You know, it’s been with me for a long time, but I finally aired it out via twitter.
So in less than 140 characters … another fortune cookie:
When it's 50/50 jungle ball soccer, results are mostly random with an edge to whoever has better players at 50/50 jungle ball soccer.
— Gary Kleiban (@3four3) September 27, 2012
Applicable to every single level of the soccer pyramid, everywhere.
And particularly in the US, this is precisely the state of the game.
Think about it …
What players ‘make it’ in MLS?
Those who are among the best at 50/50 jungle ball soccer.
When it’s crunch time – when it really matters – what players are selected across the US Soccer pyramid?
Those who are among the best at 50/50 jungle ball soccer.
What coaches are considered good, or even great, across the US Soccer pyramid?
Well … those who win of course. And who generally wins most? Yep … you guessed it … those who’ve consistently gotten the best players for 50/50 random, roulette spinning, dice-rolling, jungle ball soccer.
This is not global gold standard football. Global gold standard football is a science, it’s tactical, it’s choreographed.
Yep. It is the mindset that provides the basis for selecting physical characteristics over developing skill and intelligence. It creates robots over creating artists, and keeps the USA an also-ran.
Arsenal Coach says
As a coach how do you know if you are a 50/50 jungle ball soccer coach or you are a Futball (soccer) coach ?
Travis Clark says
Ever since seeing you Tweet this, I couldn’t agree more.
Having a domestic league is important, and I’ll support MLS in spite of its massive shortcomings because it’s better than no top flight.
But it’s concerning to me that while officials will trump out stats about soccer’s growth, great crowds, TV deals, etc, the level/style of play is as you put it — jungle ball. I’d really like to see the league/teams focus on playing the game, and not the rough and tumble game you see out there. Actually develop your players, don’t just throw them into the meat grinder. However, I’m aware that requires having coaches who know how to develop players, something you rarely see. That’s without mentioning the absence of playing opportunities for 18-22 year olds, as teams snap up old Mexican/European/(enter whatever nationality here) players from abroad who were actually taught how to play soccer.
Hope my ramblings make some sense.
I look at the 2011 Philadelphia Union and see a team that tried to play the right way and got taken apart in the playoffs by a bigger, more “jungle ball”-ing Houston Dynamo. They since tried to fix that problem and we all know how that went in 2012.
At the end of the day, pro sports is about winning. Are there any examples of MLS teams who have won playing the “right” (non-jungle) way? If not, why not?
Jacques Pelham says
I’ll disagree with you slightly here AS (or maybe just take it in a slightly different direction). Winning is an obvious metric to judge progress or relative quality, no doubt. But pro sports is primarily about $ and finding ways to take the on-field product and monetize it.
Nowadays, the golden geese of professional sports are television rights contracts. MLS owners dream of an NFL or even NBA size national TV and sponsorship deal. The NBA’s national TV and sponsorship revenue sharing agreement sends, at a minimum, about $30 million to each team. In comparison, MLS’s TV revenue and sponsorship probably comes out to about $30 million for the entire league (this is a rough estimate, MLS/SUM doesn’t publish the numbers).
The NFL and NBA can command significantly more TV money because more people watch those leagues than the MLS. Why don’t more people watch MLS? For a number of reasons, but the most obvious is that the on-field product isn’t worth sitting down and watching when the games are on, especially when higher quality soccer is a click away. Even a novice fan can turn on MLS and see that it looks like total chaos compared to most La Liga, Serie A and even Barclay’s Premier League games (I’d argue that some fans watch Premier League games for the atmosphere alone regardless of the quality of football, heck I include myself in that group).
Why would I pay for the infrastructure necessary to watch Toronto F.C. and Philadelphia when I can go down the street and watch a San Francisco men’s league game played at about the same level (with several ex-MLS guys in fact) for free?
Many of your points are well taken (though I would differ as to the quality of MLS play or the benefit of supporting a local team (together with its infrastructure)).
However, the point of this article, and the blog in general, is to argue for a particular style of play. It sounds like what you are saying is that the style of play is irrelevant if the caliber of the players isn’t higher.
Jacques Pelham says
Good point AS! I think if you check out my blog or look at the stuff I’ve written for 3four3 you’ll see that Gary and I are pretty aligned when it’s comes to ideology and assessment of the state of footballing competence within MLS and USSF leadership.
The point I’m trying to make here has to do with identifying a pretty big disconnect between MLS owners and the coaches/technical staff (who are all pretty much purveyors of the jungle ball Gary describes) they have hired. I’m sure it’s sort of satisfying for MLS owners to dominate MLS or win an MLS trophy. But it seems to me that it would a lot more satisfying if they actually made a profit.
Fans want to see a show in exchange for tuning in or paying for admission and for most soccer fans that means professional displays of technical and tactical competence on par with or at least in the model of gold standard clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. MLS is delivering an inferior product (coaches, players, playing styles etc…) and the primary result is that fans have chosen not to engage with the league at a level that would make it profitable.
The players necessary to develop a better product already exist in the U.S. Unfortunately, the current coaching infrastructure at the professional/pre-professional level has largely overlooked them on account of their own incompetence. MLS’s incentive structure is still pretty screwed up, but the profit motive still exists. I’m just hoping at least one MLS owner will figure this out and take the steps necessary to lead the MLS towards progress.
I have my fingers crossed for Merrit Paulson/Caleb Porter in Portland.
There is a common theme we here from Gary, that you are repeating here regarding MLS. That the problem is not a lack of quality players, but rather that bad management and bad coaching is leading to the selection of the wrong players.
I personally have a problem with this. I believe that the problem with MLS is actually a lack of skilled players. Speed and athletics easily beat skill, if the skill level is not high enough. At the higher end leagues, players don’t pressure the ball, because they know that if they do, they will get beat by a skilled move or a skilled pass. In MLS, players pressure the ball because it works. An un-skilled player knows this, so they get rid of the ball quickly and safely. A short, un-skilled pass is trouble. A long 50/50 ball is safe.
Gary Kleiban says
MLS teams pressure?
I am yet to see it happen. Certainly not in any concerted way.
Gary, when does the barca usa curriculum come out?
oscar vega says
Jacques Pelham: hey wassup man I live in San Francisco as well. Do you play in the SFSFL.
Totally agree. While ball winning is important…you cannot have an entire team of them…but too many coaches and teams do. Being “scrappy” , “fighter” to many coaches is paramount for all players at al positions.
I remember at a high school soccer all state selection meeting, a coach came in with all types of player stats….and one was 50/50 balls won for his players….you can guess how his team played.
I remember the Real Madrid squad from a decade ago full of galacticos….but in my opinion one key player was Claude Makele…he allowed Figo and Zidane and Raul and others to do what they do.
It kills me every time the US National Team has three ball winners in center of midfield….ridiculous. We can win the hell out of the ball…and have many, many opportunities to because we never have it!
MLS player selections are ridiculous. It’s going to take 1 coach, 1 GM, and 1 owner to drastically change the approach and have success for any of the others to follow. Until then the HG signings will continue to flounder, and the college draft will continue to be trumpeted and guys like Mattocks will still get the top spot in 24 under 24. Yes, I am a huge Whitecaps fan and still say there is NO WAY Mattock is #1 under 24. Not by a county mile. VIllanueva – outstanding technical player. There are others as well who are way ahead.
Youth soccer jungle ball? YEP! I’ve got 2 tiny little technical players. They are 11. They have NO CHANCE in our “elite” league. (elite simply equals the top tier in their region – it’s not “elite” compared to the gold standard – my own team included.) They’ll be just fine come 14 or so, but until then…..I worry about them physically and mentally. This isn’t to say the rest of my team is some fantastic gold standard team. I do go watch the league two tiers down where my other team plays that also had a lot of smaller guys, and the opponents in that league tend NOT to have small players either. So I am uncertain where they all are! Not playing sports???
I may be biased, but to me, the Red Bulls are playing possession soccer, could be why there’s so few Americans in their starting 11. Henry demands it… he can win balls but he wants the build up so he can do his magic with passes and through balls. I think Seattle plays on the ground mostly too. But most of the MLS is jungle ball.
ThiKu, I hear you regarding the jungle ball in youth soccer. My son’s U10 team has a number of smaller, quick, techincal players and we rotinely battle much bigger teams. It’s not hard to see when a coach selects his players based on size and aggressiveness – a perfect fit for the jungle ball style. Their primary “tactic” is to hoof a long ball over the top and try to outrun and outshove the opponent for a 50-50 balls. By the way, from a parent’s prospective, hats off to you because you care about your players, particularly those who struggle – many coaches don’t. In terms of physical play, I think the size is less important than the attitude. Some of our smallest players are feisty and relentless in fighting for the ball and do really well in 50-50 balls against much bigger opponents. When we line up next to our opponents pregame, the parents usually chuckle because our players are so much smaller. My son’s coaches understand that the team will not win many games playing the jungle ball so they try to beat the opponent with passing, quickness and skill. When they move the ball well, it is a lot of fun to watch. They have their ups and downs, but I feel they are developing better as players than the kids who play kick and run style. I do feel that the US youth soccer is behind the top soccer countries in terms of tactical understanding of the game. I recently read an interview with Messi, where he said “Just yesterday I was watching the seven-year-old boys training beside us. They were being taught to play with the ball, to look after it, tactical things, how to understand the game. They were playing just like us. It still surprises me.” I wonder why the prevailing view in this country is that tactical things should not be taught in soccer until later age groups? One explanation I heard that the kids are less savy than their European or South American counterparts because they don’t watch soccer regularly. I generally agree that the kids here do not watch enough soccer, but this would seem to make the need to develop their soccer brains even more accute. Pushing this development off to later ages would seem to exacerbate the problem. If Spanish coaches teach tactics and understanding of the game to seven year olds and on, and we largely delay this to U12s or later, our U12 youth players are at least five years behind Spanish kids of similar age. Of course, if the prevalent style is the jungle ball, why bother with developing the soccer brains? A couch can simply select the athletes, who are best in this style, and have a winning season with very happy parents and very little risk taking.
You ask why we don’t teach tactics to younger players. The same reason we don’t teach any real tactics to older players, too many US “couches” (your typo is actually quite profound) lack the skill and know how to teach these things to our kids. I watched the “best” U14 boys team in the state of Oregon over the weekend. (Best based on standings in the tables of the OPL) They were average and consistent at best. They won because they were the more athletic team and because sadly the other team displayed poor ball skills and decision making for a team in the top flight.
Just finished reffing a class 3 tournament, and am appalled as these kids throw themselves at every tackle to win the ball, only to turn it over with the next touch. I’m surprised there aren’t more injuries with all these punts and 50/50 balls. The GU14 final had 4 girls down in the first 30 minutes, and none of them came out despite the tears and pain.
Our local league only offers Rec up to U14, but kick and run Rec coaches have migrated to class 3 travel teams and unwitting parents who don’t know better buy in to this. The bad news is that not only will your kid not play in college, they may not even play on their high school team and no one knows better until it’s too late.
The real shame is the class 1 wanna-be teams, which can never hold possession but retain players with real potential but never develop their decision-making skills and passing ability.
Where are all the ex-pro youth coaches? Even the hispanic teams, which play a more skillful version of kick and run–can’t retain possession. There are 2 possession-oriented boys coaches in my area: one doesn’t have a team at my kid’s age group and the other (Zack Ibsen) just left.
Is Class 3 the top level where you live? Man, I wish every province in Canada used the same names and every state in USA used the same names for their leagues!
Ex-pro’s? Prob running their own academies, coachin in pro youth clubs, retired, or simply living elsewhere. There are plenty of ex-pro’s where I live, for example. Every club here has a few that generally are all trying their best to promote a skillfull game. Not say we achieve it necessarily! (I am not an ex-pro).
No, class 1 is the top, class 3 is a less competitive/skilled travel team, class 4 is Rec. Everyone wants to referee class 1, but the class 3 matches actually need better referees to protect these kids from themselves…
You are assuming ex-pros will teach quality soccer. If what they played jungle ball in the pros you can pretty much expect them to carry that torch forward and teach jungle ball to their students.
You mention rec coaching coaching lower flight competitive. Tons of clubs do this all over the USA. Why charge a kid $75 for a soccer season when you can charge that same kid $500 for the same coach, the same team and the same quality of games. That is how clubs increase their revenue. They are not really worried about player development. They are worried about revenue.
Dr Loco says
Our team recently played a tournament. We went all the way to the finals and lost. After the 1st game the refs came over and were amazed at the level of our soccer. 2nd game was more of the same. Our possession game was impressive against weaker teams. 3rd game was brutal against quick, physical players winning most 50/50 balls. So far only 1 goal scored against. 4th game 4 goals scored against. Players were fighting to death for the ball and pressuring us constantly. Kids coming off the field every 5min hurt or bloodied. We could not control the game since it was too fast and physical. The entire tournament we only played with 1 extra player with no injuries. Other teams need 3-4 extra players due to injuries and fatigue like hockey or football. The same refs from the 1st game congratulated me and said keep playing the way you do out the back.
What sucks the most is our players and parents do not understand the beauty of our team. We are doing it the correct way but it seems they don’t really care. They just want wins no matter what.
Congrats on making to finals! However, I think many believe technical soccer/possession soccer is a weaker and more fragile style of soccer that is in some way also less aggressive on the ball. Most teams can pass around weaker competition. You should not be awarded a medal or prize for stringing together 10 passes against “rec” teams. I’m not saying you did but you did indicate they were a much weaker side. You struggled against better athletes because your kids possibly didn’t move well without the ball, move into space correctly, didn’t support when necessary. They can’t foul what they can’t catch. I get jungle ball is often hard to beat at young ages because the kids aren’t as comfortable on the ball as a more mature player should be. A bad first touch will cause problems even at the highest level. Sounds like you’re doing a great job so keep it up. But the wrong message is being sent if a small technical player believes that shouldn’t be in each and every 50/50 ball with the same fight as the “athletic” kid.
Dr Loco says
Our team tries not to foul because I don’t want players getting hurt (only 1 sub). One time we play an entire tournament with no subs or 1 man down and made it to the finals. 50/50 balls are mainly won by “athletic” kids good at jungle ball so we let them and wait for them to hock it up the field to regain possession.
We want to use our intelligence. “It’s science, it’s tactical, it’s choreographed.”
I’ve read many of your intelligent posts on this blog and agree with much. I must disagree with you completely on this issue. “50/50 balls are mainly won by “athletic” kids good at jungle ball”, this is complete nonsense. I have many smaller players winning balls with intelligence, spped, and most of all anticipation. I could never coach a player to let another win a ball so we could “tactically” win it later down the field. I would rather play down a player than tell a player something like that. So is messi “athletic”? Have you ever seen him fight for a ball like it’s last time he might ever play again? Can someone please define “athletic” for me! I have players that are small but technically gifted or some would say through hard work and dedication very comfortable with the ball. They also fight like starving dogs to win and possession of the ball. Are they not intelligent?
Arsenal Fan says
Tim, well said. Soccer is more than just what is being talked about here, think we are forgetting about the passion of the game, and nothing to me highlights that more than a competition for a 50/50 ball in a crucial passage of the the game.
Dr Loco says
I get you.
You have to understand that many of our players have slow pure speed and slow mental speed. They have not learned how to anticipate the ball well. Unless we have a good chance of winning a 50/50 ball there is not a big risk in letting the other team take it. We try to play a controlled, relaxed game.
It totally depends on the players you have on your team. A big problem I see in youth and college sports is ‘unlimited’ substitutions. I have to protect the players and manage them for an entire game. If I lose a player due to injury because I want them to die for every 50/50 ball then the team suffers. Yes, we fight to keep and regain possession but intelligently not recklessly like jungle ball — “ can be dangerous as several players may go for the same ball”
I agree with your sentiments about 50/50 balls 🙂 What about winning 1st balls & 2nd balls; where a lot of 2nd balls can be attributed to the team shape?
Have you shared this blog with the parents on your team? Educating parents who may have many different levels of soccer savvy can be challenging. Not only does Gary do a great job of distilling down the important issues, but the comments provide lots of addition angles at looking at the problem. There are nuggets of knowledge for everyone here.
My son and I often talk about desire to play better teams since they try to play properly. We find some established clubs and many upstarts (smaller clubs) playing to hurt someone rather than football. And almost always refs let it happen. They allow games to get out of hand. Then like to red card coach or player who says anything. It’s not just bad coaching, it’s referees as well that enable jungle ball.
