyone else is an expert and doesn’t want to follow the recipe because they can do it better.
Its more complicated than just Coerver but at least it would be an early foundation. Crap give me Coerver until U-10 with a heavy futsal base in the winter; You can screw them up as much as you want in Spring and Fall and we’d still be better off 🙂
SA: What did you think about the American players in general at this age group? Do you feel confident you saw all the players you needed to see to find the best group you could take?
ALBERTIN MONTOYA: I feel comfortable that we had a pretty good grasp on the best players in the country. But what I will go back to – and what we keep saying as a country for both our men and women – that we could be better technically. And tactically as well, but technically we’re still not comfortable enough with the ball.
We talk about playing a certain way. We want to possess the ball much more. But in order to do that we have to have players who just love being with the ball at their feet.
The challenging part about the national team is you have to get the right mixture of athletes and players who can play, and kind of put it together, and at the same time developing the players.
When you see some of these other countries and how good they are with the ball. For example, that North Korea team, every single one of them handled the ball like a No. 10.
SA: What was it like going from club coaching to national team coach?
ALBERTIN MONTOYA: As a club coach, looking from the outside in, I would watch our national teams and think, gosh, why aren’t we playing a certain way? Why can’t we player better than that?
Now that I’ve been there – I kind of put it back on us club coaches, which is we need to do a better job developing these players technically so when they do go to the national team stage we can play the way we talk about we want to play. But we need the players to be able to do that.
I even fell into the trap where, maybe we don’t have enough of those type of players. So we need the athletes who can compete a certain way to help you get the results.
Ideally, you have the athletes with the technical skill. We’ve got to get our players better all-around with the ball. It goes back to doing that from 8 to 12 years old and building that foundation.
neeskens you might be hitting something big with the U6-U10 focus
bj pheasant says
and here is a partial answer. We haven’t filled our youth feeder system yet. http://www.academia.edu/350656/U.S._Soccer_Capitalization_Participation_and_Development_Rates_for_youth_soccer
It takes one person and the right environment to incubate the change. Think of the Dutch before and after Cruijff, then he helped catalyze the same thing at Barça. He had help and other who conspired, but he was the key to it all. One person could change everything, one exceptional person….
You might not find another Cruijff for a while, but a half-Cruiff would do for now 🙂
Seriously, watch this if you would like to better understand all this talk about the importance of this Cruiff guy:
“Johan Cruijff – En un momento dado”
Documental, Ramón Gieling
And now Cruyff is doing it in Mexico is what I heard.
Technique, technique, technique is all I see in this interview. Is technique important? Absolutely! It’s absolutely crucial to be comfortable with the ball. However, there’s a reason Spain are kings of the world and not Japan or Holland. It’s the sophistication, the soccer iq, and the decision making that works in unison with the technique. Technique is crucial, but I have always felt average technique and top-notch soccer iq can work, the opposite, top-notch technique and average soccer iq,not a chance!
Also to pick on some quotes made:
“The challenging part about the national team is you have to get the right mixture of athletes and players who can play.”
“I even fell into the trap where, maybe we don’t have enough of those type of players. So we need the athletes who can compete a certain way to help you get the results.”
-Simply put, it sounds like he’s still trapped.
“As a club coach, looking from the outside in, I would watch our national teams and think, gosh, why aren’t we playing a certain way? Why can’t we player better than that?”
“Now that I’ve been there – I kind of put it back on us club coaches”
So wherever he goes, it’s the other person’s fault? Take responsibility!
Great points Kevin
Average Technique and High Soccer IQ is why Herculez Gomez didn’t score two goals in A/B.
Since when does Hercules Gomez have a high soccer IQ? I’m not even sure that he has average technique either to be honest, not compared to the world. He’s a hardworking guy that can score some goals, not much else, certainly not a player with mind blowing quality.
my name is Daniel. I’m a football (soccer) coach and blogger from Germany. I think the discussion you’re having is in many ways the same one we had had in Germany 10 years ago. The national team was really bad and we didn’t have enough young talented players. What the DFB (German Football Association) did was to improve the coaches education by providing more courses, even for coaches on every level an at the same time to raise the requirements. Now it’s really hard to reach an UEFA A-Level coaching license if you were not a professional player. But even if you don’t make it, you have a good education in tactics, physics and training methods at UEFA B- and C-Level. During the education every coach is encouraged to create and follow his own philosophy.
There’s no emphasis on drills or predefined training sessions, but much more on the question how you can create a drill (what are the decisive elements) that helps you improve your players. In the end this means that you have to learn and understand how football works and what you have to know to teach it (you need to understand the details of the game).
The development in coaching lead to more talented players on a professional level but also to much more quality in small clubs on lower levels which provide a good basis of education for the younger kids. So I think what Mario says is right: you need people, you need talented coaches to create talented players. And yes, it takes time, but more than that, it takes commitment and educational concepts.
But I also have to admit, that changing football education in Germany after 2000 was easy because it is our #1 sport and everyone felt something had to be done.
I hope, my English wasn’t to bad so that you could all understand what I was trying to say.
Your english is great and you expressed yourself very well. Thank you for your contribution. In Germany, what is the system for youth soccer? Do most youth players join a sports club? If so, how much are dues normally to play a full year of soccer? Can you describe the system for 7-14 year olds?
well, in fact the only ay to play soccer in German is to join a club. We don’t have school teams and generally, school sports are not very important. But every small village has at least one club. It’s pretty cheap, about 90 to 130 Euros a year.
Most children enter a club between 6 and 9. We have some easy principles we use in educating the kids. There’s a lot of coordination and funny games and only a little soccer for the 7 and 8 year old kids. So the emphasis is on letting them play and move freely. At the age of 8/9 we start with technical education (basic techniques) which are refined until the age of 10. That’s when the tactical learning starts with small groups (1 -1, 2-1 and so on). The tactics get more an more until with 13 years we start teaching team tactics (but still individual and group tactics are more important).
And we have a league system startin at the age of 9. The 9 year old play 7-7, the 11 year olds 9-9 and the 11-11 starts at 13.
Well that’s about it. I’ll do my very best to contribute to this discussion.
Dr Loco says
“you have to learn and understand how football works and what you have to know to teach it (you need to understand the details of the game).”
Finally someone discusses it! Coaches need to be educated academically was well as in the game. Many players make bad coaches because they chose to play sports instead of educating themselves.
I have been teaching my players concepts of physics and geometry. Light bulb!!!
Dr Loco says
What Makes a Great Coach?
I’m with Kevin. Technique is the foundation. But it is just that..only the beginning. We need smarter players. It is commonly pointed out that a player’s technical base is set by 15 or 16. I’m not saying we shouldn’t emphasize technique. Certainly we need to improve. (Especially control/first touch.)
But smarter players are certainly needed more. bad player selection is the main symptom of poor tactical coaching. Probably because the coaches are poorly ‘educated’. Both from their personal playing experiences and obviously reinforced by the clubs and poorly focused coaching courses.
Hall 97, I don’t see that technique and “soccer intelligence” as being mutually exclusive. In fact, from the youngest age, good games/drills/practices combine both at the same time in small sided game formats with rules designed to get the players to develop the specific qualities you are looking for.
What is important is knowing specifically what you are trying to develop at what stage and what games/drills/practices with what rules/restrictions are appropriate to develop those qualities. It’s knowing when/how to adapt/tweek a game when necessary to achieve the desired results.
Don’t disagree TDSoccer. You have to have technique in order to develop tactical awareness and decisionmaking.
Technique encompasses more than dribbling and shooting. I have read time and again that the American game stifles creativity….”let them dribble” is the mantra.
To me, you develop creative players by teaching/enabling them to make smart decsions on the pitch. There’s a difference between playing smartly and just taking risks.
But yes, I definitely understand what you are saying. Just as winning and developing are not mutually exclusive.
For instance, take this rondo:
You must know:
When is it appropriate for you age group/skill level? Specifically, what does it teach tactically AND technically at the same time? How can you modify it to suit your specific situation if need be?
It is knowing what skills (game intelligence and technical) that your players need at the appropriate time in their development and finding an appropriate practice game/session that brings out those skills in your players.
Its like a good chef who has the knowledge of how every ingredient he has access to can be best utilized to bring out the flavor of the dish he is creating. First he must have in his mind’s eye the dish that he is trying to create: its flavor, texture, apprearance. Then he must have the extensive knowledge of the ingredients that he can combine to complete his vision and how to modify those ingredients if need be to achieve his vision if the ones he first thought would do the job don’t quite add up right.
Dan (from Germany) we need more contribution from you and others abroad as this blog routinely uses Europe as a standard, so we need to hear and listen what people like you are thinking and saying.
For me, Dan’s second paragraph sums it up and the biggest key in developing players.
“There’s no emphasis on drills or predefined training sessions, but much more on the question how you can create a drill (what are the decisive elements) that helps you improve your players. In the end this means that you have to learn and understand how football works and what you have to know to teach it (you need to understand the details of the game).”
It doesn’t need time, it needs vision and leadership and a common philosophy. But with last minute goals against Antigua, the people at the top be happy as nothing catastrophic happened, so nothing will change. Time is not what they need to change, but it will take time for them to change. Good luck USA! You’ll need it. In South America, soccer is way of life and expectation at all ages to produce top talent, not just provide paid activity for kids. America is good at that, but not as good at developing top footballers. I don’t see how a dual system can work?
I have been in USA almost 10 years. Biggest difference I see is South America (all countries) take soccer seriously. It’s a passion, a way of life. No time to teach lesser players like in USA. Top clubs identify and develop best talent they scout. USA takes all comers with money and then try to filter out best players in college.
Below article about Argentina sums up our problems. Same system is at work across Europe and South America. You hit the nail on the head Joao! Unfortunately our culture and college to pro, and pay to play club system holds us down. Will it change? No! In a meaningful way? No!
Why does Argentina produce a staggering number of world-class players? One reason is the quality of coaching and a deep commitment to developing young talent. “Argentina has an excellent youth team program and they have the best coaches in the world in terms of teaching young players,” soccer commentator Dick Howard told CBCSports.ca.
Howard also points out Argentine pro clubs have a knack for spotting emerging talent at a young age. “All the top teams in Argentina identify players when they’re still young, bring them into their system, and place them into their regional training centres,” Howard said. “From the time the players walk through the door when they’re 13, they’re looked after as they grow up and work their way into the starting line-up.”
“So to make it into the [Argentine] first division, and to be the best player on your team in the first division and then to be selected for the national team, that’s hard.
Another key element of Argentina’s development program, according to Tocalli, is that it won’t sacrifice short-term success for achieving its long-term goals.
“I don’t feel pressure to take my players and make them World Cup champions. My job is to train these guys so that after the U-20 World Cup they can play in the major leagues and for the senior national team,” Tocalli said.
He also believes Argentina’s overwhelming success in producing star players can be attributed to the fact the game is such an integral part of the national culture and identity.
On Brazil’s love for futsal:
This insanely fast, tightly compressed five-on-five version of the game— played on a field the size of a basketball court— creates 600 percent more touches, demands instant pattern recognition and, in the words of Emilio Miranda, a professor of soccer at the University of São Paulo, serves as Brazil’s “laboratory of improvisation.”
Similiar stuff can easily be found on Ajax (“How a Soccer Start is Made”), Manchester United, Arsenal, Inter Milan, and many other clubs . . . well known and not as well known to Americans.
The common theme is (1) they identify them young (2) players surrounded with top coaches (3) fiercely competitive to make to first team (4) soccer is deeply engrained in culture and tradition (5) financial rewards for developing top talent.
As has been pointed out many times, USA lacks all of above and our system will never compare to Europe and South America. All we can hope for is marginal improvement. As long as our system is what it is, we live and die by it, imprisioned in USA soccer development paradigm.
If last night’s performance by the USMNT is any indication, we are taking huge leaps backward. Doesn’t even look like we are playing the same sport as the rest of the world.
USA barely beat Antigua. Got lucky at end. Antigua had as many chances. USA needs way more than time. USA will ALWAYS be a second or third tier footballing nation. From top to bottom USA sucks at identifying and developing top talent. College soccer sucks the big one. Youth soccer is all about size (ODP). And MLS stinks to hell. Where the bleep are we getting players or caoches or USSF leadership to push us to next level? Too comical! We wanted Klinsmann and this forum claimed partial victory for that. So what has Klinsmann done? Same ole shit is what I see.
US got fundamental problems that starts 10-15 years before any player shows up on USMNT roster.
Gary Kleiban says
Like you seem to suggest Armando, the problem is both at the bottom AND at the top!
You could be doing world class development at the bottom … but if you hand off those players to a donkey, you’ll get a donkey product.
Similarly, but not symmetric, if good player development isn’t happening before the NT stage, you won’t get a world class product.
Here’s where the asymmetry comes in:
Nobody, at least not me, is asking the NT to run the world over. I’m asking for consistent displays of good football against 2nd and 3rd tier nations. And that my friend, we are more than capable of doing RIGHT NOW. For that, the top needs competent people … not the bottom.
Who ‘wanted’ Klinsmann?
I think what people here ‘wanted’, was Bob Bradley out.
When Klinsmann was anointed, I think we were mostly hoping he could bring something to the table.
to quote Joao…”In South America It’s a passion, a way of life.” ….in North America its not, and may never be, and there is the biggest problem. Sort of like The English wanting to be a world power in American Football, not happening….. are our expectations realistic? lets chat in 15 years, but i have a feeling we will be talking about the same things….i really really really hope i am wrong!
Doesn’t need time. USA needs better coaching! Especially at younger ages coaches do not properly develop players to understand touch, passing, movement, calmness, thinking reading game.
All the rest of the shit written on this forum is . . . well . . . shit! It’s all about coaching. 95% of coaches in USA are shit! Total shit! Never developed anyone. 95% of players to finish high school and mom and dad spent 10s of thousands of dollars for average player who flat-lined at 12 years old.
Again, COACHING IS WHAT USA NEEDS! Yes, as simple as that.
The biggest problem I see is that 95% of Americans do not know what good soccer is…..and this has a trickle down effect that holds our country back from being any good. Parents continue to shell out thousands and thousands of dollars to Clubs because they think, “If I’m paying $2,500 a year I MUST be getting the best coaching money can buy!”. What they don’t realize is that they are NOT getting good coaching and the product these teams produce shows it. But because the parents are completely clueless, they continue to pay the money to the Clubs because they think their team is playing good soccer. The only thing is…..IT’S COMPLETE AND UTTER HORSESHIT!!!!
