Uh … no.
Don’t ever cite to me a player’s goals and assists … as if that were proof of player quality.
Do that, and you expose just how much of a newbie you are.
- What was the quality of their goals?
- What was the quality of their assists?
- How many goals should the player have – for instance, what goals has he botched?
- How many attempts does he usually get relative to others?
- What’s the quality of his team?
- What’s the quality of his opposition?
- Is he selfish?
- How many times does he turn the ball over?
- What’s his work ethic?
- How good is his technique?
- What’s his speed of thought?
- What’s his passing like?
- What’s his decision-making like?
- Does he have flavor?
The list goes on and on. And each item on the list has a huge number of sub-components. Not to mention one must have the capacity to judge these things.
So please, go cite your goals and assists to other noobs, you’ll have better luck there.
Brian Kevin Johnston says
#’s Do matter to a VP/Sales trying to make quota and get a big bonus, but I see what you are saying (these are kids in development/training, #’s should be a factor, but not the Focus)… Thanks for the ASS KICKING at United Cup… You/Barca unleashed all your frustration from that tournament on Surf in finals… Brian had some really nice things to say at awards ceremony about our team, our coach, our style, and our class. See you 8am @ NHB.. We will show up this time…. 🙂
“Does he have flavor?”. That is a give away when it comes to a person who can evaluate for the highest levels. Please don’t say “he is sick” or “has flavor” or has “mad skills” that is a recipe for the coach being fired if he believes it.
Top levels judge by production, yes intelligence, yes technique, yes work ethic, yes fits into style of play of current coach and will help him keep his job
Maybe you are writing about local youth coaching.
One specific situation
Compare Michael Owen and Cristiano Ronaldo when they were both 18 yr olds
Who was bagging the most goals at the high level then?
Who proved to be the better player on the long run by some margin at the very highest level?
Could you have predicted that?
Maybe, but that would have required that you could look behind stats and the fact that they are both pretty quick…you would need to recognize some soccer intangibles…call it x factor, flavor, one just had it more than the other one
Can anyone be 100% sure of how things are going to work out in the long run? Nope
The best you can is to make informed bets
“Top levels judge by production”
This is not baseball or American Football. Sergio Busquets played a total of 59 games last season and already 10 games this season. With 69 games played he only had 2 goals score and only 1 assist. He must suck huh?
well said Marcio!
nice try money baller…who said production was about goals only? does sergio start the attack, high percentage of keeping possession, break up attacks, win tackles? this might be how you judge his performances…we are not ignorant to sergios talent
Dr Loco says
Excellent questions for a developing player. I especially like:
Does he have character and personality?
This is another one of those posts that act as a simple litmus test for who understands and who doesn’t. Already, some of the comments are surprisingly off.
When coaches and DOCs and parents focus on goals, assists, size, and “motor” at U14 or U15 or up, the way they do at U10, you realize we are making slow progress in this country. In all my years in Spain, I never once heard a coach say “he’s so big” or “he scores so many goals” as an explicit, primary positive attribute. It’s the reults of the collective! How does little Juanito contribute to the ove results? Does he get 2 goals at the expense of the team getting 3? Does he take space or time away from teammates by looking for the ball to shoot it constany? Does he only work for himself, and does little running off the ball for his teammates?
Don’t tell that to ODP or USSF! They don’t have an eye or game understanding to make informed decisions on who has the righ stuff for 5 or 10 years from now at higher levels. But they sure are good in using their yard stick to measure and scale to weigh in determing best U14, U15, U16 players.
Kana, the reason I use professional soccer examples and not youth soccer examples is that it is so exasperating to think about. You previous posts on the Barcelona USA Surf Cup video got where you recited the litany of youth soccer stupidities got me worked up. I cannot even control my fingers typing about that shit.
By the way, what you say about ODP and USSF selection is also why I am curious about how the Barcelona USA U12 and 11 teams will evolve as they pass through the U12-U16 stretch– the puberty years, where you have boys playing alongside men. kids reach puberty at different times– as much as five years apart. It seems that pubescence is ODP’s primary criterion for selection. And when kids reach these ages, “development” often consists of picking up as many men for your team as you can. I don’t think Gary has written much here about how they deal with this, but he and his brother have obviously dealt with it before. (Hell, it doesn’t seem like FCB looked at Ben Lederman and said, “hombre, he is big, muy estrong, and is not afraid to shoot the ball– let us sign him!) I would like to hear in detail how the Kleiban teams will deal with asymmetric puberty, both as a factor on their teams and as a factor in the competition.