On my son’s team, the better players are smaller and not physical. It jungle ball, the coach puts in the linebackers and jungle ball ratchets up. He doesn’t like to do that, but he’s protecting players. And he’s given up on refs.
Unfortunately, Kana, there are plenty of marginal referees out there who forget the primary role of the job is to protect the players. It’s difficult to change leagues, but the least you can do is steer away from tournaments that have a reputation for poor refereeing. Don’t forget to ask your coach, team manager and club director the next time they sign you up for a tournament–that’s information they should know and should be able to tell you. re: inadequate center referees, there are a few warning signs:
1) The 3 Step Ref – will only take 3 steps outside of the center circle when officiating a match–misses calls because he/she didn’t bring the telescope
2) Homer Simpson – grossly out of shape ref, maybe in the distant past used to be a grade 7 or 6 but now cannot run so cannot get close to the action. Still insists on refereeing U16+ boys matches because he’s buddies with the assignor. You’re always afraid he’ll keel over during your match.
3) Mr. Old School – despite USSF’s drive to keep everyone fit and up to speed on developments in the Laws Of The Game, this guy thinks fondly back to the Premier League of the 70s when a tackle that required a splint and an IV was just getting stuck-in.
4) Mr. Solo – so used to doing solo matches that he (it’s always a he) never looks at his ARs, who might as well be knitting on the sidelines.
5) Mr. Whistle – usually very young referees will exhibit this trait but occasionally adults who like attention will look for any reason to use the whistle. 200 times per match is not uncommon. Fine for U8 Rec matches but little else.
6) It’s All About Me Referee – related to Mr. Whistle, this referee wants a close personal relationship with the coaches and players but not ARs. Narcissistic and tyrannical, will bend the laws of the game to suit his mood. Absolutely ruins matches for everyone.
7) Mr. Foreign Language – Referee who forgets or gets sucked into discussions in his native language, thereby inadvertently aligning himself with one team over another. Brawl(s) ensue. Police are called to protect players and fans from each other.
8) Mr. Oblivion – coasts through matches without a care, blatant fouls begetting blatant fouls. Likes to “let them play”. Kids often require stitches. Police are called to escort referee to safety.
9) Mr. Card – Nary a word is spoken before the first of many cards come out. Often threatens to call/abandon matches if you don’t do as he says.
Dr Loco says
“it’s referees as well that enable jungle ball.”
This is the best experience so far. We play many top quality games as friendlies. No refs. The players follow the rules in honesty. You should see how much fun the players have and how clean/fluid the game is. There is no fighting or complaining over who kicked the ball out or fouls, handballs, etc. The players involved know exactly so no refs needed.
Refs fees are huge! No need to pay them.
On issues with refs: We had a brutal game in our tournament this last weekend – lost two kids to injures and just about everyone was bleeding from stupid tackles after the game. I think it is the responsibility of the coach and parents to keep their kids under control as much as the ref. Most of the refs are young kids just learning how to ref. The adults should take some responsibility and keep their kids under control. When kids are getting hit 3 seconds after the ball is gone and elbows to the face it’s more then a 13 or 15 year old referee can be expected to handle. I kept my boys calm through the game and yelled at my parents across the field to shut it! We ended up winning 4-0, by playing great possession soccer. The other coach came up to me and said he wanted his team to play like mine. I was thinking – you could start with stop trying to kill people. All joking aside that coach will probably re-think his tactics after that game, because he lost. We need people to win the “right way” if we want to change youth soccer.
Wow, never thought of it in this way. “jungle ball”, brilliant name for the style we so often watch on weekends and then unfortunately again watching MLS on television. I was just discussing with a friend how violent soccer appears to be in America compared to most international play. Yes the EPL and other leagues play aggressive and hard with many “professional fouls”, but it doesn’t appear with the same intent to injure and take a player out of a tournament as we see here begining as early as u12. I could be wrong but that’s what i see. The only way this will change is when parents are educated and when “jungle ball” is no longer an effective way to win a soccer game. However, we live in a country of “winning” and as long as “jungle ball” is successful on weekends and the trophy shelf is full, it might just be here to stay.
Dr Loco says
“jungle ball” ….bunch of monkeys kicking the ball
Dr Loco says
I often blog on other soccer sites on articles on the USMNT. My stance is always that we can do better, be better, that we should be developing creative players rather than juggernauts, that we choose the wrong players to develop, etc. 9 times out of 10 people call me a ‘troll’ and tell me I do not know shit about soccer. And the main argument they have against me is, “if we are so terrible at soccer, then why did we beat Spain 2-0?” Beating Spain that one, and only one, time has been the worst thing we could have done as a soccer nation because it has given the ‘soccer retarded’ a basis for arguing for the shit soccer we see every time the USMNT takes the field. These are the same people that are proud that we crushed Scotland this year, that we lucked out and beat Mexico in a friendly, and “dominated” Jamaica in last month’s WC quals. These people are the trolls and US soccer is geared toward making these guys happy rather than making people who comment on sites like this happy, who probably are not proud or excited about beating Scotland 5-0. The marathon continues…
Jim Froehlich says
Know exactly what you mean. This site is one of a kind. SBI and MLS Talk are absolutely pathetic.
There’s a lot of focus here on what style or brand of soccer of soccer ought to be the goal. As Gary says “Global gold standard football is a science, it’s tactical, it’s choreographed.”
Let’s assume that this is way to coach a team. My question is what do you tell your 11, 12 or 13-year old boys when they lose a game trying to play the “gold standard” way. When bigger, stronger, faster, more aggressive boys succeed by pushing them off the ball, dominating balls in the air and knocking them to the ground every time they try to possess the ball in midfield? Do you tell them, don’t worry about losing 5-0, we are pursuing the “gold standard”?
You/re making an assumption that the gold standard can’t beat jungle ball if the other team is quicker and bigger. I don’t see evidence of that. Plus 50/50 ball is ugly. Of course they should stick to the gold standard. You always play YOUR style… the complexity comes when you have to adjust it to the opponents weaknesses. That takes good coaching at youth and probably all levels. Arsenal year in and year out are in the top 4 in the EPL, they always play their style. They usually have the smaller more technical team on the field. They signed Cazorla he’s 5’7 max, he’s already making a huge mark on the team.
How else are you supposed to play against a more physically imposing team?
Perhaps I’m showing my weakness as a coach, but I have seen time and time again that our team, which is mostly average size and average athleticism, can dribble and pass rings around comparable boys, but do get pushed around and beaten by stronger, faster, bigger kids. I’m not saying they are fouling or cheating, I’m just saying our possession game wilts in the face of pressure by superior athletes.
They can’t push you off the ball if you don’t have the ball when they get to you. Their team play has to improve. It’s that simple. If you’re passing around them you shouldn’t be losing. If they’re dribbling and getting pushed off the ball… they’re dribbling to long.
My son’s team just got beat by a team because they didn’t pass well enough, not good enough by a mile, the coach’s response was conditioning training because they were running out of steam. Bad sign, they ran out of steam because they couldn’t hold onto possession and were constantly trying to win the ball back. Pisses me off that the coach thinks it’s the players… and not the lack of team cohesion, the blame is really on the coach.
Dr Loco says
” I’m just saying our possession game wilts in the face of pressure by superior athletes.”
I see the same thing. I also have noticed that the few possession teams out there have average players competing at silver/bronze level. Fast, athletic kids play premier/gold level. I recommend you keep the team at a lower level until they master technical/tactical skills required to win against superior athletes. Parents might not like it. I tell my players it’s better to lose playing well than win an ugly game. I’m sure parents just hate and blame the coach.
“The hardest thing for any coach is to realize that players and parents aren’t the coach’s “friends”, that the coach does not own the team, and that the coach is responsible for the technical, tactical, physical, and mental development of the team.”
AS, it’s a tough one. It is very hard for the kids, parents and coaches to swallow a lopsided loss, when the team was physically overwhelmed. If your kids gave good effort, you can tell them that they lost to a very strong and physical team and that they lost because the opposing team was able to disrupt their possession game. Tell them that they need to continue to work on their their ball skills and teamwork to be able to move the ball faster and break the pressure even against fast, athletic teams like this. Perhaps playing possession games on smaller fields would help because smaller spaces will force your players to be more comfortable under pressure (which will arrive much faster on small fields – sort of like what the fast team did to your boys) and move the ball faster. You have to stay true to your philosophy, if you are convinced it is the right one. I agree with Steve that your question contained a questionable assumption about jungle ball leading to better results and perhaps you did not mean it this way. Your boys with average speed, size and athleticism will not beat a physically dominant athletic team by playing the jungle ball style. It would be suicidal to try to play it. Your team could have been blown out 15-0 if it tried to do it. Trying to play out of the back under pressure may have cost your team a couple of goals, but I don’t think that hoofing the boy downfield against bigger, stronger, faster opposition would have been a smarter tactic.
Thanks, MG. You and Steve have it exactly. I’m really not suggesting we try to play any way other than the right, skillful, possession-oriented way. Trust me, I’ve seen what happens when the boys abandon that base and try to boot and bash against a high pressure group of stronger athletes. As you say, it gets worse not better. I tell the boys, “there is no plan B”, and I really believe it. But we sure do take some lumps from time to time and I really feel for the boys when that happens.
Good point with making the possession space smaller. I’m working through similar stuff with speed of play. making the space smaller will help the technical side, but the smaller space won’t force players to move off the ball to support, like they must do on the big field(tactical side). This is a huge issue – timing and anticipation of support angles for possession. What would you do to work on that aspect?
Alec, I think you are asking the right kinds of questions, but an answer that fits one team/kid’s situation might be a wrong answer for another team/kid. This is where the art of coaching comes in. The basic principles of supporting a player who has the ball should work on both small and big fields (althought the field size may present different challenges to the players). Also, as you noted, the size of the field alone will not them more tactically savvy with their positioning and angles. You should study your team carefully (maybe even tape them) and identify what specific issues cause the problems for your team’s supporting play (e.g. tendency to run forward instead of support, not moving without the ball, etc.). Once you’ve identified these issues, you can start addressing them. You can try to use possession games as a teaching tool, but keep things simple so the kids are not flooded with two much information. Just pick one thing that you want to teach them at a particular practice session, feed them small amounts of information without talking for too long, and have them work on this issue until they do it well. You probably already explained them the general principles of support and positioning, but you would have to work on the details and that is the hard part. Give the the kids some guidance, but also let them make their own decisions on the field. When you teach them to play out of the back on the goal kicks, for example, you can show your left defender what options he might have for passing the ball (left mid, central mid, keeper, etc), but let him decide what option is the best once the ball is in play. As a disclaimer, there are coaches on this board that are more qualified to help you with advice.
Yup, exactly what you tell them! I coach a U12 Gold level team and we have played 3 games and lost everyone by one goal, (competitive games). We have lost to the “jungle ball” teams, physical, direct, maybe two passes and then vertically down to the big man up front. It’s terrible and drives me insane. In all three games, we had possession about 75%, outchanced opponent, switching balls from side to side, etc…. the referree and parents from other team came up to me after the game saying how impressed they were with the style of play of our team. in one game, the other coach asked, “how do you get them to pass like that?”
The players know this is not about results, right from the first training session, yes they are upset that they lost, but they know that they ar part of a project. the project is for me to give me them as much as I can to teach them the game so when they try out for the highest level in the Spring (we have a top tier starting U13 in our province), they have a much better chance of making…..that to me is development! The coach at the tryout will not ask each player, “did you come in first last season?” “What was your record?” how many goals did you score?” it does not matter, what matters is how that player shows his technical ability, soccer IQ, how he/she processes decisions, etc…. when they are trying to make it.
If you have a team of 11 players and more than half of them make the highest level the following, you have succeeded as a coach.
as a nation, we seem to be swinging back and forth .. like a pendulum.
do we focus on development (player & team) vs winning (team)?
do we develop the “player” or the “team”?
do the coaches select 1 position for the player (team-oriented) vs more than 1 (player)?
do we put the big strong players in the attack (player) or on defense (team & other smaller skillful players)?
do we teach zonal marking (team shape) or allow for interchange & fluidity in the movement (player)?
do we focus on technique (player) vs tactics (player & team)?
do we focus on individual dribbling (individual attacking) vs passing (team-oriented)?
Since this blog has a lot Barca followers, I will say Barca philosophy is focused on the team oriented passing skills first & foremost; then the individual brilliance .. in that order!
Dr Loco says
Yes, we are lost as a nation. Too many cooks in the kitchen making crap. No common culture, language, traditions, religion. It’s like presidents – democrats and republicans always swinging back and forth.
Meh. All over rated. Especially religion. Diversity can be a strength.
Dr Loco says
Have you coached a team with players from different religions?
Please explain how religion does not affect a team.
I have. It wasn’t an issue. I take that back… the more religious missed games going to sunday school and church. It was an issue for them. Not for the team or me.
“Yes, we are lost as a nation. Too many cooks in the kitchen making crap. No common culture, language, traditions, religion. It’s like presidents – democrats and republicans always swinging back and forth.”
I agree, but what’s interesting is that all of us coaches are here at this blog. Why are we here? WE are here because Brian and Gary have found a way to WIN, with a totally dominate style of possession soccer. If they didn’t win, but they talked about playing like Barcelona, we would all laugh at them. Winning changes everything and they have found a way to win. They have broken the glass ceiling and now there are no more excuses for coaches. Yeah it’s really hard and it takes more effort to learn a totally new system. It is a far more complex system then juggle ball, so it’s going to take more effort to learn. But it leads to total domination if you learn it well.
Dr Loco says
“They have broken the glass ceiling and now there are no more excuses for coaches.”
Well said Alec! Pre- Brian and Gary it would have been easy to quit. Damn! I love you and hate you for it.
Gary Kleiban says
“They have broken the glass ceiling and now there are no more excuses for coaches.”
🙂 I wish Alec.
The excuses keep on coming. When threatened, the creativity of the rational mind knows no bounds.
Rob A says
Totally, Gary. Too many of the games I watch — youth games, not of my team and Serie A 😉 are “jungle ball”. I see it as a bunch of chaos until some kid, near the opponent’s goal, makes sense of the ball (controls it). I HATE seeing actions on the field that have no idea behind it and too often this is the case in the US.
how many kids in your program have been called up to youth national teams…any?
What’s the point of your question?
Have you coached or trained anyone who has been called up at any level of the national program?
are you joking here because I thought the purpose of this blog was to change the status quo. IMO, that includes any US coach that is satisfied with US college &/or MLS quality player development.
Exactly… making it to the national program isn’t exactly the climax of a career… that’s why players go over seas. To get better coaching and better competition.
Making it to the national team at your age level is a climax at that age level. So, have you trained or coached someone who has made to any level of the youth national team?…simple question!
Goddy, if you ask people if they coached anyone who made it to the national level at their age, you may have missed the entire point of Gary’s post. Let me repeat one of his statements: “When it’s crunch time – when it really matters – what players are selected across the US Soccer pyramid? Those who are among the best at 50/50 jungle ball soccer!” Was the USSF after Ben Ledermann before FC Barcelona invited him to join their academy (the very same academy that produced Messi, Xavi, Iniesta)? Gary’s and Brian’s kids are making a small dent in the current system (and their success starts getting more attention), but the jungle ball continues to rule at all levels of US Soccer pyramid. People, who post on this blog, are mostly regular folks with diverse backgrounds (coaches, parents, players) who want to change the status quo in the US soccer at the grass roots level.
I get your point, but Lederman was about 10 years old or so when he went to Barca. Why would USSF “be after” him at that age??
Canada has made the same mistake. A player from Ontario completely ignored. He played on high level teams and won a few provincial cups, to give you an idea. But never considered for Ontario provincial team or the TFC academy. He was starting in the Russian Premier League at age 18-19, and now is allotted one of the very limited foreign spots in the Lithuanian league. Not a huge level, Lithuania, but a technical one, and he’s still only 19 or so.
It happens up north too, and no doubt happens in every country around the world. But the problem comes in Canada and USA in this regard because we don’t have the critical masse of players and coaches to cover-up those missed selections.
For the same reason, they invited four players from Barcelona FC USA U11 team to participate in the national team training camp this summer. Ben was invited too, although he is obviously older now. Things are starting to change a bit, but it’s only a drop in the bucket.