These clubs are NOT producing good soccer. How do we expect to have our NTs play “good soccer” when 95% of the players are growing up playing Jungle Ball???? It’s not like you can just flip a switch a become a world class player just because you have graduated up to the top of US soccer. We are expecting our NT to play a style of soccer that most of the guys/gals on the team do not grow up playing. If our society knew what good soccer was they would DEMAND it to be played correctly at the younger ages. Jungle Ball would be frowned upon and ridiculed……but instead it is applauded! Whenever you see little Jonny aimlessly belt a ball 30 yards up the pitch, he is congratulated for such a strong kick! Why? Because Americans are CLUELESS!!! They think THAT is good soccer!
Until Americans become educated as to what good soccer, we will continue to raise unintelligent, technically challenged, low soccer IQ players. If we want world class soccer at the highest levels it starts at the LOWER levels. We cannot expect good soccer from our NTs until Jungle Ball is eradicated at the youth levels. This is when and where the future stars SHOULD learn what good
If you look at Brian/Gary’s team, you see players that know EXACTLY what good soccer is. They know what it looks like…..they have a picture in their mind of what quality soccer is. 95% of Americans wouldn’t know quality soccer if it bit them in the butt!
If our kids were raised playing soccer the way Brian/Gary’s team plays soccer, they would have a chance to become world class players because it’s in their DNA! The problem right now is that Jungle Ball is in our kids DNA.
We need Americans to become more educated as to what good soccer is so that they DEMAND it to be taught at the lower levels. This will then give us a chance to produce world class players that can lead our NTs to some quality soccer.
Dr Loco says
“All the rest of the shit written on this forum is . . . well . . . shit! It’s all about coaching. 95% of coaches in USA are shit! ”
6. 99% of coaches don’t develop shit.
7. 99% of coaches are currently not capacitated to develop players.
15. Parents are a problem in youth soccer.
19. Excluding exceptions, players raised with an ‘American culture‘ are far behind players raised in a non-American one (latinos being the most prolific example).
20. The more a player is coddled by parents when it comes to soccer, the more damage is
done to their development.
23. The US is not tapping the demographic which is comprised of the best players and best soccer minds.
The coaching has a lot to do with it but the shit parents and players don’t make things easier. Right now they are impeding my ability to develop higher level talent. It’s not easy making a quality product from shit ingredients.
Okay, so i worked with my U8s this week on simple 5v2s and spacing/passing drills. They/we just started as a team in August and we’ve been focused on technical stuff until the last two weeks. Can’t control the ball, can’t do much else, etc. Be that as it may, in only two practices this week working on passing, possession, and keeping space/shape, in our game today vs a U10 rec team (no talent but huge size/speed differential) they won 7-2 with 5 goals directly assisted. That is – they were aware of who was open and played the ball into them to shoot/score. It also happened all over the field. It can be done, if you provide the proper environment in training to incentivize them to learn that the ball is faster than any opponent and that while dribbling/beating an opponent is absolutely necessary and critical to success… once you’re around him someone else should be open for a pass (if that’s the best option) or you keep going to take on the next guy then find the open teammate.
I think I’ve said prior, I have a bunch of small players, even for U8s, but with just a few practices focused on playing one- and two-touch (or as fast as possible) and telling them that a five-pass sequence counts as a goal just as much as one that goes in the actual goal during our free play/scrimmage time (1/3 of 90 minute practices, always) they’re learning and translated it into our match today against much bigger, faster kids even if those opponents were lacking skill.
I’ve even had a few emails and conversations with parents after the match who were complimentary of how well the boys played and what it all looked liked.
I think I finally may have convinced them (parents) that it’s not all about getting the ball forward as soon as possible, but keeping possession and working it around until the best opportunity presents itself to make that penetrating pass/run/chance. Hallelujah! 🙂
Ken S. says
Lothar, thanks for sharing this. Have had exactly the same experience with our U8 Premier Rec girls last year (they are now U9’s). We’ll be starting our own club around this team because I absolutely will not turn them over to the machine. Here’s my blog about our experiences. Start at the beginning so you get a sense of the progression. It will sound amazingly familiar to you. 🙂
@Ken – What is the process of starting your own club? Can you elaborate on that a bit please? Who will your team play against? How many teams are you planning on having in your club? Etc.
Ken S. says
Hi Chad. We’ll have to figure out first whether we want a non-profit or “traditional” (I hate to call it a “for profit”) club, but the idea is basically just to formalize our team as an independent entity under a club banner, and join our local travel league. We’ll need to complete league/association paperwork, secure training space (which we already have through the park district league we currently play in), but finding home game fields will also need to be pursued (also through the PD who rents them out.) We’ll need to secure refereeing and pay them, collect/pay league fees, and charge out parents for 1/2 tournaments (we’re already entered in one this upcoming weekend, but as our current rec team.) Liability insurance and similar things still need to be investigated. I’m sure the league provides coverage for games, not sure what we’ll need as far as our “practice” coverage. I suppose we’ll get more into the details as we get closer (probably shooting for Fall 2013). It will only involve this single team, but if we do well and our philosophy takes hold, producing interest from other age groups, we’d think about expanding. And we won’t take a real salary, such as it is, we’ll charge the actual costs of the league, and add maybe $100-200 for our training (we’ve seen what giving it away for free occasionally does to the commitment level of parents.) Should come in well under the typical $1500 for this age group.
Ken S. says
1-2 tournaments, I should have said. Not “half” tournaments LOL.
bj pheasant says
If you have questions about starting a new club I am available. I have started 2 soccer clubs abd 6 high school programs along with consulting for ~20 more. I have some info on my website. Give me a call or e-mail.
1. Nonprofit Company structure and operations – developing a strong framework
2. Increasing youth soccer participation – building the base
3. College Recruiting seminars for high school athletes – presenting goals for motivation
Thanks, Ken. Enjoyed reading your blog. I should probably have stressed that “it can be done” was a bit of my wonderment for U8s. I wasn’t sure they had the mental capacity (yet) to collectively, for the most part, play that way since we’ve been focused so much on individual technical stuff. It’s also wonderment that the parents are starting to (I think) buy into what we’re doing this early. Then again, 3 points fixes everything, right? Ha!
So far we hadn’t even really broached true team possession work until the two practices this week. I know U9s are mentally mature enough to do so, because I did it with my old team (the one stolen from me by the DOC after a state championship at U11s). Trust me, there is still a lot that needs to be worked on technically and “proper tactics” at this age are still mostly out the window I think – unless you want to be like the fool American coach yesterday and leave your two defenders standing at the top of the box “defending” the goal! 🙂 All of my boys had a good 30 yards of dribbling practice every time we worked it across midfield before they had to decide to take one of the defenders on 1v1 or pass to an open teammate if someone had caught up to them with a good run. There is one kid (my assistant’s son) who absolutely, positively will not pass the ball, and his dad (from Guatemala) knows it and so do I, but neither of us say too much about it because one day he’s probably going to be a great attacking mid/striker since he always wants the ball to himself. He’ll figure it out with more mental maturity as well, so I/we are fine with it. The basic instructions to them for now are: dribble until you get pressure; pass when it’s on; when we have the ball everyone get open; when we don’t have the ball everyone find a mark. Keep it simple – no one has a “position” per se – just all work together as best U8s can.
As far as it goes, or went yesterday, just about the only thing they didn’t do that I told them I wanted them to do was pass the ball back to the keeper when they were facing our goal and had pressure behind. Not sure if it’s because they were afraid to, just trying to dribble away from/out of it, or just simply didn’t think of it under said pressure. There were plenty of back passes in the rest of the field, just not to the keeper.
I can say that they did play all of the goal kicks short to feet, and some of the parents are probably still horrified by me telling them to even play some of those goal kicks across the front of goal. Oh, well. teammate’s open – give him the ball. We keep possession and start building from the back. Same thing when the ball was on one side or the other – if they had a teammate open across the goal, they were giving it to them even though some of the balls got intercepted and ended up in chances on our goal. No worries. Right idea, just didn’t execute the pass properly or with enough pace.
It’s still just a few months in and they do need a lot more technical work, but it was gratifying to see that after only two sessions of possession work they were figuring it out. We’ll emphasize it in our 30 minutes of free play but continue letting them dribble away if that’s what they choose to do right now. No individual ability to possess the ball, no passing or team ability to hold the ball or possession!
Ken S. says
Awesome stuff. Yeah, we let them dribble all they want. Into trouble, out of trouble, we don’t care. They have learned to choose their moments better, and the possession work and rondo’s we do simply provide another option. We don’t really stress too much of the “transition” between the two, or the moments when dribbling should give way to passing, or vice versa. To me this is a critical thing, and you seem to agree: there are certain kids who just have to dribble. We usually call them ball hogs at early ages and try to get them to give it up. It should be molded, not killed off. Couldn’t agree more with your last statement. Really sums it up for me. Messi “dribbled everybody” until 12. Is there a better passer on the planet now? Is there a better dribbler on the planet now? He’s probably the best at both. We would have killed off his dribbling in this country, and would have cut his passing awareness by half.
“When he [Luis Suarez] was 11 he was invited to a youth national team football training camp, but he had to decline the offer because he could not afford football boots.” Surez honed his skills playing street soccer. He got picked up by his local pro club Nacional in Uruguay. Then off to Netherlands at 19. Surrounded by top coaches from 14 when he joined Nacional.
Stories like this abound, from Pele to Robinho and from Ibrahimovich to Rooney.
Contrast to USA where kids don’t play street soccer and never develop creativity, cunningness. Everything is a paid activity and everyone sports 2 or 3 $100+ cleats. High school and college soccer are bastardized surrogates to a professional academy. And USA kids are coached by shit coaches who are oceans apart from youth academy coaches in Europe and South America.
And we are asking how much time is needed? WTF!
We need better coaching, vision, leadership, common philosophy . . . better system all together. But if we could have better coaching at grass roots, things would change. And college needs to get better. But who’s going to do all this? NO FUCKING ONE! Just one in ten thousand clubs like FC Barcelona USA. I’m not liking those odds.
To parents out there: stop wasting your money on shit coaches. Don’t just join your local club if it’s shit. Driving an extra 30-45 minutes for a proper club and coach is worth it. Don’t be cheap asses, especially at U12 and under where building blocks shape the player for a lifetime!!!
Dr Loco says
“To parents out there: stop wasting your money on shit coaches. Don’t just join your local club if it’s shit.”
This is how I felt when I first discovered 3four3. Not I just say to parents.
“To parents out there: go waste your money on shit coaches. Don’t waste my time!!! Just join your local shit club. If you think your shitty kid is going to develop more somewhere else then do me a favor and leave. I don’t need dishonest and disloyal parents.”
European and South American countries identify players for national team and pro academy as young as 10. They take risks. They don’t try to develop everyone. Not everyone is created equal in soccer. America doesn’t understand this. Only risk ODP and US national team take is selecting players based on early puberty and growth. There was a post a few months ago on this site about being average. USA is partly average because it’s risk-averse (why they favor big players at younger ages, size over technique and smarts).
America does nada to take chances and identify talent (national team and MLS). They keep going to the well of early puberty and that shit game called college soccer. Keep going to that well and in 10, 20, 30 years blogs like this will be around talking same shit.
I agree Alvaro about college soccer. It is SOOO bad it’s basically unwatchable. And we expect our NT players to play that crap for 4 years and then become top notch players on a global level??? Just aint gonna happen!
Dr Loco says
“They don’t try to develop everyone. Not everyone is created equal in soccer. America doesn’t understand this.”
Right because America was founded on “supposed” equal opportunity for everyone (excluded were many small groups).
SA: What advice would you give to parents navigating the youth soccer landscape for their children?
IAN BARKER: Sometimes less is best. Seek advice from a number of sources, but always make your decision based on what is right for you and your child. If your child has a passion for soccer that they are allowed to develop at an early age then the quality of the formal programming is not as important because enthusiasm and talent will likely get the player where they want to be. Of course stronger teammates and stronger opponents aid development, as well as better coaching etc., but if the child is not committed then I think parents can waste time and money where it could be better spent.
Well, my 14 year old’s U16 team was beaten by ‘anti football’ this past weekend. One game was a 1-1 draw. The irony is this team scored on a free kick and had zero shots on goal. Our team had 32! (I lost track of chances after the first 40…)
We lost a game 3-1 where we had at least 70% possession.
The vicious cycle continues. Our team is mostly hispanic. We can ‘outpossess’ any team. But being mostly hispanic, there’s still way too much dribbling. Where these kids fall short is the footballing intelligence to beat a team of ‘superior athletes’.
This is where I separate the technical from the tactical development.
Tough loss, but keep working it. Had the same thing happen with my girls yesterday – we possessed the ball I’d say 60% of the time, much better passing.
This team just boomed the ball over my back four, but I have 1 girl that is very fast and heady, so we’d just play it wide out of the back and pass forward.
This team is in 1st place, my team is in 5th (out of 7 teams). We’ve won or lost all our games by 1 goal. It was 0-0 until the 55th minute, when one of my defenders got caught out and a dribbler beat my GK.
Told my girls – “that was the best game you’ve played”. We passed sloppy, but well, controlled the pace of the game, had 5 shots on goal, just couldn’t find the back of the net.
Our first season last year, we lost every game 4-0, 6-0, etc. This year, same teams and we’re scaring the heck out of them. Possession oriented game with improved technique is showing that boom ball only gets you so far.
I’m not the best coach, but I crave knowledge on how to get my girls better. It’s amazing how much better they have gotten with what little I know…to me that’s proof enough we need a change at the club level.
Dr Loco says
“But being mostly hispanic, there’s still way too much dribbling. Where these kids fall short is the footballing intelligence to beat a team of ‘superior athletes’.”
Is being hispanic the problem? My players just lack intelligence. The players are arrogant like their parents and that limits learning. 6months ago they were just an average bad team. Now they whine and complain whenever they get challenged just like their parents. Parents and players need to be humble and continue to learn.
21. The more a parent believes their kid is good at this game, the worse they actually are.
No, loco, being hispanic isn’t the problem. They just aren’t as smart as they should be.
It’s just that, in general, hispanic players want to ‘show off’ with the ball. And, ‘generally’ that can be or is their primary shortcoming as players. Good skill but bad decisionmaking.
That’s where I separate the technical and the tactical ability of a player.
My ‘gringo’ “gets it”. And that’s not my ‘assessment’ as a parent. (That is to say it has been reinforced by a number of people.)
Plays with his head up. Connects passes. Doesn’t turn the ball over. Plus does all the ‘dirty-but-necessary tracking, closing down, tackling, ball winning,etc.
He may not be as good as I think he is, but I keep myself as intellectually honest as possible by quantifying his impact.(Not goals and assists either….I look at his percentage game.) Not looking through stained glass.
This all relates to player id and how as a country we get it wrong. We’re looking for a Messi or God forbid, a John Terry…instead of a Pique, Vermalen, Busquets, Alonso or a Maldini!
