It’s like everywhere I look in American soccer media, and to quite an extent, the English as well, the advice being thrown around on player development is the worst thing you can follow.
The inspiration for this article came from Twitter via a coach posting the following activity he runs (& recommends).
I saw the title and thought; “ok, let’s see how this guy suggests playing out from the back can be done”.
And then I read the information.
There was absolutely nothing there. No teaching, no structure whatsoever, as to how to play out of the back.
It was yet another drill with no link to a vision of the game – no structure of any kind.
It was another free-for-all, just “let the players figure it out” approach.
I’m not gonna lie, this stuff pisses me off. But I kept my cool.
So I followed up with the author to see if that was indeed the case, and he responded in the affirmative.
I’ll let you in on a little secret, if this is what you indiscriminately believe and preach, you are creating and passing along terrible players.
You are ruining players, you are ruining your own development as a coach, you are making the unsuspecting soccer consumer dumber, and I can all but guarantee your end product looks like the second part of this video: Chaos!
I can understand coaches that are just starting out making mistakes like this. In fact, it could even be argued that making these early mistakes could be important to a coach’s development.
But, a coach should evolve from being an enabler of chaos.
We can help with that. (But make sure you thoroughly vet us)
More than meets the eye?
Perhaps, I thought, I was being too judgemental from that one graphic the author posted. Well not really, but I wanted to be cordial and see if I can glean anything new from this man’s soccer worldview.
So, some more exchanges ensued and others joined in.
Eventually, and predictably, the discussion moved towards the topic of “guided discovery”.
That will be the theme of an upcoming article.
And if you’ve followed 3four3 for any length of time, you can probably guess what the thesis will be:
As conventionally understood, [buzzword / meme / jargon] is a big steaming pile of crap.
Kyle Gero says
Gary, I got to watch from the twitter sidelines on this one, from the first interaction, I had to laugh, I have been there already, this person has a game called chaos he uses and loves. Why do we allow the game to be chaotic. Best compliment in a while came from an official after a U10 game playing U11 8v8 which we fell behind 1-0 very early, we end up winning the game 2-1 late, but that is not the story, the story was, the official saying to me after the match, you guys are so patient as a team. Great job coach….. If we teach chaos then we will get what we teach. I was wondering if this would make the blog….. and boom!!!!! Right behind you sir……
Gary Kleiban says
Serious critique and peer review is sorely lacking.
And if the goal is coaching excellence, then the current environment of “let’s all just get along and sing kumbaya” doesn’t cut it.
Michael Mollay says
I agree with your assessment of the session and the challenges associated with “guided discovery”. There are some merits to this method, however…. kids need us to paint the picture, provide predictability, and teach them how to make decisions related to “action and reaction” (if we do this, they will do that, etc…). The training session you share is a good “exercise”, but lacks the substance needed for true learning of this topic: shape (how to show individually/collectively), timing & visual cues (where to show/play the ball based on pressure), technical aspects to ensure quality and speed, and lastly nuance… this is the meat on the bone and where true learning occurs. Often coaches “coach the exercise” instead of coaching the players. Training sessions should be designed to challenge players, and coaches should know exactly how they will respond, and the solutions that need to be taught. The session you have shared from this coach, has some good ideas, but is really superficial. Unfortunately, the “exercise” is on stage, lacking the important piece, which is the “substance” that actually advances a player’s/team’s development.
Kit Elliott says
I need some claclarification then on when it’s appropriate to implement exercises (like those resembling game scenarios)and choreographed pattterns. I know the value in the latter, but when and how often should exercises be used to test player’s abilty to carry out choreography and adapt?
Michael Mollay says
Exercises, such as the one displayed, can be used with the choreography (or patterns). You can progress the session from pattern play, to adding pressure like those shared in the session. I actually like some of the ideas in the session, as to creatively adding pressure. The real problem with the session, is the lack of details to the method of playing out of the back; technical and tactical. It only shows you an exercise and expects the reader/coach (intentionally/unintentionally) to know how to coach players within the scenarios/exercise. Frankly this same session can be flipped, and the focus becomes defending/pressing, etc. But without the technical/tactical coaching points…there is no point, as it just becomes a game with little meaning/focus. Are there some benefits to it…sure…fun. But no real added benefit to the overall level of play or development of players/team.