ThiKu, I agree with you that the US and Canada lack the “critical mass” of properly developed players (you need a good number of clubs teaching and developing the kids properly to achieve it), but I also think that people, who make selections for the Academies, State, Regional, and National youth teams, might not be using the right set of criteria so the missed selections might be more of a systemic issue.
Yes! What’s your point?
No I am not joking but rather asking a simple question. Have you done it or not ?
Yes – she leaves for her fourth camp in 3 weeks. Now what?
90% or more of kids I know of are in ODP or called to National tryout out due to size. Average players who are man-child types. Skill, smarts, tactical should be size agnostic . . . but in USA it’s the primary test of a player’s potential.
Lets try not to swing the pendulum too far in the other direction when making statements such as ^This.
e.g., Pique & Busquets are tall. So is Ibra & Torres; They all all World Class players of Gold Standard quality.
None of this should surprise any of us. First thing you have to understand is that youth clubs are not in the business of developing players. It is a ‘factory’ that churns out the “youth soccer experience”. It’s always easier to take shortcuts.
Second, I came to the realization a while ago that I alone am responsible for my son’s development as an individual player. So I have spent thousands of hours studying, reading and watching the game. I try to learn something new every day.
I think too many people confuse possession and ‘creative’ play. Possession is largely unselfishness on the individual player’s part. (Lots of movement without the ball and simple 1 and 2 touch passing.) Encouraging ‘creative play’ all too often promotes selfish play. The kid with all the skill in the world but loses the ball due to piss poor decisionmaking.
Skill without the appropriate decisionmaking is worthless. And when it comes to player selection, the 2 players ‘identified’ the most are what I call the ‘dribblitos’ and the ‘manchildren’. Big, strong, but technically and tactically dumb defenders.
And the kid who can do every Ronaldo move but yet can’t make it happen when it matters.
The tactically smart, “simple” players are the ones overlooked.
But isn’t there a place on every team for the dribbilitos AND manchildren AND tacticians IF they are ALL tactically trained?? Barca has its athletic beasts (imagine going against Puyols in the box on a corner) and Messi is a primo dribbilito at times BUT they all have the tactical knowledge to play together and exploit their strengths for the team. Again the issue goes back to quality coaches who can teach tactics.
Dr Loco says
“But isn’t there a place on every team for the dribbilitos AND manchildren AND tacticians”
From my experiences at the youth level no, not on the same team. Generally speaking man-children go to premier teams, tacticians gold teams, and dribbiliots to silver teams. Something like that. There is no intelligent thought in selecting players for youth teams.
You’re right, Dr. Loco. But all too often these kids are encouraged to rely only on their “strengths” in order to achieve a result. The coaches enable them by encouraging them to play selfishly and even recklessly.
I’m not against teaching players to get ‘stuck in’ and otherwise fight for the ball. (They have to learn sooner or later.) But they first need to learn to control the ball properly and pass. In other words, to keep possession should come first.
I see this happening with the coaches in our area. many competitive teams are stocked with hispanic players, coached by an hispanic guy (I’ve seen just 2 female hispanic coaches). these coaches are not teaching the 4-3-3, are not teaching possession–they seem to revert to the style of their homeland rather than embrace claudio’s strictures. they never play out of the back, and there are no negative consequences as long as they can find some big lugs to hoof it out of the back. i’d like to see all class 1 tournaments limit to 3 the substitutions allowed–at least after the group stages– in order NOT to reward the high-pressure, kick-it-to-the-big-tall-fast kid type teams. can claudio & sunil insist on that? i can’t believe we still allow unlimited subs at the highest levels of youth soccer. are we the only country that does?
Dr Loco says
“i can’t believe we still allow unlimited subs at the highest levels of youth soccer.”
Yeah, right. That’s what I mentioned above. Unlimited subs hinders the development of players by not allowing them to learn how to conserve their energy, play intelligently, play under physical/mental exhaustion, the brain is not trained to deal with the stress of a full match.
US players appear to always be looking for a “time-out” or “lifeline” when in trouble.
First of all, Hall: man-child, driblito? Muy bien! You nailed it.
ASO, I see what you are getting at, but I think that is a false choice. Tacticians, man-children, and dribilitos are not mutually exclusive. You can have a big kid who is an excellent dribbler and a great tactician. (His name could be Busquets, or Torres.) You can also have kids that are short, slow, and stupid. Nature can be cruel.
One of our main coaching problems is precisely that we do not INSIST that everyone play the right way, regardless of his alleged individual gift. If you try to develop a team that is tactically sophisticated, you shouldn’t need to pay attention to distracting questions such as, “do I have enough mindless dribblers? Do I have enough man-children headless chickens?” You simple work to get all your players to play the right way, and if you have the opportunity to switch out the ones who don’t get it for ones that do, you do it, regardless of their physical attributes.
By the way, on a related matter, this false choice also comes up in discussions about our national team with their clueless fans. You often hear how US players are such “great athletes”, and if we could just play a bit better we would rule. Excuse me: what makes you think that other countries aren’t already doing that? Do you think that to get to the top of the pyramid in Holland, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, etc. you can be non-athletic? Let me tell you, the vast majority of those guys have it all. Do the athlete-worshiping US fans really think our soccer “athletes” are more athletic than those other soccer players? Or is it just that the others don’t have to rely exclusively on their athleticism to resolve soccer problems on the field?
BINGO! a voice of reason 🙂
The last time I checked, the USMNT was lacking PACE on the outsides. I thought the USA was a country of superior athletes e.g., PACE. In pursuit of the players with good technique we seem to have wrongfully spend the pendulum too far in the other direction.
p.s., sorry Gary for using the word “PACE” in bold even 🙂
I would not come to that same conclusion. My logic would be: Our fastest athletes in the US are black/of African extraction. There are very few black Americans playing soccer. If we increased the number of black players, perhaps we would have enough candidates with the pace you say we so desperately need a that position. Just another way of thinking about this issue.
R2Dad, I see plenty of black players on the youth national teams. Some of them are good. Some aren’t. I don’t necessarily think that having more blacks playing soccer will automatically make the US better.
Further, I would say the racial makeup of foreign leagues is fairly balanced. You tend to see a higher percentage of black players in France’s Ligue 1. Not sure why except that perhaps this has something to do with the number of immigrants from former French African colonies/protectorates.
I’ve always held the belief that, to make it to the highest level, a player has to have the right ‘mix’ of technical, tactical AND physical gifts.
Most players are going to be stronger in certain areas and weaker in others.It really comes down to position. You aren’t going to play fullback for Arsenal unless you have exceptional speed. And you aren’t going to play central midfield for Barca if you don’t have exceptional vision/passing ability. (No matter how fast you are.)
Because the majority of youth soccer in the states is built around results at all costs, you end up with one dimensional players. The other issue is that, by and large, the bulk of American players just don’t train enough on their own and/or play enough unstructured football.
Coaching is certainly a factor, but the core issues are the ones I mentioned above. Most kids don’t want to spend 30-45 minutes or more working on their control or banging a ball off of a wall.
Zidane, Platini, Best, et. al, did not receive “elite, high level tactical coaching” in their formative years. They didn’t join ‘pro’ clubs until they were 16 or older. What they did do was learn to play the game in a more ‘organic’ fashion.
Out of necessity, I have taken that same approach (as much as it can be where I live) with my own son. We are 200+ miles from the nearest DA club. And, with the exceptiion of FC Dallas, I don’t think any of these DA teams can make him better anyway. The only thing they can offer is “exposure”.
“Most kids don’t want to spend 30-45 minutes or more working on their control or banging a ball off of a wall”
I have been pushing my U9 Son to do a set of drills – 30 minutes a day – mostly footwork for about a month. Even he can tell it’s working.
There is a lot of talk about the 10,000 hr rule. As with most things 20% of the work get’s you to the 80% level. It takes the remaining 80% of the work to get you to 100%. Maybe we can’t convince our youth to go to 100%, but I’ll take 90% right now.
We need to push for more time on the ball. This is the number one problem, and yes there is probably a parent, culture, coaching reason we are not doing it.
Lack of pace is not the problem that plagues the US soccer. There are plenty of althletes with pace at all levels of US soccer, but they lack skill and intelligence to play at the highest levels. When at high school, Marvel Wynne ran 10.39 in a 100 meter dash, but putting him on the wing for the national team would be a disaster.
I tried for a few years to watch MLS, but it’s crap! In mornings I would watch La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga — then catch an MLS game in evening and it was like a cold splash in the face. Many MLS players have basic dribbling skills and poor passing. But they are strong and fast and physical. This trickles down to college and youth soccer.
Jungle ball that has metastasiized to infect coaching ranks across youth soccer. So what’s the cure?
No. Have you? If yes, then how many? .. And please tell what is troubling you about this blog
&/or user comments since it seems that you don’t
agree with some of the user comments. Please
be more specific.
Sorry. My last post was directed to goddy in the above thread.
Larry, I’ve been reading this blog for a long while now, and all of the comments. I have coached a kid who was selected for the US women’s youth side, but helped to make her quit fighting over her playing for my team vs. another. You’re missing the point completely! i will die before I make a kid quit playing the game like that again, national team or anything else below it.
I’m now coaching U8s and the parents are all so focused on winning every game that I struggle to even stay with it, and I even have one dad who actually did play a few MLS games and is quite the legend locally for the former A-League team. I played with and against him, but can not get him to stop “coaching” his son during games. Same goes for all of the other parents. They just won’t let their kids play and leave it at that. It’s a peculiar American thing and until and unless it changes, we will never be able to produce world-class players because the stupid parents think telling their kids what to do during games (whether they know what they’re talking about or not) is happening and it makes the kids “respond” to the parents, not what is happening around them on the field. The kids will literally look over at mom/dad while the ball is in play and even when they get it at their feet.
I read all of this here for inspiration that things will change because I have been subjected to the whole “the best coaches get the best teams” mentality. That is, when my former U11s won a state title (not saying much in this state, but whatever) they were immediately taken from me the next season by the DOC/A-Licensed coach, who promptly won his first, only, and probably last state title with what I had produced before wrecking it all and making the kids play jungle ball where I had them playing the right way.
The politics of it are, again, maddening, and luckily for me I’m at a small club now where I’m free to do what I want and the DOC lets me, yet I still have to argue with the parents that we should be “winning” at U8. Really? They don’t even have the mental focus to keep shape right now, but don’t you tell someone’s dad that his son who is “playing” center mid in a 2-1-2 shouldn’t be out on the wing collecting and distributing a ball or you’ll never hear the end of it. Or, “you need to put Player XYZ in goal because he knows what he’s doing and we won’t win otherwise!” Really? I played GK, and there isn’t a U8 I have ever seen who knows how to do it aside from being a great athlete, good with hands, and aggressive – those 3 things alone will define a “successful” keeper at a young age.
Anyhow, just wanted to finally contribute something here. I’m on board with the site’s philosophy but am struggling and in the trenches with the ridiculous and frustrating demands of what youth coaching are here in the USA right now.
I hear you Larry. Parents put me over the edge sometime too. Hold to your guns. Preach in season and out of season – the barcelona gospel. 🙂 Once you get the right parents and right kids – the sky will be the limit.
I feel for you, Lothar. I’d like to see a side-by-side comparison of various parents from around the world (Brazil, France, Italy, US, etc) attending their kids U8 matches and how they behave. This could be a useful tool in shaming US parents into learning how to support their child’s game in an appropriate manner. Seriously, almost every parent here with U8 kids knows nothing of the game and it shows. If parents demanded possession, they would eventually get it. Too bad they don’t even know what Possession is…..
DO: cheer, clap, and yell encouragement for skillful play not just goals
DON’T: encourage them to Boot It, Kick It, Clear It or any other command to randomly react
I tell my parents in our first parent meeting, “Cheer the result, not the action!”… And then I remind them on the sideline :).
You need to have a meeting or send out an email to the parents telling them, “There is absolutely NO coaching allowed from parents during matches. If you would like to coach, please feel free to take the necessary classes to become a qualified coach, find a team of your own, and coach away! But as for THIS team, you will not be permitted to “coach” ANY players on this team during matches. If you cannot control yourself, you will be asked to leave the field and you can watch the rest of the matches from the parking lot. Thank you for your understanding in this matter.”
If they still continue to “coach”, have your assistant coach escort them to the parking lot. They will shut up then…….a little public humiliation usually does the trick!
Please hang in there against the pushy parents. They drive other parents crazy too!! As a parent I am VERY grateful that my son’s coach has firmly mandated no instructions from the sidelines. In fact we all know that one parent is in risk of being banned from the games and chip in to remind him to can it when his emotions get the best of him. It completely changes the tone of the game and allows us to focus as a group on the good passes and runs that occur even in the face of the jungle ball teams. Also, we (the silent majority) are all rolling our eyes and truly feeling for you when “soccer expert dad” starts jawing about his precious snowflake after the game. We are all hoping you tell him to take a hike even if he takes his “star” player with him….
My recent favorite horrid parent remark was at a U7 rec game my son was refereeing. One kid was calling (appropriately) to another to pass the ball to him. The parent of the kid with the ball yelled “Don’t listen to him-you don’t have to do what he says!”
CoachJ and ASO,
Thanks for your support. However, I have in fact sent out (multiple) emails and had a parent meeting where I said no coaching from the sidelines. They ignore it, for whatever reason(s) they have, from the MLS dad down to the ghetto mom who hasn’t paid even the minimal fees for club dues (and I literally worked a club camp to pay for her son to be able to play this season). I just try and ignore it now and tell the boys to ignore their parents and just play, and if they get in trouble for ignoring their parents to let me or my assistant coach know, and we will then address the parent in question directly on the kid’s behalf. That said, last weekend a boy played a goal kick across the front of our goal that the he simply didn’t hit hard enough to get there in time to a teammate before an opponent took it in to score, putting us on the wrong side of the scoreline. The berating he got, loudly and in front of the entire park, from both of his parents was embarrassing for him and should have been for them also, but almost everyone “agreed” you should NEVER play the ball across the middle. Well, really? Where the fuck do you think the goal is, and how are you going to score if every damn pass should go to the wings? Idiots, all.
I’m not a newbie to coaching, and it is, as I said, a peculiar American thing and a sign that we do not, as is often discussed here, have a/the “culture” to develop players properly.
There is no quick fix for mom/dad yelling at their kid during games and even practices, no matter the number of emails I send or meetings we have. They simply continue doing it, and I truly feel sorry for their kids that they are so over-invested in the individual performance that they can’t see, let alone appreciate, the larger team performance and their son’s role in how it all comes together.
I am trying to do it the right way, but between the clueless parents and the “superclubs” swooping and taking every player of ability for the money, I’m hard-pressed to keep doing this much longer.
I must have a really good group of parents this year. We are on the wrong sides of the scoreline every week- but every kid is coming to practice eager and with a big smile. We have a long weekend coming up and it’s been a busy season so far so I gave them 2 of our 3 practices off and all the boys were upset. A lot of the parents speak a different language than I do so they may be coaching from the sideline, but it hasn’t been hampering the players’ enjoyment, nor their ability to learn from their mistakes.
I did tell the parents pre-season that I am paid to be the coach so let me be the coach. I went on and on about coaching from the sidelines confusing the 11 year olds, and that they just want to please everyone so it makes life for difficult for them. I also told them they are free to apply to the club to coach the team if that is their desire. And I gave them the contact info of how to go about that application.
Why are we losing? Not because we are trying something totally different than our opponents, not because we’re all much smaller. It’s a fairly enlightened league where most players and coaches are looking to try and play a good style of play, most of the time. We’re just not as good at this point in time as others at it. We’re also the smallest club in the league from a registration standpoint. Ie, we regularly play clubs with 5x the population to us. But we’re competing and improving and the gap will close! 🙂
But yes, it’s a cultural issue. Here’s where the problem is. In North America the dads and moms are watching football, basketball, and baseball all weekend – hockey too. So they think they know sports. Go watch an American football practice. See how many dads are out there coaching. Stopping and micromanaging every single moment. Then go watch a soccer practice and see how many are meekly off to the side loathe to help.
ps-American footbal should be considered abusive for anyone under the age of 13-14!! 🙂 Pushups in full gear for 8 year olds? are you kidding me!
Dr Loco says
“I’m hard-pressed to keep doing this much longer.”