I know enough to know…I don’t know enough. Hence why I follow this blog.
Dr Loco says
“They just aren’t as smart as they should be.”
Exactly. Most are as ignorant as their parents. This comes down to academics and overall education. My smartest player is not latino nor gringo. Sports is for the intelligent. Unfortunately in youth sports baseball, basketball, football, soccer parents think their kids who are bad students can be good athletes.
Check out Stanford Athletics. They have some of the best athletes in the nation.
“It took me 30 years to be an immediate success”
Things are never as easy as they seem, even for the biggest winners
What they seem to share is passion, conviction, preparation. When things are not going their way, they might adjust but they don’t jump to the other side.
See this fantastic article from Pep Guardiola on “playing well” and results…it’s from 2006 but the signs were already there weren’t they?
BTW are Pep, Jose, Marcelo, Gary hispanics?? 🙂
“Why did you come, Arrigo?”
“Two days ago I bought La Gazzetta dello Sport. On the cover, two interviews. In one, the last champion coach: Enzo Bearzot. In the other, the last technical finalist: Arrigo Sacchi. The champion said: “Giocare little benefit accounting.” The finalist said: “è bene Giocare medicine.” The same story. The same debate. Here and everywhere in the world. Why on earth Sacchi had to appear in a place where no one had mentioned? Had not won three World Cups without him? Were not happy without debate? With this culture cattenaccistica, why break came a counter that culture?
I was fortunate to be coached by Fabio Capello. One day he told us that in a world where no one dares to make decisions the toma.Y him that was what he did best. And took them depending on how I felt. Understand how their football. I remember my first days of life with him. Italian teams in Europe those years, did not win anything. They were the Spanish (Real Madrid) who took the eared. And several times. Well, in my early days I heard that the Italian coach said over and over that or kept throwing balls and began to play like they did the Spanish or the country never pizza and Moggi today would win anything. It was in the first weeks. And in the following. But no more. How long lasted the message? Until the early defeats. The place where the convictions tested. There is no other. At that time, Fabio Capello began to make decisions (like anyone does) and take them as he feels. As he feels football. In the manner that has become the coach who has won more in Italy. Coach convincing. In Italian. For we all know. In the three World. Carletto Mazzone, my coach and my father Italian Brescia, one day talking about the Spanish and Italian football, talking about misery and wonders of each other, I suddenly loose: “Ao, Pepe, to see if we understand: Spain has many World? Us, three. And you? Given this irrefutable numeric argument, I got up, embraced him, congratulated him and went to do something. What did? Naive of me.? convince him to play as a I like? Ao, Pepe, let the Italians play an Italian.
They have won it all this way. With the “lunga e pedalare palla” (pitch and run). So of tranquil living and earning and winning and winning until he got Sacchi and … started arguing.
Yesterday regained. And already in the quarterfinals. They met in your area with wonderful defenders. They did it when they were all. They did it when they were all over. They waited for someone to attack. And Australia, a bit, he did. Until, eventually, their franchise player, yesterday was Totti (record video to teach how to launch a pressure penalty) order the counterattack and, obedient and sorted according to the instructions, hit where it hurts. Hoping the leaves home for the thief from stealing. Wounding to stop killing. Live well and earn well. And there is no argument. There is no debate.
Until one day lose. Believe it or not. And that’s where Sacchi reappears. They leave. And begins the speech that he feels. And says things like: “Of the possible union of the virtues of the Spanish and the Italians would select invincible”. And I agree. No generosity. Not for friendship. Just because Sacchi, one day, also won. And how! Ugh!”
Pep Guardiola, 27 JUN 2006
Dr Loco says
BTW are Pep, Jose, Marcelo, Gary hispanics??
Yes and all are intelligent.
I’ve been thinking about the posts here and the question posed by Gary, “What creates a quality product?”
Unfortunately, we’ve digressed into a bunch of posts that resemble previous discussions we’ve had on every topic.
And then Gary answered his own question… you need a framework that can be shared and used.
But, to really change the structure of US Soccer you need real discussions around what works for you and what doesn’t as it pertains to that Framework.
Gary said it isn’t time.. but I’m sorry, until you have some sort of credibility, many of us coaches do need time and we need exposure. Gary said it has taken them 7-8 years to get where they are now. I’d say the one constant is that they had their framework/philosophy and belief in that framework that helped them to get the exposure and credibility. Now that they have the credibility, what can they do to change the larger US soccer environment.
So, what we need, is a framework (Brian and Gary). NSCAA and USSF don’t really have one. It needs to be more detailed, but still allow for some experimentation. It needs to start at the earliest ages….and build through the late teen years. It needs to have a leader with credibility (Brian and Gary fit this bill), their youth product speaks for itself. But more than anything it needs to have a tightly knit group of followers (Us?) that will work together to produce teams that will destroy the kick and rush. We need a group of coaches that can use the same language, so if we took our best players from each team, they’d understand the same principles, same verbiage and be able to play within a few sessions together as if they’d played together for years.
And most of all, you need a platform… a professional level team that can display this system to the world. I could give a shit about the USMNT or college or ODP… if I have a team and organization that has a culture, a methodology in 10 years that demonstrates the power of the framework… it will be the USMNT and ODP….
I thought maybe Gary and Brian were going along this path with their partner clubs, but haven’t heard much about it since they announced the partnerships. If it is what they are trying to create… then kudos for the vision. Only thing is you’ll have to work your way into a pro team in the U.S., because you can’t get promoted :).
“The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.” — Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
Gary Kleiban says
Hi Tyler … and whoa you’ve written a ton there.
Let me just get something off my chest …
A ‘framework’ does not create anything.
People create products. ‘Quality people’ create quality products.
I could offer the greatest framework on the planet, but if a person does not embrace it, study the crap out of it, receive further help and mentoring along the way, and ultimately learn to execute it well … their product won’t fulfill the potential embodied in the framework.
Coaches from across the globe have travelled and observed FCB training, read up on their methodology, and perhaps even had discussions with Barcelona staff. They come home, try to implement, and their product remains a big pile of crap. Why? Well there’s a variety of reasons, but fundamentally it comes down to the current competency level of the coach.
Now, of course it takes time to traverse the gulf between novice and expert. We ourselves, don’t know precisely where we fit in that spectrum (the subject of an upcoming post).
But I believe the difference between quality people and the rest is this:
Quality people choose to relentlessly paddle across the gulf.
Everyone else mostly just treads water.
Thanks for the answer. I agree with you about the Framework and understand where you are coming from. Horst Wein has put together two wonderful books and those with additional supplemental material can work wonders for framework. But the mentoring is missing.
As coaches we go through life and probably learn something everyday about coaching, about a drill/session that we’ve just run. What worked, what didn’t work and then try to analyze why. A lot of what we do takes conviction and belief that what we are sowing will sprout thinking and technically gifted soccer players – but the journey from novice to expert coach is slow and making mistakes someone further along the path has already made is such a waste of time.
You said, “I could offer the greatest framework on the planet, but if a person does not embrace it, study the crap out of it, receive further help and mentoring along the way, and ultimately learn to execute it well … their product won’t fullfil the potential embodied in the framework.”
YES! That is what I’m talking about. Can that be done over a blog, over a website and every once in awhile in person? The coaching courses offer what… a certificate to learn some teaching techniques.
To me, what is more helpful is not “did I pass”, but what can I work on to teach “this” style of play.
I think this is where US Soccer is failing.. they teach methodologies of instruction (functional, progression technical/tactical, shadow play, etc.) but they don’t teach a “style” and how to teach that “style”.
Maybe the Kleibans can fill that void somehow 🙂
How long does it take? Let’s take Barcelona as an example.
When Laureano Ruiz arrived in Barca in the 1970’s they only selected for tall fast players. He instituted a change in the youth academy that selected and trained for technical skills, tactical intelligence and speed. However, the first team coaches didn’t buy into his philosophy so there was a massive disconnect between what the academy was producing and who actually made it to the first team.
It wasn’t really until 1988 (about 24 years ago) when Cruyff arrived as coach that an integrated approach of the Barca academy and the first team occurred, as far as trying to align both into a single style of play. However, even then, after Cruyff left, it moved forward under fits and starts under other coaches who were not as committed to bringing up Barca academy products.
It wasn’t really until Van Gaal arrived as coach in 1997-1998 and again in 2002-2003 when he really pushed to promote academy products (Xavi, Pujols) on to the first team that Barca really started to become what it is today.
So how long could it take in the United States? I believe 10-12 years to start getting concrete results and maybe another 10 years to totally solify it, at least at a pro team level. Based on the Barca model, this is my dream scenario:
1) A deep pocketed, visionary owner buys Chivas USA.
2) He is committed to developing a team that relies on its youth development system to play an attacking, sophisticated, ball control, technical game.
3) He hires a president (Cruyff?), a head coach and a head of youth development that are all highly experienced in playing this style and developing players.
4) The team invests heavily in youth development
a. It gives incentives to youth clubs NOT based on their winning records but how many players they provide to the Chivas academy program. Like Barca they are paid a significant sum (10’s of thousands of dollars) per player selected based on how far the player eventually goes and number of years in the youth club.
b. It signs extensive agreements with youth clubs where the clubs receive extensive training on the M.O. of youth development and in return are monitored by Chivas to make sure they are carrying it out.
c. Chivas has an extensive network of trained, experienced scouts who know exactly how to identify talent based on Chivas’ strict criteria. These scouts recommend players for second looks by more senior personnel who then make recommendation to Chivas’ cadre in their academy who invite selected players for tryouts.
d. Chivas sets up their own academy (or series of academies in different locations in SoCal all with experienced coaches developing players strictly along Chivas’ (Barca’s) model of player development.
If an MLS team invested the money that Barca does per year in player development, (I think in total Barca spends about $2 million/year on its whole scouting/La Masia/youth development structure) I believe in 10 years (about the time it takes for an 8 year old go through the whole process) it would should start yielding some results. Barca’s goal is to provide one player a year to the first team from its academy.
That’s another way, but it removes any ability for us to move in a positive direction. I’m not one to sit back and wait for a sugar daddy to come in and happen to have a plan. He would have to be 1) a sugar daddy, 2) very knowledgeable about soccer and 2) have tremendous patience. Not going to happen because the guy with that kind of money isn’t patient, nor will he have had the time to learn and understand the soccer world in a way that would lead to the structure you’ve outlined above.
I’m with you on that, and we haven’t waited for that either. But the problem is that there is a disconnect between youth teams that are well coached and have great technical, smart players and pro development. You can have great youth players who never get a look because the MLS teams neither have the proper scouting infrastructure in place, nor know what they should be looking for. And you can’t rely on ODP because he selection process for ODP (at least in our area) is a joke.
I know TDSoccer. This is why I’ve moved to Mexico to start an Academy here… we are on the border in Tijuana, so my hope is in the future we’ll have a team that can work its way through promotion.
Long term plan, I know. We’ve started with an after-school program that runs from 12:45 for to 6:30pm. We teach English in the classroom, sports psychology/leadership and soccer (we have classes to add variety and expertise in dance and gymnastics/psychomotor movement). We opened in August and have 25 kids… been adding about 1-2 children a week since September. We will be forming the Futbol Club portion of the Academy for those kids that can’t/don’t want to do the Academy soon. We are also starting a non-profit to help those kids that have no money (I give a free session once a week, had one 8 year old kid show up in his converse shoes.. they ripped, the next week he came back with the same shoes, same big hole…).
We are going to build this from the bottom up. I want the club to have a strong culture of excellence and a connection with the kids that you just don’t get in most environments. U.S. Youth soccer is too full of networking, cronyism, and protectionism – not performance. Mexico is probably that way too (from some anecdotal evidence I have gotten), that’s why we start from the bottom, with the parents/kids that have a greater need. Imagine having your kids every day for 3 to 5 hours… kids that already have a deep seated passion for the sport.
Good luck with that, it sounds like a great project! Fantastic getting it off the ground. I have been dreaming of doing something similar forming a charter school here. Combining academic excellence with a good P.E. program to lower childhood obesity, ADT, etc. And the centerpiece of this would be a high level in school and after school soccer program (as well as dance and other selected sports).
Thank you! It has been a big undertaing. I wish you luck on getting your school going and if you ever need help/information, I’ll be more than happy to share.
Dr Loco says
Tyler, sounds amazing.
Curious, how you can make a living? How do you generate income? Do you charge students? Do you worry about crime and safety?
How does starting an academy in Mexico improve US soccer?
In the morning we have a preschool that we charge for and the after school program is also paid for by the parents. We have a lot of public school kids in the program, parents need a place to put there kids and we have the first after school program focused on soccer and youth development (futbol/leadership/english). We’ve bundled things kids need/want to do together and offer it as a package.
Crime/safety… the crime that is most annoying is the petty crime. Car getting broken into… you can take steps to help this not happen. Park in a protected structure/lot. Other than that, I hear more bad things on the San Diego news than here. Not to say you don’t find it here, but I notice it as much as I noticed the Oakland, CA violence when I lived in a suburb in Northern California.
How does an academy in Mexico improve US soccer? I hope one day that, being close to the border, we can have study abroad programs that aren’t ridiculously expensive, we can have a team that can get promoted by developing and recruiting the right players (U.S. and Mexican). Xolos have an Academy program just across the border – so they are even reaching out… same as many Mexican clubs are actively looking in the U.S. – which is good for U.S. soccer. We also have 5 American kids already in the program… lots of Americans live here and work in San Diego. Also, the more options for players helps the players… I’d say there are not enough good players getting seen because of the current structure in the USA.
Here is the difference, if parents are willing, there are facilities here that are very decent and instead of paying $1000+ for a week long camp in the states.. .they can get 2 weeks here for 1/3rd of that.
Dr Loco says
Awesome! I wish you the best. Send a link on your academy/afterschool program.
Thanks Dr. Loco! here is the site: http://www.californiosacademy.com.
Dr Loco says
More impressive. I’m surprised you never wrote about our academy here http://blog.3four3.com/2012/07/03/building-serious-soccer-clubs/
Thanks Dr. Loco… Very helpful to read some of the posts. Definitely brings home the overall goal of creating a club culture.
Dr Loco says
Tyler, did you coach at SACYSL? If so, you have come a long way. Funny to cross paths now. I didn’t recognize you at UCLA.
Yep, I was at SACYSL for one year and then joined MVU in Fremont. You probably didn’t recognize me because I’m balder than before :). Should I know you?
Dr Loco says
Tyler, you would not know me. Perhaps we could have done something together. I was coaching my daughter’s team that fell apart about the time you left SACYSL. Been disappointed with clubs in this area for a long time now. Curious how you felt about the British invasion?