I agree with Michael. Unless you rehearse the different scenarios for playing out of the back FIRST, this exercise will be a disaster. For example, you have tell the players, ” If were going to play short on GKs, this is where everyone needs to be positioned. If we play out to the RCB, this is what the ROB needs to do and this is what the DM needs to do. This is where the LCB and LOB need to shift to”. Once they’ve nailed that scenario, go to the next one. Once you rehearse it a bunch of times with NO pressure and the players can do it, THEN you introduce the pressure. But if you never do any rehearsing beforehand, it’s a disaster waiting to happen.
Gary Kleiban says
On point with both your contributions Michael.
I remember reading on a previous post here that winning is the currency to buy time for your coaching style. I am currently trying to by time at my club which has a leadership that subscribes to the “let the players figure it out” approach, and puts a lot of emphasis on fitness and physicality.
It’s hard to convinc the top brass at my club that this method is garbage, but it must be done.
I wonder if anyone has just seceded from their club and gone independent. Would that be wise?
Gary Kleiban says
And therein Kit, lies one example of the harm that can be done when publications go without serious critique.
Unsuspecting [and perhaps quite influential] people in the soccer community are susceptible to adopt garbage and then perpetuate that garbage.
Pretty soon you’ve got a landfill.
Funnily I see these drills posted all the time on Twitter and other websites and I totally started ignoring it.
Although I started my development like that entirely because I had no base to anchor my information. Many coaches still do that.
Lack of information of the vision, and the need to identify the problem leads to exactly the chaos. Not just in soccer bull in anything we do in life.
Sadly not just in America, but we see it in many countries. Only few academies and associations has decent vision and good base to go at.
When educators teach coaches rubbish, teach drills and no concept, you waste a coach.
When a coach teach rubbish, teach drill and no concept, you waste a player.
Gary Kleiban says
Glad to hear you’re not caught up in the vicious cycle you describe.
A very real one, might I add, that we must work to break.
The “exercise” above is a joke in my opinion … there is no structure. Playing out of the back must include some type of shape, positions, positional roles, along with some semblance of pattern play / what to do in certain situations depending on ball position, pressure by opposition, etc.
None of those factors are apparent in the “exercise” shown. Along with the exercise being weak, the actual coaching points aren’t specific to the task at hand.
Random thought: Why would the coach start play out? Game like? Nope. Wouldn’t you want to start build up from your keeper or even a goal kick?
I agree 100% with Gary on this one.
Liam Hare says
I see what you mean about the ‘chaos’ aspect, about it being too complicated for players to understand and agree the drills do look terrible. However coaches should use still use chaos in their practice as it replicates the dynamical systems of real life game play and the decision making in it. To allow the players to make sense of this chaos coaches must use the constructivist method of scaffolding through triggers/cues and clear principles of play.
Gary Kleiban says
I understand your angle Liam.
But this activity was posited [and defended] as how to train players to “play out of the back”. There is zero teaching as to the HOW.
This activity was not posited [or defended] as a way to sprinkle in some “choas” as you suggest.
Looks more like a game of keep away than possession and build up w a purpose. About a bazillion coaching points missed along with the organization of the drill.
check out tottenham 17s vs usmnt 17s saturday at 5:30pm. tottenham looking sharp (how TO play it out of the back)
Sadly a brawl started in this game between Tottenham and US U17’s. Ugly. Overshadowed the quality for sure.
This blog lacks class and appears ill informed. Unless you observed the session the coach, you do not have enough information to be critical. A brief discussion on Twitter does not do it justice.
There has been some good work done to create a coaching community where people share ideas. A constructive way to deal with this would be to suggest improvements to the coach directly and engage in intelligent discourse about the appropriate methods for the group in question. Writing a blog, using someone’s material without permission (admittedly it was shared on a public forum) and holding it up to ridicule is unacceptable. If it serves to discourage Louis or other coaches from sharing their ideas, you will have done the coaching community a great disservice and should be ashamed of that, despite your protestations that information on a public forum is fair game. It’s fair game to the extent it’s dealt with in a constructive manner, which this is not.
I do not know the coach in question but he appears to be highly qualified, which doesn’t always mean that much, but he is deserving of more respect than he has been shown. Personally, I have used some of his exercises and found them useful. Of course I modify to the group I coach and build into a full practice session, from functional drills to small-sided game, conditioned games etc. You could easily use his exercise in this context and make them work.
It’s one thing to put yourself out there as controversial. However, as coaches who follow the Barcelona model and use it to market your club, you would do well to revisit their core principles, specifically humility, and apply it to your blog.
Gary Kleiban says
Well Graham, where do I even begin?
Because you see, I take issue with pretty much everything you wrote (I think you are terribly misguided and ill-informed) and don’t want to use energy in what will surely be a failed attempt to explain my worldview vs your worldview.
