Soccer Development Through Education
This is going to be an iterative process.
Here’s the base version containing fundamental requirements.
Can you define what you mean by scouting and recruiting? I know that sounds a bit obvious and stupid but sometimes people interchange those words and it can be confusing. Are you saying you get scouting reports on your opponents for your younger teams?
This is in the context of roster building.
So scouting is about constantly getting your ass out to the fields (or watching on TV / video) and searching for players that can lift your roster’s level, and/or that you perceive to have greater potential.
Recruiting is the art of the sale. Of convincing said player, his representatives, his family, and all interested parties, that being on your team is the better situation.
Gary you give a few pointers specific to the art of the recruiting sale mentioned here?
Without the good reputation of a team/program like you enjoy, what specifically could a U10 coach provide a prospective family to convince them that switching to my team would be the better situation?
My club has the best reputation in my area for developing high caliber players, and my team specifically has seen tremendous development over the last 18 months. But, my team and I as a coach are relatively unknown yet in my age group around the area since we are so young.
I have scouted 2 talented girls on my daughters all star futsal team whose families I’d like to gradually approach over the next few months leading into May tryouts. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!
Scouting I would think refers to the roster. Finding the players that can learn your style of play. Releasing players when they don’t fit or need to move on to get the right coaching or opportunities.
I find this simple graphic very informative. Distills the coach/club task nicely.
I wonder what Brian and Gary think about Tom Byer’s assessment, that to improve a national team’s player pool, you have to shrink the gap in skills between the best players and the worst players.
First, I have to say the only thing I know of Tom is through this podcast:
But I have a lot of thoughts on what is/isn’t accomplished by “shrinking the gap in skills between the best and worst players”.
My foremost thought is that what’s being accomplished is the reduction in the standard deviation of the bell curve. And that’s done mostly by focussing on the lower end.
What we need is the high end of the curve to shift to the right. I don’t believe our ‘elite’ players will become more ‘elite’ if we lift the level of the worst players. And if it does help at some macro-level, that help is negligible compared to the work of specialists operating directly at the high end of the curve.
But again, I have lots of thoughts on the matter which need to be distilled.
Part of what I got out of that podcast is that at least in Japan they try teach everyone good technique and ball control at a very young age… seems like in the US we start at age 7 or 8, which already seems really late in the game.
With all due respect I think this could be refined a little. Maybe too high-level a look at possession.
There are 3 distinct types of possession requiring 3 distinct behaviors from players.
2. Opponent possession
3. No possession (loose ball)
Likewise there are 3 types of transition:
1. Transition to possession
2. Transition to opponent possession
3. Transition to loose ball
I think that is sufficient for coaching.You can go nuts with many combinations. For example, the next lower level of detail is transition to loose ball from possession, transition to loose ball from opponent possession, transition to possession from loose ball, transition to possession from opponent possession, transition to opponent possession from possession, transition to loose ball from possession, transition to loose ball from opponent possession. Then you can modify with a lead or without a lead. Which minute it is in the game. Which third of the field the ball is in. Etc. Soccer is a beautiful under-analyzed competitive behavior.
Each analyzer has to decide which level is appropriate. I steadfastly agree choreography starts with possession and transition. I just think maybe it needs a little more detail as enumerated above to be meaningful.
Well, it is called “version 1″ for a reason.
But even ‘this version 1′, serves to illuminate the core components. Thereby giving a reference of where one excels and one fails.
How many coaches do serious and repeated “choreography” (Set Tactical Work) for those 3 main phases of the game? This is the main failure mode in our country by the way. Very few coaches even know what Set Tactical Work is, let alone the details within. That’s why I gave it a name – Choreography.
Gotta teach people the concepts and how to even talk first. We’ve got to give them a framework to work from.
Where could an ambitious young coach (who clearly doesn’t understand everything that you have already mastered) go to begin learing “what Set Tactical Work is, let alone the details within?”
I am amazed by what you have put on the field and I want so badly for my players to be able to move towards playing the way your teams play. I understand and agree with most of what I read on this blog. I actually didn’t fail any of the “red flag” tests that you have described in earlier posts (I considered trying the F-bomb-to-11-year-olds experiment but concluded to wait on that one since the culture of my community and club would dictate immediate termination of my employment). BUT…my knowledge of the game is not sufficient to understand what sometimes seems to be cruelly vague references to how you guys do what you do.
Some things that I have concluded, after repeatedly watching the videos you have posted, are:
1. that your players are spectacular technicians, and
2. that their speed of play (by which I mean decision making) is crazy fast when in possession.
About #1, I understand what goes into development of a technically sound player.
About #2, I have to conclude that your players are able to make decisions and play the ball to each other so quickly because in any given situation, each player knows not only where they are supposed to be (and what to be doing there), but they also know where all of their teammates are supposed to be (and what they are to be doing there).
Further, when any player gets the ball, he knows exactly what to do with it (or at least is able to choose between clearly defined good-better-best options of what to do with it). Maybe they aren’t making decisions at all. Maybe each player, when he gets the ball, is just executing a well rehearsed plan of what to do every time he has possession, and every player around him is executing a well rehersed plan of what they are supposed to do off the ball everytime that particular teammate in possession has the ball.
Here is the core of my question: How do I go about learning those responsibilities of each player, those patterns of play. How do I learn to ransmitt those ideas to young players? Where do I go to learn how to develop a big picture tactical blueprint for my team and go about the “set tactical work” that will imprint that blueprint onto the players?
A couple of ideas
1) Go over the previous posts on this blog. A lot of “meat” to digest. Recommend in particular this one:
2) Here’s something that can start to give you a visual notion of the “choreography” for a 4-3-3 possession game model:
3) Listen carefully to Gary’s additional comments
Thanks for the ideas Nuno!
That video is excellent Nuno!
Now, one simple constituent pattern at a time, the coach must train the players to recognize and execute the appropriate movements. #choreography
This training is not just 1 session, or 2, or 10. It is done an enormous amount of times. And you do not move on, or add more complexity, until a ‘high’ degree of mastery is achieved with a certain pattern. And if that ‘mastery’ begins to degrade at any point, it must be revisited.
Repetition to master a skill . . . yes. A HUGE pet peeve of mine is inability to execute. My son’s coach repeats over and over, but during a game, many players take on new DNA. They fall back to over-dribbling instead of passing, shooting form 25-yards instead of inside the box, or playing on same side of field (as examples).
As a manager in the workplace, my ideal is to have staff do things on their own, with little supervision and allow them to move on to advanced analysis of client work. Especially good is staff who are quick studies. Their ability to be execute as trained frees me up to push the bar in terms of market shaping, strategy, and helping my staff become elite in what they do. We don’t mire in the basics.
It’s frustrating when I see a coach who goes over same thing repeatedly and some of the team forget it in a game, and affects everyone. This prevents the coach from analyzing play, tactical awareness, individual performance, and other more high level / advanced things. Playing at basic level of understanding an inability to execute on the pitch prevents players from going to higher levels.
Your diagram above comes closest to addressing this in “Releasing” of players. But it’s too late then. Which is why Player Identification is so important. A huge reason teams like Barca are so selective. I wish more youth soccer clubs were!
Would like to hear your thoughts on this. How selective is FC Barcelona USA in player identification? To me, player identification is as or more important than what you actually teach. You can have the greatest system and best coaches, but players with wrong characteristics is a death blow to best laid plans.