Friend of mine (a coach I respect) sent me an email this morning. he’s fed up with the ‘kickball’ mentality. Said his parents are wigging out because they aren’t winning.
Like most businesses, the ‘consumer’ (parents) tend to dictate the market.
That is, unless you can effectively communicate your brand message (possession) to your market.
I would make it mandatory for every parent to attend a seminar where the ‘product’ is demonstrated. I’d show video of u9, u11 academy players training and playing the ‘right way’. (Even if you are getting this footage from a Euro or SA academy.) Then I’d show the kickball crap.
Once you get a buy in, the rest is easier.
“Friend of mine (a coach I respect) sent me an email this morning. he’s fed up with the ‘kickball’ mentality. Said his parents are wigging out because they aren’t winning.”
I don’t understand this (and I’ve seen this on other posts here). If you are teaching possession properly and everything that it entails, it SHOULD beat kick and run on a consistent basis at any level (especially at the younger age levels). It is a invalid and poor excuse to use “coaching possession” to justify losing. You’re just not coaching it well enough, quite frankly.
Of course, when having young players play it out of the back consistently, at times they are going to make mistakes that lead to goals, but overall their skill level should allow them to have many more scoring opportunities than the opposition.
It is important to explain FROM THE BEGINNING to the parents what vision you have for your individual players and the team, why you have that vision, and what it takes from them, their kids and you to be successful. You have to put it in terms that they understand (“if your child was playing basketball, would you want him to throw it down the court to no one in particular and have everyone chase it, if he was playing football would you want the team to punt the ball as soon as they got they ball?”)
I admit that possession usually works…at the younger ages. But when puberty rears its head, things change.
Clubs are not in the development business. If teaching fundamentally sound football was easier, you’d see alot more teams playing this way.
Bigger, stronger faster works in youth soccer.
it just gives us shit in terms of final product.
Nope you’re wrong. Possession works at any age. If it isn’t working its due to inadequate coaching. The reason it isn’t done more is not because it’s not effective-it is- it’s because it’s easier to coach kick and run than possession.
That’s pretty much what i meant. The reason it isn’t done more is because it is a lot easier to recruit the more physically mature kids and bypass the midfield.
Teaching to build from the back, possess the ball, etc. takes a lot more work.
“Possession works at any age. If it isn’t working its due to inadequate coaching” ….
i disagree with that. it may be true in some cases but there a lot of intangibles that go with it. Crappy GK, talent level of players, first year the players have been introduced to proper possession type coaching so there will be an adjustment time.
Possession works more at older ages, not younger ages. i am seeing it now with both my boys. My U12 play complete possession, have the ball most of the game, crappy keeper, bad finishing, no wins so far but very competitive games, lots of work to do. My U14, the same possession soccer, and so far in 5 games we have scored 26 goals and 0 goals against. some of this is the opposition to be honest but alot has to do with the right approach to the game, coaching, and players that buy in/execute.
That 2 year difference is huge!
Dr Loco says
“Possession works at any age. If it isn’t working its due to inadequate coaching”
It works at any age. The problem is that your team coach refuses to play at the appropriate level. Your club/coach refuses to do what is best for the players. Teams are forced to play at a level beyond their skills to satisfy greedy adults.
i am the coach……I am not sure what you mean by the “appropriate level” ???
“the coach” is doing everything for the players and no one else, they are learning to play the right way, regardless of results. Cant explain my U14 situation on this blog, too complicated and i would take up 300 pages!
anyways, agree to disagree on this one.
Dr Loco says
“Possession works more at older ages, not younger ages.”
This is not true. Coaches need to start playing possession as early as possible U7-U8. Just place the team in a lower division until they are comfortable with possession.
The problem I see all the time is greedy DOCs and coaches refuse to let their teams play down and be considered inferior. I left my old club because the idiot DOC would rather loose all their games at Gold than go down to Bronze.
Dr Loco says
Check out this FPYC U9 team.
I disagree. Posessoin does work at any age. The problem I see is player selection or team makeup. I know coaches who try hard to implement possession soccer, but there are a lot of kids who’s brain shuts down on the pitch. I don’t blame the coach. I know kids who have struggled for years to find composure, confidence. They get the ball, put the head down and go for broke. In pay to play, they remain on the team. Meanwhile countries like Argentina and Spain have no time for them.
Of course two years makes a difference. The point is not that a team of U-10’s is going to be able to play possession as well as a U-12 or U-14 team. The point is can you teach a U-10 team to try to pay possession and if done correctly they will be able to do it well enough to beat a solely kick and chase team on a consistent basis. Possession, if done correctly, NEGATES the size/speed advantage.
And the reasons you give for losing have nothing to do with playing possession they are independant factors: “Crappy GK” (nothing to do with possession unless he can’t play the ball with his feet), “talent level of players” (that is something you can effect as a coach both by player selection and by training regiment but all players can play MORE possession than what they were doing before), “bad finishing” (again has nothiing to do with possession-in fact if you are gettiing in goal scoring positions they are doing something right).
Dr Loco says
“Once you get a buy in, the rest is easier.”
No it’s not. It gets more difficult because now parents want more. The biggest problem is adults want to compete through children.
I disagree Dr. Loco. I agree with the current landscape. I see it every day.
But, once the clubs/coaches take a stand, then the parents have no choice.
Wishful thinking, I know. The reality is that if you look at youth sports in America one and 2 generations ago…this highly structured/win-at-all-costs structure did not exist.
Are we producing better baseball and basketball players than what existed 20-30 years ago? I say no. The rest of the world is catching up and passing us. So, it isn’t just a soccer problem. Although the disparity is greater due to the relative recent popularity of the sport.
The other problem is that by and large, even our top soccer players don’t train nearly as much (on their own) as their foreign counterparts. of course I have read that some of the larger European nations are expressing the lack of youth ‘commitment’.
Even the handful of youth clubs/teams/coaches that are ‘trying’ to do the right thing don’t end up with the most talented players. let alone the better ‘athletes’.
With the cost of youth club sports, parents want to see a “return”…and they equate that with wins and trophies.
Dr Loco says
“this highly structured/win-at-all-costs structure did not exist.” Right. It was created by adults who want to compete through children.
I see it every day, too. I took a stand against clubs, coaches, DOC, BOD, playing leagues and parents. We are playing the right way now. Surprisingly though, issues with parents and players are starting to emerge and threaten the viability of the team development. Making a quality product is not as easy as it sounds.
I’m sure Brian/Gary have many crap situations they choose not to post.
Parents of this blog
Vote with your feet and don’t settle for an inferior product…or get in your Club Board and push for change (or start a new Club)
Hire the right staff and make them accountable for the product they put out, don’t fall for lip service
We need you to make this happen
I did. There was a ‘British invasion’ of coaches at our local club. I took mine to a small, independent east Texas team that keeps the ball on the ground and relies on technique and possession over fucking kickball.
There’s room for improvement. it isn’t perfect. Not by a long shot. But it’s a hell of a lot better than what we had in NW La.
been watching a lot of college soccer lately. Very painful. I hear the announcers talking about 6’3 defensive mids and 6’4 centerbacks. Big friggin deal! Can they control the ball. Can they pass or otherwise initiate buildup play? Can they stay organized?
Would defenders like Canavarro, Silva, Vermaelen, etc. have been identified in the states?
Is college soccer the kiss of death? The reality is that there just aren’t enough pro opportunities to go around in this country.
Anyone have any insight into what it will take to ‘fix’ college soccer? (Longer seasons and fewer training restrictions are a start.)
personally, I think defenders are less ‘stifled’ or ‘stunted’ by the college game than pure attacking type players.
Ken S. says
What will hopefully “fix” college soccer is the move to an academy system, plus more HS grads going to Europe. College soccer will still exist, and will still be terrible. But we can ignore it more easily and watch players who really want to be top-line pros find the real avenues to do so.
Good post Hall! I said same thing to myself about two weeks ago. I think it was Hampton University or something like that. “He is a 6’5″ defernder” crap talk! Who gives! Can they pass, control, play out of back.
It’s a technical point, but I think improvement does occur over time for the USMNT. The issue is their improvement is relative to their own standard while the rest of the world improves at a faster rate relative to an international standard. The stubborn countries suffer like US and England.
Why? FIFA works, very well in fact. FIFA structures the game world-wide in a standard format that encourages repeated competition to push excellence to the top. And at the top it continuously retests which system and/or group of players has the dominant perspective. This encourages fast evolution of the game of soccer. It is breath-taking to watch too. El Clasico over and over again is lovely. Champions League finals are pure class. Spain versus all challengers never gets old. Many times it’s the same elite players (Messi, Ronaldo, Ozil, Neymar) bashing against each other just in different forums. Many times it is the same tactical philosophies being tested in the different forums, Barcelona versus Santos is not much different than Spain versus Brazil. What happens is the cream rises to the top and for all but the most stubborn and ignorant it is plain to see.
Think about it the current USMNT could likely beat the 1930 team even though that team finished third in the world. We are improving “yes” but the world is improving faster than us. Let’s just get that straight first. The goal of the USMNT team should not be to improve based on the quality of the previous coach, it should be to keep improving at the pace of the improvement of the top national teams in the world and the top club teams in the world. How fast are they moving? What are they doing?
I believe up until puberty soccer players need to invest maximum time into ball skills using feet. After puberty all achievements should be gauged relative to FIFA guided international standards (again look at the best of the best and measure). Kids want to impress their coaches and parents. Do not be impressed by “Flight 5 champions” or Division I State Champions… especially for 15 years up. These kids should be judged by how much does your game resemble the international standard. Right now that means: Can you possess calmly in tight spots? Can you force bad passes? Can you get the ball to your outside foot and use it?
Dr Loco says
“These kids should be judged by how much does your game resemble the international standard. ”
Try telling that to parents. I did. They just replied “well, we don’t want our kids to be professionals” Herein lies the problem. Our competitive youth teams are actually “glorified” rec teams. International youth players dream of becoming professionals at a young age. We do not. Perhaps getting to college is good enough for most.
Exactly right! My son wants to be a pro and tries to do what he can and I support him. Many others just want to play. Too good for rec, but don’t commit to make pro. College is where they end up.
USA has a system that is great for scholar athlete and yough clubs (USDA included) feed it. A HUGE problem for USA is we don’t have a system or opportunities to identify and mold elite players like rest of the world.
No matter how we fool ourself and tinker with youth system, we will never compete with the likes of Argentina and Spain. They are not our benchmark if the path to pro is through college. Not in a million friggin years!
Dr Loco says
I would like to somehow identify parents that want their child to develop based on international standards instead of just playing games every weekend. Someone needs to create a database so parents can have other options.
One dad told me, “it’s every parent’s dream to watch their child play on a team.” These are not the parents I want to work with. I do not wish to develop the wrong players.
You have to have the technical ability to play possession. if a kid can’t play with their head up, have a solid first touch, then it is all for nothing.
In more ‘rural’ areas, an ambitious player and supportive parent have fewer options. There just aren’t many choices. On top of that, you have the problem of ‘rec level’ commitment. Even players with decent natural ability do not spend enough time honing their technical ability.
Conversely, if you live in an area where the player pool is large enough, then you can build teams that can be taught to play attractive, attacking football.
The intellectually honest thing to do is to develop and preach both technical proficiency and soccer iq. But that requires both the proper knowledge of the coach and at least a willingness of players/parents to learn.
One thing that hasn’t been addressed is viewing competition in the proper context. We have all these tiered systems of competition, yet the high level of competition doesn’t yield desirable results. (Excellent players.)
So, what role does actual competition play? Based on age? (I’m not talking about grouping elite players together for training…that’s a given.)
I would think, and I could be dead wrong, that you base the competition off of technical and tactical proficiency.
Master the skill. Increase speed of play (through repitition) and THEN increase the ‘resistance’ ie the level of game intensity.
If there were such a list of parents I’d take a group of these kids every time regardless of their late birthday, height, running speed at 50 meters, or aggression. Even if the kid wants to compare to the international standard if they are not getting the reinforcement from Mommy and Daddy then the player is doomed. In lieu of a list, the best way to find these types of players is to look for parents wearing Barcelona shirts or passing around a Manchester United ball with their kids. They have somehow caught the FIFA bug…
I think there is some unrealistic expectations from some posters on this site. If a player’s (and his parents’) interest in soccer is not in development but just running around and getting exercise (rec soccer where as one poster puts it a coach is nothing more than a glorified babysitter), why bother to teach possession? You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.
The discussion on possession centered soccer should be centered around competive teams where players and parents are interested in development. But its incumbant on the coach FROM THE BEGINNING in his selection process of players to evaluate players and their parents for willingness to understand and accept what that entails. This means educating parents and players before tryouts on expectations so they can choose to try out with a different team if they want. This gets easier after a few seasons where you have had a product on the field that parents and players (and other coaches) can see, but most importantly needs to be done when you are first starting out from scratch.
Ken S. says
We’re playing possession soccer in a rec league, with players and parents who don’t show any particular signs of wanting a professional or even a college future for their kids. It took approx one season for us to start to see the progress, but the parents rave about the difference they see in how we play compared to other teams. Believe me, there was nothing about these parents in particular that showed a willingness to indulge us any more than any other group of parents we might have been dealt.
So why did we bother to train their kids the right way? Because we believed in it and our ability to communicate it, and because the kids deserved to see and experience the real game. That’s right: the kids deserve it. If you told me as a 8 year old that I could choose to do “moves” and drive a team nutty by playing “keepaway” as opposed to just blasting the ball, guess which I’d rather have done? Kids want to own the game. On the usual rec/boofball team, there are usually 2-3 players who get to “do” anything. That’s why the other 10 quit by the time they’re 13.
And for the players who don’t seem to get it (which we had some issues with, admittedly), creating the possession ethic is a bit like sneaking a little bit of mashed peas in your infant’s peaches. If you make possession lessons fun and engaging, they’ll learn better skills and higher concepts without even knowing it. And they’ll still win. My little team is absolute proof of that.
So, in your situation, what’s the difference between Rec and Comp soccer? In order to coach possession effectively you must be having 2-3 practices per week? You are in a league? It sounds like a comp situation. To me, rec is pickup soccer but with teams picked by adults wearing uniforms.
John Pranjic says
So, you’re saying in order to receive proper training, players must try out?
That mentality is a huge part of why we’re missing hidden gems.
For example (an obvious example):
In order to make an ODP team you have to be watched by an ODP scout or attend an ODP camp. ODP scouts only watch ‘high level’ games. The teams playing in those games usually cost a lot of money to be on. Not everyone has that kind of money… therefore… only a select group of players are seen by our ‘best’ scouts. And a even smaller group of players are chosen to move on from there.
Get where I’m goin’?