FUCK you sound just like me. Where do you coach?
I had very similar experiences and had to leave the team because there was no discipline and every parent was out of control.
Right now I have a team that I built from scratch with “good” parents but after 1 year they have started changing. The demands on winning are more. Parents want the so called best for their bratty kids so are starting to look for “bigger” clubs. Parents want, want, and want but they don’t realize they have the best already.
Personally I am exhausted emotionally, psychologically, and economically.
Gary, how long should a coach be involved with a particular team?
I hear some coaches have been with the same team 8+ years but now I really do not believe it. It’s hard to imagine that I could coach the same team for more than 2 years. I do love developing players the right way but there is little patience among parents. Ideally I would like move on to high school and college players and leave the youth behind. My worries is without the youth developed properly what would I experience at the older ages?
My suggestion is switch youth coach ever 2-3 years at the top level. At lower/rec levels it’s not much of an issue. But at the elite levels its good to expose the players to different methodologies – it’s up to the club to make sure the methodology does not contradict the philosophy of play, which we here of course all hope is a smarter, technical style.
Dr Loco says
Well….you are assuming there are competent coaches what will take over.
So should I leave and let another coach expose the players to “jungle ball”?
Dr Loco says
” they were immediately taken from me the next season by the DOC/A-Licensed coach, who promptly won his first, only, and probably last state title with what I had produced before wrecking it all and making the kids play jungle ball where I had them playing the right way.”
Same shit happened although my DOC had no license and it was not a state title just some stupid league title. All the good work I did just wasted with jungle ball. Parents love it though so clubs still continue and good coaches flounder.
“Why the older youth coaches refuse to mentor the younger youth coaches”
“Oh, no we only hire coaches worse than the Director”.
I feel like shit tonight! Besides the fact that I pulled my hammy, I feel terrible for causing aghast among the coaching ranks on this blog!
Full disclosure on my part ..
Is it that obvious that I’m just a virtual wannabe youth Development parent/coach for my only child ie son who is playing Both U10 norcal silver & bronze 2 this fall with 14 other players?
Well it is true. I’m not in the trenches like a lot
of you; though, I’m a Barca team oriented advocate at my son’s soccer academy.
“The ‘moneyball’ secrets of a successful lower-div team, as explained to me today (brace yourselves, Barca fans)..
1. Never pass back to keeper, hit the ball back up field 2. Never let keeper throw it out 3. Work constantly on set pieces….
4. Create culture where shooting is the end, not possession 5. As many diagonal balls into box as poss 6. Work on shooting power..
7. Press high to regain possession in attacking half 8. Don’t lose ball in your half, if in doubt, smash it down the middle
That theory based on 75%+ goals in D2 scored from <3 passes, 50%+ scored from <1, 9 shots=1
Follow the rules, or so theory goes, & you'll get 150 'possessions' in shooting range, take 20+ shots, score 2+ goals & win 92pts!
I didn't say it was my theory! But I'm enjoying your guesses at which team tried it…let's be honest, it's about half of them
The Moneyballer ended by quoting Bob Paisley: "I don't care if it's a long ball or a short ball, as long as it's the right ball"
As vexed as I was by this, it's Trevor Brooking I worry about. A decade's work totally ignored by the 'practitioners' he appeals to
By Matt Slater @mattslaterbbc “
Know your “enemy”…
An now for something completely different…
“There are two types of football. There’s physical football and football talent. Luis Aragonés, the [former] coach of the Spanish national team, when he had three or four talented players, he lined them all up. In contrast, there are managers who having four talented players will only start two, but they’ll line up all four workers. The ones who are going to make a difference in the game are the talented ones.”
Inside Barcelona: Xavi’s passion, ambition evident on field, in person:
“I think Barcelona and the Spanish national team have been good for soccer because there are a lot of teams that come up playing from the back: with the goalie, the defense, moving up a defender to midfield, playing attacking soccer. I think fans want to see that. They want to see beautiful soccer, a spectacle, and Barcelona does that.”
“I’d like to be remembered, as a team that evolved the sport and that people enjoyed watching.”
Inside Barcelona: Xavi’s passion, ambition evident on field, in person:
Pep Guardiola teaching his soccer principles on the field:
Rough translation from catalan via castilian
The 5 basic principles of how Guardiola wants his team to play are:
1. – Offensive football . The style that Guardiola has in mind and try to convey to his players is attacking, dominating football . Want to take the initiative always, keep the ball and look for the goals. This is a risk because the exposure to dangerous counter attacks
2. – The third man. To avoid counterattacks Guardiola recommends to players that, whenever possible, seek out the companion closest to the opposition goal and pass him the ball. If there is no option to make the pass, then played it short. This concept was taught to him by Cruyff.
3. – The free man. According to the coach, that’s the key to keep the ball and the essence of the positional game. During possession, players move to find free space and get open to receive a pass.
4. – Collective zonal pressure. For Guardiola the defensive player should never be static, and he should stand between opposing players to go to different pressuring places depending on how the rival attacks
5. – Ball circulation. For Guardiola the purpose of possession “is not moving the ball, but move your opponent.” The objective should be to move the rival to a given area, and surprise it, attacking in a different, neglected space.
Pep Guardiola teaching his soccer principles on the field:
What he is actually saying..from catalan via castillian..google translator
1. always leave the risk of attack
in football, 99% of rivals say I give you the ball and hope. You do a 3-4-3 I hope.
I know that sooner or later you will lose the ball, and when I steal, I’ll hit you. This is the great drama
because the attack and defense is something attached, which can not be separated
then, everyone expects attacks to, when you lose the ball, attack
• 2. free men, the key to keep the ball.
where are the free men? from the last
through ball circulation, reach positions of attack with the possibility of getting ball to people that can imbalance as Ronaldinho or Messi
• 3. the third man and deep
What is to prevent the possibility of a turnover, we make a counterattack?
the concept that to me have taught me so much, the third man.
is to look away, to touch and open face. With this avoiding risks million
• To me, Cruyff told me: “When you have the ball, look at (player) deep. Romario, Laudrup if he plays.’s Deep”
no space? play here, play next. but the first thing to look at is if you can play along
because that, in addition to being an action in which you are attacking, avoiding million counterattacks.
• 4. move the opponent to find gaps
the intention is not to move the ball, but move your opponents. I mean, I took the ball here
because my opponent come because at the right time has come, step, step and go
this is one of the keys: take the computer where you want
football and any team sport is played on the right and the left end
play on the left, go back and play on the right
• 5. be among the contenders for the pressure
Defensive far, from my point of view, is to be among the players
no never declare that I am with him, never
• should always be between two positions. The good thing is the feeling that the player reaches the center and reaches the lateral this other player is knowing that you can get here and, if you choose, you can also get there
and that he has at his press here and press go beyond
the player who is attacking the opposing team does not know where its defense
who thinks he has no defense and suddenly, it does have because this or that arrive
From current Soccer Nation article on Manchester City Academy:
In order to help develop the great player/person, Manchester City is working on multiple levels and with multiple areas of focus. As Lowe explained, it comes down to “hard skills” and “soft skills,” and developing top players requires focus in both areas through a Talent Profile.
The Talent Profile, which on a chart looks rather like a colorful donut, breaks down the skills into three “Hardskills” (Physical, Technical and Tactical) and four “Softskills” (Constructive Self-Evaluation, Mental Toughness, Motivational and Working Traits, and Mindset). All of these skills are centered around Learning Styles, which can vary with the player.
As Lowe pointed out, while the hard skills are what are generally most apparent when scouting a player, “That’s not a great means of actually depicting how good a footballer might be.”
At Manchester City Academy, it comes down to providing the right environment to help players develop these critical soft skills because those are ultimately what make the difference between good and great. Decision making is crucial in any sport, but particularly in soccer,
Jungle ball soccer doesn’t care about above. Only size and power. ODP and National Team is same. Even on my son’s team the coach complains about players not showing skill or smarts, yet he sticks with them as starters because they are big and strong. Funny because he claims to be fan of Barcelona, yet doesn’t 100% practice what he preaches.
Not saying he’s a jerk (cause he’s not and is a good coach). More I’m saying he is human and hard for many coaches to be strict followers of tiki-taka possession and ignore bigger players who may not be as talented. Why? For short-term gain! Clubs like Barca and Manchester are looking to the future and vested interest, so they can be true to philosophy. A problem unique to pay-to-play.
Good points Kana
System incentives are certainly a major issue..as are convictions, know-how, environment, culture…it’s a daily battle out there
Also it is one thing to declare and post principles of intent, a different one to have a track record of producing a quality product…even for very rich pro academies as Man City…how many quality “possession” own academy players does Man City tend to start in their first team?
Following up on my above post: youth soccer clubs in USA have to do best with what they got. No line of hundreds or thousands of kids to choose from in privileged world of pro club Academy. Some kids don’t have right mentality, some aren’t quick learners, some just don’t have physical / agility / coordination to make it to higher levels, some still play multiple sports and aren’t committed to soccer, and the reasons go on and on . . . .
In pay to play, cards are stacked against a coach implementing true tiki-taka possession soccer due to luck of draw of players. There are outlier teams who get lucky every now and then, but by and large most teams have more than half who are average players, but for whatever reason lack some combination of hard and soft skills to succeed at tiki-taka possession. And the fallback for coaches is jungle ball to varying degrees.
Implementing tiki-taka is many times harder and time consuming than variations of jungle ball. Players / teams need to stay together and coach must be disciplined to philosophy. This is difficult to achieve in current USA club soccer as player movement is frequent, clubs lack philosophy, pressure to win, and coaches come and go and bring different philosophies.
From the outside, it seems to me this consistent, stable environment at FC Barcelona USA is what contributes to their successful teams. Interested to hear your thoughts Gary.
So true. There are many reasons for this, first our players are not used to create and play freely,
In other countries with much less resources and parks available, kids at a very young age play futbol freely in parks and corners without coaches, instructions, or referees. Just like Basket ball here in the U.S. This allows young players First, to enjoy the game,Second to play creatively. When we have player who lack creativity and are not allowed to play freely, then we rely on size and power.
Just a bit coming from someone who has been a fan of the recent push from US Soccer promoting the development of the technical skills of our players. I felt the move was in a direction that would lead into Barcelona style play. My belief has been/is that Barcelona’s ability to play Tiki Taka possession is because their individual technical skills are better than any other clubs.
Their first touch is often great. They are comfortable with the ball at their feet, regardless of pressure. They are unselfish because they know their teammate they are passing to has the ability to keep the ball, not turn it over, and that it very likely will come back to them (often important to the team’s play maker(s)). Their passing is accurate in weight and where it is played. Considering for the most part it is on the ground, that is a very basic fundamental skill demonstrated with consistent precision, something I work quite a bit on with the teams I coach. It’s a wonderful thing when it starts to occur regularly.
For the coaches experiencing frustration; are you selling what you do and promoting the hell out of it? Any change will be met with resistance. I believe the previous topic was why you got into Barcelona possession soccer? My question; was it immediate or did you have to be sold, did you have to research it, did you have to see it before you believed it?
Your passion will be your best friend and worse enemy. If you’re passionate, it’s hard for someone to counter the argument as your belief overwhelms them. Their recourse is by ganging up on you, don’t allow that to happen. If you’re passionate, you will become frustrated by those that don’t see what you now see. Sell them on what you believe. Show them the end product that will be yours given some time to develop.
I guarantee any coach that promotes direct soccer isn’t selling their concept as “hey, we’re going to run twenty 50 yard dashes with very little rest and in our games, maybe each player will be lucky to get 10 touches on the ball.” They sell winning. Once that is displaced by teams playing possession soccer, what substance can they sell their product on? Their kicks go farther? They can turn the ball over more than their opponent? They cause more injuries?
I think the move is occurring with US Soccer toward Barcelona style possession. With this site and its growing army of passionate coaches as a catalyst, the change is going to occur much more quickly than what we’re currently giving it credit for. Go viral on the positives, latch on and push forward. Each coach converted >> is a team converted >> a group of parents converted
>> a club converted >> etc.
Dr Loco says
What coaches are considered good, or even great, across the US Soccer pyramid?
Master Coach –Candidates who successfully complete the curriculum should become what Andy Roxburgh (Technical Director – UEFA) terms a “Da Vinci Coach” and be positioned to be an influential figure in the evolution of an American soccer culture.
I’m not familiar with the differences, but maybe American coaches would benefit more by earning UEFA coaching badges. Maybe this would go a long way in how the game is taught in the states.
The traditional NSCAA method obviously isn’t the answer.
I’m not a coach, but I believe the benefits and tactics of possession are taught at E & D levels, are they not? The coaches know what they should be doing, but seem to ignore this. There seems to be a big hurdle over passing the ball from keeper to the back line, which typically has the lowest level of foot skills. No one wants to turn the ball over there, but they’re happy for their keeper to punt it straight at the opposition’s most skilled attacker….
Thank you for bringing this to light. The u9,10,11, and u12 keeper will most likely have the footskills of a good u7 field player. Why else would they fall in love with the only position on the field they can play. They couldn’t compete on the field so mommy bought some gloves and magic, he is now a first team starter playing every min of every game. We should ban allowing a young player from playing “keeper” for more than 25% of any game until u13. If the back line is such an important component to “possession” soccer or working the ball from the back then explain why most coaches place their “weakest” players in defense and goal. I know this is not all but the majority. From u8-u12 the back line including the keeper tend to have below average ball handling skills. This is the reason parents on the sideline yell, “just boot it”. They can longer watch little timmy hand the ball away for another easy goal.
Will this ever change????? We should mandate no child can play with gloves more than 1/4 of each game and never 2 games in a row. This would greatly improve moving the ball out of the back as well as greatly improve the chance of a “true” keeper developing the must needed ball control at an early age.
I’m not sure whether to agree with this or to disagree.
Our U9 team has a Great Keeper, and the back line has some of our best athletes and skilled players (Although skill on our team is pretty even all around).
We also try to play out of the back, up until we hit a team with superior speed, size,and agressiveness. Then the boys switch on there own to kick and run (agains’t the coaches wishes).
I can tell you that “Possession” is NOT taught at the E License course. All they teach is how to do a training session that has a “theme” and each part of the training session builds upon the previous one. It is VERY basic and does not talk about tactics at all. The word “Possession” isn’t even mentioned let alone taught.
The D License course goes more into tactics but “Possession” is not a central theme and it certainly is not taught to those taking the course. NOBODY teaches coaches HOW to coach possession oriented soccer. I can promise you that how I coach my team to play possession soccer was not learned at a course……beacuse nobody teaches it!
The courses just teach you how to run a training session that builds up during the session…..which is fine. BUT, if you want to learn how to coach possession soccer you will NOT learn it by taking the E or D License courses.
Thanks for confirming something that I suspected all along.
follow-up .. Are there any coaching courses and/or clinics which teaches team oriented possession soccer?
Dr Loco says
I’ve spent thousands of dollars on coaching courses. They all are basically useless in practice, mainly describe organization and structure. Courses never discuss the real important “art of coaching”. I think only 20% of coaching is really about the sport. 80% is child psychology, parent education, effective communication, leadership, public speaking, and many non-tangible qualities that are difficult to learn without a true mentor.
I’m still waiting for a REAL course from Gary.
I’ve went back & reviewed some earlier blogs ..
It was mentioned soemwhere .. that BUSA U10 play like the U11; where the U9 are still a work in progress. IMO, this is the key phase & what curriculum BUSA is using for the U9s is very very important 🙂
Can you comment?
Gary Kleiban says
There is no formal curriculum (as in down in print). That’s what I am slowly developing.
At the moment, Brian is mentoring the coaches at the younger age groups.
p.s. I disagree with the U9’s being some critical age group.
you are kidding, right!? Your web site lists a bunch of club partners. what are you feeding them?
With the USSF courses, you start to get into possession themes with the C license (addressing technical issues within tactical training) and B license where the training is more functional. These licenses cover a ton of concepts, which possession oriented soccer is a culmination of many elements geared toward a certain style of play. It’s up to the coach to take from the courses what they feel is useful for their teams or philosophy. It’s simply adding tools to your toolbelt. Some of it will be useful to you, some will not, depending what your goals are.