Depending on both chronological age and soccer age, if the players are not executing (to the desired level) what is supposedly being trained during competition …
Then the coach should be on the sideline correcting the major problems.
For example, if a switch is coming through the back four, and the outside back is not reading and getting his ass to the right position … the coach should be telling him. Same applies to all kinds of situations that have supposedly been trained.
If after a certain period of time (again depending on the idiosyncrasies of each situation), a player is perceived not to ‘have it’, it may be time to move on. Could be a year, could be 5 years … there are no rules. This is an art.
Yes player id is obviously important. You want to try and get that correct, but it’s not easy. Nobody’s on the money 100% of the time. We’ve made mistakes. Not to mention the soccer landscape in our country is currently not structured to fully support a ruthless recruiting/releasing model (except for MLS academies).
And I’d like to keep repeating the following:
We do not have the ‘best player’ in our age groups. I wish! If we could build an all-star team from the local talent, I would perhaps have chosen only 4 or 5 of our current players.
How legal/illegal is recruiting in youth soccer right now? Especially in our section? What are the punishments for breaking/bending the rules? I did most of it undercover last year with specific players that I knew I had to have. I was able to keep most of it under wraps. But that only got me so far. I wasn’t able to reach everyone that I wanted.
I’ve been battling with how I want to label some sessions in late winter. Do I say they’re trial sessions for players that I am interested in? Do I say they’re tryouts for players interested in my team?
Once they’re on the field with the rest of the team and I, I know they will want to stay. I know you guys deal with similar problems. Advice?
please don’t keep this up!
Can I join your club?
I never have formal tryouts. I just tell players to come to practice.
“How legal/illegal is recruiting in youth soccer right now? ”
You should not have asked now I know…crap.
Article V – Responsibilities regarding Scouting and Recruiting
(1) All NCPS rules pertaining to recruiting shall be strictly observed by coach, manager or any team representative.
(2) It is inappropriate to recruit player(s) actively playing for another team – unless the players club provides written permission.
(3) It is unethical for a player to be recruited or enticed from the
Player Development Program setting, either by his PDP coach or any other coach, manager, player, parent or team representative present at said event.
(4) When discussing the advantages of his/her organization, the coach has an obligation to be forthright and refrain from making derogatory remarks regarding other coaches, teams and organizations.
(5) It is unethical for any coach to make a statement to a prospective athlete which cannot be fulfilled; illegal to promise any kind of compensation or inducement for
play; and immoral to deliver same.
(6) It is unethical for coaches to attend tryouts for other clubs, unless invited by the club in writing, or to have players attend tryouts at other clubs to recruit players.
(7) It is unethical for a team or groups of players to be recruited from one club to another club by a coach working in the teams present club, a coach from another club, or any club representative from inside or outside the club.
I think how these NO RECRUITING “ethics” are written is a load of crap. It is not about ethics or protecting the player. It is all about protecting income. I could very well understand a league having guidelines on WHEN it is appropriate to have discussions with players. Mid season is not the time to switch teams unless there is a serious disconnect between player and coach. But I see NO reason why a coach or club cannot inform me of their interest in having my son or daughter play for them starting at the next “transfer window”. Having predefined times when it is appropriate for players and clubs to consider moves gives everyone guidelines to follow that minimize the disruption to teams while providing the right freedom to the customer. Remember the player and his parents are the ones PAYING the club. The club does not OWN the player. As Gary points out his club signs one year agreements with players. Recruiting a player to join your club or team once their current agreement with another team or club expires is COMPLETELY ethical.
Scouting and recruiting individual players is more effective than sending mass emails like this.
“Is your child ready to make the jump from recreational soccer to competitive soccer? To be trained by professional coaches from the San Jose FC Coaching Staff? To be coached from the same coaching curriculum as FC Barcelona, and Tottenham Hotspurs? If the answer is yes we will see you at tryouts. “
What do you define as “best player”? I know it’s age dependent but am interested to hear your opinon. Don’t recall you ever explaining.
If I go to most basic, a player at about U14 and above should have enough technical skill to play with head up. From there, it’s all about reading the game and looking for queues to anticipate and move. In my book, players who can do these at a high leve are “advanced”. Top 5-10%. From there, I think “best player” is dependent on position they play. This is where specilization comes in IMHO. And being “best” has nothing to do with size. It should be all about footballing ability. Thoughts?
I think USSF and ODP miss the mark with above. They seem to take strong, athletic players and try to make them technically proficient, or play a style of game that lends itself to those type of players (defensive, ugly football).
I believe the model should to be find naturally talented footballers and work on athleticism as they age. I think it’s much more difficult to develop strong, athletic players into top-quality footballers than it is to develop natural footballing talents into top-quality players who can work on stength as they mature into late teens and young adults.
Our player id model is upside down as I see it.
Difficult to ‘define’ what ‘best player’ is. Over time, that’s something I’ll try to flesh out.
This is why ‘philosophy’ is crucial.
It is the lens through which you judge everything. Well that, and your cognitive biases.
Like I said in the podcast, any discussion of ‘best player’ needs to be contextualized. Meaning: “best player for what”.
Being concise, and non-exhaustive, me personally:
* If a player’s movements resemble that of the hundreds of world class players whose patterns of play are engrained in my head. If I can say player X has property Y like [insert world class player here], and/or property Z like [insert world class player here], then I’m interested.
* if I can “see” / “feel” complex thought processes happening in said player’s brain. Don’t know how to better explain that.
* if said player is consistently executing these properties at the highest competitive levels.
A note on that last bullet: One must have the capacity to take into account the environment said player is in. And extrapolate whether it will translate to another environment (context mentioned above).
Anyways, I’ll likely take this comment and make it a post.
p.s. The above list is not meant to be exhaustive.
Like when you say to a fellow coach “He reminds me of Redondo” and you get a blank look in response??
Thanks Gary. Agree with all you’ve said so far.
This discussion reminds me of a passage I read from the book “Barca” I recently summarized in previous post. It said the coaches at La Masia teach “a respect for posession”. It’s a mindset. A belief. All players must show it. A simple idea with powerful, long-lasting impact (magnitude).
I can imagine Nirvana if I close my eyes and dream. A coach demaning posession soccer. Blasphemy if a player speaks or acts otherwise.
Any “best player” needs to have that characteristic.
You are correct that “best player” needs to be contextualized specifically to a playing style / philosophy and those who have characteristics that best fit it. That said, hoping the post you plan to write can attempt to define a more generic profile with maybe a few examples of position-specific “best of breed” discriminators.
It’s not one post Kana … it can’t be.
That’s what I’m trying to say.
Yes, I can also start approaching the topic in a manner which you suggest, but this is a long-term process. And one which I’m making up as I go along … I’m not aware of a single person who’s done this.
The slow and steady alignment of philosophy is what’s key. That is what teaches a man to fish. That, and experience (which is something non-transferrable).
How can I get the following on paper?
*** If I can “see” / “feel” complex thought processes happening in said player’s brain.
Gary, your last point provoked deep thought and raised an important question/point.
Regarding the ‘environment’, in NTX bigger, faster stronger wins. While I understand that a truly strong technical and tactical team can certainly outplay and beat ‘jungle ball’ teams, we are still talking about youth players.
In this case, a still 14 yr old playing against ‘top’ (in terms of results) U16 teams in the region. This represents the highest level available.