You make me laugh. So mad you couldn’t type. Too funny! I get worked up too, but try not to dwell. When I do think about it and personally know the kids they chose and their many faults and the kids they overlook, I want to puke. Some of the worst skilled, clumsy, tactically deficient players I know have made ODP and National team. As you said, men alongside boys. Like an inside joke so many who are close to it laugh at. Sorry state of affairs.
Totally agreed with you Gary should have a post about asymmetrical puberty and now ODP and USSF use that as their criterion to select our supposed “future stars” “pipeline to USA greatness”.
Sarah Rudd says
Great list. I wish more people would ask questions like this when dealing with stats. Some items on your list can be quantified, while we still struggle with most of these. Knowing where the line is allows you to have productive conversations. Looking at a player’s stats (quality stats, not shitty counting stats — goals and assists are about as flawed as it comes) can be the starting point in the discussion but never the final word. They are great for overcoming some cognitive biases as long as you understand what they represent and what they don’t.
Dr Loco says
Yet Carroll, the costliest soccer player in England last year, is unwanted now by a changed Liverpool administration
Carroll is also big in his game. He stands about 1.91 meters. He is built in the mode of the old-fashioned English center forward, a player considered great in the air, not bad on the ground, a focal point for his team’s attacking intentions.
His style was synonymous with his first club, Newcastle United, because its history was built on a bold, brave, physical target man.
Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool’s goal king of 30 years ago and its team manager when Carroll was purchased, was almost the opposite style of striker. Dalglish was mobile, smart, and could strike out of the shadows.
The team did not play high ball, and did not play to Carroll’s strengths. Rather, it played closer to the darting, nonstop, in-and-out running of Luis Suárez, a Uruguayan forward who had been bought in the same transfer window in 2011.
Dalglish put his job on the line for Carroll and paid the price.
Statistics do not always tell the whole story of players, but in a striker they often do. At Newcastle, in a then-lesser team, Carroll scored 33 goals in 91 games.
Not all were in the top division, the Premier League, and some of those goals were scored during his teenage years.
For Liverpool, his scoring rate dipped to 11 goals in 56 appearances.
His transfer fee was the highest ever paid for an Englishman, but he seemed to spend much of his time on the bench: The costliest substitute in history.
Recruited from Swansea City, Rodgers’s style is for the ball to be played on the ground, similar to what Barcelona does.
Carroll is not nimble enough, not instinctive enough, not mobile enough for that style.
NOVA Mike says
Great post and also some very good posts as usual (especially like the “does he score 2 goals at the expense of a team’s 3”).
On the other hand, … with the season’s firs Clasico just minutes away I couldn’t resist this. Sometimes the stats are so unreal that they are impossible to ignore. 83 goals and 27 assists in a single season is simply stupendous. Unprecedented. Something that would have seemed impossible even 3 years ago, for any player in the modern game. And there is serious discussion that anyone else should get the Balon d Or?????
In a way though, now that I think of it Messi’s example actually serves to prove Gary’s point even more, b/c when you watch him play it so much more impressive than just the stats. And while a few of these could be described as tap-ins, there aren’t many: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2plRhpz9qJU
Visca Barca 🙂
NOVA Mike, I would take that point even one step further. For example, take David Villa. He was a prolific goal scorer for Valencia. When he came to Barcelona, his goal production went down, but was his role still the same? Was he not adding value in other ways? He is not the fastest or the biggest guy, but he still gives defenders fits. Did FCB not do better when he was healthy, even though he wasn’t scoring as many goals?
And what about Messi? Why hasn’t he been scoring at the same rate for Argentina as he has been for FCB? He is the same player. Is his role different? Does he have the same system around him in Argentina? Are his colleagues there performing the same roles as his colleagues in FCB?
By the way, here’s another litmus test: do you think Fernando Torres used to be great but now he sucks because he doesn’t score as many goals?
Is Torres’s value only his speed and size and goal statistics? How about his off-the-ball running, his cunning, and his ability to make teams pay for the slightest mistake? Do these factors create any additional opportunities for his teammates? Do you remember the run he made up the right in that Champions League Semi against Barcelona, the one where he got the ball and sent it to Drogba, who scored? Torres had just been subbed into the game, in about minute 80-82, I think. Later, no one talked about his work on that score, only about Drogba’s goal. Did Torres change the game when he entered it? or was it all Drogba? (I am not knocking Drogba, by the way. It is not either-or, and that is part of the point.)