What licenses are not, is curriculum to go back to your respective clubs/teams to start programming players with. Meaning there is not an agenda being taught to get everyone playing the style of soccer that we believe US Soccer currently is playing or gearing towards. Personally the licensing has been quite helpful in developing my coaching style and introducing coaching theory that is specific to soccer with special attention given on how to approach (teach) each age group taking into account childhood developmental differences. I think what many coaches get wrong is they try to teach young kids as if they were little adults, thus getting frustrated and worst, turning a bunch of players off to the sport.
Can’t speak of any of the NSCAA course, haven’t taken any. I think you get from any course what you want. If you’re pursuing a license, then you end with a license. If you are pursuing learning, you will learn a ton. More importantly, you get to hang out with a bunch of people that share your passion as a soccer coach from all over the world and those connections can go pretty far.
Dr Loco says
“These licenses cover a ton of concepts” Herein lies the problem!
“It’s simply adding tools to your toolbelt.” Trust me you don’t need that many tools. The simpler the better.
“you get to hang out with a bunch of people that share your passion as a soccer coach from all over the world and those connections can go pretty far.” Yes, hang out with a bunch of people doing it the “wrong” way. Connections go far if you want to get a job.
I don’t mean to insult all you coaches out there but honestly for U14 players and under all you need to teach is how not to play “jungle ball”. Everything else is just for your ego.
“Most kids don’t want to spend 30-45 minutes or more working on their control or banging a ball off of a wall” There are no coaches involved here.
Youth coaching is way overrated. Unless your players/teams are in the top 1% just apply the basics. That is roughly only 10 teams per age group per state. All the unfortunate coaches, myself included, need to just eliminate “jungle ball”.
The younger the player I agree 100%; the simpler the sessions have to be. The simpler the tactics have to be. For 4, 5, and 6 year olds, I don’t allow passing as much as their parents may tell them to. Instead of yelling at a player to hang out by their goal and play “defense” or who needs to be on the left side, right side (those of you doing that, how’s that going for you?); I simply ask the players without the ball, to get behind their teammate that has it (simple tactic). It helps prevent them from getting in their teammates’ way (soccer concept 1) or them “helping” their teammate by taking the ball away from them (concept 2). It also creates safety for the dribble by getting numbers behind the ball (concept 3) so if it is lost (concept 4), we’re already in a “defensive” position (concept 5), close to the ball to re-win it (concept 6). The player that was dispossessed knows where to run to get in support of the ball (concept 7) by getting between it and their goal. All accomplished with very little instruction coming from me (concept 8, let the kids figure it out) as a coach and in a manner than even a four year old will get it. This tactic isn’t something taught in a course, but the understanding of the concepts is what led me to developing the method. That’s what “tools” do. You become a craftsman, not an assembly line worker with one tool waiting for the next great drill to replicate. You start to create your own works of art.
If possession soccer at the Gold Standard was easy, everyone would be doing it. Jungle Soccer is much easier to teach as is the kick and chase direct soccer game. If you want quick results with unskilled players, there you go. If your job is on the line, there you go. Coming from a guy that coaches rec soccer that is not paid for what he does, who has also invested thousands of dollars and time into the craft of coaching soccer, if it was a waste of either I wouldn’t be advocating it like I am. I also understand there is no one way of developing your craft nor a singular ideology. Brian and Gary’s understanding of the game goes much deeper than any course I’ve taken and this blog with everyone’s contribution reveals many levels of understanding exposing areas of thought I once was at and areas of thought I have yet to achieve, hence why I’m here. If Brian/Gary finally put something out that is “concrete”, I believe it’s going to require every bit of conceptual understanding I can muster to come close to replicating the results they’ve achieved. If they do not, maybe I too can figure out the solution on my own by remaining a student of the game. Heck, I’ve already convinced myself I need to start learning Spanish. My choices are:
• Take courses in college (possible)
• Buy a computer program (highly probable)
• Find some Spanish speaking friends (very probable)
• Move to a Spanish speaking country (most effective, but not likely)
I have a question about your tactic of having your players stay behind the player with the ball. How exactly does this work? It seems that one player will be attacking while everyone else is behind him. I like the idea because of your explanations attached to each reason, I just need it clarified a bit more to see if I want to apply it in a practice or two. Thanks.
In our area, we play small sided soccer for U6 (3v3) and U8 (4v4); neither has a goal keeper. Often a U6 game will not be 3v3, but more like 1v5 as teammates without the ball will sometimes try to “help” by taking the ball from their teammate. I know some believe to just let the kids play at this age and by doing so, a player that learns how to take on 5 defenders may become something special when they get older. For me, it was just too much “jungle ball”. Most coaches try to sort through the mess by assigning a pseudo keeper planted on their goal and by assigning a left and a right position which without constant instruction, never works (doesn’t work with instruction either).
Instead, I’ve simply asked my players to trail their teammate with the ball. That way all players are involved in an attack. There still is herding around the ball, but it is behind it. If the player with the ball loses it, the next closest player (players determine this, not the coach) immediately presses to try and win it, and the players cycle through.
The more dominate players will still take up most of the possession but it will be dominated by skill, not speed as speed without skill on a small pitch equals the ball going out of bounds. The lesser skilled players are forced to learn how to dribble the ball under pressure, so they develop as well versus being taught early to boot the ball up field and being permanently labeled a “defender.” Granted this isn’t passing possession, it is still possession dominate on the most basic of levels, hence why 4 year olds can learn it.
In terms of how close the trailing players ought to be, don’t worry about it too much. Just remind the players to trail their teammate with the ball and they will eventually figure out spacing relative to ball/teammate which again will be useful down the road when covering shape and support relative to the pass. Most of it is self teaching with a little guidance.
One of the earlier comments was about managing parents. If you run this tactic you have to manage the parents in what they say on the sideline. If you lay out what you want and why, such as I’m trying to teach the players how to be good dribblers, ball handlers and that is the objective for the season, you may get parents to yell encouragement for their kid in support of what you are trying to accomplish in a constructive way that capitalizes on their eager support to cheer for their kids. A win/win/win for you, parents and the players.
I understand your approach and can say that over the past 15 years of coaching U6 thru U8 soccer I have seen and tried to deal with all the issues you describe above. Back when the youth modules were being first rolled out I attending the sessions for each of the age groups at the USYS national convention. Based on what the modules teach I stopped trying to teach U6-U7 to pass and instead focused on dribbling. But I started to notice that every year there were at least a few kids across the teams who could pass quite well. One year I had a set of twins that were able to pass to each other and the other members of the team quite easily. I also played against teams that had two or three Hispanic players that not only dribbled around us but also passed around the rest of the players. The module teaches that kids that age are not developmentally ready to learn passing. As I coached the older ages groups as well I started to notice that they did not do any better at passing. I never found the magical age where the light bulb went on and they started passing.
I started wondering why some of the U6s have no problem understanding the concept of passing. I watched other sports at that same age. I watched what I did with my own kids. I started really paying attention and considering what was the capacity of a 5 or 6 year old. Heck my 18 month old daughter will sit down and roll a toy school bus back and forth with me on the kitchen floor. Isn’t that passing? My 5 year old loves to go out with our track ball set and throw the ball back and forth. Sounds like passing to me.
I decided the modules and the child development concepts are wrong. Kids are far more capable than a lot of people give them credit for. If my 4 year old can go out and throw the Frisbee back and forth with me then he can learn how to pass the ball. I realized that the kids at 5 and 6 that were steps ahead where NOT extra ordinary. The kids that were ahead got that way because someone started showing them and teaching them how to do it. Someone set the expectation and demonstrated the how. We are simply setting the bar too low and not asking enough of these very capable kids.
I will tell you right up front that I came to this revelation within the last 30 days. I started making changes to my practice plans for my U7 team immediately. The first week after the change I was thrilled that the boys attempted at least 10 passes during the game. We had one break thru moment when the player taking the goal kick passed the ball wide to an open player who passed it ahead to another open player who scored the goal. Two passed that left the 4 players on the other team standing in the dust. Boy did I pump that play full of positive feedback making sure to highlight how it was accomplished. The next week we scored 4 goals directly off of passes to open players. I am now convinced that I have been doing it wrong for the past 15 years.
I can speak only to the “D” and “C’ courses, but they don’t advocate a possession-oriented style of play as the WAY to go. There are certainly topics on how to keep possession, possession vs. penetration, etc.; however, by instructors by no means say, “go back to your clubs and advocate possession-oriented” soccer. Like the “D”, it is more about making your coaching points and appropriate tactical freeze.
I learned zero at either of the coaching courses I took aside from that I was supposed to wear a shirt with a collar and stay out of the grid or I’d get points deducted on my final exam. Listen, folks: coaching courses and licenses are nothing but a union to keep OUT competitors. Do you think any NFL, NBA, or MLB coaches have to get licensed to coach? No, they don’t. They get hired and fired based on what they succeed or do not succeed in doing. There isn’t an AAU basketball coach in the country with an “A” license but somehow we have the best basketball league and players in the world? Same with football and baseball. The courses are NOTHING but anti-competitive and don’t give me the crap about UEFA licenses, either. Can you learn from them? Sure, but try telling me that making a Zidane go through a course is going to make him know any more, or less, about the game? Some people are just naturally good coaches and others get licenses to get paid more by idiot parents who just assume, “Well, he’s got an A license so…” or “That club has the most coaches with higher licenses, so…” They are part and parcel of the reason that the big clubs can, and do, get all the “best” players and we are still stuck with a shoddy level of play all across the board. Sorry for the rant before I go put my useless D-National and Youth National licenses to work with my U8s… who I couldn’t coach without said useless licenses due to the union that the USSF promulgates.
Thank you for reminding everyone what a load off crap the license process is. I’m pretty sure Cryuff and Maradona didn’t take some silly course to coach in the World cup. I don’t know for sure but would bet they didn’t.
Dr Loco says
Top license coaches get the “best” players and ruin them.
If you can swing the trip to FL, look for this coaches clinic in summer of 2013. Taught by some of the FCB Escola coaches flown in from Catalunya: http://www.fcbarcelonasoccercamps.com/2012-fcbarcelona-coaches-clinic-florida/fcbarcelona-clinic-orlando/.
Much too short (just a weekend) but they cram a lot of information and they are very generous with their knowledge. If you speak Spanish, even better, as you can really pick their brains. The Escola follows the same program as the academy and as has been mentioned here previously they are parent paid but high quality as some of their graduates go on to the professional Academy.
Thanks. I just became aware of the Florida Barca camps.
This past Summer, I enrolled my son in the Barca Summer camp that was held in San Jose. It was a life changing experience for both my son & me! They focus on the group chemistry from minute 1. From minute 2, they focus on “piggy in the middle” keep away games & passing into space.
I am going to play devil’s advocate and explain what a coaching license has done for me (not that anyone cares 🙂 ), since there is a lot of negativity toward the licensing program. Now, getting a coaching license didn’t teach me anything I didn’t already know, nor has it made me into Pep Guardiola anything. What is has done for me as a coach is, it has allowed me to promote within my club from a lower skilled league into a higher skilled league. Gaining this access to a higher skilled player pool is what has improved my coaching abilities and not the license itself, as having skilled players at my exposal facilitates in a better execution of my coaching concepts, leading to the fine tuning of my coaching craft. I am blessed to coach for a club with great facilities, a large talent base, and where the coaches are allowed to forge our own paths within the club and build our reputations. If you are a good coach, it is recognized, and you can, and most likely will, be asked to coach at a higher level. Unfortunately, the higher the level you want to coach in, the higher the license you will need. This can be seen as a negative, but I think it shows your sense of commitment and desire rather than showing an ability to coach.
Dr Loco says
“Gaining this access to a higher skilled player pool is what has improved my coaching abilities” … “leading to the fine tuning of my coaching craft.”
I think you have it backwards. The more skilled players mask coaching inabilities. This is what clubs with great facilities do. They attract the talent pool and ruin it. My Prof used to say if you can’t teach it to your grandma you don’t know anything.
“If you are a good coach, it is recognized, and you can, and most likely will, be asked to coach at a higher level.”
“11. The highest levels (from youth to pro) are full of mediocre, to thoroughly incompetent, coaches.”
You just need some dirt field and passionate kids.
Soccer in Salone
@Dr Loco – I understand what you meant when you said “I have it backwards” but I think you missed my point a bit. Either that or I didn’t explain it well enough. For me, I just started coaching 2 years ago. I have coached both types of players, skilled and unskilled, and I have coached them with the same weighted passion and desire to make them better players. Yes, skilled players can mask poor coaching, but they can also heighten a coach’s abilities as well. What I was trying to convey was, the skilled players allow for more precise and advanced coaching methods to be taught, e.g. working on tactics, triangle passing, offensive movement, defensive positioning, etc. On a different level, the unskilled player will not allow you work on those types of things; instead you will focus more on proper passing and shooting techniques, dribbling with head up, etc. That was my point. Does that make sense?
You seem to suggest that you can only be an amazing coach if you take the most unskilled players and sculpt them into Lio Messi. Even Barcelona can’t and doesn’t do that, they have a skill standard they go by, so they can fine tune that player into what they want for their club. So are they incapable coaches because they do not choose players from an unskilled player pool?
Let’s be realistic here, all clubs are full of mediocre coaches, but which club isn’t? All clubs have their great coaches as well, the one I coach for included. Not every club can be Barca where every coach can manage a World Cup team. Like I said, I am no Pep, but I do try developing kids in a manner that you and other commentators here describe, meaning I do not coach “jungle ball”. Now, how well I accomplish that is left to someone else to judge and not me.
I do agree with you 100% that all you need is a dirt field and some passionate kids, but that really doesn’t exist here in the US on a large scale, like say, playground basketball exists. So what do we have to work with? We have soccer clubs with good to great facilities and it is the luck of the draw whether or not a player gets a good coach or not, just like in any sport. I guess the major issue here is identifying great coaches and rewarding them based on their end product, and not rewarding coaches just because they have a coaching license. I want to be recognized because of the end product and not because I paid money for a coaching license.
” I am blessed to coach for a club with great facilities, a large talent base, and where the coaches are allowed to forge our own paths within the club and build our reputations”
This statement confounds me … not about the license issues … but I see it everywhere … successful clubs and many coaches “forging their own path “. I have a U9 son, frustrated as our trainer is “delaying passing until later” and I have seen a U8 group of boys communicating and saying “4 passes” then shoot. It was very nice.
Our club has over 200 teams and then has the strongest upper level with the best boys teams in the city. BUT the reality is this – Because they have so many teams sure a few fill make it to the top tier teams later – not because of good coaching but simply because they have the numbers. They have the largest pool of players, claim to “develop more players ” than any other club … but it’s no different than any other club. Now if I saw 80% of the club teams playing games of a higher caliber then their opponents … then I would be impressed. The real truth is that when you have so many bodies, you can have pathetic coaching, a few will still weather the storm and you can have a strong team at the older levels … and the best players still leave other clubs to join because of the “myth” . I am sure this has to be true in other cities.
So sadly, 95 % of the kids get shit for training and are average later.
Yes, Mark, as your club goes, so goes the country. “Development” has turned into a marketing term that has no meaning, like “New & Improved” or “Natural”.
We’re in the process of finding a new team for our U10, and I don’t think I can trust anything the coaches or DOCs say about the D word, style of play–or anything. We’ll have to watch each team play games and practice to see if they can play on the ground. They are mostly all flavors of kick-and-run.
@Mark, I think what you were trying to convey was that clubs should have one set curriculum for coaching. Is that correct? What skill level is your son? Travel, rec, etc. Interested to know if the club he plays for has a set coaching curriculum.
We are all waiting for Gary/Brian to put something together that gives other coaches CONCRETE information on how to properly teach possession soccer. In the meantime, we do the best we can.
I know I tape hundreds of Barcelona matches and watch them over and over again to learn every detail possible of how they play the way they do. I do slo-mo over and over again to see EXACTLY what they are doing. Who is making runs, who is giving support, who is finding space to be an option, how is the ball circulating out of the back…etc. Until someone comes out with something concrete on how to teach possession soccer, we do what we can and make it work.
Gary/Brian….we are waiting 🙂
Dr Loco says
Global gold standard football is “scientific”.
3four3 needs to provide a curriculum to standardize development for players U14 and under. We are all developing players in a non-scientific manner with no clear progress and accountability. By the time players are 14 they must be competent in many scientifically proven skill sets in order to progress to the top-levels.
Please help us!