Therefore, I gauge a player’s success in terms of number of passes completed, turnover rate, making the ‘key’ passes, dispossessions and overall technical quality..especially first touch.
As a central midfielder, I feel this is at least a good place to start.
Am I at least on the right track?
Understand difficulty of putting words to “seeing / feeling complex thought”. Maybe we can begin by understanding that they are often physical manifestations of cognitive ability. Intelligent movement and clever passing are examples. Timing is another indicator of complex thought. Look at Iniesta, Xavi, Messi — their movements are complex, yet simple. They know when and why to do things. Not too early and not too late; but just at the right time.
It’s said masters make things look easy. I’m looking forward to your post on this topic. As usual, we will try to flesh out your iniital thoughts with a bit more insight and opinion.
There are number of ways to measure/observe the intelligence and thought process of a player.
1) Does the player check and recheck for pressure/options BEFORE the ball gets to them?
2) As a 2nd attacker, does he maintain an open body shape to see the field and move create good passing options?
3) When receiving does the ball, does the players first touch take them into space to keep possession or look to penetrate or do they open up into pressure/away from open space?
@hall97, while I agree with most of what you’ve said here, I think we should be careful if we are judging a players success in terms of dispossessions.
Messi is probably the Barca player disposessed the most, simply because his is the one taking the most risks with the ball inside the attacking zone. While dispossessions in and of themselves are not a positive thing, it’s relative to the impact you are making to the game when you are not dispossessed, as in the Messi example above.
Number of passes completed, turnover rate, making the ‘key’ passes, and overall technical quality..especially first touch are all impportant to me as well! First touch being the most important of the list above.
Here is a funny article.
“Players with exceptional conditioning can be vital players at the end of matches, and you will want them on your team.”
“Such simple personality tests will help you find out who are the best players for the team.”
“Since this is what the game is all about, you will get a good visual of how players interact off the ball, and you can also see which players are the best at making an impact. These will be your star players and it is good to see how they play in a full team.”
Wow…. just sat through this with my Son. We don’t have the luxury of getting this kind of training at this point and have to travel many hours in hopes of being taught this. Thanks for posting. He got it. It made sense and helped clarify and define some of the finer movements expected of the formation.
Chris, I think you misunderstood my dispossessions comment. I’m talking about the number of dispossession caused by the player…not how many times he turned the ball over/was dispossesed himself.
I think for midfielders, winning the ball (tackles/intercepted passes) is an important statistic to measure performance.
Conversely, a midfielder who gives the ball away (frequently) in the middle 3rd to me is a liability.
Obviously the pure attacking players (strikers and wingers) are going to be unsuccessful more times than not due to the risk/reward nature of their style of play.
Ok Hall97 we’re totally on the same page!
Excelent video Nuno! Thanks for sharing.
Looks so basic and easy, but some players have the darndest time to execute. Which is why I’m always harping on teams/clubs/coaches/odp/ussf doing better job of player id for ToP 5% players. I have not privy to what scouts do in USA, but willing to bet game intelligence like video you posted is nowhere to be found.
Yes. Great video Nuno! I’ve been searching the internet for these types of videos with no luck. Can u or anyone else here post other links to more videos? thanks
Watch Barcalona or Spain play over and over again.
Pretty simple really.
Welcome to the community KJD.
Ambitious young coaches are exactly what our country needs!
Thanks for all the responses guys. After a quick look at some of these links, I’m feeling both excited and overwhelmed. I’ve got my work cut out for me.
Guys I think there is hope out there and this movement is growing. My son’s team played in Memphis last weekend against a U13 team from Michigan (ASC something) and I’ve never seen a team move the ball so well. Final score was 4-0 and our boys had the ball maybe 5% of the game. What a tough learning experience it was for the boys and even our coach may be beginning to rethink his philosophy. We don’t get to see a lot of possession soccer down here in the SE and it was pretty to watch but absolutely painful to play against. Keep up the great work. You’re making a difference.
Are you talking about the “ASC Pro” team? I saw them as well. Nice team.
Scott G. Pre Academy 2000 were nice as well in U13 Bracket. There was really good football that weekend.
Yes I believe that was them!
Good infographic and quite descriptive of the sequenced approach towards the Gold Standard.
Follows logic that to build a roster you have to ID players (what your team needs, has openings for, players you have heard about from other people or from scouting as possibilities), then scout them (watch them play and potentially ID additional players), activiely recruit using your “Gold Standard” goal as a selling point to actract the talent you are seeking for your team, and finally rentention and releasing players. For instance Player D is on the cutting block but you have to confirm Players A, B, and C are going to be retained before any players are released.
In terms of choreography, you must teach the technique and tactics that go into possession first as if it is done well, this will be the primary phase to which your team plays. Also, makes no sense to teach a team what to do out of possession or on transition if they can’t keep the ball. Kind of like the unskilled player that is big and aggressive that is good at winning the ball, but doesn’t have the footwork to handle it or distribute it, so they constantly turn it over, but they may wrestle it back several times, often from the same defender they lose it to (have had this occur).
Finally the actual map from start to finish is an accurate depiction of where the ball moves when it is cycled from the fullbacks/keeper to a goal scored. I’m guessing it is a passing pattern of some type. Just kidding.
Again informative in terms of the priority and order to which what is worked. (Assuming my assumptions are correct).
FYI, there is no “order” depicted on the map in terms of what comes before/after what.
Dang it, just when I thought I was starting to get it!
It used to be the belief that you either had it, or you didn’t, then Weil Coerver figured out that individual technical abilities could be taught and learned. I think the Kleibans’ are onto something but on a scale that extends well beyond an individual or a team; potentially to an entire system at the very least would be club wide. I hope they can endure our impatience for their product long enough to properly develop their concept to one that we will understand and more importantly, be successful in replicating regardless of the level of players or the amount of resources we may have access to as coaches.
Count on me to keep pushing buttons and then asking, what’s this do?
Very nice big picture starting point…to move on to lower level of details game model needs to be well defined
I am not in a position to do any of these: Player ID, Scouting, Recruiting, Retention, Releasing.
Seems pointless sometimes. I just develop whoever wants to play. When players want to leave to bigger, stronger, faster teams I tell them good luck. Parents and players just don’t get it.
If we can’t follow the gold standard what are our options?
What do you mean “you’re not in a position to do any of these”?
In any case, it’s perfectly fine to not pursue whatever this so-called “Gold Standard” is. Some people may genuinely not have an interest in that. And that’s ok (at the lower youth levels anyway).
But I believe it is not ok at the highest levels (youth to pro). Particularly, if your customers are being sold on the promise of excellence.
“But I believe it is not ok at the highest levels (youth to pro). Particularly, if your customers are being sold on the promise of excellence.” Got it.
I operate at the lower youth levels so it has not been possible to do Player ID, Scouting, Recruiting, Retention, Releasing. I do not run a factory where players go in and out. We just work with the limited kids in the neighborhood.
But I still don’t get it …
We’ve operated at the lower youth levels too. It didn’t stop us from doing all those things.
Is this a choice you’re making, or is this an ironclad rule for your team?
You’re completely right. As a coach I fail in Player ID, Scouting, Recruiting, Retention, Releasing. I do not successfully retain players. I identify and scout players but do not successfully recruit them. I do not release players because I cannot find replacements.
Maintaining a health roster is my greatest difficulty.