Also- If we, as a country, started to implement the fundamentals of possession in the recreational setting, players might be more inclined to continue on with soccer because they understand and appreciate it. As Ken said, most are taught to stand in one area and kick it to a certain player. That’s not soccer. That’s not fun. And that’s why most kids quit by the time they’re teenagers.
Hold them accountable (in relation to their age of course). Empower them and encourage them to increase their individual self-worth. Make a child feel like they are a valuable asset to the team. Seeing progress, building a foundation, and investing in a team is something all kids would LOVE if given the opportunity. And it’s not unrealistic to think that recreational coaches can pull it off. But it is detrimental to write them off, ignore them, or bash their efforts.
Same thing goes for coaches. Empower them. Make them feel valuable. Let them know that the DEVELOPMENT of their team is a crucial ingredient to the development of the league… furthermore… their local soccer community and beyond.
Ken S. says
It’s a rec team, with rec team parents, in a rec league within a single (albeit large) town. Team’s players decided solely by neighborhood/school in our town, plus two additional players 1 year younger (7 as opposed to 8) who have played a little travel soccer that we asked to join to flesh out our numbers a bit after a couple players decided not to participate any longer. We have two 1-hour practices a week, with Saturday games. It’s essentially a single-town in-house rec league. We practice no more than anyone else, and we’re the only team that plays the way we do. We’ve outgrown our competition and will be starting a club with this team hopefully to being travel/club ball in the prominent girls league of Northern Illinois. These girls are nothing “special” compared to any other kids, believe me, they were simply the ones who signed up at our location a few years ago as part of the town’s rec program. And yet, they are every bit as special as any other wonderful kid trying to learn this wonderful game. We’ve given them the skills, ideas and love for the game to move themselves ahead. And they are moving ahead. Quickly.
Ken S. says
Not sure how that “cool shades” face got there, but it should read: “7 as opposed to 8.”
Dr Loco says
“We’ve outgrown our competition and will be starting a club with this team hopefully to being travel/club ball in the prominent girls league of Northern Illinois.”
Sounds like a huge effort. Why do all this for parents and players who don’t want a professional or college future?
Do the kids really deserve it? From my experiences coaches are the ones who want more than the actual players and their families.
Ken S. says
The kids want to play the game, and it’s more fulfilling for them to learn to make their own decisions and moments in the game. At 8 they don’t really know what they want to get out of it for the future, they’re in the moment. And at this age, the parents are not yet thinking about it. So if we wait until the age where they do have specific goals, it would be too late (and, frankly, college soccer isn’t much of a goal anyway, based on how poor it is.) I hope to make ridiculously overqualified for the college game to the point that they can decide their own path. And if they decide to do absolutely nothing with the game in college or beyond, at least I’ve given them the best youth soccer experience I could. Honestly, I just enjoy teaching them–the kids and the parents– all about the game. So I don’t find this to be a huge effort at all. A huge effort is going to work every day doing shit you don’t like doing, with no appreciation. I’ve gotten more out of coaching for a couple years than I did in 18 years of being a cog in the machine. Do the kids deserve it? Every kid deserves it, but not based on what their “aspirations” might be at 8. How do you know as a coach that you couldn’t have set a fire for a young player, but didn’t bother because they were “just” a rec player, or also played 2 other sports and weren’t quite focused on soccer yet? I do the work for it’s own sake, to make their experience better. And that makes MY experience better as well.
John Pranjic says
Kids deserve every opportunity to thrive. Regardless of what their parents want or can afford. And a lot of times, kids don’t even know what they want. That doesn’t mean that they won’t want it a year from now, two years from now, or ten years from now. If you shut them down at eight years old, they will never reach full bloom.
Serious question though… Why are you guys attempting to make Ken look like a criminal? He’s doing everything perfect. Started with a rec team, taught fundamentals, saw improvement, and is now taking the next step… Fuck man… I’d say he’s got a good thing going on.
John Pranjic says
And who is to say that the kids and parents haven’t already gained a new appreciation for the sport since joining the rec team? Maybe they went into it with a ‘rec’ mentality and now have a ‘lets learn more’ attitude.
Ken- did you notice a change on the sideline as the girls continually progressed? Were parents aware of the changes? Were they interested in the improvement? Did the kids become more or less interested as they got better?
When I talk rec, I’m not talking about 7-8 year olds. EVERY team should be REC at that age, preferably neighborhood based so to encourage spontaneous pickup games. I am talking about at the 12-15 year old ages.
You don’t have to try out for a team. We regularly scout rec teams to see if there are players who might want to play at a higher level and are encouraged to come to tryouts. We have 3 different level teams in our age group ranging from Premier (state champs) to D1 and D3. Float every boy to their level of confidence and ability.
In our area, at the 12-18 year old level, rec soccer is for kids who like to get out and kick the ball around. They have little interest in developing their skills. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, I think its great. But I think its a waste of time to try to teach them possession. If you are a coach that can teach possession you’re too valuable to waste on players who aren’t interested in applying it.
On the other hand, NO ONE can predict what 7-8 year old will turn out to be a great soccer player. Your job as a coach is to light that fire so they want to play all the time.
John Pranjic says
No coaching or playing experience should be considered a waste! Or written off as a waste before it begins.
If someone has volunteered to do something, they have an interest in it. If given the right tools, they would love to do the best job possible. Guaranteed.
I can only imagine how ignored the ‘rec’ players and coaches feel. Actually, no need to imagine, I see it on a daily basis. I was part of that group growing up. The coaches who think they’re ‘worth more’ or ‘too good for rec’ should be the ones helping to improve the rec coaches and the rec leagues so that they are handed better players when the time comes.
The ‘better than you’ attitude is so detrimental, and prevalent. There’s a post somewhere on this blog that talks about ‘being the exception’ and how that mentality doesn’t help anything. Honestly, it’s disgusting.
There’s no “better than you attitude” stated in my post. You, in your hyper sensitive attitude read things into my statements that were never there. There is no “better” when it comes to what level a child chooses to participate in soccer. They should be free to “float” to whatever level their ability (and usually at young ages “ability” is a direct reflection of commitment) and commitment put them. There is absolutely no shame in being a rec player. Rec means just that RECREATION. If, by the time a player is 12-13 years old, they have chosen to take the rec route, it usually means that they have other priorities in their life other than soccer. There is nothing wrong with that. And I have no problem with them having good instruction. But my comments were directed to those posters who coach rec but complain about players’ and parents’ commitment. What do you expect? If you want to expect commitment than coach in an environment that expects it- comp- not rec where commitment and high expectations are not expected nor should they be. What I actually find disgusting is rec coaches who totally pervert the idea of what rec is supposed to be- basically a slightly more structured pickup game mentality where getting out and getting exercise and having fun with friends should be the priority- and turning it into a competitive results driven environment.
Dr Loco says
Ken you are doing a good thing. I guess I am becoming cynical. Personally I don’t feel my players and parents deserve me. They don’t honestly care and appreciate the work that is required to develop their kids. What started as a part-time interest has been a full-time endeavor. Consequently I have little patience for players and parents who are not serious about development.
I started off in a rec program as clueless as the rest. Tried to give back and help other coaches only to be frowned upon. Have been looking ever since for other coaches who share a similar vision but never find them. Most just want to steal your players.
“European and South American … They don’t try to develop everyone. Not everyone is created equal in soccer. America doesn’t understand this.”
Ken S. says
No worries, I hear ya. But I would disagree with the last comment, even if it is a quote. I believe they DO try to develop everyone, at least to their maximum interest level or inherent ability, whichever is more limiting. There’s a Rinus Michels quote that has come up on this board a bitt, the one where he says you have to train EVERYONE with the same level of attentiveness and quality, because even if they don’t make the first team, you want to instill that love of the game so that you continue to produce knowledgable fans, future coaches, future executives, and even future kitmen who will live to make the game better. He (and others) talk about raising the level of the “lowest” player, of the “average” player, because there are more than enough spots for them ALL to find their way into the game in some important way.
Dr Loco says
Been reading some of the old posts. Many of us, myself included, don’t seem to learn effectively.
Sometimes I feel Gary is just fucking with us and laughing his ass off.
Gary Kleiban says
I’m not doing that at all.
It can actually be quite discouraging when people think they get it, but they’re actually on another planet. Not a laughing matter.
That’s ok though.
I’m beginning to appreciate the magnitude of the work ahead of me. And I’m up for it.
Ken S. says
Looks like my post didn’t take, so I’ll try again. The parents have absolutely noticed, and are constantly reminding us how much they appreciate what they see the girls do, and how we’re getting them to do it. And if they didn’t understand it themselves, their kids have told them. Got feedback from a parent whose kid said: “Mom, these other teams just kick the ball all over. They don’t do anything with it like we do.” If we didn’t take this next step, they, and we, would quickly get bored. And then the only players that would move on to the proverbial “next level” would be the kickball players. If we keep making the experience fun and engaging, the “seriousness” of our move up the ladder won’t be any different than what we’re doing now. A year ago, when we started really introducing SSGs, the girls didn’t get the idea and just wanted “to scrimmage”. Now they’re literally begging for practice to continue on a regular basis (“aww, is it over already??”). Does that seem mercenary to anybody? If you’re not getting this response, let me be very clear: you are the problem.
I’m with KenS on this – no reason even at rec level you shouldn’t be teaching possession oriented soccer. That’s like suggesting that Little League ball players shouldn’t play “small ball” (bunt, steal, singles, etc). It’s a style of play that’s not restricted to “travel” or “elite” players.
It comes down to ignorance and inability on part of the coaches. In rec – and in many cases travel – coaches are “parent coaches”. Limited exposure to the game, and what exposure they had was boom ball. I would put myself in that category – I played, but was taught “incorrectly”. Lucky for me, I was passionate about the game and gained more knowledge as the international game was easier to access via satellite. I would say in the last 5-10 years, I’ve learned more reading and watching than I did when I played.
Then there are those coaches that played at a “high” level. In many cases, that’s no better because as noted throughout this thread – college ball in the States is still boom ball. So now you have knowledgeable coaches teaching the same things as the parent coaches and what do you get? BETTER BOOM BALL!
I’m sorry, but it’s so deep that it’s almost cultural. As I pointed out in a previous post – how many teams play “Princeton Offense” in basketball? Maybe 4 teams? Yet the Princeton Offense is highly respected and proven to work – especially against the crappy dunk in your face street ball that’s utterly ruined basketball for me. Until kids and coaches see a team that executes a Princeton-style offense with success, no one will move to it.
The best thing that could have ever happened to soccer in the States is the emergence of Barcelona and the increasing amount of coverage that team gets. Eventually, coaches and players will want to emulate them…otherwise, we’ll remain boom ball for years to come.
I was encouraged, however, when watching the Florida Gators’ girls soccer team – definitely a possession oriented game, so there’s progress.
I understand what you are getting at but would you run a “Princeton” style offense with a 24-second shot clock and 8-second backcourt violation rule in today’s NBA game? Teams all around the pros, colleges, and high schools run Princeton concepts all the time but there hasn’t been a team that has won a championship with it (2002-2003 NJ Nets, and Sacramento Kings came close but both lost to Phil Jackson’s “Triangle” and Gregg Popovich’s “Motion-Offense”). The shot clock and all the rule changes to make the game more entertaining and high scoring have made it difficult to be married to strict Princeton-concepts although the Lakers are going to try their own version of it this upcoming season. Soccer on the other hand has virtually had very little rule changes since the original ones were written down with the exception of the off-side rule. Barcelona and Spain can play wide and deep, tiki-taka possession soccer all 90 minutes patiently working to unlock the defense.
Disturbingly, before I watched the recent Supercopa on my computer, I first turned to ESPN/ESPN2 thinking that it would be showing there but no dice as cricket and Nascar were instead on. The best soccer on television is often times played on stations where they the commentators don’t speak english and I don’t think that isn’t helping to attract and educate the public about attractive, possession soccer .
Not to digress too much more, but I would recommend reading Brian McCormick’s blog. Although he is basketball-focused, he touches upon differences between U.S. and world models of youth development which is relevant to our overall discussion.
Dr Loco says
I get bored watching high scoring basketball. Players just run up and down the court shooting baskets. The player with the ball does all the work while the others watch. It’s basically 1v1 with kick and rush soccer. No real tactics or sophisticated game play. The more baskets you score the less their significance.
This is considered a good game.
3 Game changers:
US soccer scene is about ripe for the right shake
I agree. We belong to a large club. It has multiple locations. My son is a second generation soccer player. The rest of his team are first generation players. In the winter, we were able to go to the home location of the club and play indoor and 3V3. There is an astounding difference between the skill level and soccer IQ of the home location and our satellite location. Speaking with the parents, I came to find all but one of the elite players were multi generation players. The one player that was not, had personnal lessons twice a week. The other difference is that they have about three teams per age level which creates tons of competition. The more parents are educated, the more they will gravitate to sites like this. Educated consummers will demand a better product.
The cream doesn’t necessarily rise to the top in this country. Players are identified using the wrong criteria and pushed through an inefficient, corrupt filtering system.
Everywhere else you have professionals doing the developing. frankly i think even the MLS academies fall short. And even they aren’t casting a big enough net.
Nothing wrong with recruiting the best, but what are they doing once they get them? The business model is upside down.
Totally agree Hall97! Cream not going to top because we got wrong recipe. And i don’t care what anyone says, pro through college is part of problem. We can teach possession all we want, but unless teenagers are part of pro club system with goal to be on first team (not college) , we are fooling ourselves. False hope. Competition level and coaching on different planet. We can’t expect world class from college soccer. Not in a million years.
In the name of a business model, MLS shelters itself from genuine competition…where is promotion / relegation??…yes it is brutal…but how do you think the rest of the world figures out who has it??
what happened to the blog discussing high level youth soccer and possible solutions to developing young american talent? It appears this blog has been hijacked by guys now teaching recreational girls teams the basics of “possession” soccer. Not to sound like a dick but is this our plan to grow american soccer?? Teaching and coaching recreational soccer is admirable but so is being a volunteer at the homeless shelter. Unfortunately, neither will move american soccer in the right direction. We are decades away from even “getting it”. Why do so many of you believe there is possibly a chance to play international soccer after college? If you’re not oversees by the time you’re 15 then the chances diminish by 99%. These are facts that can not be disputed. The american system is honestly broken beyond repair. If the american soccer system were a house, it should be condemned, burned down, bull dozed, and then replaced. It can’t be fixed and evident by the rec coaches on this site. Until the parents are taken out of the system completely and until professional leagues with youth academies exist, there is no hope to develop american soccer players. No chance Everyday we get further away and most don’t even understand. if you haven’t traveled to south america, europe, or mexico, you’re opinion carries no weight. You simply don’t know what you’re talking about. Sorry to offend rec girl coach’s but you simply don’t know what you don’t know.