Excellent post! What you describe about Torres is the stuff scouts and coaches here in USA just don’t get. It’s what I was getting to earlier, but you said it better. USA looks at a bull and how he crashes through the wall. Braun and not much brains. Spain and other countries look at the fox and how he cleverly sneaks through or around the wall. Brains over braun. That in of itself is a good analogy of what USA soccer lacks. It’s not the players who lack, it’s the coaching and scouts that love the bull . . . shit!
This post reminds of Bas Dost of Wolfsburg. He had 19 goals last year for SC Heerenveen. 19 sounds great on the surface but if you watch the link below, you will see that 70% of the goals were from PKs and poach finishes, nothing taking much skill (not to discredit the PK, I’ve missed quite a few in my time). His headers were good, but he’s 6’4″. Not much of a feat either.
Haha, last night one of the dad’s on my u12’s came to me and said “I was wondering how you are selecting teams? Last year we had 3 teams and my son’s team had the best record, 15-3. He played MF and played a lot.” I remarked with “blah blah blah”, about selections. He nodded, obviously not agreeing thinking wins are more important.
In the end I’ve only had this team for 3 practices, so who knows, maybe I’ll be proven wrong and his son will get moved-up.
But my point is he was showing me these great stats of W-L, but ignoring the fact the league was shite! I gave him a bit of insight into the vast differences between the little u11 league (which only has 3-4 clubs in it) to the much more challenging and regional u12 league that has 10-12 clubs in it.
Stats like goals, and wins-losses mean a lot to people. They used to mean a lot to me too.
Unfortunately, at most prominent, established clubs, most of the pressure on the coach to win comes from the club/DOC (if it were just about handling pressure from type-A parents, most coaches would be able to tell them to fuck off– nicely, of course). Many of these clubs have specific, written goals, e.g., “we will win over 70% of our league games” and things of that sort. At these clubs, if a coach doesn’t win enough, he is fired. This can lead to an exaggerated anxiety over winning, and a focus on short-term winning tactics (focus on individual players, formations, gimmicks), rather than a longer-term winning strategy (emphasis on identity, execution).
How a coach responds to that pressure to win– that will tell you what his true football philosophy is right there.
Ken sweda says
Alberto I agree that the direct path of the winning mandate comes from the club/DOC to the coach. But that misses the real source of that pressure–it IS the parents. The parents who know nothing about the game, and can only judge, like in ThiKu’s example, whether their kid is good by how many games his team has won. If a DOC tells that parent to get lost and let him do his job, the parent will do exactly that–leave, and they’ll take their $2000 with them. Only when a DOC has the guts to try and educate his parent base, or decide he doesn’t need to be a massive club, but a small, knowledgable and progressive one (that is happy to let the ignorant ones leave) can real progress be made. Further, even if the DOC has the gumption to stick to his philosophy, he can only follow through with it if he has the support of the board or the club’s main benefactor. Most boards are run by non-soccer types, so they want the money to keep flowing in, which means dumbing down the training and focusing on winning.
Sorry Ken, I disagree. You can’t blame a DOC because a parent looks at winning. The DOC can provide info on a broad-base for parents to consume. But it is the DOC’s job to educate the coaches, hire coaches with “the right philosophy” according to that DOC, and it is that coaches job to educate the parents.
So, yes, it’s my job to provide these parents that I’ve met just a couple of times that “the right philosophy” is being employed.
It is the clubs job, also, to provide a broad-base of educational tools. It’s also the clubs job to hire a DOC with “the right philosophy.” Now of course is the club able to identify “the right philosophy”…..
But anyway, it is the individual coaches job to educate parents, not the DOC.
$2000 – is that standard for all ages or only from a certain age and up? ….for my club fee’s are $200-600 depending on level of play (more practices, paid coaches, games played, ref costs all raise fee’s) up to and including u12. u13+ at the elite level the costs do go up to $2000+, but u13 and lower remains this lower fee of … $XXX as opposed to $XXXX! 🙂
ThiKu, I live in metro DC area, many big clubs here (VA, DC, MD) have fees around $2000 per year. Some charge the same fee regardless of the age group, others charge younger kids slightly less, but it is still quite expensive. This does not guarantee to the parents, however, that their kids will learn to play good soccer. The parents are generally have alpha personalities and expect results, i.e., winning, which creates a lot of pressure. It does not help that many leagues (NCSL, for example) have promotion and relegation with multiple divisions. Many parents have no clue about soccer beyond how many wins the team has, how many goals their son scored, etc. They do know, however, that unless their kid plays in the first or second division, the prospects of soccer scholarship to college are not very good. This puts pressure on the clubs and coaches to win at all costs, because parents are the paying customer, who wants to see wins and if a team is relegated to a lower division the parents will take their kid and money to another club. However, I do think that DOCs and coaches should share the blame. Barcelona USA is a great example that good soccer and winning are not mutually exclusive, even at U9 through U12 level. If possession-oriented soccer improves the team’s chances to win, why are the coaches and clubs not teaching this style to the kids in this country? I suspect that it is harder to teach this style and find kids with good soccer brains than to select players based on their athleticism and have them outwork and out-muscle the opposing team. I know some clubs in this area do extensive running and hurdles at U9 level. This does not require a great soccer brain, but can lead to winning and happy parents. These clubs win a lot at younger levels, but most kids burn out by the time they reach U14 .