Thanks everyone for good feedback. I’m home from my U8 training and with all 7 of them (2 couldn’t make it), I just let them play for the most part, in a small grid, 4v3. Two of them will absolutely not look to pass, let alone give the ball up, but you know what? Those two kids are the ones who are going to dominate/control a midfield some day. That is what so many American coaches miss/misunderstand. Yes, you can teach possession and passing but without the kids (future adults/professionals) being able to hold onto the ball to actually find the next/best pass, you’ve got nothing. It’s why I don’t get on them for dribbling all over the place while 3 defenders chase them and still can’t win the ball off of them. I was actually playing with them and passing the ball back to the goalkeeper so he had to think and play with his feet – build from the back – while his dad looked on in horror telling him to just clear it while I was telling him to control it and find the outlet. I may have lost the dad on that one, but the young man figured it out and started switching the ball away from pressure so, well, I won that one.
We also played a shooting game where I had to keep begging/reminding them to hit it on the first touch and I didn’t care if they missed the ball completely with their “off” leg (mostly left; pure biology).
You know what? They were all smiling and having a great time out there for 90 minutes. They will come back and want to be at practice working on things, and given they’re so young, that’s the point. In another year, they will mature so much mentally that I can actually get them to start playing possession ball, but for now, they’re just learning “how” to possess the ball individually and when a pass is on and they make it, great. If they don’t, I could care less and even when they intend to do the right thing they get praised for the idea/effort, not whether it was successful or not.
Slowly we go and I still have parents yelling at them (even in a 4v3 small-sided game at training) but I refuse to give it up just yet in spite of all the drama, politics, etc.
Lothar – can’t you just tell the parents to let you coach and not to scream instructions from the sidelines? I have to my parents and they parents respect it. Maybe I am just blessed to have a crop of great parents who believe in my coaching and respect my lead, but laying down ground rules before the season started has worked wonders for me and it would for you as well. I actually have a drafted Parent/Coach agreement that states that parents must avoid yelling instructions during games and practices. The only thing they are to do is to encourage and defnitely not to coach.
As I mentioned previously, the parents don’t listen. I’ve sent emails, had private conversations, and they all have signed a club agreement to that effect.
It is, as I said, a peculiar American problem. They aren’t even paying all that much ($35 state fee for player card, $50 for a 10-game league fee) but I can’t get them to stop so I just tell the kids to ignore their parents. However, that’s not enough as the kids will still listen to dad (usually) and mom (occasionally) but the fact of the matter is that until and unless the parents are not paying ANYTHING for their kids to play, the clubs/coaches are at their mercy to some extent. There is something wonderful in being able to tell an unruly/uncooperative parent who insists on trying to do your job (that I am doing for free, in fact, as a volunteer): “Guess what? You can’t shut up so your kid will never play for Manchester United. Go home and enjoy your life. Your mouth may have just cost you and your son 50 thousand pounds/dollars a week in wages down the road.” THAT would make a difference. As it stands, most parents are paying a lot of money to be at the “big, best” clubs and even those fools don’t shut their mouths. Trust me, I used to be at the biggest club in this state and when Doctor Daddy and Lawyer Mommy are paying for Super Johnny to play, they WILL run their mouths no matter what license you have and take their money for having, whether they truly believe you’re a better coach or not for having it – it’s a freaking social stratification/identification thing here. Hell, there are parents shelling out hundreds of dollars a month so their U8 can play in the eighth team of 80 players in the academy just so they can buy their “Club FC” sweatshirts for Super Johnny to wear to school and they can tell all their friends at cocktail parties the boy does, in fact, play for that club – whether he’s any good or not.
Lothar, this problem is everywhere, and you are right about the solution. Last year, I was discussing this topic with an LA Galaxy Academy parent, who told me a story about one of their teams. It seems there was such a parent on one of their academy teams, and he was particularly obnoxious. In addition, his son was the best player on the team. Allegedly, the Galaxy kicked the kid off the team because his obnoxious, know-it-all father wouldn’t shut up.
Now THAT sets an example. I would argue that you can do this in a “pay to play” system, as well. You just need gonads.
In our current club, as parents we all sign agreements at the beginning of each year promising not to do this stuff, yet still about half of the parents on our team run up and down the sideline, marshalling the troops on the field. The other half of the team rolls their eyes, just as someone described here earlier. The coach obviously doesn’t like it, but he doesn’t want to step on any important patron’s toes– he wants to keep his job.
Some of these people have no clue about the sport, but, as you describe, they are economic alpha dogs, so they feel an entitlement shove it up there on everyone else. Several years ago, one of my boys was thrown off a team at another club because I confronted just such a parent, who was coaching my kid during a game (his kid was the “backbone” of the team). They thought I was the disruptive one.
As I said, the clubs need a set of gonads to solve the parent problem. As always, it starts at the top.
Dr Loco says
Got this email.
Personally I do not believe kids can play very well on their own with limited instruction. They just resort to “jungle ball” unless they have a higher understanding of the game passed on from their family, culture and environment.
Chad Ponie says
Coaching possession style soccer is not enough, it’s the beginning, but still not enough. You can coach possession all you want but that won’t get you goals. The most lacking skills in the US game which I see are in the build up and finishing aspects of the game. Look at the USMNT. There have been games where they have had good possession of the ball, not Barca-esque, but possession nonetheless, However, they are completely impotent in the final third of the pitch. Possession, yes, but it has to end with a finish on goal or at least an attempt on goal. Possession leading to the build up, leading to a finish of explosive, creative, and deadly precision is what is needed. Through balls behind the defense, short creative wall passes in our opponent’s goal box, perfectly weighted floating passes over the defensive line, crosses leading to headed goals, dink passes, chip shots, etc, all absent from our game. It is rare to see our Nat’l team score a goal not from a set piece or from a defensive mistake of which we capitalize on in the form of a random tap in. Until finishing skills are better coached, I am afraid we will be developing players who can hold onto the ball but can’t take it to the next level and create quality chances and finishes on goal.
Reading a manual will not teach you how to coach possession soccer or any other type of soccer frankly. Putting cones and looking all organized is great, but it is about coaching the drill that is key. Knowing how and when to make coaching points, demonstrating what you want, allowing players to play and figure things out, not stopping the session too many times but enough times to get your message across. Anybody can put a bunch of cones out , but getting what you want out of the session simply takes time, patience, and lots of trial and error. You can be working on possession in a 4v4 grid, but you make the grid too big and the teams are holding possession wonderfully…..you may think everything is going well but when your team plays on the weekend, you realize they cant keep the ball because they cant deal with the pressure and the opposition shutting down space. i see too many sessions where the organization is good but the players are not being corrected and basic things are let go.
This is a topic that has surfaced, been either dispelled or agreed upon; that the US doesn’t have enough street/open soccer opportunities and the reason we excel so much at basketball and not soccer. So let’s look at this from a different perspective; how is Spain/Barcelona doing in basketball?
In a short period of time Spain has progressed in basketball to now only be second to the US. In a few years, it’s conceivable they may possibly surpass the US considering the last Olympics. Their structure to youth basketball is similar to how their training is from their clubs for soccer, which is infinitely more organized than youth basketball is in the US with an emphasis in teaching basketball versus just playing games.
If soccer is more organized than most any other sports in the US, we have more kids playing soccer in leagues than any other country, and Spain has demonstrated that a club organized model can be used to progress a sport in their country that is native to ours and produce results; then what is holding US Soccer back? It’s going to come down to what we teach and our understanding of how to teach it. We have to know the fundamentals of our craft and how you achieve that knowledge base (playing experience, coaching experience, courses, etc); will be unique to you, no better no worse. The more you learn, most likely the better you are going to be. This requires you, as a coach to remain a student of the game and not limit yourself to any one idea because that is one of the reasons why “jungle ball” is so prevalent in the US in spite of everything going our way to achieve something much greater.
There are a lot of theories floating around this site, in this post, and others that try to explain why the US is lagging in soccer.
Gary even begins this post by implying that our problem is not a lack of quality players, but rather that we are selecting the wrong players. We float ideas about bad coaching, bad culture, a lack of unified playing style. We talk about our kids not playing enough (My personal favorite).
The basketball analogy is good, because it asks the right question. However, when I hear about Kobe Bryant, or Lebron James, I don’t think, “boy they must of had really good youth basketball coaches” (Kobe grew up in Italy, not sure how many years). I don’t think “US Youth Basketball is really good”. Mostly I think Kobe worked his but off and was totally driven. I don’t think about the system, I think about the person.
I got no answer, but I am going to motivate my son to work hard, really hard, and to be passionate about the game. Ultimately, though, it will be up to him.
An interesting piece, and again, one of the reasons I read this site and comments – to expand my mind. However, as a native of Indiana and who grew up in Kentucky where basketball is religion in the same way soccer is in the rest of the world, I can assure you that basketball development and soccer development end at about, oh, 6v6 (5+GK) in soccer.
Can you call a timeout in soccer? Do you get TV timeouts every 2 minutes to script plays? Are you playing in literally 1/3 the distance, all the time, and the equivalent of being inside the penalty box on every possession? Can you set a pick-and-roll to get a striker open for a shot on goal? No, no, no, and no.
I understand the learning aspect of it – how to teach, etc., but there is simply no comparison between the two games at the professional level. and even trying to do so is not going to help soccer development here. And I say that quite respectfully, in case I haven’t been clear.
They are two completely different games even if they may look similar to some extent at the small-sided soccer games kids play, but not on a full field of 11v11.
By the way, Indiana basketball is going to kill it this year and Kentucky, while cheaters throughout (personal experience growing up; long stories) will be up there again. 🙂
Dr Loco says
Thank you for the basketball article.
“Their structure to youth basketball is similar to how their training is from their clubs for soccer, which is infinitely more organized than youth basketball is in the US with an emphasis in teaching basketball versus just playing games.”
I have been involved with AAU basketball for a year now and have witnessed the lack of player development and high costs. I know I’m “loco” but my goal is to marry soccer and basketball player development. I train a basketball team and cross-train a soccer team. The results have been impressive.
At U8 I took unskilled players that nobody wanted. We started at low bronze level. My challenge is to make them a premier team by U12. It is a bitch but I seem to be on the right path.
3four3 give me more!!!
You’re on the right track. i believe the two sports are very interlinked (as is hockey). Its about reading space, timing of “runs”, passes, understanding passing lanes, support positions.
See this article:
Dr Loco says
TDSoccer, good stuff thanks.
“Foot skills, naturally, apply well to basketball. Nash once said that when he began to play basketball after years of playing soccer, it almost felt unfair to be able to use his hands.”
It does seem like many young basketball players are like fish out of water.
great points. Agree. The Spaniards take an ‘academic’ approach to teaching the game. Basketball is largely a pickup sport in the states. Nothing wrong with unstructured play. But you have to teach the game.
Granted, soccer is way more complicated and fluid than basketball.
That said, the terms “academy” and “club” have been largely bastardized in the states.
We need more ‘soccer schools’ (that are heavily subsidized so that cost isn’t a factor for the students) that teach fundamental technique and the basics regarding tactics.
learning to play correctly takes precedence over everything else.
“The Spaniards take an ‘academic’ approach to teaching the game.” Soccer is played with the brain and your #1 weapon on the pitch is your brain. These are famous sayings. Any wonder why Spain is so good? American soccer is played with size, power, speed. Any wonder we aren’t as good?
I would add Hall97 Spain sticks to their philosophy on the pitch and in player selection. But remember we are comparing Spanish professional clubs to youth clubs in USA. Again, WE ARE COMPARING SPANISH PROFESSIONAL CLUBS TO YOUTH CLUBS IN USA. The money, conveyor belt of youthful prospects, experience level of coaching staff, and vested interest in developing professional level players is vastly different. As big as the Atlantic ocean that separates us!
Academy = a higher level of learning in a special school of instruction. The Academy model in USA is to do that as part of a youth club. EU and SA model attaches soccer higher learning to professional club, which is the special school of instruction. We think because we use “Academy” for USDA, it’s equivalent to EU and SA . . . It’s not!
The gap between youth soccer and professional soccer “Academy” is as big as the ocean’s that separate us. MLS needs to step in. They are inferior to EU and SA, but better incubator than club soccer. And when MLS ups the ante on playing quality, it will in turn up the ante on youth development. At least in theory.
Great points Kana.
However, it is important to keep in mind that many of the MLS coaches/decisionmakers come from the ‘typical’ American youth club/college environment.
In other words, they have brought their bad habits and lack of knowledge with them.
My son plays SCDSL in SoCal. U15 Flight 1. We have a center mid and forward problem. Center mid plays jungle ball or lack passing. Forwards are all energy and no skill or tactics. The coach wants to make change, but stuck with team he has. Dumb ass parents of big players want to play jungle ball and complain to coach. They don’t understand tiki-taka, just jungle ball.
I would say there are maybe about 5 or so players at U15 I consider seriously good players. And on most teams there are maybe 1-3 advanced level players. This is the normal curve of statistics. Most are average and outliers on either side (very good, very bad). This applies to coaching as well.
Spain and La Masia are talked about a lot on this blog. We are worlds apart. I agree with Gary that our competition is the world (he mentioned in different thread), but we aren’t in that league. We need perspective. Understand where USA soccer is and isn’t. For us to compare to La Masia, we need to get out of elementary school and not think about a PhD soccer develoopment. We can dream it , compare to it, but can’t live it as we are still young and inexperienced as a soccer nation.
Youth clubs in America need to be more selective about adding players to team. But we fill rosters for profit. Once we are selective, teach them how to play proper soccer and just play tournament after tournament. Teach them how to be A+ soccer knowledge and not jungle ball. If La Masia didn’t select players with right mentality, tiki-taka would be nothing. You need to be smart, patient, composed, able to read game to play tiki-taka. American soccer clubs seem to have attention deficit and myopic vision with long term development goals.
Coaching (or lack of) is biggest problem if you ask me. Spain and rest of Europe have a right-skew on coach, not normal curve. That is, they have more top class coaches at their academies teaching hand selected players. We have coaches with low level soccer education and knowledge and not very high playing level when they were younger. Compare to Europe where many coaches came up on professional academy.
What you say is true, but so what. Are we supposed to just throw up our hands and give up? The purpose of knowing how Barca and other first rate academies work is to take what is applicable or adaptable to the environment that we operate it. If you don’t know the “gold standard” than you can’t strive to achieve it.
I believe that many of the best practices of Barca, the Dutch and Spanish youth development systems can be applied here if people are creative in their thinking.
The areas you have to address:
1) Coaches’ education. How do you get high quality, knowledgable coaches who know the gold standard, know how to select players and develop players to the gold standard?
2) Funding for playing so “pay to play” is not an issue.
3) Developing a network of other coaches/teams that coordinate rules, etc that favor long term development over winning.
4) Refereeing. Developing refs that call the game in such a way that nurtures development (think about how Spanish and Dutch refs call youth games vs. American refs-it makes a difference).
These all seem to be major problems that are insurmountable, but in fact, they are not with a little creativity. I have personally seen places that have already moved to overcome these problems.
Convince the Kleibens to host a conference where these issues (and others) are discussed.
I am going to offer a new concept/direction for all after several seasons with my U9 son … I know many of the theories … all I do is read about youth development AND also use my own imagination. So this will be long and lets realize – there are the standard arguments against some of my ideas … but unless you have had two similar groups of young kids, trained them two different ways and compared the teams 5 years later … unless you have done this, than any criticism are just theories.
I am letting my thoughts go forward having read this – —-
Dr Loco says:
October 5, 2012 at 11:00 am
Global gold standard football is “scientific”.
3four3 needs to provide a curriculum to standardize development for players U14 and under. We are all developing players in a non-scientific manner with no clear progress and accountability. By the time players are 14 they must be competent in many scientifically proven skill sets in order to progress to the top-levels.
Please help us!
******* So I am offering help. I will state fro the record that I have no license and can only advise for the lower levels … it’s probably too late for older kids to try this stuff … like the car dealer looking for “salespeople” that have never sold cars before … you already have been programed”
I also have been waiting for the magic bullet from 3four3 … but I don’t see it anytime soon… so I am starting the conversation. I love reading all this stuff … but let me start the new Soccer Bible.
Thoughts will be scattered … and more in depth if asked … but I am giving it a shot.
Simply put, I have seen many groups of boys at camps, games and practices … and elemental simplistic notions about what soccer is are nowhere to be seen.