We have big cultural differences.
All I’ll say for now are 2 things:
1) Notice the article did not name the coach in question – he decided to expose himself as being the author of this session. (Not that I think it would necessarily be wrong to name a coach anyways … but I know how weak, fragile, thin-skinned a particular sect of the coaching community is).
2) The universe does a phenomenal job of keeping us all very “humble”, it doesn’t need your help or your [culturally influenced] version of “humility”. (by the way – and along those lines – doesn’t seem like you understand FCB very well)
Excellent post, Gary. Sessions like the above do more harm than good, and not only to the players; they perpetuate bad coaching. The fact you questioned the author and he stood by the above makes this blog fully on point. The stream of inexperienced coaches eating up such tripe is a real worry for player development. It is also further proof that coaching licenses do not necessarily mean a coach can coach, it simply means they had the time and money to get their license. I’ve spent time with the A brigade of the USSF National Staff and their sessions (both on paper and reality) bear a striking resemblance to the above. Watch their teams play; the lack of quality is embarrassing.
To me this is all about quality. Your post is a good one. I have recently become licensed at the National E level and while sitting through the class at no point in time were we given the why for anything: here are some warm ups: here are some stage II and here are some stage III and stage IV is game play- now go find a whole bunch of exercises and coach. Totally Ramdom. Can’t talk about my defender’s position if it is an attacking exercise. A bunch of craziness.
It was a bit embarrasing, when as I told Gary later in an email, the video feeds in the classroom study portion of how to play the game were from Brians U12 boys. THe irony was about more than I could safely tolerate. I looked around to see if anyone else noticed and it seemed nobody recognized which meant to me, the revolution needs to get bigger and bigger.
Graham in his post above mentions that to ridicule the exercises is unacceptable and I could not disagree more. This is about football life and death. This is about coaches charging kids and families $1000 to $2000 a year to teach nothing with any direction or substance other than the idea of trying to do something. If the title of the was how to maintain possession in your own end by playing keep away that then would have been far more ACCEPTABLE than to label this a playing form the back possession activity.
Call out every single one of us Gary. Everyone who espouses anything that resembles possession oriented play- make us defend our position. Everytime and if you have to make a point out of one or two along the way so be it.
This is about footbal life and death.
Sorry for spelling errors. As an english literature major I value correct grammar and spelling. Damn phone.
Couldn’t agree with you more @Joel regarding Graham’s opinion. Far too many coaches get a pass at wasting $2,000 for club fees, $500 for team fees. They teach crap and hide behind pretenses regarding communication. I’m glad folks like Gary challenge the incumbency. It’s only like this how we can make change. The more people who cry foul, the more Gary is poking in proper places.
Kana – living in Canada, I understand where you are coming from where coaching costs a lot and is poor quality. However, I also coached in the Academy system in the UK, where the original coach comes from (coaching for an English Championship academy) and I’m familiar with that system. Not only is it not the same “pay to play” system as we have in North America, the coaches are also very poorly paid. For context, an A licence coach in England can earn less than $30k a year. Ascribing genuine North American issues to an English coach who likely earns ten percent of his North American counterparts seems wrong.
Of course money and quality of coaching are separate issues. However, there seems to be frustration with cost for sessions here. Valid but also irrelevant in the context of this argument. As for coaches copying free drills on the internet, if that’s their only research, shame on them and their technical directors who allow such poor practices within their clubs. Not the fault of the original coach in a million years though. It’s not his job to provide high quality drills to aspiring coaches for free. Perhaps these aspiring coaches could use it as a starting point and watch clubs like Barca, Bayern, Everton, Chelsea etc to learn how they could improve on the exercise and build in the coaching points it’s lacking. That would be my recommendation and was also my original point.
NoVa Mike says
“If it serves to discourage Louis or other coaches from sharing their ideas, you will have done the coaching community a great disservice ” Quite frankly I’m not so sure of that Graham. As others have alluded, there are far too many “highly qualified” coaches sharing drills and exercise like this online, and all it does is perpetuate bad coaching.
The exercise is titled “Playing Out of the Back”, with the implication that if you use this exercise with your team, it is a good way to teach them how to do so. Playing out of the back is the essential foundation of any successful possession based team. If you are trying to implement a possession based philosophy with your team, you absolutely must be able to play out of the back successfully. If you fail in that, you will lose the support and confidence of your players (and more importantly, their parents), and your project will end before it ever really gets started.