Thanks MG. Fitness in itself isn’t a bad thing, which I don’t believe you were insinuating. But what do you classify as “Extensive”? I do some relays at most practices, most relays include a ball. I coach 10-11 yr olds. The “relay” portion of the session is usually only 5-15 minutes. Relays are varied of course….they include rolling, and other kinds of movements/turns…..
Teaching possession is difficult. But it’s made more difficult by the players in the system, as well as the parents. You need open-minded parents, and you need soccer players who realize the benefits of all that is involved in possession soccer. Kids just aren’t “savvy” in Canada, USA, you know?
Unfortunately, neither are most coaches….
I have read much here about the ‘go for the goal mentality’ of players. But my question is how much of that is brought about by defensive pressure? For example, a fictitious u11ish team that is ‘pretty good’ in the local area probably has a couple decent technical players, some ok ones and some not so good ones. So the ball goes to one of the good players and the defense bum rushes the guy because it generally works to dispossess the ball from most of the players, the good players taps it away and gets by the first two guys with ease and now finds himself in some space with another onrushing player, knowing that his teammates are a 50/50 chance at having a good first touch when receiving a pass he makes another move to get by the third defender now he has one guy to beat and two teammates going forward. I wonder how much of the frenetic defensive pressure combined with a lack of depth on teams causes the teams to ‘go for the goal’. I lean no direction either way, I am asking those with more experience than I.
ThiKu, I agree that fitness is not a bad thing per se and that players need to be fit. What you do with your 10-11 year old teams sounds perfectly fine to me. By “extensive,” I mean a separate 2 hour practice every week devoted exclusively to running and hurdles for a U9 team, plus about one hour in two or three normal 2 hour practices is devoted to physical and running activities without the ball. To me this approach screams that the coach/club wants to win now and could care less about what happens with his players later. A player from an “A” team from that club, which won over 90% of the games they played last season (some by rather lopsided scores), just joined by son’s team, because his parents did not want their son to burn out.
@MG – that’s insane!!! Where the “eff” is the DOC??? Or even the club board?
They are probably the ones setting such expectations and schedules.
I can tell you that in youth academy programs in Europe, you will never hear of younger academy teams doing any running. In fact it is rare you will hear of any below the age of U14-U15 doing running without the ball. In the USA however, physical ability seems to take precedent over technical work with the ball.
the reason no one can find the savy players is that the savy players have to be created. I think thats the whole point of this website. How can we collaborate to develop smart players. Doing so is difficult. Coaches who use direct physical soccer with just the best athletes are taking the easy way out. True coaching is teaching a player to be intelligent. Its starts with technical proficiency, then by learning how to make good decisions, then by continuing to master techniques as well as how to make quicker decisions. Just as some players develop physically faster, some players develop mentally slower. Coaches cop out by not teaching these kids how to make decisions when the ball is at their feet.
Ken and ThiKu, you both make valid points and I defer to you on them. Thanks for the education. As a parent myself, I agree that parents are usually the root cause of douche-bag behavior in soccer, as well as other youth sports. (Whatever happened to that previous generation of parents, both here in the US and elsewhere, that never came to practices or games, and just let us play as they stayed home drinking highballs?)
As for the fees, in the US, ThiKu, $2000/year is only an average starting fee. In Southern California it does not get you very far. On top of that, you need to add tournament fees, travel expenses, etc. After 10 years of that, you are talking about nearly 50% of a college education. That is more than any kid is likely to get in college soccer scholarships. A kid better reeeeeeeally like soccer, at those rates. And hey, maybe that’s why clubs are so deferential to know-nothing parents?
Hi Alberto – I know you guys have far more than 10x the population I have here. More ppl in California than my entire country. But how many teams per club per age would you suggest are charging $2000/yr per player.
Here you would have 1 team per club per age charging that at u13+ only. There are only 8 clubs with a boys and girls team per age u13+ that would charge that. So 16 teams per age, including both genders u13+.