We have to take seriously that this is the model for developing pro players. From everything you have said you are not in that business. You are teaching good soccer to mostly kids who like soccer, but aren’t the determined, mature, athletic specimens that play for the Kleibans. You are working with the base of the soccer pyramid and the whole recruiting/id side is not as important there. I think in the long run your side is more important. The base of the pyramid strengthening will produce intelligent fans and parents that demand good soccer. But the key thing is that the fairly ruthless recruiting and cutting necessary to produce pros I don’t think is appropriate for teaching kids a little about soccer in your local town team.
Agreed the base of the pyramid is more important than the pinnacle right now, right here. Growing at the base, grass roots level will increase the resources available to soccer in the long run; money, interest, etc. This will lead to the intrinsic demand for better soccer. Soccer is NOT a niche sport! We ca no longer treat it that way.
Also, the pinnacle of soccer in the US is an f’ing joke. Please someone challenge that or acknowledge it. Sweeping US and getting a couple of kids to Europe this is not the top of the pyramid in soccer, even if it is the top of US Youth soccer that is not saying much. That is not saying enough for me. Sorry. The top is producing Van Persie after Van Persie… Alba after Alba…
Thanks for allowing the discussion.
Everything is required.
Providing a home and a path for the gifted is not evil.
It is not only important, but necessary.
I have no problem at all with your model for the best- and usually most mature kids- they can handle it and you might make a few kids dreams come true- that’s great and necessary But I think the lower levels of youth soccer can teach an intelligent game without your recruiting emphasis. Does that make sense?
Totally agree man!
Look at the discussion about the top vs the lower level of the pyramid. About 5 years ago i started to send teams and now players to europe. The amateur club in the area i worked with had never done this or had a desire and focus to do that. But 5 years on we have implemented our program with 3 teams and I’ve noticed from the age levels below us their has been a massive improvement in the development and quality of players.
Not saying we are a direct responsibilty of that, but as our players/teams started to get known it gave a reference point for the teams in the club in what they wanted their program to do. So my teams may focus on trying to develop pro players and give opportunities for those players, but now the club can see that as a reference point. And there’s a player not on one of my teams that we just helped get scouted for Europe that is 12 years old. He’s now a reference point for his team. Because he goes parents, kids wonder what does he do or how does he get that opportunity. Even the interest in that helps open minds and improve the standard because knowledge is being shared, even if their teams have no interest in actually developing pros or going to europe.
So when i see Gary and Brian’s product that is a reference point for all of us that i think we can all agree helps improve our product. They are illustrating in my opinion this is how the top does it and they are the top. So we have to evaluate every piece of our programs and implement what we need to but understand if Gary and Brian’s product wasn’t the top we wouldn’t be on this blog. If you are lowest, middle, or the best, the top is what everyone uses as a reference point.
Kephren, nice to see you posting again.
The way I see it pushing the base of the pyramid raises the top. Pulling the top of the pyramid also raises the top. We have to both push the base and pull the top of the pyramid.
My son plays USDA club and finding smart players is what I see as the biggest problem. They are fast, athletic, and decent players. But where most fall woefully short is tactical awareness, inability to read game, and undisciplined play. My son is U14 and releasing players is not common (would love to hear others experience). Pay and you play. Even players with two left feet play. The model Gary talks about is truly proper, but for vast majority of clubs (to include USDA) — money talks!
Again, would like to hear from other USDA parents on this. I can however say that at the U16 and U18 Academy level, it is different. Hard to make the squad. Need to be decent player. But at younger ages its a farce! I think that’s a problem. To “develop” properly, you need to be surrounded by players of like skill and playing competition of like or better skill. Playing with some very good, many average, and some poor players doesn’t help the very good. It merely wastes valuable development of the top 5%. One of the problems I see with youth soccer in USA.
Would love to hear other points of view.
What I see in my state is that teams are quick to release those they don’t feel are athletic enough, but don’t stick with players who have technique and brains as soon as they can’t outrun someone. As the players get older, most teams are stuck with 1-2 kids who can play and a bunch of donkeys who can run fast and win 50/50s. When I see the ‘average’ coach, I see a lot of technique training at all ages, but virtually no tactical work or just teaching the players basic decision making from their position.
What I think complicates this problem is that many coaches and club directors think it’s only about teaching technique when the players are young. So they eschew teaching any tactics or correcting decision making in favor of ‘letting them figure it out for themselves’ – heard that one from a long time regional odp coach at our club as to why he didn’t help the u9s with positioning.
I think being surrounded by tactically weaker players and having coaches that don’t understand what to teach or how to do it is what really kills the development of quality players here. My problem as a coach comes from having very minimal player selection. I’ve recruited players for my teams and invite a fair number to train with the team in hopes that I can get them up to speed technically/tactically, but in my area the other clubs are so weak that I can’t get ready made players to help improve the level unless I’m able to get kids to come from an hour away (I do have 2 that make that kind of travel already). So the question becomes: do I release a player who I have trained and is competent technically/tactically but is not so good in those areas to compensate for being smaller and slower and replace them with a kid who has the athleticism to compete at the top level but is a little off the pace with technique and tactical understanding? I find that to be the biggest question I have to answer in my situation.
Matt , your statement “What I see in my state is that teams are quick to release those they don’t feel are athletic enough, but don’t stick with players who have technique and brains as soon as they can’t outrun someone” is very true! Big and strong is criteria for most clubs/coach and well documented on this forum.
See my recent post from “Bara” book excerpt I posted. Even top clubs in Europe love big and strong. So I guess USA is in good company. Or as I see it, in wrong crowd and not mature enough to walk away.
Thanks for your insight. Only reinforces what we all know. Hopefully one day this forum will be a catalyst for change across youth soccer. FC Barcelona USA is doing that as we speak.
Dr. Loco — I understand your plight. However, I would say do what you can. If you can develop a player for higher level club / team, that should be reward enough. In fact, if you desire to stay with your current club, I would say your mission is to raise the level of what you have and give promising players a spring board to next level.
another starting point .. can we agree on which formation(s) we’re going to use?
for example, 11v11 uses the 4-3-3; while 8v8 uses the 1-5-1.
Formations aren’t the problem.
Since 4-3-3 is important enough for 11v11 to be mentioned explicitly in many circles,
can you elaborate what you mean?
Okay- I told my team to set up in a 4-3-3. Now what? (here is the problem)
Your turn to elaborate.
Now we have ..
1) two high & wide players at our disposal;
2) 1 #9 true striker or false #9 (e.g., Messi);
2) three CM operating in the center of the pitch &
3) four in the back, where 1 or 2 of the outside backs are encouraged to push up in order to provide some extra options;
it is a starting point to help (facilitate) the discussion i.e., refine the details as we go forward.
does this make sense?
What if I told my team to play a 4-4-2 with one forward playing deeper into the midfield and one playing higher? A 4-4-1-1 you could say.
single Target striker!! i.e., sacrilegious
seriously, isn’t 4-3-3 concepts are readily applicable to 4-2-3-1 & 4-4-1-1?
What about a 4-5-1? A lot of people would consider that a 4-3-3.
What if your 4-3-3 was set up to be more counter attacking compared to my possession based 3-5-2?
Like KG says below… It’s not the formations, systems, positions, etc. It’s about the details within. The details are the problem. Not the numbers or shapes in which we arrange ourselves.