Ken S. says
I never take offense at idiots, you can’t help yourselves. So no worries.
Ken S. says
And by the way, I have traveled to Europe. Most likely before you were born. Just guessing.
John Pranjic says
Tim- Did you miss the memo that U8 recreational soccer is where a lot of players are introduced to the game? You’re making Ken look like a bad guy for teaching his team properly. If anything, you should be thanking him, and coaches like him, for making your job that much easier when those players get to ‘your level’.
One way to progress soccer in this country is to teach the game properly at all levels. It is NEVER too early and it is NEVER too late to learn more about this game!
Ken’s U8 girls are moving to more competitive soccer now. I hope you and Ken can have a conversation in a year, and then two years, from now. I’m sure his updates about his ‘rec girls’ will turn into a great (progressive) conversation. It will only turn into a progressive conversation if you look at him as just a coach- not a ‘rec coach’.
Dr Loco says
“Until the parents are taken out of the system completely and until professional leagues with youth academies exist, there is no hope to develop american soccer players.”
There are 50 states in the US. How many pro academies?
Parents and individual coaches should be responsible for developing most players until 13-14 years of age. I keep repeating myself. “Youth coaching is overrated.” You don’t need professionals to develop kids just like you don’t need PhDs teaching K-8th grade.
If you don’t believe it just go ahead and waste your time and money. BTW, do you see pro youth academies in football, baseball, basketball?
Not sure if you have seen this, good read on what it takes to develop players for national teams.
Dr Loco says
“Good talent should spend that time in a professional environment with competent coaches and playing in elite competition.”
Ideally that would work however in the US
11. The highest levels (from youth to pro) are full of mediocre, to thoroughly incompetent, coaches.
The other problems are cost and accessibility to players.
You’re making my point! You’re thinking is out of date. I’m sure a wonderful guy doing the best he can with what he has to work with. But how is this going to improve our play at the next 3 world cups?
Ken S. says
How is your plan going to work, exactly? Oh, that’s right, you haven’t presented one. You’ve only said to scrap our current system. The one I’ve already personally scrapped and am changing in my area, from the ground up. Quit whining, and start teaching if you know so much. By the way, you contradict yourself mightily–you want to scrap the system, but still try to win the next 3 World Cups, while also mocking someone who is actually teaching skill to young players (before our current system gets them) in the way that this blog strives to promote every day. The thinking that training young players in skill and IQ from as early an age as possible is out of date? Really? Where? It’s not out of date anywhere else in the world, and can’t be out of date in the US because it’s never been the way of thinking here. So what’s this “modern thinking” you speak of? Kickball wins World Cups? You absolutely must be on drugs, or should be.
How much time do you spend on Big Soccer? I think you might be more comfortable there. At least from what I remember years ago before I gave up on it.
I dont’ even think you know what your own argument is. You can argue with yourself for all I care. I have a session to plan.
Ken S. says
By the way, brainiac, we won’t be playing rec soccer next year. It’s no longer a challenge as we’ve outplayed everyone in our city of 150,000 in our age group (including club team’s pre-academy kids who joined our rec league to get in extra games.) You have absolutely no clue, or class. See you in 12 years when you’re still bitching.
yo man just chill and fuck dis gay ass barcelona shit they got
Thank you for adding absolutely nothing relevant to the conversation.
I get why Princeton offense isn’t implemented at the pro-level, but at the college level there aren’t a lot of teams playing it…maybe 10 teams max. With a 35 second shot-clock (reduced from 45 seconds) – that’s a big reason why, but if you implement it with the right horses, it would be successful. Point wasn’t to focus on basketball, but the analogy is clear – old school basketball was possession, passing, and moving. Focus was on skills – I’ve seen Pete Carrill talk about this – saying if you can’t do this, you shouldn’t be playing basketball. Now we have specialized players that can’t dribble or can’t defend, but man can they make a highlight reel!
The underlying point is the cultural change that has to occur. So to the comments about rec soccer – it’s 100% germane to what we are talking about. If we teach boom ball at rec, and we teach boom ball in travel, and we teach boom ball in high school, and we teach boom ball in college – why would it be any different on the national level? It won’t!
It has to start grass roots – if you do it in rec and travel, then when those kids become coaches as they get older, more and more teams will play it. In 20 years, it will be prevalent.
When football becomes a way of life, as opposed to a means to an end/recreational activity, that will be the beginning of our success as a footballing nation.
When you see huge numbers of kids playing at recess, indoor/futsal and especially in the streets/parks, then the level will rise dramatically.
In other words, organically grow the talent pool.
I don’t think coaching is the issue. Not at the youngest levels. Kids that can control a ball, passionately become students of the game, etc. are going to be much, much better than some kid who happens to have had better tactical instruction at 8 or 9. I don’t care if his coach is Guardiola, Ferfuson or Murinho.
George Best, Platini, Zidane and a host of other great players never won anything or attended elite academies as children. In the old days, players weren’t signed until they were 15 or 16. Many much later than that.
So, whre did their ‘programming’ come from. Playing in the streets and their local grassroots clubs!
The Development Academy is just a continuation of the same crap club soccer we’ve had in the past. Play conservatively in order to get the result. Recruit the best ‘athletes’
We can debate ideologies all day, but the only real answer is that the kids have to immerse themselves totally into the game. No coach, club, league or team is going to create an “elite” player.
Can good coaching make a difference? Absolutely! But only after the technical foundation is set. To me, no coaching is better than ‘bad’ coaching. And bad coaching only hurts those players that are not fully immersed.
I guarantee that a smart 12 yr old knows what good football should look like.
Dr Loco says
“When you see huge numbers of kids playing at recess, indoor/futsal and especially in the streets/parks, then the level will rise dramatically.
In other words, organically grow the talent pool.”
This might be considered a “brute force” approach. Hasn’t England and many other countries already achieved this?
We already have a HUGE talent pool compared to many countries but consistently fail to produce top players. Brian/Gary just have about 15 kids and they are considered the best in the nation. What will adding pro academies, larger talent pool, pro coaches, etc achieve?
We have got to focus on a select few players and continue working with them exclusively until they reach the top. Repeat this cycle across the nation. There is your grass roots solution.
We need to give players fewer options and less freedom.
I see what you are trying to say, Dr. Loco. But how do you explain the ‘organic’ success for South American players? Especially Brazil and Argentina?
I’m saying in the states the actual ‘pool’ of COMMITTED, hungry and talented players probably isn’t as big as we think. American kids have too many f’ing options.
But yes, if we filtered it down to the top 1-5%, then focus on solely on professional development…then yes, we would make huge strides.
But that isn’t happening. if it is I don’t see it.
Dr Loco says
“But how do you explain the ‘organic’ success for South American players? Especially Brazil and Argentina?”
I would say their culture has created traditions that foster the organic development of players. It is what their kids dream about as a child.
You might be correct. The actual number of serious players in the US might be quite small. I think somewhere around 95% of youth comp players are not serious. We can’t rely on the streets/parks to grow the talent pool. You just don’t see many kids playing any sports in the parks period.
Besides the shorter clock, there are other factors. The drive and dish offense thats popular now sets up 3 point shots that are wide open.The three point shot is very makeable in College- its not unusual for a team to shoot over 50% so using clock and trading baskets is not going to work, and winning the possession stat is not relevant. The Princeton offense will surprise some teams, but I think top Coaches will have a defensive gameplan combined with athletic players that will stop it. Where is the defensive game plans for possession soccer? I have read this blog for a while and haven’t heard anything about how to stop possession soccer…
NOVA Mike says
How to stop possession soccer = play better possession soccer.
Actually I’ve brought it up here stopping possession soccer a few times before. Merely as a speculation though. Like what is is going to take? and who is going to be the first? But it has not been done yet except by Chelsea in last year’s CHampion’s League semis and that may have been a fluke. I brought it up before speculating that Germany plays a team built to stop Spain’s possession but they never faced each other in the knock-out stages of the Euro so we never got to see it. Any European team with championship aspirations knows by now that they will face the possession game if they get towards the finals whether it is Spain or Barcelona… The Italians, known for defensive stinginess, where completely annihilated 4-0 by Spain in the Euro final if you remember. The 2012 Euro final game, to me, moreso than Euro 2008, the World Cup 2010 or Club World Cup 2011, Clasicos, UEFA Champion’s League Finals… that game that pitted possession aginast all-comers made the opponent’s defense look like children was proof positive that the game has truly changed forever. Yes, the answer to playing against possession may be better possession because of the defensive attributes of the style (when you have the ball the other team can’t score etc), but the game will evolve again someday for sure. The next evolution will either be a way to out-score possession with something else or to defend from it. My prediction is that somebody will find a way to defend against it… I’m guessing zonal odd numbered defense in front of the net (so that the center of the pitch in front of goalie has absolute ownership protecting from those possession gut runs)… and relentless high pressure on the ball… and conceding the wings. Just throwing my latest thoughts of defending against it out there… My guess is that it will be the Germans who deliberately try to defend successfully against possession… and give the most insight by their trial and error.
My 8 yr old boy asked me the other day. Who would win if Barcelona played Spain?
Ignore the obvious. We always talk about how well Barcelona and Spain play possession. What we forget is that they also have very good high pressure defenses.
Would they take turns with possesion? Would it be a constant mid-field battle? Could Spain stop Messi? Just wondering.
I do hear what you are saying and this sort of strategic/tactical “X & O’s” discussion has a passionate following with most sports in this country other than soccer even if it is statistically one of the most popular youth sports. There are thousands of basketball books/videos/clinics that break down offensive plays, defensive scheme, specialized situations- whatever philosophy you adhere to. But trying to find resources providing a framework on Barcelona possession in English is A LOT more work even with google and the internet.
I have a lot of respect for recreation coaches especially volunteer ones. In my area of the country, a supposed hot bed of soccer, kids can start playing at U4/U5 which means by U8, many have already played at least 8 seasons (fall/spring) in which poor habits (boom ball, kick and chase, etc) have been repeatedly reinforced by clueless coaches and even more by clueless, but very loud parents. From my observations, nothing really changes as kids move to more competitive travel and club teams, then on to high school and college. There are of course exceptions as there are several some individual teams, towns and clubs that play (or attempt to play) smart, attractive possession soccer (Ken’s team included) but they succeed in spite of the prevalent ignorance around them currently.
As to the question about “time”, in my opinion on the boys side, high school and college soccer is the ‘red herring’ in any discussion about catching up with international development standards. In establishing a gold standard for our elite players, playing in high school and college can’t be in the equation and I think that US Soccer is already implementing this with the academy structure. They should already aspire and train to be a professional and we should treat them as semi-pros by offering them stipends for their ‘loyalty’ and contribution. Some will say that they’ll blow any eligibility to earn a letterman jacket or play in college but as is often stated on this blog, high school and college soccer is some of the most unwatchable garbage you can find right now. Over a longer period of time, you are right Tim, fundamental changes at the grassroots level should eventually make their way down the line. But for change to occur more quickly, we have to be able to put out several cycles of international quality players at the high level club and academy level- the elite of our elite.
The girls side is different because I think the desire to get a college scholarship is the overriding goal for most elite players and their parents or perhaps to play for the national team. Their isn’t currently even a professional league in this country. So compared to the boys, a girl can start out at town rec U8 (although most start much earlier around here), play town travel until U12, play both club and high school until U18, and then play another 4 years at college- a much longer time frame to learn the game properly. Many girls will even be stars in other sports like basketball and play two or more sports at high level until college. That can’t be an option on the boys side if we are trying to catch-up and build a gold standard quality development model.
Dr Loco says
“old school basketball was possession, passing, and moving.”
You hit on something very important. Old school soccer was also possession, passing, and moving.
I will be taking a course this weekend on teaching “old school values” to a “new school ” generation.
We seem to forget that what is new is not always better. Quality is something that needs to be passed on to each generation. When we drift from enlightenment we need to rediscover it.
Dr Loco says
I had an awesome experience at a basketball coaching clinic. It has been by far the best coaching course I have taken. Half of the course focused on many topics posted in 3four3. It was very enlightening and will probably take me a few weeks to fully understand.
The key was creating an environment of excellence, discipline, and respect. Coaching is about making people better. The right culture is required to create the traditions that will produce long-term success.
“Coaches are given the most precious of gifts: the chance to make a difference.”
jamal, you make some valid points. However, in my view high school/college soccer isn’t necessarily the ‘problem’. Rather it is a symptom of the greater problem.
Sasho Cirovski (Maryland) has stated that “the top 25 college soccer environment IS a professional environment”. Now most of us purists would disagree. However, some of the better college programs take spring overseas trips and do quite well against youth/reserve professional sides. (Another assertion Cirovski makes.)
According to him, while the NCAA does place too many restrictions, his players train and work out daily on their own (without coaches…skirting the rules) and have a heavy spring training/competition schedule. On top of that, these players also train with pro teams and/or play PDL ball in the summer.
Is that enough? probably not. Because the majority of college soccer is very unpleasant to watch. Can it be better? Yes. Will things change? Hopefully.
Anyone can write about ‘development’ in their glowing mission statement. The DA ‘philosophy’ may sound good, even well intentioned, but it is only marginally different from what club soccer has always been. There are hundreds if not thousands of players out there that do not have access to a DA club.
Players who are just as good if not better than most of these DA players. The problem is further aggravating when you look at youth national team pools. The ynt players almost exclusively come from DA member clubs. Why? Because that’s where they are looking!
I’m not saying that these ynt players aren’t good. Just that maybe, just maybe, the ‘scouts’ aren’t covering all the bases.
Mexican clubs do a better job of finding raw talent than USSOCCER does!
Yes, USSF and ODP don’t look in engoug places and rigidly abide by focus on bigger, strongre players. The focus on DA clubs is a problem, but I think the bigger problem is scouts lack vision of what a future world-class or top player is. I can point out numerous examples of kids I know or my son plays with who get onto ODP or US National team pool. Are they best players? No! Do they have best long-term potential? No! Do they have most committment or right attitude? No! Majority of the kds are just big for their age. If they shrunk 5″ and 30 pounds, they would not be there.
The best pound-for-pound players are getting missed. The smartest, calmest, coordinated players who “undresand soccer” and the moving and spacing geometry and know it intuitavely (in their DNA) are being overlooked. We like to blame coaching, but scouting is a problem.
I’ve been reading this blog for about a year off and on. I didn’t want to post without thinking.
I think the biggest problems for USA are (in no particular order) 1) lack of elite opportunities from U14 – 22, 2) player identification / scouting, and 3) coaching.