Below that you are looking at a variety of fees depending on level of play and club as I noted above. Those lower level teams have shorter season so anyone wanting to play longer then of course must register with another team over the summer and they can charge whatever over the summer period.
Please don’t ask me about style of play relative to fee’s. Not only have I not seen enough of these teams play, I don’t know their coaches either. I coach u11-12, in a region of about 1 million people, and the teams in my “top tier” (for lack of a better term) league here that I coach in generally seem to be trying to play a good style. Whether it’s achieved or not fluctuates, including my own. But soon as you drop a level or two, even when you have good technical players you have well-meaning parents coaching that really have no clue…and so the style struggles greatly, and as a result players are not developed and then the elite just keep recycling among each other and no development or challenge is available except among a very small percentage of players.
I can tell you that in Portland Metro area of Oregon outside of a handful of clubs that offer reasonably prices (sub $1K) for competitive soccer, ALL other competitive clubs regardless of quality or level charge $1200 and up for all ages starting at U11.
I came across 343 about six months ago and have enjoyed many of your comments. I’m now working on several projects that will contribute to building a foundation of real player development here in Portland. We are working in targeted communities with soccer DNA in their culture. Our first priority is to give players a place to play, both free play and after school programs combined with creative education. Once the foundation is in place our efforts will go into Teaching competitive players the fundamentals of the game and polishing their development.
Albeit, we have miles to go in developing the competencies to accomplish the latter. I’d love to get your thoughts sometime man. Shoot me an email if your interested in sharing ideas. email@example.com
Dr Loco says
I feel many clubs prefer ignorant parents and coaches. It is easier to sell them a bad product and keep them returning for more every season. Knowledgeable coaches and parents would not willingly stay with bad clubs.
Ken sweda says
This! That’s why guys like me and you (and probably most people here), attract so much ill-will from coaches, DOC’s and parents when we start asking the big questions: “What exactly are we getting for our money, Coach/DOC??” “What exactly do YOU, fellow parent, think you are getting for your money?” “Do you even know how to make such a judgement?”
Dr Loco says
“attract so much ill-will” that is stating it mildly!!!
I calculated that in our area it costs $700-$800 to play a home game.
THINK ABOUT IT PEOPLE
Dr Loco says
” it is the individual coaches job to educate parents, not the DOC.”
I thought it was the coach’s job to train the players. I think many teams fail because coaches have to educate parents. Imagine if school teachers had to educate parents as well as students.
A lot of these issues go back to the culture in our societies. If we start with the right culture, players, parents, coaches we can achieve great success otherwise it is a constant struggle.
Dr Loco says
“they want the money to keep flowing in”
Do you have links supporting this statement that many clubs have minimum winning % philosophies?
Of course not. I am mereley telling you what I have heard, over the years, in oral conversations between a club president and a team of parents, on the one hand, and in conversation with some various coaches, on the other. If you want “written proof” of things, you will always be chasing the game, ThiKu.
In any case, goals for winning percentages set by clubs is, in and of itself, unremarkable. What is important is how individual coaches respond to those objectives, how they set about meeting them.
@Alberto: You said “Many of these clubs have specific, written goals, e.g., “we will win over 70% of our league games” and things of that sort.”
And now you are saying “of course not” when asked if you have links to where these things are written!? And then think I am the ridiculous one for asking proof??
C’mon man, you can’t go around making these sweeping accusations as fact and then when asked to provide fact say (paraphrase) “well, I didn’t mean actually it was fact.” sheesh….
I must be in a very enlightened area for the sport whereas you all are in the dark ages.
ps-my area has the same issues you all have. So the previous sentence was sarcasm.
ps-I can see individual coaches setting such targets privately or direct them to their team no matter how enlightened the club they are coaching in may be.
Clubs have written goals that they share with parents, selectively, when asked, orally. Not in writing. I don’t know why. But that has been my experience. Sorry for not spelling it all out the first time, but I don’t want to be too boring.
Dr Loco says
I think clubs have many unwritten rules. One DOC/President told me “Stop trying to develop top players. That’s not what we do here” Then he tells parents they have the best teams in the area and all their players get to play high-level high school soccer. Their freshmen players always make varsity. What a joke!
Check this club. Sounds like they have lots of problems if they have to post it.
Ahh but how can we agree what is and isn’t quality?
Is beauty not in the eye of the beholder?
I think there is a place for qualitative analysis of player performance. In the proper context of course.
The most obvious is to look at passing. Completion %. Successful crosses. “Key” passes.
And of course…turnovers. Then the defensive side. Tackles/dispossessions, interceptions, etc.
Then comes the more complex. Decision making. Runs off the ball. (Supporting runs.) knowing when to drop and support.
Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Problem is most of those be holding are freaking blind.
Many of the comments on this post as well as many other posts on this website are concerned with whether the Kleiben’s methodology is appropriate and tranferrable across the spectrum of American Youth Soccer.
In essence, the Kleibens, with their present teams, are working with a highly selected group of skillful, motivated kids and their parents. Economics also don’t seem to be a factor, as far as costs to the players, as it seems that most, if not all, are borne by sponsors/donors. The Kleiben’s stated goal with these teams is to develop professional soccer players. They are, in essence, more similar to professional soccer teams’ professional academies, whose purpose is to develop players for their first team and their environment will be referred to as “Professional Academy” environment.
What then, is applicable to both a “professional academy” environment and most competitive and recreational club teams in the United States? In order to know this, you must know the mission of your individual team. Has your coach made explicit what his mission is? Everything flows from this. Is his view team-centric or individual player centric (just because a team plays good soccer does not mean that a coach’s actions might not be stunting an individual player’s development- conversely though if a team is playing bad soccer it almost surely means that this coach is not developing good players). These are my observations after years of playing, coaching and academic research. Please feel free to discuss if you disagree with any of these statements:
1) Formal Practice time is limited.
2) Training time is a zero sum game. The time you spend training on something means you have made a decision to not spend time training on something else not included in the training exercise.
3) Age 8-12 is the “golden age” of skill acquisition and development. It becomes increasingly difficult to acquire these skills after puberty. This is especially true to foot-eye coordination skills (those used in soccer) because there is little cross acquisition these skills from other sports/activities (unlike hand centric skills that are the focus of most American Sports).
4) The only way to acquire these soccer skills is to practice with a ball at your feet. Skills are a direct function of time on the ball.
5) Soccer (or any sport) at any level is more fun when you are able to express yourself on the field of play. You are only able to express yourself fully when you are not limited by the requisite skills needed (and coaches yelling at you when you make a mistake trying to express yourself).
6) It takes time and dedication to gain the skills needed to be able to play top level soccer.
7) In order to play top level “gold standard” soccer, you must have rock solid ball skills and confidence with a ball at your feet. What is meant by “rock solid”? It means the ability to perform consistently in closed spaces, under pressure at high speed under game conditions.
8) Training to Improve aerobic and non-aerobic capacity in pre-pubescent children is NOT a good use of the limited training time you have (gains made in these areas by this age group are small as compared to teenagers/adults).
9) Running for the sake of running/conditioning is boring to most kids interested in soccer.
A coach needs a clear objective for the short term (for each practice session) medium term (season) and long term (what each player needs to have developed by the time they are 17) both for every individual player and the team as a whole, and how each practice contributes to this plan.
A coach needs to relentlessly and hyper critically review, assess, and refine and develop his practices in light of these objectives to ensure that his limited practice time’s productivity is maximized (literally every minute should be accounted for and not wasted).
“Fun” is not the objective of practices for any level, if “fun” is meant by screwing around. Practices should be stimulating, challenging, and age and developmentally appropriate (which means knowing what emotionally, physically, psychologically appropriate exercises are for each age group).
The number one priority (but not sole emphasis) of a coach coaching 8-12 years olds at any level is to develop rock solid individual skills and confidence on the ball. In conjunction with this, one can begin working on basic 3 v 2, 4 v 2, rondos- keep aways- small sided games (developing soccer intelligence). IF, as the Kleibens are, you are able to select players who already have this ball skill/confidence pre-requisite accomplished then you can progressively put more emphasis on the other area. But acquisition/confidence on the ball has to be a prerequisite to move on. Ignoring it, deemphasizing it, or not ensuring strict quality control in this area at this age group/stage will be the biggest hindrance down the road to a player’s (and a team’s) long term potential and development and increasingly difficult to acquire/correct as the player gets older.
Dr Loco says
“The number one priority (but not sole emphasis) of a coach coaching 8-12 years olds at any level is to develop rock solid individual skills and confidence on the ball.”
Perhaps for rec and comp players where the coaches are babysitters. If a player does not naturally develop their own individual skills they have very little chance of making it to the elite level.
“Stifling The Development Of The American Soccer Player”
“Many former run-of-the-mill pros profess that exposing these players to older professional players is good because it toughens the young players up. But these pros don’t realize that they are often projecting their own past experiences upon the situation. Because they were strictly run-of-the-mill players themselves, in many cases, the main attribute that allowed them to survive at the pro level was a “tough” exterior.”
Many of our youth coaches were “run of the mill” players. How can we expect great players from poor coaches?