Two truths – kids do not free play enough and there isn’t enough time during practices. Because of this, and until it changes – practice time is very precious.
Every time I have watched a session, I ALWAYS tweak the drill I see and can figure out how to achieve the same goal with more touches and movement in what I call a more “organic” method – like soccer – not static or standing in lines … but with movement.
LEARN FROM WHAT WE DO WELL … Back to free play – in basketball, a kid will start shooting, eventually a friend will show up, they both shoot ( and dribble) and move around. Then they do a little 1v1 eventually. So from the beginning they start learning the whole activity – dribble, move, shoot and an attempt to defend. As more kids show up, the same but passing is added and they learn to spread out – you can’t do shit if it’s too crowded.
After several hours,days, months – they might get on a team – but they already figured it out on their own.
With soccer, it’s the opposite – lines, drills, positions yelling coaches and idiot parents.
I HAVE SIMPLY SEEN, EVERY TIME A GROUP OF YOUNG KIDS GET TOGETHER – THEY HAVE NO FUCKING CLUE WHAT TO DO – NO CLUE HOW TO PLAY THE MOST BASIC FORM OF SIMPLE SOCCER.
SO …. practice has to be as similar as possible in the early stages to what free play should be. Yes, exactly what I said. let two kids pass, let them learn a move ( start with a simple cut or fake and then cut ) and try it , let them be a team and shoot a goal and let them go 1v1. VERY MINIMAL INSTRUCTIONS.
And let them all do this at the same time, spread out – get rid of the lines!
Teach them how to go the length of the field with a ball, each kid takes several steps then they pass on the 5th or 6th …each has a ball – they switch. Now they learn to pass while moving.
Then simple keep away, 2v1, them 3v1, 3v2 and so on as they get better. Eventually have 2 with the ball vs. 3 then 4 trying to take it away. Hell, when you can do this – a game situation will be cake. So ever so slowly, make practice situations harder than game situations.
OF COURSE THIS WILL TAKE TIME –
Yes, teach them simple moves, let them repeat slowly, go the length of the field and then the last 10 yards let them go at the goal and kick it in. CONNECT THE DOTS. Later, have a parent be a defender in the last 10, they have to go around that person then shoot.
Then teach them another move next week ,,, show them the first step about properly defending a player coming at you, let them work on this as the defender backs up slowly, attacker practices his move – then goes to shoot.
Funny thing about passing, gets the head up, “weighting” of the pass starts to develop as wall as accuracy …. AND “touch” is being developed. And like the kid playing basketball alone, he DRIBBLES while he moves and changes positions to shoot – NATURALLY.
Allowing kids to move and pass to each other will cause those small touches to happen because they are constantly adjusting the ball to pass it back.
I AM SO TIRED OF SEEING YOUNG KIDS WITH OK FOOT SKILLS TRY TO DO SIMPLE PASSES – AND IT SEEMS LIKE THAT’S A WHOLE DIFFERENT GAME … AND WHEN THEY DO PASS … NO ACCURACY AND NO DISTANCE CONTROL … AND THE RECEIVER HAS TERRIBLE TOUCH.
PASS, DRIBBLE ( try some moves ), SHOOT GOALS, LEARN TO GO WITH THE BALL and learn to create a shape ( triangle or square ) and move as a group …. learn to move as a unit then once in a while someone shoots at the goal …WOW, SOUNDS LIKE SOCCER … AND LOOKS LIKE SOCCER
Sure, I’m sarcastic, but in our second year of club soccer, I see all the short comings of traditional soccer training. I also see how the simple things I do with my son have created well balanced left and right feet, he drops the ball at his foot during drills at practice, is by the far at passing accuracy and distance … and I realized this the past summer when at 8 he was with 10 and 12 year old players … and his touch was better than 90% – and these were all club players.
Then, to watch MLS slop – it’s what we deserve.
LETS FACE IT, WE DO NOT PLAY SOCCER IN THIS COUNTRY … WE PLAY SOCCER DRILLS AND WONDER WHY THE GAMES ARE HORRIBLE.
It’s not everything, it’s a plea to keep it simple, offer all the pieces and a bit of knowledge along the way – from day one. And soccer is a fluid game – practices usually are not.
Later I would love to tell you about the “Hyper” passing drills I have in my head – again, game situations would be cake – and they would get 5 times as many touches as in a normal soccer practice.
Dr Loco says
“Youth clubs in America need to be more selective about adding players to team. But we fill rosters for profit.”
We definitely fill rosters for profit. I see many youth teams where you have good players playing with bad players, young players with older players, girls with boys. There is no real thought into selecting players for a team. Just pay, buy a uniform and put them on the same team.
I don’t want to win a state, regional, or national title. Therefore, I just select players with the same qualities as the other players on the team. I don’t want players that are too good or too weak. Players need to be on the appropriate team based on their level of development.
The rest can all be taught at the youth level. You don’t need to worry about a ‘proper’ mindset or selection of players who are best in a particular style. Coaches are not selecting the wrong players. All players that are passionate for the sport are the correct players. It is up to qualified coaches to not interfere with the development process but only enhance it.
At the professional and national level select all you want. Let the youth learn until they are ready to be selected.
Im tired of reading the same thing over & over
About how incredibly great the barca and the EU’s youth system is. If this is so guys, then someone please explain to me why they spend millions & millions each year buying young players from south america ? These TOP players worth Millions are produced mainly in Argentina, Brazil etc. then exported. My guess is that the best youth soccer formation is not comming from the EU. They just pay the big bucks for them.
There is no doubt that South American countries produce many great players. And there are some great centers of player development, such as Rosario in Argentina, However, I believe that South America (and especially Brazil) produces soccer talent less because of its structured youth development programs, which lag overall, than the sheer numbers of talented players that are developed in less structured environments. I would equate it to basketball in the U.S. where youth development in basketball in the U.S. is atrocious (AAU) but the U.S. still produces great players because they develop largely outside any structured developmental program.
In a perfect world, it would be a combination of both.. lots of street soccer melded with great development programs. However, in the U.S., player development relies less streetball and more on structured programs, so its more instructive to look to European development models that are similar.
However, as I said above, there are some unbelievable hotbeds of soccer development in Argentina that would be well worth studying. And the same in Spain and the Netherlands. Barca and Ajax get all the attention, but there are other clubs and youth programs, far well less known, that are doing fantastic jobs at the local level in those countries (and other countries)creating superb players.
Identify them, study them, apply or adapt what would work for the environment in which you operate.
Soccer is a world sport. European clubs have the big bucks, hence they buy best talent. And many come from SA. That doesn’t mean EU doesn’t develop to players. If you go lower than 2nd or 3rd tier league clubs in EU, vast majority are local lads. Why? Because a 4th tier team can’t buy talent from overseas. Bottom line is EU and SA are great at developing talent capable of playing in top leagues . . . which happen to be in EU. Simple supply and demand at work.
@Paul. I respect your opinions but you don’t think Barca’s youth system is incredible? What about Benfica’s, Ajax’s, and Bayern Munich’s? Monetary worth does not mean a player is amazing. Andy Carrol sold for 35million and look at him. Torres for 50million! Yes, Oscar and Moura, just sold for huge amounts but who knows if they will be worth it? Moura isn’t even playing for PSG and probably won’t for a long time! The one young PSG player who is is playing is Marco Verratti and he is Italian. These rich clubs are just hoarding the youth so no one else will have them. No development at all, just hoarding. So which top players are you referring to? Neymar, Damiao, Ganso? not top players and not yet sold to the EU market. Moura, Oscar, ? Not even close. Hulk? If Hulk was amazing, he wouldn’t be playing for Zenit. The top young players are currently from the EU. Maybe a decade ago South America produced the cream of the crop, but now EU is where it is at. Look at Belgium. They have amazing talent. Hazard, Fellaini, Vertonghen, Vermaelen, Lukaku, Witsel, Kompany, Dembele, Courtois. Spain has developed….well everyone knows who. France and Portugal? Do I have to list them? Argentina and Brazil are lagging behind right now…in my opinion.
@ Chad. I do believe Barca’s system is incredible as a Professional Futbol Club, BEST team I’ve seen, but we are talking about youth development, and so we should be talking about a minimum of the past 10 years, since we can not predict the future 10.
Which top player am I talking about ? really ? I don’t believe the players you mentioned can be considered as international TOP players but that’s just my opinion. Since you mentioned PSG well how about Pastore, Lavezzi, Maxwell Thiago Silva. Other REAL top players : Messi, Dani Alves, Mascherano, Alexsis Sanchez, Higuain, Di Maria, Marcelo, Zanetti, Tevez, Aguero, Forlan, Lugano, Thiago, just to name a few, I could win the World Cup over and over again with just these players developed in South America.
Neymar already has been pre sold to Barcelona for 50 mil. and that not the final number. There are many other future promises, like Lamela, Ocampos, Mauro Caballero, Douglas Costa, Danilo, Lucas. All I’m saying is that I can admire Barcelona’s system, style of play, players etc. but come on ! Take out Messi from the team and lets see just how great they are.
@ TDSOCCER. You’re absolutely correct on the basketball soccer comparison. Also remember that U.S soccer is very very young, it has not been culturally inserted in our veins yet.
Aren’t they called the Spanish Men’s National Team when you take out Messi? They can usually be counted on to get out of the group stage of whatever tourney they are in 🙂
Dr Loco says
“U.S soccer is very very young”. It’s not that young. In fact it’s rather old. Soccer is much younger in other developing countries.
“it has not been culturally inserted in our veins yet” You really mean our various cultures does not bleed “red”, “white”, and “blue”.
Do you know of any US soccer teams before the New York Cosmos 1968 ?
Basketball, Baseball, Football bleed red, white & blue. Unfortunately soccer or futbol not yet.
History of US Soccer from USSF up to 1967:
The American Football Association was organized in Newark, N.J., uniting the numerous metropolitan area enclaves of the East to maintain uniformity in the interpretation of rules and provide an orderly and stable growth of soccer in America.
The U..S. and Canada played a game a year against each other, representing the first “international” soccer games to take place outside the British Isles.
The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was formed in Paris on May 21. Charter members included: France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. The International Board, the authority over the rules and their interpretation continued under the jurisdiction of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, even though they were not affiliated with FIFA. The Olympic Games of 1904 in St. Louis included soccer as an official Olympic sport where club teams competed under the national team banner. FIFA did not become active in Olympic soccer until 1908.
FIFA became a member of the International Board, increasing their influence on the interpretation of rules. The U.S. Football Association (USFA) was granted provisional membership by FIFA on Aug. 15.
The USFA was incorporated under the laws of the state of New York, May 30, and was granted full membership in FIFA at the annual congress at Oslo, Norway, June 24.
The first USFA Men’s National Team traveled to Norway and Sweden. The Americans played six matches on this tour, finishing 3-1-2.
Bethlehem (Pa.) Steel became the first American professional team to play in Europe when they toured Sweden.
The original American Professional Soccer League (APSL) began. Franchises were granted to Fall River, Mass.; Philadelphia; Jersey City Celtics, N.J.; Todd Shipyard of Brooklyn, N.Y.; New York FC; Falco FC of Holyoke, Mass.; and JP Coats of Pawtucket, R.I.
The world’s first indoor soccer league with 11-a-side teams on a full-sized field opened the winter season at the Commonwealth Calvary Armory in Boston.
The USA was one of 13 nations to compete in the first FIFA World Cup competition in Montevideo, Uruguay. Bert Patenaude (Fall River, Mass.) was the third-leading scorer in the tournament and was the first player to tally three goals in World Cup play.
At the 10th Olympiad in Los Angeles, soccer was eliminated due to a controversy between FIFA and the IOC over the definition of an amateur and the reluctance of most of the strong soccer countries to travel to California because of the expense involved.
West Chester State College and Salisbury College played in the first intercollegiate soccer game under floodlights.
The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) was organized by 10 coaches attending the annual meeting of the Intercollegiate Soccer Football Association of America in New York.
The USFA changed its name to the U.S. Soccer Football Association (USSFA).
Joe Gaetjens’ goal lifts the USA over England 1-0 at the World Cup in Brazil. It was called the biggest upset ever in international soccer. The first college bowl game was played in St. Louis Jan. 1. Penn State University tied the University of San Francisco 2-2. The National Soccer Hall of Fame was organized by the Philadelphia Old-timers Association. There were 15 inaugural inductees.
In an agreement with the Old-timers Soccer Association, the USSFA assumed administration of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
The American Soccer League (ASL) was granted permission from the USSFA to create an International Soccer League (ISL), made up of top-class European, South American and U.S. professional league teams that would operate in the cities throughout the United States.
The first NCAA championship tournament was held in Storrs, Conn. St. Louis defeated Bridgeport University 5-2. The first National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics college championship was held in Slippery Rock, Pa.. Pratt Institute was victorious over Elizabethtown College 4-3.
The International Soccer League began play under the sponsorship of William Cox and the ASL. For more than a decade foreign teams visited the USA to play American teams. The new league, composed of first class European, British and South American teams, was an attempt to test the support of American soccer fans for a top-flight league.
The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), the governing body of soccer in this part of the world, was recognized by FIFA.
Two new major professional leagues made their debut in the USA, the USSFA-sanctioned United Soccer Association (USA) and the independent National Professional Soccer League (NPSL). By the end of the year, the leagues merged at the request of FIFA and the North American Soccer League (NASL) was established.
The modern game and explosion of the sport in USA really starts in 1990.
Dr Loco says
Japan, Ghana, Croatia, Korea seem to be developing some talent. How old are their soccer leagues?
Are there national teams that have no playing league in their country? If so, how do they compare to the US?
Curious what happened to US soccer between 1967-1990?
I’ve been to Japan and Korea on business travel. Drive around and you see soccer fields all over. The J-Leage and K-Leage are big and well supported. If you read “Soccer Nomics”, it predicts these countries to be soccer powerhourses in near future. I liken Japan and Korea to Germany — great work ethic, committment, build in mentality to do things right. Japan and Korea are also big on group think. Do what’s best for the group as opposed to individual in USA. I have no proof, but think this helps them focus on proper development versus short-term win now in USA.
@Paul. yes of course those players. I was only referencing the younger South Americans that everyone is talking about and the ones that have recently sold.
A thought (or two) on developing defenders.
If you look at past history, you will notice that the most elite central defenders have been Italian. That’s the consensus anyway. Along with Argentines and Brazilians. (With a few brits mixed in…but I digress for a moment..)
Germany also has some currently ranked up there.
Puyol and Pique are the only current or even past Spaniards receiving accolades.
With the italians (Maldini is my favorite) is that because of their style of play?
Brazil, Spain and Argentina are generally considered proponents and traditionally been attacking sides.
Anyone have any thoughts/opinions on this? I have my own theories. But they are just that. Theories.
Tim S. says
Gotta be honest and disagree with much this stuff about teaching, coaching, developing players that are 2nd or 3rd team players. I have been around soccer my entiire life and never have I never seen a player after 12 years older ever outperform his peers he struggled against since 8 years of age. The reality of player development is most often a coach takes/gets more credit then they deserve. A coach spends 4 hours a week with a 9-12 year old and he deserves credit for making a kid better. This is nonsense!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A child 12 and under spends 80% of his time playing away from his coach and often teammates, the better players anyway. So why give so much credit to the coach??? Coach “A” coached 5000 kids at 10 years old but only developed 1 professional player. Did he not explain the same soccer ideas to the other 4,999? Of course he did but they just didn’t have it! Perhaps they didn’t have the mental, physical, or emotional or perhaps they didn’t have the technical or tactical or perhaps lacked the determination or desire. Something was missing and shouldn’t be blamed on the coach and for the 1 that had “it”, Well they shouldn’t take or deserve credit for that child either. Can’t have it both ways. Lets give credit to the kid and his devoted parents. Much more important before 12 then the local coach or club.
Dr Loco says
Let me add a correction. The average child 12 and under spends 0% of his time playing away from his coach and teammates.
“A coach spends 4 hours a week with a 9-12 year old and he deserves credit for making a kid better.” That is why I keep saying most youth coaching is overrated. There are a few exceptional coaches that actually accelerate player development but most just interfere with it. These exceptional coaches are following a scientific method whether they realize it or not.
” I have been around soccer my entiire life and never have I never seen a player after 12 years older ever outperform his peers he struggled against since 8 years of age. ”
Maybe that’s because we as a country do a terrible job of finding those late-bloomers that CAN make the grade. We know they’re out there.