Abstract vs Concrete. I prefer Concrete using the Ajax/Barca 4-3-3 when discussing GOLD standard.
I feel like punching myself in the head.
John and Curious Larry,
Just use this formation 1-10, with 1 being the goalie, and everything will be fine and if you want to be a little sclerotic, use two defenders and eight field players or 2-8…
I think the correct formation is 3-four-3
haha . Just imagine if we tried this using this formation!?
That is the point! John makes a great point, whatever the formation, the question remains, in-possession, out-of possession, transition, how do we teach the players to react, what decisions do we ask of them, what is their purpose? Continue to ask the questions……. 3 four 3 what a brilliant system……. using it for years, winning with it, changed the system to suit my teams needs, but the biggest change has been my focus on possession, and learning to answer to a standard! I just hope a year from now, I look back and say, man I did not know crap, on Nov. 15th, 2012
Happens all the time kg!
It’s when we look back that we better appreciate what level we were truly operating at.
My first coaching gig (high school) 12 years ago … I think it was 1 win, 12 losses. And I had all the typical excuses for failure. I still get made fun of for that, and get a good laugh.
The Roster side of the chart is fraught with angst for many soccer parents who want to see their kid succeed on a good team but do not coach so have no control over what happens. I would be interested in hearing thoughts on
1) how the decision is made by a coach to release/cut a player. Or how the decision should be made.
I have read a number of comments on this site regarding “late bloomers.” My U13 son is in that category and this has meant a rough ride with a lot of bench time on teams where the big kick down the field was rewarded rather than the clean pass my son is capable of. We found a new team with a decent coach last year, and our son did great. We expected this fall might be a tough season as his team moved up to 11v11 and to a high end league for our area, so on a larger field with a size 5 ball with more challenging opponents. His size and strength have definitely been liabilities for him in terms effectiveness against some much larger players (he has been playing mostly outer mid). He has good ball skills and vision, is quick thinking and pretty fast and aggressive for his size. He is working his tail off, which I think the coaches appreciate. But they also want to win, and honestly my son is struggling a bit to not get discouraged and keep up this fall. After a fantastic spring he has not gotten as much playing time, but has maximized that as much as possible when he is on the field and has managed to score some goals and make good runs & passes when he can. However, if he doesn’t start growing by the end of the year, I am worried about his prospects for next year and where he will play if he does not make it back onto this team (there are not many other workable options here).
2) When you talk about recruiting, retaining and releasing, what weight should coaches put on a given players’ future potential vs. his current effectiveness when it comes to growth?
My son’s team is still not a great passing team (though it seems like the coaches are trying work on that) but I do think that is where my son could excel. There are a couple of bigger kids on the team right now without the high level foot skills & vision who get more playing time. They are somewhat more effective in plowing the ball towards the goal right now, but for a couple of them, it seems like their soccer potential has peaked. They still hold the ball too long, try to dribble through people, just not getting it. My son is not quite as effective against the bigger players right now, but seems to be on an upward trajectory with his skills and potential for when he does eventually grow.
3) If a kid is cut, what is the coach’s responsibility to help find a suitable alternative for the released player?
A lot of coaches don’t care what happens to the kids who don’t make the team or get cut. They just wash their hands of them, give the families no guidance about what to do even though the kids still love the game and want to continue to play. And don’t get me started about the dad/ coach thing. Between my two kids’ sports experiences we have seen some real dysfunction with dads coaching. We are trying not to be intrusive nightmare parents and let the coaches coach. We don’t want our kid playing on a team that is over his level, but there are many coaches who treat the kids on the team like pawns that can be moved around, either to play all of the time or left to rot on the bench and then discarded without regard for their well-being.
4) if a kid makes the team, what is the coaches responsibility to make that kid feel like a valued member of the team rather than just a roster-filler?
I talked to a U9 “select” team coach recently who admitted he was unhappy about having to play some of the kids on his team (that he ID’d or possibly gotten stuck with because he was coaching the “B” team and the “A” team got the best kids) the required (by his particular league) minimum 25% of the time. This was someone coaching 8 year olds and I was appalled. They are just kids learning to play the game. I am not talking about high school, college or beyond. Most of them are there because they love to play soccer.
I wouldn’t worry too much about his size right now. If he is playing on the flank his priority should be getting by his marker and then looking to play the ball back centrally. or take it down and cutback into the box.
I went through this with my son. he was always playing up a year and therefore couldn’t rely on overpowering opponents. he learned to play quick 1 and 2 touch passes. Now he has the (relative) size and speed to impose his will and do whatever the given tactical situation requires.
I call it the slingshot effect. Once they start catching up physically they quickly pass up the other players. Thats assuming the technical and tactical work has been done.
At his age, it’s all about technique. I wouldn’t worry too much about the level of the team right now. Although he needs to maintain his enthusiasm. If he is discouraged it might be better to make a move. Try to find a coach/team where all of the work is done with the ball.
Control/first touch should be the emphasis of his work outside the team sessions.
Thanks for the insight, that all sounds encouraging, hopefully his coach gets this too, but we’ll see how things go for the remainder of the year. Control & first touch are pretty good but can definitely be improved and he does work on those things outside of practice. He just got back and I can hear him kicking the ball around, so I guess the enthusiasm has not waned too much
There’s a ton of things to address here and it’s not easy to communicate. So little by little …
“1) how the decision is made by a coach to release/cut a player. Or how the decision should be made.”
It all comes down to:
2) Consideration of not only that individual player within the context of objectives, but ALL the individuals on the roster. Every player on the roster is affected by the retention or releasing of someone.
If the goal, and what is being sold to the consumer, is the pursuit of the highest levels of the sport, that’s one thing. If the goal is something else, then the conversation is different.
In either case, I believe communication of a coach’s objectives and what services he is there to offer, help.
For instance, in our current situation, we want to develop professionals and help provide opportunities with foreign pro academies. With that in mind, our players receive a 1 year commitment. If a player is perceived to not have the level, potential, commitment, desire, or other possible issues, then they are best suited for another program.
Thanks for this blog, there are great questions & comment threads here and it is a thought-provoking resource. In fact, this post is making me think more deeply about what conversation to have with potential coaches for my kids in the future.
Good point about clear objectives. At the lower levels of the soccer heirarchy objectives get a little muddy, and some coaches are really conflicted about what their goals are, or don’t really want to admit what their goals are, or haven’t even given it much thought. Are they there primarily to win & move up the ranks, or to ID and train future professionals, or to raise the level of all of the kids who end up on their team (whether selected or not), or to teach/play possession or some other playing style, or to showcase their own kid, or to fill the position because no one else is willing to do it? Or some combination of these? And you are correct, clear objectives are needed. But they are not always honestly communicated or carried out, by the smaller outfits, anyway. I hope coaches will consider this and be really honest with themselves & their teams about what their goals are, because it might help with their achievement, and would probably help with issues like problem parents.
I’m glad this site helps!
One of my goals here, is to get people asking and exploring the “right questions”. Of others and themselves.
On Honesty …
Yeah, there’s enormous cultural and socio-economic pressures that work against not just coaches, but everyone in all walks of life. Being totally open on what you think is monumentally difficult.
In the context of this site, I’m barely “pulling back the curtain” and there’s all kinds of resistance and backlash. When differing worldviews and special interests collide, wars are started.