Dr. Loco- since when do rec and comp coaches have to be “babysitters”? A great coach can develop the the passion in young players to want to develop their individual skills. Many times they just need a road map. Of course, like anything in life, if kids are not interested in learning then they will never progress. I am not talking about those kids. I am talking about developing great soccer players from kids who can develop the desire to do what it takes but have no examples at home.
I don’t quite understand your statement about “run of the mill”. If you are suggesting that in order for a coach to develop to the “gold standard” (as the Kleibens describe it), they have to 1) understand the “gold standard”, 2) ALL the steps that it takes to achieve it, and 3) have the ability to implement those steps effectively. I agree with you. Most American coaches I have seen do NOT thoroughly understand these 3 crucial things. If you are saying you have to have been a great player to be a great coach, I completely reject that notion. What makes great coaches has little to do with being a fantastic player, especially at the youth level. Were the Kleiben’s anything but “run of the mill” players in terms of professional soccer players? Almost all of Barcelona’s youth coaches were “run of the mill” players- lower level pros at most. A great youth coach, above all else, must completely understand the 3 things mentioned above and all that they entail (which is huge). In the end, you may not be able to achieve the “gold standard”- few coaches abd programs ever do- 75% of the players La Masia at Barcelona starts with never make it to their top level youth team much less the first team, but you can certainly TRY and get kids further along that road than they ever would have with a coach who wasn’t attempting to achieve it.
Dr Loco says
TDSoccer, I agree with almost everything you stated. Funny how very little of this is actually taught in coaching courses.
Here is my concern. I have kids and parents that are not really interested in developing. I have not been coaching that long but I’ve seen over 100 kids and only 1-2 have the passion you describe to develop.
If the coach has to develop the passion in young players then that is an uphill battle to create elite players. If players have no examples at home then it’s not going to be easy. I want to move beyond just babysitting to training serious players only. I have yet to find these players and I think it’s the culture.
As a coach you do not have to be a great player to develop great players. However a coach must understand the needs of great players.
“Almost all of Barcelona’s youth coaches were “run of the mill” players- lower level pros at most.” Agree but someone running the Barcelona system was an elite player and leader of these youth coaches.
Coach Caleb Porter to the Portland Timbers. How do you feel about that?
If he can get the Timbers playing like this http://youtu.be/u33H7mdrcQ0 , I will be THRILLED!
How many goals scored, early puberty and growth, what club you play for, and intimidation factor seem to be ODP’s criteria of “legit” players. Things like movement off the ball, understanding tactics, being double footed, versatility (total football), proper attitude, coachability, and creativity are non-factors but are real indicators of future potential. No wonder USA keeps producing average Marvelle Wynne type players. They don’t identify them in youth. Not part of the grand plan.
I have a son who plays U13 and one at U15. I can’t tell you how many times players AND coaches commented about a player being “good” because “he is big”. They equate size with skill and ability and tactical intelligence. Is this basketball or American football!?!? WTF! I know a lot of parents are clueless to soccer and make the basketball link to size. But coaches??? WTF! I guess they are clueless too or just want to win now with stronger players (which can provide results at younger ages) or both.
I’m new to this forum, but do others hear this crap? My sons have been on teams where coaches bring in players solely on size (to be more intimidating at righ back as a coach once said). As an example, last year my U13 son’s coach sat a very technical smaller player who played like a wing back for a bigger, less skillful, slow, less intelligent player. The kid was good and didn’t let in goals and provide attack as well. Parents and most players thought WTF. That smaller player left the team and is now flourishing elsewhere. Our team is now limited out wide and both outside backs don’t have the speed or skill to push forward. It’s a shame because the smaller player was truly talented. WTF is wrong with these people!?!?
And ODP! Instead of Olympic Development Program, it should be “Oh Do we like Puberty”.
Gary Kleiban says
Welcome to 3four3 Mayern!
In a nutshell, coaches (at all levels) don’t know how to leverage quality. Not just general quality, but the very nuanced qualities that every player brings to the table.
The reasons for this can not be captured in a simple posting, but if I must, it boils down to essentially this:
* It requires work.
What coaches, anybody really, do know how to leverage; is big, strong, and fast.
That’s easy! That requires no work.
You are in no way alone on this issue. I’m the father of smaller U15 and have seen this nonsense first hand and I have heard the stupid parents equate size with skill more times than I can remember. It can be frustrating! If you are with a club where there is an inkling of this type of thinking get OUT immediately! It takes work to find a coach who “gets it” , they do exist in VERY small numbers. There is hope, my son he has finally broken through the BS and is the at right program where the coaches understand what talent actually is.
if a player has 23 goals and 14 assists in a top league its safe to assume he’s a very efficient player.