I am from The Netherlands and came to USA at 27. I’ve been here almost 15-years now. In The Netherlands, almost all promising players are in a professional side club by U14. Club scouts don’t care about size. It’s all about long term potential and players showing the raw abilities to achieve that. For example, posture, balance, control, how they run, ball control, composure, smarts, and knowing how to play.
There is no one size fits all. You know a talented player when you see him. Pro clubs do not have the time or desire to take parent’s money and let their child “develop”. You must have it or you don’t. It is how it is, but that is a big difference to USA. Europe hand selects the best while USA tries to develop all comers as long as parents pay. Even partly true for USDA from what I experience.
Players must fit within the club’s vision. At all clubs, no matter what division, all coaching is world-class. Once assembled in various levels of pro academy, these players represent the best of the best across The Netherlands. Same is true in Austria and Switzerland (I have family in both countries).
I know it is against the parochial system in USA where High School and college prepare athletes. That only works in a closed system (that is, game played within country borders). Soccer (football) is a world sport. And the rest of the world follows model described above. USA is exception. Therein lies the problem. If USA can figure out how to develop world-class or close approximations of within USDA and college to pro system, then good the USA. However, I think that will be difficult if not impossible.
I will add that soccer is an art. You need masters to teach it properly. Hand-picked pupils for the master to bring out natural talent. A master sculptor doesn’t just pick a piece of rock. He looks for grade A marble; not limestone. He looks for color, patterns, and can envision what he wants to shape. Soccer coaches should be similar. Know the player, see his talents, teach him and bring out natural talents.
This sort of coaching USA lacks. It’s a lot of paint by numbers. Take a class, get license and coach. The best coaches I’ve seen in USA have that deep understanding of a master. They would coach for free. It’s in their blood. True passionate professionals.
Touching on European clubs hand-selecting best of best. Keep in mind maybe 5-10% of any academy players make it to pro. These are the truly talented ones. In USA it’s not so discerning. USDA clubs roster who shows up for a 2-day tryout. They get what shows up and pays.
Vastly different. To be honest, many Europeans don’t understand such a system. We don’t understand trying to turn college boys into pros. How can you expect a master chef if he isn’t trained at CIA or a master violinist if he doesn’t go to Juliard? Same applies in soccer. The best players come from the best systems and identified and molded from young age, surrounded by top coaching, plays against elite players, and moves to bigger club if he “has it”. USA is truly in different universe.
Wow. Reffed another hispanic coach teaching kick and run at the U13 level this weekend. He’s got 2 exceptional players who start out up top and attacking mid, but they can’t get any consistent service. So they drop back further and further throughout the first half. They lose, even though they have superior attacking talent. Why? That hispanic coach will never know. You know; I know. That coach? He don’t know. Even if he has licenses, he’s still doing it like back in the home country–and sucking. Those two excellent hispanic attackers need to be in a more challenging environment, but they can’t go anywhere as long as they’re chained to that team. Sad, really, for those kids. This is one of the big downsides to hispanic teams self-selecting only hispanic players. Culturally, everyone is happy. Football-wise, 9 times out of 10 they’re crappy kick and run teams that will never rise above it.
I agree that players need to be challenged. They need decent if not excellent coaching.
But, by and large, this does not exist in the US. Not in the Development Academy and not even with MLS clubs.
I know Gary has mentioned that technical ability is not the core problem. But, when I watch college games (even the reputed top teams) I often see first touches that land in a different zip code. it is rare to see 5 and 6 pass sequences. The lack of ‘patience’ in possession is the second most troubling aspect of the college game as well.
In my limited view, it is both technical and tactical.
I agree with you. We have technical issues in the U.S. Drives me nuts watching youth games at the local soccer park. However, at the highest level of club soccer in the U.S. It’s not the real problem. The kids have done as much as they can do on their own – they have the basic ability, but we don’t teach and play enough possession to develop the masterful directional 1st touch. I have kids with a great 1st touch, but the key for me as a coach is taking their 1st touch to the next level. You are right – it’s both technical and tactical, in that it’s really a merging of technique with a higher Soccer IQ. Brillant 1st touches have more to do with an understanding of the game, then simply technique. I believe we need more “good” possession coaches to develop these types of players.
I have a topic I think is good for you to post a thread on: “When will USA start to look at the margins”?
Time certainly is not the answer, but a factor . . . a consideration.
We have a huge bubble of average. What defines a special player is skill and ability on the margin, the outliers at the 95th percentile or greater? Something that makes him different, rare, and pushes the curve. Such as incredible technical skills, superior tactical awareness, exceptionally quick in thought. Sprinkle in things like composure, agility, vision, creativity, timing. Look at world-class and top echelon of players and they have this. Average players typically do not.
Do we need more size and power or is it intelligent players? More 6’3” players or once more agile and coordinated? Forwards who can hold the ball or more creative ones with natural eye for goal? Size, power, speed, strength are in and of themselves unimportant. Non-factors to being world-class.
Identifying and developing players who reside at margins are what differentiate countries like Spain and Argentina. Read any article on La Masia or Ajax and that’s their mantra. They look for the unique, the special. Their acadamies snobbishly look for players who have characteristics or playing abilities far above the the norm.
This is what ODP, USDA, and USSF need to understand and look for those players. We have size, speed, power, strength in abundance. These are not key elements in elite players or fundamental to producing world-class players, yet they are cornerstone characteristics that define US soccer players. Ask anyone in the world to define a US soccer player and you have above. Ask them same question about Spain or Argentina and totally different answer. Why? Goes back to looking at the margins. And this starts at the U12 ages. USSF and ODP especially need to do far better job and change their mentality and approach. A subtle correction of course.
I would add that in the business world, understanding the margins is critical to competitive success. Everyone can offer similiar services or products. The differences are in the margins, the 1-5% area in which you become special, unique, cutting edge. Soccer is no different. Why do you think La Masia is so selective? They aren’t looking for average or even better than average. They are looking for A+ raw material.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with size, speed or power…in and of itself.
But it shouldn’t be a factor when evaluating youth players. Because most of the time it is based on physical maturation and not true ability.
That aside, I still say that the two biggest shortcomings are technical ability and of course, a footballing brain. The coaching can only enhance the tactical side.
I think it is nearly impossible to develop world class, truly elite players when the clubs only offer training 2 or 3 days a week. I agree that a player’s technical ability is up to him largely. But we have to start training our best players daily. In Europe, the typical academy player is training 8-10 hrs per week in a team environment by the age of 14/15.
To me, that speaks volumes.
Dr Loco says
“But we have to start training our best players daily. ” Yes, so do it. However it must be combined with a culture of excellence otherwise all that training will not matter.
“Although there are many reasons for Mourinho’s success and his teams’ successes, without question, the pursuit of excellence in all that they do would be the glue that holds all other reasons together.”
I’m not doubting Mourinho’s success or credentials. (Or any other top professional coach.)
But we are talking about youth players for the most part. So, if we are going to only concern ourselves with the outliers, then the current structure/mindset isn’t working.
In my view, there needs to be a coups to topple the current USSF ‘regime” (Gulati first) and stop outsourcing the development of our elite players to clubs whose sole purpose is to make money from club fees.
No one can convince me that these DA clubs (and the majority of MLS academies) are really in the business of developing professional players
There have been and are plenty of world class players that were not educated/groomed at a world famous academy.
But first we’d have to admit that it is possible to become great outside of Barca or Ajax.
It’s possible, but not highly probable Tyler. Barca and Ajax (and many other pro academies) understand it’s more than just identifing talent. Need right people, processes, system, vision, dedication to make it happen. Developing the world-class or pro caliber player is outcome of the bigger whole.
My son and I just back from 10 day soccer trip to Germany and the experience far exceeded my lofty expectations. He trained with a 1st division professional youth academy- not a camp but with the actual 2002 academy team. I will link video’s shortly and offer additional insight to those interested in reading about the trip. I come back with belief our country is generations away from creating a system to develop players able to compete on the international stage, not decades. There are things we can and should change but also hurdles impossible to overcome, i.e., simple geography. I respect all that post on this blog and enjoy the back and forth banter so please don’t take offense when i say many “don’t know what they don’t know”. I gained perspective and now realize I had no idea how different it is over there and just how difficult the task ahead really is.
Dr Loco says
“I had no idea how different it is over there”
I believe it and can only imagine. Hopefully some day I can make a trip. For now we can only try to be better coaches.
I’ve been randomly checking the backgrounds (specifically youth experience) of some of the world’s top players. They don’t all come from Ajax, barca, real madrid or Bayern Munich….or manchester United, etc. etc.
Especially among the defenders quite a few were not brought into big name, professional clubs until they were older. In some cases much older.
What’s my point? A player either ‘has it’ or he doesn’t. I’m talking about the right mix of technical ability, footballing IQ AND athleticism. By athleticism I’m not just talking about size and strength.
So, either there aren’t enough American players who ‘have it’ or they are being overlooked. Again, I’m primarily talking about players 18 and younger.
Yes, college soccer and bad instruction certainly exacerbate the problem. But the essence of the game is controlling and passing the ball. as well as exploiting space.
10-12 years ago everyone was lauding the French model. Then it was Brazil. Then Italy. Now it’s Spain.
What really needs to happen is that our top players need to be challenged more. At the youngest ages it is about repetition and success. After that, it becomes more about developing the game intelligence and ‘stretching’ the player.
Most of the world class players (not all) come from areas where there is a huge concentration of players in a smaller geographical area. Our top 1% of players are spread out over thousands of miles.
Yes, we are behind at youth level. But not so far behind the rest of the world. The ages of 17-21 are where I think we are truly missing. Compound that with the fact that we use the wrong criteria for identifying our top 1%…and we drop even further. And frankly we shouldn’t even try to identify the top 1% until at least 16.
Is this is the potential turning generation for US soccer?
U17 MNT Coach Richie Williams…more inspiring than anything I have heard from JK…
the results look good so far…see what happens vs Argentina and also how the product actually looks…anyone has seen this team play?
“If you look at Claudio, Tab and myself and the way we played soccer, we weren’t that different,” says Williams. “We would all try and play the same way. We weren’t big center back guys who just kicked the ball down the field. We were all midfielders who controlled the ball, liked to pass, liked to play a nice style of soccer. Play out of the back, keep the ball on the ground, and attack and create chances. That’s easier said than done, but that’s our mentality.”
Dr Loco says
Send some videos. Need to see them play. The quality of the product on the field is what matters not the scores.
U17? Sure the Americans are not just bigger, stronger, faster at that age.
“Communities in South America that are malnourished continue growing throughout their 20?s. But because they grew less during the more critical years of childhood, they still remain shorter than most Americans.”
Our U14 id2 kids recently completed a tour of Spanish clubs and performed quite well. id2 selection teams from other years have also shown quality when playing in England, Scotland, et al. And you know what, from the videos it is clear that all our boys weren’t always bigger, stronger, and faster.
Giuseppe Rossi, arguably the most skilled American-born player, is only 5’8″ like Landon Donovan. Perhaps maybe a few of those boys will follow their dream to go professional by latching onto a European club while they are young like Rossi had done with Parma rather than continue on with ODP like Donovan.
Dr Loco says
I believe it is possible to create a great player “organically” up to about 15-16 years of age. If a player does not have world class technique by 14-15 basically 9th grade it’s not possible. You don’t need pro coaches to develop this technique.
Dr. Loco, are you saying that a player peaks technically at 14/15?
I would agree that if you aren’t very good technically by 14/15 you won’t be…ever!
I think Arsene Wenger said that.
Dr Loco says
Yes and by 16/17 years a top player needs to be immersed in a quality professional environment training 5 days a week. It becomes a full-time job just like every other professional.
Dr Loco says
“Our top 1% of players are spread out over thousands of miles.”
They are concentrated in relatively small regions which are spread out over thousands of miles. So just form top centers of player development in their small regions. We don’t need equal representation from all states. There seems to be a political, cultural, economic influence at play here that is stunting soccer in America.
Why not just make Gary’s/ Brian’s team the future National Team? I’m fine with that. I’m sure a lot of parents and coaches from around the US will start “crying” about their kids.
Dr Loco…you may be kidding a bit when you said, “Why not make Brian’s team the future National Team?” I think it is a legitimate and excellent idea. Whatever happened to meritocracy and competition? If Brian’s or anyone else’s team can beat the designated U14 or U17 team why not let them go represent our country? Let the “crying” coaches put together a better option. Isn’t that really just capitalism on a smaller scale? …because the current USA soccer system looks a lot like communism to me by comparison and I bet Brian could deliver his quality team for a tiny fraction of the cost of the entire USA youth soccer development infrastructure; ODP etc.
Hall97 — you are right that not all world-class players came from Ajax or Barca. Barca is #1 team by most people’s opinion. More than half their players are La Masia grads and something like 8 or 9 of starting 11. Many of the phenoms from Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and so on . . . came up in pro club academies (not college or USDA clubs). Whether La Masia or other acadamies, they all had opportunity somewhere between 17 – 22 to play for a top “B” (reserve) pro team and earn valuable experience and opportunity to ge to first team. Many times, they are loaned to smaller or less competitive clubs to mature. And sometimes they are sold to othre teams who invest in future potential.
None of above happens in USA. College isn’t same. MLS has long-term contracts that hold down promising playres for something like 4-years. They aleady come out of college at about 20 – 22, which are prime years for maturing . . but it ain’t happening in college when compared to playing for a “B” side European or SA team or a smaller top level first team. And if they make MLS, they are often stuck until 26 or so, which is near their prime but spent last few years languishing in MLS.
Good point, Kana. Although occasionally our top college teams go to Europe and play well against youth/reserve sides. granted, it may not always be a direct comparison.
I think a positive step would be the MLS academies extending to U20 and even U23 teams.
MLS definitely needs to get it’s shit together. Take most of that designated player money and invest in their youth systems. better yet, actually create a ‘vertical system’.
I think a year or two of college soccer ‘can’ help players. Especially defenders. defenders peak much later and tend to come into their own at later ages…relative to strikers and attacking mid types.
Dr. Loco… how’d I like the British invasion? Well I’m in Mexico :). It is tough to generalize, and I know a couple English coaches that have their hearts in the right place. Luckily in that area there are choices, so you can move the kids if you don’t like how things are working out. Or, be sure to have a big fast child, a big child, or a fast child, so they can play for those coaches.
Dr Loco says
Not many options. Few if any. A disillusioned parent called me and told me they should just blow up all youth clubs in the area.
terry malloy says
It all starts at the beginning with technique. Everything else flows from that. Without technique kids don’t develop confidence, they don’t develop the interest & passion to work on their own. Their movement piggy-backs onto the technique. If Japan, a country that didn’t have the deep organic soccer history of the big soccer nations, can produce a Kagawa, and beat our vaunted women’s team in the World Cup, then maybe there’s something to what they’re doing. Of course, technique alone is insufficient to produce great players, but without it a player can never amount to anything more than mediocre. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqLZsWMHzb4&feature=youtu.be
Dr Loco says
Terry, excellent! Thank you.