Given the very poor returns for all that has been invested over the past 20 years, and the very low soccer IQ of our current crop of players, I don’t think past performance should be indicative of future results.
Tim S….. i agree with what you are saying if I understand it correctly, to summarize it, there is not enough “unstructured play” with our kids. Too many cones, private academies popping up everywhere and claiming they are developing the player. I played with so many talented players but most of them went nowhere because of one simple fact, “DESIRE and COMMITTMENT”, that is something no coach can teach nor develop. Our job as coaches is to culture and enhance what the kid has in them.
Here is an example, there was a local boy here that signed with Barcelona about 2 years ago. The parents moved to Spain etc… When the news came out, every team and academy this kid was ever associated with put his picture on their website claiming the player to be their product. So i know what you are trying to say, the right answer is that everyone contributed to this kids development, staring from U6, more impotently, the kid wanted and his parents provided the right environment….. the story ends with the player coming back after one year, sources say Barca felt they made a mistake in their selection.
@Mario, Lederman is no longer a Barca player?
wrong player, i cant remember the last name for the life of me, and this kid is Canadian
NOVA Mike says
Gianni Patino? http://www.canada.com/topics/sports/story.html?id=78812c6c-48b9-4442-a9c0-9e5021543e3f&k=52199
According to some people here it turned out to be kind of a scam. Solicited donations and sponsors, buot into FCBEscuela – the pay-to-play school — not the Academy. . http://www.cansoc.org/showthread.php?41045-update-on-giancarlo-patino-at-barcelona/page3
Yes, that is him, thanks! the real deal came out when he returned.
Anyways, the point of my post was regarding coaches taking credit for “developing players”. I guess the merits of this boy’s case is a discussion for another thread.
Hall97….defenders are not what they used to be, nowadays defenders need to be good technically and have the ability to play like midfielders. The game is so much more technical, fast, and cognitive that the look of a defender has changed dramatically in the past 6 years alone. if you look at the 2006 world cup with Cannavaro who was player of the tournament, and then compare him with Spain in 2010 with their defenders..completely different types of players, not sure if Cannavaro would have made the starting line up! Defenders these days are more converted midfielders than real defenders. The days of Franco Baresi, Metzelder, Stilike (Germany 1982) are over. The general traits of a good defender are one who shuts down space quickly, patience with 1v1 and understanding of other outnumbered situations. Of course, aggressiveness and tackling are key attributes and ability to win balls in the air, reading the game but a huge component these days is can he play with his feet? some of the best players on a team are fullbacks these days.
i do not believe size is a big of an issue as some people, i just gave an example of Cannavaro, Puyol, not big guys at all. If look at other big defenders, Rio, Lescott, John Terry, big boys but not exactly great defenders because they are not good with their feet. They do reasonably well in the EPL, but internationally they struggle.
if you have a player on your team that is tenascious on the ball, shuts down space well, and can play when in possession contributing to the offence, you might have a good future defender on your hands.
Thanks Mario. My U15 son has recently ‘converted’ to a centerback/fullback. He’s always been a central midfielder until now. Including his state select team. I was a little concerned at first. But the reality is he has adjusted exceptionally well.
For many of the same reasons you listed above. He has the skill set of a midfielder but reads the game, has the athleticism and positional sense of a centerback. He’s fairly tall (just under 6 feet and still growing) but I think height is a secondary consideration.
Definitely not a one dimensional, ‘pure destroyer’ type of player. I think he will actually stand out there more than he would as a midfielder. Why? Because most American centerbacks are too one dimensional. Win and strictly clear the ball types.
He brings the ball out and initiates the buildup play. Even (intelligently) gets forward. Like Pique and Vermaelen for example. His brain though is his greatest asset.
Fullbacks have been getting forward for awhile now. But the modern, effective centerback has to be able to control and distribute the ball.
Hall97…you raise a good point where your son was a centre midelfielder and now a CB of FB. I am going to assume that he played CMF because he was the best player on the team?, but his attibutes were more of a defensive midfielder. You have described my 13 year old, same type of player. I find coaches play their best players in positions to “solidify” the team rather than play the player in posiitions according to his attributes where he can excel (i am talking about U12 and older mostly). I have this battle all the time, even with my own asst. coaches, where they think a player should play in a given position because it helps the team, but it is not that player’s real position. I think a real disservice is given to the player to not allow him/her to perfect their positon once they reach an age that they need to become experts at their postion. This is one of the reasons perhaps we do not develop true “artigians” of any position, like a Pirlo, Iniesta, Pique… We develop a bunch of athletes without any real expertise.
Yes, mario, he was always a central midfielder. because he could impact the game most there. He could win the ball, distribute the ball and attack. (Deadly inside the 18..)
Of course, the higher you move up, the more you specialize. I hate to use baseball for an analogy, but in little league, usually the ‘best’ players are shortstops, centerfielders and also pitch.
but as the game becomes more complicated, the need to specialize arises. He’s playing up a year on a high level team. So, the fact that he has the intelligence and all the other technical attributes to play in the center of defense (I hope) speaks highly of his potential.
I think playing in the midfield for as long as you can probably provides the best ‘development’ for a youth player. From there it’s easier to adjust to another role.
New as a poster but have been enjoying the discussions immensely for a while now.
In case you haven’t seen this video from the girls’ side- it is definitely worth a watch and I think most of you would appreciate it. Their coach is a native of Barcelona and has been able to build a highly successful team espousing possession and attractive soccer.
Dr Loco says
I know Andres Deza follows a scientific approach to player development.
Good stuff. Similar to the Santa Clara Sporting GU17 team.
Dr Loco says
Santa Clara Sporting GU17 team is what year? Send a link.
It’s this group of kids:
can’t find a good video.
The short girl in the back row is their field general. I’ve centered a couple of their matches and they play the best possession at that age in norcal.
Dr Loco says
What happened to 95G Green? I thought they were the better team. Why don’t they play in the ECNL?
Sporting 95G white is not as impressive as DEANZA FORCE 98G. Overall I am not a fan of Sporting, there trainers and recruiting methods.
Not sure, I don’t follow the club just occasionally referee their teams. There is a huge drop-off in the number of girls teams and the quality of of those teams at U16, as key players go to greener grass with an eye towards college and consequently their teams fall apart. Every club is trying to get to ECNL from NorCal, NorCal has pulled the better teams from CCSL and CCSL has inflated team numbers to back-fill the space. I remember the quality players I see and the possession sides I referee. That Sporting team was good, and their maestro is the smartest kid on the pitch. I centered a De Anza match vs Castro Valley a while back (95G?) and the Castro Valley midfielder was an absolute beast–don’t remember the name since I don’t keep game cards but she was the quickest player on the pitch–dispossessed De Anza left right and center. That british De Anza coach would know who she is–I wouldn’t be surprised if De Anza, MVLA and Mustang didn’t recruit her–she’s a special player, too.
What is the scientific approach? I’d also like to hear opinion on “what is a smart player”.? I think the two are related. Maybe “total footballer” sums it up.
Reason I’m asking is I think coaches fall short on developing tactically superior, intelligent players who can think ahead, read and understant the game and react. I can count on one hand the players I think “have it” (U12-U18).
Most people notice goals, crunching tackles, dribbling past seveal opponents, and things like that. But I see it differently. I try to watch the players who do the little things right and often go unnoticed. Timing a run, looking for a que to react and think ahead, understanding how to support, first touch away from danger, playing with calmness / poise / balance / control, playing simple passes on the ground, moving every few seconds to create chances or shut down opponent options, calling for backup when he moves out of his area, ability to play intrechangeable positions, keeping head up when game not going good, double footed.
I haven’t seen a definition of scientific approach, but hopefully it when a coach teaches types of things I point out above. I don’t see coaches doing that. They teach “X” and “O”. Understanding above needs a mentor, time and attention, reviewing videos and expalining movement. This is what USA players lack.
I do all of above with my son because he doesn’t get it at club. Looking forward to your thoughts Dr. Loco.
Dr Loco says
Loca …Loco…same thing!
I want Gary to discuss the scientific approach. I’ll write something briefly.
Sorry for typo Dr. Loco.
“Soccer Development Through Education” is the mantra of this forum. My recent posts (rants) is where I was going. Coaches / clubs aren’t “educating” players to fullest extent. I think we need to talk more about that here. Are we educting them or just funneling them through the system (like graduaitng dunces from high school who truly don’t have basic eduation)?
I recognized long ago my son’s coach / coaches aren’t educating him on tactical awareness, how to play and understand the game. Do’n’t just say “you move here”, explain why. What are the consequences / impact of not moving “there”. How does it help the team to move “there”.
This is no different than the fact that learning ball skills rests almost exclusively on the playre and his devotion to doing it on his own time.
Does US club soccer (especially USDA) need to do more “educating”?
Looking for ward to Gary’s perspective.
I have no concept of what professional EU or SA clubs teach, but I would be surprised if they didn’t spend a good amount of time on tactical awareness. Explaining the why and how. Knowledge of what you are doing and why and how it impacts the team. Understanding how the game is played . . . from every position . . . and why a team’s formation, tactics, player capabilities affect what we do and how we do it. Do players just play, react to the ball . . . . or do they read the game, understand the dynamics of the situation? They need to be able to do this without thinking . . . just knowing what to (in DNA). They know how to play proprerly. This takes repitiion and reinforcement via things like review of videos, watching games on TV or in person, and a coach who can teach / mentor / englighten them.
I watched last installment of El Classico with my son. Focus only on Barca. Notice how players are always balanced, controlled, pass well. They don’t rush and this allows them to be calm and think. They don’t force anything. As a result, they don’t lose the ball that much.
Shots on goal are 95% of time within the 18-yard box. Shots aren’t wild. They are accurate with technique. They don’t take low probability, hopeful shots from outside 18-yard box. This helps maintain possession and minimize fast breaks (they keep possession so long that forwards / wingers can’t cherry pick from mid-field).
When they attack in final third, they send bodies forward and pressure defenders from all sides. They are small but know how to cut off dribbles by using bodies to disrupt point of attack / dribble. They can make one-touch passes like they were playing a game of keep away on practice pitch.
The build up in midfield is slow and defense keeps proper distance. They save their energy for attack in final third (this is something Cruyff and Dutch style taught them).
This is what I call smart soccer. Are we teaching that?
Jungle ball is total opposite, just kick and chase. Nothing “scientific” or “smart” about it. Exchange of possession every few seconds and kids running around like headless chickens! Is this what we are teaching? Why!
The easy answer is “no”. Most of the clubs really aren’t in the business of developing players. Because teaching the game properly takes a back seat to taking the path of least resistance. meaning, taking ‘shortcuts’ in order to get results.
Even parents of the perceived ‘elite’ players have the mindset that, if the results are there…their child is progressing. That team success equates to individual player success.
The reality is that no club, team or coach is going to create/develop an elite player. Yes, coaching is important. But 80% or more of the equation is up to the individual player. That said, teaching the game properly, with an emphasis on fundamental technique and tactical awareness (built around keeping the ball) can and does go a long way.
The big clubs, including and especially the DA clubs, only recruit the best players. or try to anyway.
I’m not negating the importance of coaching or competition. But, if it was all about “competition” (depending on age) then we’d see a lot more quality players coming through the youth ranks.
“It’s not defined by a single variable,” said Carles Folguera, the academic director of La Masia. “There are many influencing factors that explain our success that is being recognized worldwide. It’s a long process. It’s not good to be in a hurry, so there’s patience here. In that process you have good coaches, and you look not only for talent for the game, but you also look at personality — how the kid tries to overcome obstacles and difficult moments, an injury or a coach who doesn’t believe in him. So it’s also about character, values.”
“We’re turning into the Premier Liga! ”
Ya, but the problem for England is that it is not the english players that are playing the La liga style! Without the foreign influence and money that has brought them, EPL would be jungle ball again. obviously has not helped the national team.
“We play football in a unique manner with players who are made with our unique idea of football,” says the club’s senior football director, Andoni Zubizarreta, also a legendary goalkeeper for Barça and Spain. “We feed ourselves through that same process and it allows us to compete at the highest levels. But you can only achieve that through conviction, sometimes not even a conscious conviction. It’s not written down, it’s lived. It’s something you have in you. The youth in our system play that way not because somebody tells them to, but because they’ve internalized it.
“Barça is an evolution of football, a new operating system,”
“Asumir riesgos supone provocar al miedo, pero asumirlos supone también estar + vivo q nunca…
Una de las causas + comunes del fracaso es el hábito de abandonar cuando uno se ve presa de una frustración temporal…”
(To assume risks means to provoke fear, but to assume them also means to be alive more than ever…One of the more common causes of failure is is the habit of abandoning when one is prey of a frustration of the moment…)
Carles Puyol @Carles5puyol
Culture, convictions, soccer…can you separate them??
Dr Loco says
Gary, how would an athletic director allow the Stanford men’s team to play jungle ball while the women’s team excels at possession? Same question for the Akron women’s team playing jungle ball while the men’s do not.
It does not make any sense that a university athletic program would have a top men’s/women’s team and a bad team of the opposite gender in any sport. Don’t these coaches share the same offices? Is there any communication and learning going on?
Waiting on Gary, but some quick thoughts on scientific approach:
1. I’d suggest we call it the “Holistic Approach”. Look at soccer from the whole, sum of parts (total football) rather than scientific which is more hypothesis, test, observe. Maybe it’s a combination of the two?
2. Players should be taught to: keep possession, attack, and keep pressure (defensive / offensive)
3. Technical skill and tactical awareness is more important than size and physical strength, especially at younger ages.
4. Ball should always be at feet during practice. Even when running laps. The more you have the ball at your feet, the more it improves technique.
5. Develop / Identify players who show aptitude for technique, tactics, quickness of thought, composure.
6. Have a coaching / playing philosophy and stick with it
7. Spend a lot of time on very small sided games, with limited space or play piggy in the middle often. This helps build first touch, quick passing, thinking ahead, movement, composure.
8. During games, coach only say things like
a. Watch spacing, look for your que, keep composure, think, look around, communicate, keep it simple. Say things that forces players to think on their own and learn, not make them robots following orders. Don’t tell them what to do, just give advice things to think about.
9. Use creating leaning (i.e., holistic) learning methods
a. Have players who sit on bench analyze a teammate on the pitch and provide coach / player with feedback on what they saw. Do same with games on TV. Ask you son to watch a game, you leave and then have him tell you what he learned. What worked, what didn’t, and then ask for the why.
b. Review videos of past performance as learning tool. This is huge eye opener! I did this few times with my son and it opened his eyes. Not only to what he was / wasn’t doing, but his teammates. A picture is worth a thousand words and a video is a novel.
c. Assign the smartest or most complete player to be captain as opposed to the biggest, tallest, strongest as seems to be the norm (a vestige of gridiron football soccer hasn’t shed off)
I could go on, but wanted to see if any of above makes sense . . . .
Dr Loco says
Your holistic approach sounds nice in theory. The problem I see is that you are assuming players are good enough and willing to execute this approach.
1. Total football can’t be played until players have a fundamental skill set
2. Right, but how?
3. True but how do you teach it?
4. Running laps? Ball at your feet does not directly translate to technique.
5. All players should be developed
6. Well what if your philosophy is wrong? Perhaps it should evolve.
7. Yes SSG are good in practices but does not guarantee anything.
8. Some players can’t think on their own at least not while playing. Many kids are not thinkers.
9. Yes, but which?
The players I see don’t communicate let alone analyze games. Reviewing games sound nice but most kids will fall asleep or spend their time talking.
Let’s examine the scientific approach.
I got most of above from: http://www.soccerclassroom.com/coaching-blog/the-magic-of-barcelona-soccer-unveiled/
Did it to prove a point. As I can tell by an initial response, we are reluctant to accept change and better way . . .even if La Masia. So we have inertia and never change.
Dr Loco says
Good stuff. I don’t disagree with anything you said. It’s just not the complete solution.
“The Spaniards take an ‘academic’ approach to teaching the game.”
You have to understand that La Masia is like MIT. They only accept the best of the best. Those same methods do not apply to everyone. Of course we can learn from them.
“Research shows that focusing on technical skills is more important than fitness related work – especially at younger ages.” Research is scientific. Developing technical skills is too.