Odds are some of those goals will be chip shots but odds are many will be quality.
It’s likely that a player high in both assists and goals is a quality player since they are scoring and creating, but I always trust the eye test of quality over a number in a box. What kind of stats do guys like Xavi and Iniesta have? And then look at guys like Chris Wondolowski and Eddie Johnson for example.
Context is king…and the ability to of the educated soccer eye to see trough it…Xavi great example…easy for everyone to say now how great a player he is, but he himself will tell you that he is nothing by himself (meaning he needs the right context for his qualities to thrive.)
Guardiola (the player) similar…how a skinny , slow17 year old that at time couldn’t even make Barca’s B team was identified while playing for the U18’s and within a year was a starter for Barca’s A team…don’t think Rexach and Cruyff were looking at many stats when they made that call, but I guess it’s fair to say they both have a decent eye for talent
Stats are merely a means to objectively gauge performance. The most important stats in terms of context imo are pass acuracy, “key” passes and of course, turnover rate.
At least for midfielders. As has been said though, everything must be looked at in the proper context. Goals and assists are going to mean something entirely different when comparing say Champions league vs…MLS.
passing aside, there’s much much more that goes into player performance analysis. measuring a player’s total game impact is much more difficult. And in the end, that’s how players should be evaluated and rated.
23 goals and 14 assists: can’t be all bad!
My son’s club coach informed me the other day that he had just gotten off the phone with a perennial top 25 (and former national champion) college program. They were inquiring about one of our players they saw (apparently for 5 minutes) at a tournament in Dallas back in August.
The funniest part is (or maybe tragic is a better term) is that the player they were impressed with is a sub. Way down the depth chart. They (college) talked about his ‘great distribution’ and invited him to an id camp next month.
For the record, this is a U16 team that outpossesses the vast majority of our competition. The only real issues are more tactical than technical. (Mostly hispanic.)
Now, I’m happy for the kid and his family, don’t get me wrong.
But this speaks volumes on how player id works in this country. No coach, especially in the states, can accurately and objectively ‘assess’ a player’s true ability based on what they see in 5 minutes.
I remember this kid turning the ball over more times than he does anything positive. And he’s a central midfielder! He’s decent technically, but tactically he is way down the pecking order. And that’s not my opinion exclusively, our coach as well as several others have pointed out his glaring flaws.
This speaks volumes to me on how we measure true quality. And the horrible state of the college game in particular. (Which also infects MLS and our national teams….)
Well honestly I don’t see that as a concern if he caught a kid for 5 minutes that looked like a technical wizard and wanted further looks. If your assessment is right about his poor soccer iq hopefully that will be seen during further evaluation but at least he was wowed by technique and distribution instead of typical jungle ball traits.
Gary Kleiban says
Yep. If you know what you’re watching, it doesn’t have to take long.
That’s just it. This kid is not that technically gifted and I would be willing to bet his pass completion % is rather low. (Then there are the turnovers.) We have several players that are above his level both technically and tactically.
Using Gary’s criteria (and I agree with them) of an elite player, I would say without hesitation that he doesn’t fit the bill.
One coach’s trash is another coach’s #10 though.
Our team is very technical and does play possession…build from the back, no keeper punts, very few passes over 25 yards….at least that should provide a framework.
With another round of kids on there way to Carson, Ca for another u14 BNT camp at the end of Feb. I found myself remembering a quote I read a while back when talking about recognizing talent in youth players.
One man, Ronald de Jong, said: “I am never looking for a result — for example, which boy is scoring the most goals or even who is running the fastest. That may be because of their size and stage of development. I want to notice how a boy runs. Is he on his forefeet, running lightly? Does he have creativity with the ball? Does he seem that he is really loving the game? I think these things are good at predicting how he’ll be when he is older.”
I figured this applied directly to this thread and also could apply to this current camp getting ready to take place. I know for a fact that one of the players selected to the BNT was an ODP anomaly and scored the amount of goals that realistically should have been a red flag. The kind of indicator that should have lay’d down a whole line of questioning before giving in to the Holy Fri oles Batman theory… I hope this player makes it. But on the other hand this player will be a great example of how well the US soccer is doing when picking its kids. In a couple of years when the other kids actually hit puberty/grow… will said anomaly still be on the radar. Will kids overlooked now be so far off the radar that its too late. Will rejection send them into US soccer oblivion. Would two years of confidence building and development have been better spent on a a kid that was able to hang with this group that had matured earlier but was obviously just not there yet?
Maybe accountability is what is needed?