Spent my Sat morning watching rec teams 8,9,10 year olds. It was both disappointing and embarrassing. Unbelievably awful to watch and hear the parents. These kids are truly lost. It’s like the adults play match maker just to place these kids on a team. Reminds me of a dork that can’t ask a girl out on a date so parents do it for them.
We must raise the quality of rec players because they are the grassroots foundation of soccer. At this rate, it might never happen.
I just saw the top 4 ranked U13 boys teams in the state of NJ play each other in the state cup semis and finals. There was not a single 5+ pass sequence among the 4 in two semi-final matches. Not one!
Perhaps, as an earlier post suggested, it is easy to look great against easier competitors and terrible against strong teams, but not one sequence between 4 teams? Something is wrong and as long as something is wrong no amount of time will fix it I think. I have experienced 1st hand trying a new approach or alternative path to development and it is not easy. If you start with a new club you do not have the resources (money and player talent pool) and must start from the lowest ranking. If you use an existing platform then you invariably have to deal with a lot of politics and pre-existing ways of thinking. In either case you will have to deal parents who do not always share your patience and goals. The easiest route for them is to gravitate toward the biggest name clubs in the area/state. There is a lot of “my son plays for XYZ…” The clubs can charge handsomely and have no incentive to really improve or change. The result is the state cup competition a couple weekends ago….games with several good athletes and even well skilled and technical individuals where they all have barely learned to play as a team and have no idea how to maintain possession. It was rec soccer on steroids….and that is the best in the state for a state where soccer is pretty popular. I’m still waiting for that clever 2nd tier club/coach to follow your example, take a possession based focus to development, and break into the top group. I think a couple clubs in neighboring states have done it reasonably well. Still waiting in NJ…at least in this age group.
A coaching friend of mine spit out this gem, “Our national training is designed so that we have a good chance at winning the 1966 World Cup.”
A friend asked me to help with his U10 pre-travel academy team. At the end of that season, we had taken that team full of bottom-of-the-barrel kids as judged by the other coaches (i.e. the smaller 6 and 7-year olds) to second place in the league and I was asked to take over the BU14 club team. That team had won one game in the last two seasons. We just won our league, undefeated, by trying to play possession soccer. Sometimes we got up to 20-pass movements and our season record was 42 passes to build up to a shot. It took a lot of work and convincing the few players who do live with the ball at their feet to trust their teammates and actually pass to players other than the three or four who are clearly talents.
I have now been asked to design curriculum for the entire organization from U-littles up through U14, both boys and girls. Most of these kids don’t live with the ball attached at their feet, even for our traveling teams. I don’t live in a place where there’s an option to create levels of teams, we even have to combine our age groups U11/12 and U13/14 just to field a squad for our club teams. We’re already pulling kids from an hour radius around us. Maybe 1 in 5 of the coaches who will be expected to implement my plan have actually played soccer before. The club coaches are more qualified, though some still buy into the kick-and-chase game. We’re an all-volunteer organization, myself included.
How much should I expect these volunteer parent-coaches to actually read and buy-in to my idea of trying to move to possession-based play? I know that my U14’s and the BU12 program have bought in to at least trying to move in that direction, even with our limited technical abilities. I really want to build up this program and truly develop these kids. I’m already spending more time doing stuff for the club than I am in my actual job. Any advice on getting the community/parents to buy-in?
Found this site and been skimming old posts. I like the discussions. Very insightful!
When will USA be ready? “A long time from now”!
Case in point: I coached a U14 team in Northern VA (now U15). From U12 – U14, I had a right back who was quick, ridiculously skillful, intelligent, disciplined, and coachable (quick learner). He was a top 3 scorer on the team and could play just about any field position. I played him on wing and forward every now and again. Even center-mid on rare occasion. Nice range of passing. The kid has huge potential! USA hasn’t produced an outside back like him. Edgar Castillo comes close as a benchmark. Anyway, he was never picked up by ODP or even tryout. I think because he is small and a bit skinny (ala Edgar Castillo). But damn, can he play! What gets me upset is I see players 5’10” getting called into ODP and they are nowhere near in terms of ability, impact, long-term potential. Just your standard outside backs who are somewhat slow, no attacking prowess, not as skillful building out of the back, and lesser ability in tactically. But damn they sure are physical and can slide tackle. This is the problem in micro I see in USA. In my opinion, we need a Cole, Marcello or Alves but those types aren’t in national team plans. Who makes it is a matter of circumstance yes, but is somewhat deliberate and influenced by the larger soccer community. We naturally divide players into categories according to a common characteristics (stratification). Size, speed, power, height, strength, skill, intelligence, first touch, vision, etc. We can’t weigh them equally. So rank order. We also can’t measure or weigh everything or each individual ability becomes marginalized. So we need to limit to a handful. This is where stratification and prejudices comes into play. I think we have the equation (weighting) wrong. Unlike Barcelona / La Masia, we chose players in wrong categories based on wrong criteria / characteristics. If we can understand this, I think USA can change. Hoping Klinsmann can do more to influence this. Why is no one talking about USA hiring Cruyff as a consultant to USSF? We need someone like him to champion the transformation.
Thanks for this forum Gary! I plan on talking to fellow coaches about this site as I think it helps expand and challenge beliefs. The back and forth of opinion and being open to differences of opinion and ideas is the only way change will come.
How much time did German soccer need (to reboot)?
There is extensive discussion here about the Spanish model– mostly the Barcelona model. I have often thought that German football may provide a better model for US soccer than Spanish football.
These guys always seem to find a way.
Gary Kleiban says
The quality of soccer is not the priority here.
Here are two opposing logic trails to illustrate:
1) Focus on making lots of $$, then quality of product on field will essentially take care of itself.
2) Focus on making a quality on field product, then the $$ will essentially take care of itself.
Both have merits, and both alone don’t solve the problem. The optimum solution surely lies somewhere in between.
The hierarchy in the US overwhelmingly leans to #1 for a variety of reasons which are not pure. Meaning, they are not looking out for the best interest of the game. But more tragically, FAR greater than 99% of these people don’t know the game anyways (lucky for them, our public & media doesn’t either). Even if they chose strategy #2, they wouldn’t know how to do it.
We have a people problem throughout the hierarchy, and an education problem everywhere else.
Uh no. DFB has massive pro and sponsor support, a footballing culture, and vast club resources with motivation to develop ($$$). A great example of rebooting but not a feasible model in USA (coaching technique of course could and should be modeled).
Gary and ThiKuBC, I take your points. You are right that money is a core ingredient in any world-class football recipe, and I cannot even guess how to solve that problem for the US.
Perhaps I am overshooting here– my though is a simple, general notion that the US would have more luck in pursuing world-class football by tapping more accessible national cultures and models. In my opinion, the German culture and mentality is just such an example. It would provide the US with an easier path for guiding our masses towards an effective, possession-oriented philosophy and even style of play. I think the US would find more touch points and accessible examples in German football than in, say Spanish football.
Let’s face it: even though Barca is currently making millions of dollars selling number 10 shirts in the US, tiki-taka style of play is still resisted by most people in this country, even the Latins here. The Germans are more physically similar to the US population in general, they seek more direct solutions footbalisticly, and have a more natural preference towards systems and planning, as we do. This is not some scientific hypothesis, this is just my semi-thoughtful opinion as to what kind football system we should be using as a reference to evolve quicker as a football nation, as we search for a clear identity.
As a country, we are much closer to the Teutonic mentality than the Latin mentality. Let’s face it– even in football; especially in football– the Latin mindset in still in the periphery. And let’s also face it: the Latin mindset is very diverse, and includes lots of crap football, too. But the US is a melting pot, and a more Germanic, possession-oriented football system may be something more of us can buy into.
Alberto — The make-up of USA has and will continue to change. Some states are not Caucasian majority. Into the future Caucasian will become more and more the minority.
Many of most talented players in SoCal (hotbed of soccer in USA) are Mexican or Central America. I agree with your Germanic argument, but think we could be at a critical cross-roads in next 5-10 years as soccer continues to mature in USA. IMHO, we (USA) need to tap into Mexican and Central America player pool way more than we do. But pay to play is a barrier in that many great players cannot afford USDA clubs. And college is also a problem for many of these players (which is a huge problem because the road to MLS and USMNT is primarily through college).
Gary Kleiban says
I think you may be correct Alberto.
I guess what I was trying to say is we simply don’t have coaches or administrators sufficiently educated to put us on any meaningful ‘style track’ whatsoever.
Now we can see the best of both worlds, Bayern Munich has always been a favorite of mine, and seeing the German and Barca styles blend under Guardiola should be a treat. Can’t wait for a Bayern Munich vs. Barca CL final.
Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Mexico all revamped their youth development program at some time or another in last 10 – 30 years. This paid dividends in domestic league, regional tournaments, and at youth levels. Is this success a Matter of Circumstance or result of long-term vision? I see from the Quality Pro Development post that these countries actually did something. WTF is USSF or any of soccer organizations in USA doing? Nothing! So don’t expect much in terms of WC success or youth development (e.g., college soccer or WC success at younger age groups) for at least 10-years. Frigging joke! How hard can it be for USSF to develop a handful of youth development centers or come out and actively push (I mean get out there and get on soap box, visit clubs and colleges and use their influence to make change) for reform in youth development (such as common playing style, stronger licensing program)? USSF is as invisible, as absent as Jose Mourinho’s gentlemanly nature.
The Philadelphia Union’s CEO said today that having a new stadium for their USL affiliate is a priority. He said having a good pitch and fans in the stands for the USL team – creating that environment – is probably 50% of the development of a young player.
What do you think?
That’s a great idea. I think since we don’t have a system of relegation and promotion in the U.S. this is maybe the next best thing. The young players coming into MLS out of college are not ready for the pro game. They need more experience playing games before they are ready for the level. How many kids spend years on the bench of MLS teams and never end up breaking through, cause they stop developing at the rate they need to – to make the MLS level. MLS and USL should be paired up together. My guess is that many MLS teams don’t want to trust their players to USL, cause the coaching is not good. But then again is MLS coaching much better?
Messi and other greats are products of their environment. Nothing like it remotely exists in USA.
Lots of good posts I’ve been reading. The Kleibans and their club are one of the handful who are doing it right. Playing to win AND develop the right way. Level of sophistication is high. From what I gather, they seem to have a professional, player-centric model? Most clubs are club or coach centric. Make $$$ and trophies for parents and display in clubhouse. They say they want to develop players for highest levels, but their training, coaching, style of play, standards aren’t aligned. Bait and switch. From my experience, this isn’t deliberate. Just the blind leading the blind from a vision but lacking the philosophy and leadership to align it all. I’m not a regular blogger, but wanted to share some thoughts:
ODP lacks an identity and playing style.
We don’t look for outliers at National team level but they are starting to find an identify (style of play). Once they align player id (find the outliers best suited for the possession oriented attacking game), things will change and ripple effect to lower levels.
Once you have a philosophy and a professional player-centric model, good things will happen. This keeps the long-term interest of the player (i.e, pro level trajectory) first and foremost. This will require a more sophisticated level of coaching and focus on technical, tactical, mental. Player id then comes into play. Have a system that progressively filters out the outliers on both ends of the curve. This is somewhat difficult in pay to play. Longer league play following a 10-month model like USDA but do that starting U12. More practice, more meaningful games fewer tournaments. But many clubs survive on fees from tournaments, so again a difficult proposition in pay to play.
Getting quiet here for sure. Here’s something I’ve been thinking of. Maturity of soccer in a nation.
Level 5: Highest level of maturity. Spain, Germany, Brazil, Argentina for example. Multiple World Cups. Frequently produce large number of world-class players. Large numbers of players in top European teams / clubs. Several FIFA Balon de Oro winners. Top-notch youth development and academies. Frequent appearances in Semis or Quarters of World Cup and powerhouses in their Confederation.
Level 4: Advanced. Netherlands, Italy, England for example . . maybe Portugal. Possibly won one World Cup. A good number of world-class players with representation in top leagues, down to 2nd tier in Europe. Frequent appearances in knock out stage of World Cup. Among top teams in their Confederation. Above average youth development.
Level 3: Intermediate. USA, Panama, Japan, Mexico, Korea for example. Competitive to group stage of World Cup with infrequent taste of knock out stage. A dozen or so players in top European leagues. Possibly one to a handful of active world class players. In upper half of their Confederation. Average to excellent youth development, but unable to produce world class players on frequent basis to move to top European leagues / clubs. Opinion – USA moving down or static; Mexico upward trend . . . a good World Cup could put them in Level 4.
Level 2: Emergent. Jamaica, Panama, Honduras for example. Well developed professional league, good youth development. Mixture of players in domestic and foreign leagues. Small number of players in top European clubs / leagues. Competitive in World Cup and Confederation but short of success deep into tournaments.
Level 1: Elementary. Haiti, Vietnam, India for example. Burgeoning youth and professional soccer. World Cup team primarily nationals and ex-pats playing on 3rd and 4th tier leagues, possibly in Europe or Asia.
Level 0: Undeveloped: Fiji, Samoa for example. Little to no established soccer. Primarily recreational. National team consisting of armatures.
Italy is not level 4, they have four world cups and are by far better than argentina!
You may be right, but some degree of this is subjective. I think USA is Level 2.5, Mexico 3.5, England 3.9. Splitting hairs.
Thought provoking post Kana. Makes me ask why countries are at certain levels. I would call top level “optimizing”. I think nations that optimize are optimizing youth development. Maximizing it through coaching, increasingly level of competition and weeding out the best for first team someplace in top European side. The gold standard?
I also think it’s level of sophistication as @Dave blogged about. No doubt level of coaching sophistication has wide variation in USA. Good/average at best, unsatisfactory more the norm. Includes player id and style of play.
Regarding technical and tactical, the collective “team” sophistication in Europe or South America is higher than USA. We are for sure more athletic, taller, stronger, bigger – but isn’t the secret ingredients to success. That recipe is far more elusive, cerebral, and we can’t seem to unlock the code despite it being there in clear view.
Yes, when I came to this country I noticed lack of sophistication for coaches, parents, players. I think from what I read and results, Gary and Brian are in top 1% of sophisticated coaches and results in sophisticated players and I bet trickles to parents. Bravo! I hope Brian moving to Chivas will be the start of change in MLS and other youth programs. Once they are successful, people follow.
El Memo says
At this rate, I’m not sure. It is not an excuse. It is a fact. That’s why we (coaches) have to work harder.