So yeah, it’s understandable many coaches are diplomatic, political, and not completely forthcoming.
Barca youth player gets call-up.
Ben Lederman, the 12-year-old who entered Barcelona’s youth academy in 2011, is one of 36 players U.S. under-14 national team head coach Hugo Perez has brought in for the team’s training camp that begins Saturday at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
How does this fit into your map?
Well, they certainly didn’t “ID” or “scout” Ben.
“Recruiting” at this point is fairly straight forward: “Hello & congratulations, the National Team is calling you to camp.”
These call-ups are
1) pedigree based (ie how do you not call up an FCB player?)
2) looking forward to “retention” … last thing US Soccer needs is for Ben to ultimately have the option and choose another National team. Sooooo, you start showing him and his family the love immediately.
“Releasing” … as long as Ben continues with his pedigree, that won’t be happening.
“scrimmages against local opponents Pateadores, United FC and So Cal Select”
I would pay to see the U14 NT play against Barca USA.
You and your dangerous ideas Dr Loco!!
Lots of love and encouragement Gary! You too Nuno.
Having watched your youtube channel and followed your blog over the last several months. It seems obvious to me that you have done a good job putting teams on the field that play very good attractive football.
In this diagram I feel you are missing the word “develop”, I agree with your Talent ID etc, but I think that in it’s simplest form it comes down to Recruit > Develop> Retain…. I believe that part of a coaches/club’s role is not to release players, but to transition them, ideally transitioning them into other levels of the game possibly with another club or partner club. What services do you offer your players when you are ready to release them?
I guess really it is starting to seem like you recruit the best players, use them while they are of use or until you can recruit better and then cast them off, with no transition plan for the players you no longer need. What does your club do in terms of player development, and transition programming? How many teams do you have at each age group in a single area? What sort of programs do the players transition to after their involvement with your club?
Again, it comes down to communicating the objectives and the services being provided. I briefly touched on that here: http://blog.3four3.com/2012/11/15/gold-standard-soccer/comment-page-1/#comment-30351
To further a bit, you asked:
“What services do you offer your players when you are ready to release them?”
We never promised ‘services’ concerning if a player is released. That’s not to say we’re not sensitive to this. In the past, if a family wanted assistance, we’ve tried to accomodate. In the current situation we’re in, however, none of our players need any of that. With their existing “pedigree” and exposure alone, they could join any team they wish … Galaxy would take them in a heart beat, Chivas USA, or any ‘top flight’ team (whether they ultimately survived there is another matter).
Assume you are new to a team and see a small player pool at your U14 tryouts. You end up with 3 very technically advanced and tactically aware kids and 12 jungleballers on your team, with no better replacements on the horizon. Also assuming you can’t make magic overnight with the jungleballers, What would you say to the technical kids who have the ball taken off their feet by their teammates, make themselves available through excellent off the ball movement, but rarely see intentional passes, make space for themselves, but then don’t see a viable passing option due to their teammates poor positioning and are generally frustrated? What do you say to the jungleballers to help them, even if their technical skills let them down, to try and play a posession game. I understand you will have drills etc for practice, but what do you say to them?
What positions do your 3 smaller than average, quick, technical/tactical players most likely play and in what formation? You have one lightning fast kid with some coordination but minimal skills, 2 large and very agressive types with minimal skills, one big kid with ok footskills no aggresion or much speed but a great shot from 25 yards out and 3 kids with decent skills. but no tactical awareness. The rest of the field players are the bench where it falls off considerably. You have a decent and very brave goalkeeper. Your team is scheduled to play in the first division of a competitive league and the DOC won’t let you drop down.
You impose your will and philosophy on this team. If you are going to teach and demand possession that is what you do, constantly and consistently at every session, do not accept anything less. Progress may be slow but what is the alternative? Accept the status quo, not make the players better? Many coaches, like me, live in small towns, where our club is really the only option for most of the players. I i.d., scout, recruit and then try to light a fire for soccer as early as the U7-8 age level so by the time the kids in our town are really involved in travel soccer at usually age U10, I have a committed talent pool, then it is all about retention, how do we develop complete players and make the process exciting, challenging and something the kids come back for more. I can’t “release” or we could not compete with bigger clubs from neighboring states, when someone quits, there is not usually any equal level player to recruit or pick up; this by necessity is different than the model Gary has shared with us. If Gary’s club is Barcelona, we are Swansea City, a club with limited resources trying to do the right thing.
Great point, Eli. I am in a similar situation. Only having small clubs with limited resources. Hate to keep harping on this, but that’s why my son has always played up in age. To increase the technical and tactical speed of thought.
granted it depends on the player’s psyche and position.
The conventional wisdom regarding youth player development doesn’t work. And it certainly doesn’t work for players and families with limited options. We’re 200+ miles from the nearest Development Academy club. Relocation isn’t an option. (Unless a residency option is offered.)
Luckily, we have found a team that is both an older age group and a higher level of play. More importantly, it is a group that is very good technically and ‘getting there’ tactically. best possesion team (U16) or at least top 3 or 4 club team in NTX.
They are in the process of trying to qualify for the Dallas Cup next spring. The stated goal of the team is to play attractive football and to showcase our players to next level coaches. be it collegiate or professional play.
I can’t emphasize enough how difficult it is to put together a team that plays well AND develops players for the next level…given the demographics.
When you can draw from a pool of thousands of players, it is a hell of alot easier to achieve the desired result. (Whatever the stated objective may be.!)
Thus far, my son has developed into an exceptional player WITHOUT having the best coaching in the country. I attribute this to thousands of hours honing technique and being a student of the game.
I’ve said this before, great coaching increases the chances of a player becoming exceptional. But plenty of players have become household names without the benefits of “world class” coaching or being on elite youth teams.
I agree with Tom Byer .. that we must narrow the differences between the worst & best players e.g., on a “TEAM”. we’re only as good as our weakest link while playing team oriented ball possession.
The smaller clubs are at a huge disadvantage (but no one wants to go there ..)
Again, these things are dependent on context.
If I recall, the question is regarding whether narrowing this gap (with respect to the entire playing population) is a solution to National Team quality.
I’m sitting here wondering if the level of AYSO or Bronze-level players were magically turned into Silver-level 15 years ago, how that would translate into Klinsmann’s current National Team.
You are probably right that I got the context wrong in the pod cast .. but using micro-level, deductive logic, & an Asian team oriented ball possession philosophy, I think I can do the formal proof using one assumption .. that player will develop optimally (i.e., improve) when they are playing with equally “talented” team mates.
Ok, so long as we understand we’re now in a different context.
So now, at the individual team level you state:
“that player will develop optimally (i.e., improve) when they are playing with equally “talented” team mates.”
So the question is:
If you want to ‘develop optimally’ your best players, do you focus on your worst players for years on end, or do you look for players with the requisite talent that can immediately challenge and help your best players?
“” If you want to ‘develop optimally’ your best players, do you focus on your worst players for years on end, or do you look for players with the requisite talent that can immediately challenge and help your best players? “”
I think Tom Byer stated it was a numbers game w/ the goal of increasing the number of quality players in the player pool.
if the trade-off is to help 1 or 2 “elite” players at the expense of 10-20 “average” to “above average” players then I’m not so sure what you are suggesting will increase the number of quality players in the player pool.
