Newly appointed Manchester United coach, Louis van Gaal, recently stated it’ll take him at least 3 months to get his team to start executing the way he wants to play.
And he’s got a whole staff behind him working around the clock.
And he’s got all international level players.
And the team is practically training and playing all the time.
And he’s a world class coach who’s been doing this for 30 years.
So, what does that say about all of us?
Well, in simple terms …
It’s probably going to take you longer than 3 months. A LOT LONGER.
And that’s assuming you’ve got yourself a proven training methodology in hand.
One that’s highly focussed & well optimized to support a vision. You can NOT do a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. You can NOT move on to the next shiny little drill you come across on the internet!
Well, I mean you could … but that probably means you’re in the early stages of coaching trial and error and have not converged on a highly optimized framework that actually works.
And that’s ok, we’re all somewhere on the learning curve. But we must recognize it.
The main points are:
- You need a clear vision of how you want your team to play.
- You need a training framework (a small set of activities) that has demonstrated consistent success in executing your vision.
- Taking a team from zero, to consistent match day execution of your vision, is going to take a long time of doing the same activities.
STL A-B says
I am a big fan of having 1 month of practice before the 1st game. Rules/Clubs at youth ages typically have two weeks (2-3x/week) to prepare which is why the 1st game is generally sloppy. One month would allow the beginning of a system to be implemented instead of kick it to fast, big forward and Coerver/lost players. At least, a foundation can be built and layering occur in the future.
Coach CLN says
Great write-up Gary- right at the perfect time. I am 4 1/2 months into this with a group of U12 girls and I see glimpses here and there. I also see a lot of shitty soccer still. It is getting better! We are taking our lumps though and pushing through.Have you been getting a lot of panic emails regarding results of the 3Four3 curriculum at these early stages? I am just constantly reminding myself that this is a massive process that takes a lot of time. My girls need A LOT more repetition and game experience attempting to put the philosophy into place.
Hell- I was sitting back listening to the Jed Davies and Brian interview this past weekend for the 5th time and Brian was talking about focusing on receiving across your body exclusively for the first 3 months with the littles. I definitely modeled it for my team, reminded them, looked for it being done in all drills- but then I moved on (they “got” it, I’m moving on!) to communication, supporting angles, combo runs, pressing. I completely just focused on receiving across the body this week in practice, a step back if you will, and to my dismay it was happening at a much lower rate than I had assumed it was. Focusing on this one little detail- I had moved on too quickly. For our three practices this week every drill we did I looked for nothing but that one little detail- even in our build up game at the end of practice I would stop the play if someone didn’t do it.
4 1/2 months in- in the grand scheme of things is nothing- I would like to see my players’ growth accelerated, but I need patience. I need to get better. I wouldn’t mind finding a like-minded assistant coach as well.
I look forward to meeting you and Brian this weekend at the clinic!
If we are to use the 3four3 coaching membership as the starting point in a discussion about teaching the fundamental concepts of tactics and possession, we see that it is offered to us as a framework. It is not the totality. I think this is important and necessary when considering how to build a team to match your vision- that the framework is the integral component that is used every practice over and over and over and over again until the most basic mastery is demonstrated. I choose the framework offered by these brothers. There are other frameworks out there but you have to choose a framework or design your own. You can have a bunch of filler in the practice, how to properly mark a player, how to close down an attacking winger ad infinitum but the meat of every session has to be those activities that met out the qualities you look for in your team and they need to be a staple of every practice the way a PB and J is (was) a staple of an american school kid’s lunch.
What most becomes important and part of what is discussed so often on this site is, Where are you getting your information. Prior to finding this home and I consider this my home, I was an internet surfer always looking for new material. Not any more. I know the 3 or four 4 core exercises (which incidentally teach to so many of the problems needed to be solved on the field) that each practice is built around -that each seasonal goal is built around -that each successive year of growth will be built around. I also have a deep respect and affinity for nuance- how a clean across the body touch can always become smoother and is never a finished piece of work. All the rest of what I do in any particular practice session is filler and used to add flavor to the team training.
Great post and great comments so far. At the same time, the post was initially demoralizing for a rec coach like me who will only have their U-12 girls team for 3 months total. After reading your post, my immediate thought was essentially “&*#%! What’s the ‘friggin point? If LVG needs a minimum of 3 months and Gary says that the rest of us will need a lot longer, why should I even bother?”
Knowing that I would bother, though, I have reread your post several times, reflected upon it and decided to move forward and make the effort to teach my team to play possession-based soccer. I am convinced it is the best way to develop my players and help them enjoy the game more.
Given the limited amount of time I will have to work with my team, it is now all too clear about the importance of Main Points #1 and # 2 in your post. In addition, it will be important to make sure I am always well prepared for practice and that the small set of activities I use support my coaching philosophy and vision for the team.
P.S. I had to chuckle about your comment on “the next shiny drill found on the internet” as that was me until all too recently.