In my mind, (ideally) the top and bottom 5% should be searching for different teams so the teams remains in balance (& there is some team roster stability), where there isn’t a “best” player on the team which is getting all the coaching i.e., lift up.
Wait, so now you’re switching back to the macro-level context.
you’re introducing a discussion of the “average” player.
We have to be very careful and clearly define what it is we’re talking about. We must attempt immaculate precision.
I’ll continue … since one piece of context you now introduce is:
“number of quality players in the player pool” …
I’ll continue with my attempt at precision from above.
I’m sitting here wondering if the level of AYSO or Bronze-level players were magically turned into Silver-level 15 years ago, how that would translate into THE NUMBER OF QUALITY players in Klinsmann’s National Team player pool?
“” I’m sitting here wondering if the level of AYSO or Bronze-level players were magically turned into Silver-level 15 years ago, how that would translate into THE NUMBER OF QUALITY players in Klinsmann’s National Team player pool? “”
if all (youth) teams formed 15 years ago were comprised of equally talented players, then YES .. Klingsman;s USMNT player pool would have a larger number of quality players (assuming everything else is held constant).
Say the starting point is U8, .., then The U8 AYSO and Bronze teams would be magically turned into Silver quality teams & this would start a ripple effect i.e., recursion allowing all (more) players & teams to optimally improve as they move thru the age groups. When they reach U17/U20/U23 there should be a larger pool of quality players resulting of having a larger number of players developing at an optimal rate of growth. Q.E.D. ha
I’m knew on Tom Byer, but it does appear that his experience in Japan is very credible on building up the player pool size of quality players.
I think there is a valid point to having a team comprised of players that are similar in level.
1st Example: I had new team of U8s last year. Our club philosophy is to teach tiki-taka style. However, no way to do that when the kids need a ton of technical/skill work. They wouldn’t be capable of playing a “team” game yet. By the spring many of the kids had developed a great technical base, but there was no purpose in moving on to a team style with possession, because we had too many black holes. I chose to focus on individual skill development until I had an equal base line of talent across the team. We dropped one kid in the summer to the 2nd team and the team is U9 now. By the end of the fall we had reached a level where team possession made sense, because we had reached a level of collective individual ability to truly play as a team.
2nd Example: I had a team a few years ago that was not capable of playing team possession until U11. I had players on that team that could have play team possession at U9 or U10, but the team was not ready and this hurt their development at least a little.
So the point is that having an equal base allows coaches to truly teach a team game and move on to more advanced team speed of play etc.
“I think there is a valid point to having a team comprised of players that are similar in level.”
Well Larry, I can’t keep up.
You keep changing the context on me. This will just have to go into the ever expanding topics to address.
p.s. Becoming an [arguably] B-list soccer nation, is not the same as becoming a world power. Japan is not a world power.
Increasing the number of players from bronze to silver will only create more silver level players.
I think it’s best to define ‘quality’ for the discussions sake.
Quality is TOP LEVEL.
A higher number of silver players does not translate into a higher number of quality (top level) players. Having players of similar level, quality to be precise, being coached by quality coaches, is your best case scenario. That is what we need to be striving for.
AYSO’s problems will always be AYSO’s problems… not the USMNT’s problems.
“QUALITY is TOP LEVEL”
This is probably my ignorance .. but are you and Gary saying that it is already too late to reach QUALITY if you are only in Bronze or Silver at U10 age group (insert another age group if you want)? If this is true then what are the steps that are needed (at the earliest age group) to improve the size of the player pool?
I’m hoping the answer isn’t player id & recruiting at the U7 age group with residency of the top 36 kids in the USA with the best coaching that can be offered.
“saying that it is already too late to reach QUALITY if you are only in Bronze or Silver at U10 age group”
Messi plays the same at age 6 as he will at 26.
From Curious Larry: “If this is true then what are the steps that are needed (at the earliest age group) to improve the size of the player pool? I’m hoping the answer isn’t player id & recruiting at the U7 age group with residency of the top 36 kids in the USA with the best coaching that can be offered.”
It’s not about improving the size of the player pool as much as improving the quality. Creating enough opportunity to play is a huge part. We have millions of young kids playing soccer, but currently only a very tiny minority of them play more than a couple of times per week, less than 1/2 the year. For the most part those are kids who play on their own outside of what clubs offer – with families and friends in their communities, but there are plenty of other kids who would love to play just as much if only they had the opportunity. Supplementing regular team practices w/ multiple sessions of pick-up soccer – to give the kids who want to play more a chance to do it — is a good start. On top of that you also need clubs to identify kids with talent and motivation at that age and target resources to make sure they are getting quality technical training. Having the right player selection criteria for those sorts of enrichment opportunities are crucial.
Recruiting at U7 does not have to be a bad thing either (although I recognize that it certainly can be – particularly in an uneducated marketplace). At its best it simply means competition b/n clubs to provide a better product for talented players.
Are the Barca USA U9, U10, U11 teams comprised of players that are similar in level?
Can you provide some color e.g., how many will be replaced e.g., how many will be cut?
Difficult question to answer.
What you consider ‘similar level’ may be very different from what I think.
For instance, they can all play in the top flight of our leagues and tournaments. So by that broad measure yes.
But if I take out the microscope, there is a huge spread in level across the roster. There are a few who I’d have no problem staking my reputation on and recommending to top clubs in the world while others are good enough to compete here and that’s it.
As far as how many will not continue after our 1 year commitment, that is not rigid and depends on the circumstances.
For example, a lot depends on how well the original team was assembled.
Our current U12s had a decent base of players to work from when we inherited it at U10.
It’s been 2 years now, and a total of 4 players are no longer with us. Only 2 were cut for not being at the level, 1 who was at the level but chronically missed training, and the last left on his own (since his younger brother was released from a younger team in the club).
The top 1% of the bell curve will still be the top 1%. By definition, the top 1% cannot be the top 2%. The question being asked is incorrect in my opinion. The top1% can be a larger number, 100 > 10, if the group itself is large.
The question should be what does the elite (top 1%).
Regarding, what good would it do to help that bronze player reach silver status. Well, if he were to meet the top 1% in competition, the elite (1%) would have to work that much harder to beat this silver level player. So if your bell curve is 35-65, on a scale of 1-100, you could in theory get closer to the front 1% being at 100.
So what is suggested is the quality of opposition faced by the top 1% would improve which would in turn make them better, quicker, more intelligent athletes. The elite players would not change percentage wise.
I’m a 19 year-old from Michigan, in my first semester at the University of Michigan, and an aspiring coach. I had opportunities to play at some Division 3 colleges and decided to turn them down to attend U of M.
I feel so strongly that i can make a difference, because of the way i think soccer should be played. l just subscribed recently and I absolutely love all this content. I can’t wait to contribute more to the conversations.
Thanks Gary, I’m a fan. Cheers.
Glad you found us Cameron.
Young guys like you are crucial!
A few quick thoughts as I read thru all the comments.
Raising the floor does not raise the ceiling.
Raising the floor is a good thing but does not make a a great soccer nation.
Raising the ceiling (high enough) will elevate us as a nation to soccer greatness.
In even the greatest soccer nations of the world you can find people playing really bad soccer.
Every kid deserves a quality coach who will inspire and lift him or her to grow.
There are WAY to FEW quality coaches. (current numbers I fear are less than 1 in a 1000)
Quality coaching is a component of the Gold Standard.
The Gold Standard influences how quality coaches work even with players who are never going to reach the Gold Standard.
Quality coaches can and should exist at all levels of youth soccer.
Quality coaches do not enable average or mediocre. They elevate and improve at what ever level they are coaching.
Not done but ran out of time to type for now..
“Raising the floor does not raise the ceiling.”
It can happen, especially if 1) there is big resource at the floor level demanding the ceiling be raised 2) the floor raises itself and pushes on the ceiling.
USA floor is getting too populated with resources and our ceiling is far too low for this not to be true.
Your point 1 and 2 actually support my point. Raising the floor can be a factor that MIGHT influence a change to the ceiling but it is NOT a 1 to 1 correlation which is very important to understand. In your first condition, how do the people demanding the raising of the ceiling know that the ceiling can be raised? Someone has to create a vision and sell them on the possibility of a higher ceiling otherwise you just have more people trying to reach the same level of mediocrity you had before with fewer people. In your second condition, i would argue that your most likely outcome is obesity and not a higher standard. As participation in youth soccer over the last 20 years has doubled to over 4 million youth we have not seen that increase in numbers push the ceiling higher but rather we have seen our nation getting fat with more and more mediocre soccer. Coaches and clubs have not gotten better they have just multiplied in number. The product is just as bad and actually in some cases worse.
I would argue that the doubling of participants has caused a drop in what is an average soccer player in the USA today versus 20 years ago. There is math behind this reasoning but on the anecdotal side I see “competitive” teams today that would barely be considered rec 20 years ago.
Totally agree Wolfgang, take for example Barca vs let’s say a Swansea. Barca is the ceiling which in turn influences everyone beneath, Swansea etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if Swansea uses Barca’s example as a way to improve their product. That’s why you heard last year Joe Allen being compared to Xavi as a “Xavi Type Player” not the other way around.
The distance between the floor and the ceiling will always be he same relative to each other, if you follow proper building code. What will differ is the distance of both to the ground.
So yes, the ceiling would be higher relative to the exterior ground level.
I recently read “Barca – The Making of the Greatest Team in the World” by the well-known football sports writer Graham Hunter. Like “La Roja”, this is a must read for those of us on this forum who believe in all we talk about with such passion on this forum. The book provides great insight to coaches, players, key decisions, and vision that brought Barca to the pinnacle of the world’s sport in last 10-years. It touches on the philosophical ideals and steadfast values Barca holds dear in player identification and development at La Masia and how it embodies the belief system of the club. It also chronicles the politics and hidden agendas that could have derailed the club and players and the likes of Pep, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta would be unknown to us if not for good fortune.
Barca has strong competition from European clubs in scouting players. But even in Europe, the scouts of Barca know that players of their characteristics are often overlooked by other clubs. “Barcelona often find themselves in a tournament or match with many scouts from across Europe. However, they will regularly select players that scouts for the other teams have discarded. Despite the fact that Barcelona, and Spain, have proved that talent and intelligence are more important than height and athleticism . . . [they are] rejected by others because he is small, frail or doesn’t stand out in the traditional categories such as tackling, heading or goal scoring . . . it’s has all been about selecting technical players – our model is based on the caliber of the footballer, not whether he is tall . . . .”
Related to the Gold Standard, here are some relevant excerpts of what Barca look for in coaches and players (Hiring and Player Identification Criteria the club live by):
Style of Play = 4-3-3 formation with alterations is necessary [required]
Values = Promotion from cantera (academy) is part of club identity and helps maintain style of play.
Encourage solidarity, team play, passing and speed of movement, generosity above “prima donna” which is not effective. Maintain concentration at all times. Pay attention to the tiniest of details.
Training and Performace = How you play is a product of how you train. Proper nutrition and rest. Emphasis on preparatory and post-match work. Video analysis. Training should be in line with professionalism. Each and every training session is of maximum importance. Development is for the player; winning is for the team. Play to always win with strict adherence to playing properly. Avoid instant gratification and focus on long-term development of player and team.
Management of Players = Permission to be absent from training. The captaincy model in which meritocracy promotes those who have natural leadership skills and influence over the group.
Other Duties = Behave in prudent manner at all times. Adhere to concept of clean game and show respect for opponents, referees, and others.
Effective Coach = Explicit and formalized methods of communication. Weekly plan of training sessions. Regular internal coordination meetings with entire technical team.
The book also talks about a myriad of coaches who “drop in” to watch practices and go away thinking they can mimic the Barca model. But it cautions a top-down, wholesale philosophical change in belief system, staff, and player identification is needed to understand the Barca style. It has to be in their DNA. This is why player AND staff identification is so important and why player retention and release so important. Focus is developing top echelon player.
I think much of above philosophy can be and needs to be instilled in our youth model. Dr. Loco made mention that he cannot do it. But I disagree. The quality of players may not be there, but we as coaches and clubs can at least be intelligent and flexible enough to implement proper environments. This alone will raise the level (to include ODP and USSF and USDA clubs). If we shrug our arms and say “we can’t do it”, then why even bother pretending? Why bother with inferior products for paying customers? Why bother doing even your 1%? Let someone else who is more hungry and visionary do it.
“Let someone else who is more hungry and visionary do it.”
Who? I am calling out youth coaches in CA-N.
Player ID, Scouting, Recruiting
Does anyone know California-based agent Maximiliano Roditis?
English coach who has been doing the possession style of play for over 40 years http://passdribbleshoot.co.uk/coach-education/practice-play-level-3
I don’t see the gold standard definition. Can you provide it or direct me to what you think it is?
Over time I will publish more explicit things as to what this ‘gold standard’ stuff is all about.
In short, it is comprised of all things identified as ‘best in the world’ over time (not just modern day)
* The best players, the best trainers, the best managers, the best countries, the best clubs, the best businesses, the best performances, the best goals, the best marketing, the best moves, the best cultures, the best media, the best ‘tactics’, the best fans … etc ..
So, the ‘gold standard’ is NOT any one of those things (ie FCB or Spain). It is a distributed ideal with elements from all over the globe.
It is a vision, driven by an understanding of all that is ‘best’, and how it came to be ‘the best’.
With a deep understanding in hand, one has the possibility of being on a trajectory towards world class.
The infographic above simply shows key 10,000 foot level components common to this trajectory.
I would assume the gold standard has all the elements of the map on this post? I also assume the rest has to do with all the factors surrounding player development (coach, staff, club, etc.) as well as a good dose of soccer culture.
I found the following gold standard definitions:
1. a monetary system in which the unit of currency is defined with reference to gold
2. the supreme example of something against which others are judged or measured: the current gold standard for breast cancer detection
Using definition 1, the points of measure would be Germany or Spain as they are best youth development systems. Taking it one step further, the people who enable those systems to be optimized keep it as the “gold standard”
Using definition 2, Barca is clearly (in my mind) the supreme example of which we judge / measure youth id and development and professional caliber play. Same true for Spain and German national teams. Countries like Argentina and Netherlands and clubs like Madrid, Man U, Ajax are maybe 22 or 18-carot versions of the 24-carot Barca/Spain/German standard. Interestingly, these countries can be considered gold standard in terms of soccer culture that transcend national identity / culture (would include Argentina, Brazil here).
Sorry, meant “carat” or “karat” as in 34-carat, not “carot”. So now you know I can’t spell.
24-carat. . . . oh wow, typing up these quick posts in between work causes typos.
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