How many times do we hear about and see teams who claim to play possession soccer, completely fall apart and abandon their style as soon as they find themselves in a competitive match (i.e. – as soon as they are put under real pressure)? The reason, 9 times out of 10, is that they never really mastered the details of playing out of the back. So, they either abandon it completely and resort to long 50-50 balls, or they lose – often to a team that isn’t even as technically skilled as they are. In the latter case, after the game the coach has a talk with the parents and explains (excuses) away the result by saying it’s OK because they are not focused on winning, but rather on developing the players. Fair enough, but only if that focus is matched by some level of competence.
Exercises like this are a huge part of the problem.
Normally I don’t engage in commenting on posts by others within a discussion/blog if its on the negative side … but Graham needs a reality check. We need to call out so many more to the mat. Coaches/trainers /drills.
Two years ago my son was a U9 player for the largest club in Cincinnati. Lets call it AB for this discussion. Over 225 teams with a few different locations to cover a larger area. Our Dutch trainer was doing a nice job and had a solid foundation … but he was just the trainer. He actually knew what “playing out of the back” was and supported it’s merits. I quickly found out our “coach” had no clue what this was so I had to explain the concept to him. Of course it never happened. And it was not the trainers job to instruct the coach. It was actually no ones job to instruct the coach. As usual, no real consistent club curriculum either. This was evident when we played another U9 AB team from another location and I watched then doing a circular rondo warm up. Our team trained did not believe in “passing” drills yet for this age. It was obvious what was going to happen in the game … and it happened.
Now here’s what is most interesting and why this is relevant. Club AB has the top tier level called ABP which is where the top talent hopes to go. They win quite a bit but they win “ugly” if you know what I mean.
Now apparently they have a new Director and guess what the new idea is … “playing out of the back.” After how many years now ????
It amazed/frustrated me to watch a talented HS team that was coached by an ABP coach this fall. Around 25 times the goalie punted the ball even though 19 times the other team benefited from that action. Of course that is the other team retained the ball … and they also “played out of the back” quite a bit.
And how long has Reyna been asking for this method to be used to help with development?
So as I see it now that the idea slowly being accepted … it will still take a long time to see successful results BECAUSE OF CRAP like the drill illustrated above. As well, I signed up to one organization that offers certain licenses ( which I will probably need to simply keep clueless parents happy) and from this organization I an already receiving “top 10” was for this and that … which is part of the problem again.
In the end something is only Good or Bad when compared to something else. How can one convince others that actually things are pretty bad ( blind leading the blind … and all that $$ involved) unless we start calling out all the SLOP.
Thankfully we have 3FOUR3 and I also treasure Tom Howe’s comment about current college soccer -“I can hardly watch college soccer except for a couple teams. Akron — I like watching them play. They play well and they won the national championship playing like that. Why do a couple of teams play like that and nobody else does? “
This is a great post. I lived something very similar with my younger daughter’s team. Mind you, I played as a youth, I was terrible and I was taught terribly, so my skills are almost worthless. However, it did not detract from my love of the game, and all through grade school, through high school and college, I followed the game – mostly the international game when available (primarily World Cup).
I say that because I truly believe that my admission and acceptance of my lack of skill has opened my mind up to learning new things. I have spent a lot of time training on my own, seeking out training beyond the “normal” coaching licensing hierarchy (which is how I found 3four3).
That knowledge prepared me well for what my younger daughter’s team went through. Low level travel, no real obvious “talent” (which I put in quotes, because the American view of “talent” generally means “strong”, “fast”, “athletic”…but I can say that none of these girls had strong footskills either). They were U9 girls, so at a moment in their soccer lives that they could be molded.
The coach was a woman with no soccer experience whatsoever. This was actually a good thing, because she hired a trainer that not only had experience, but also recognized that the team would not be successful LONG TERM playing a direct style. He had them working on passing / moving / communicating.
They did NOT work on finishing much at all. I spoke with this trainer, and he felt that trying to win for the sake of winning would come at the expense of the development of the children, so he focused more on their ability to pass the ball around. It worked very, very well – they passed and passed and passed…every kid would know to call “square” for a square pass, “drop” for a drop, and so on.
They didn’t win a single game, but nearly every coach remarked at how well the girls passed the ball. It was really something to see. Unfortunately, not winning any games was a problem, the parents revolted, and the team collapsed. I’ve posted this story here before, it almost seems unreal now.
On a related note – I had the opportunity to have lunch with Christie Rampone (she’s local to where I live), and I asked her about the Japan women’s team – they possess the ball so well, and they were so physically “outmatched”, yet they play at such a high level and won the Women’s World Cup, runner up in the Olympics – how do they do it?
Rampone told me that the USWNT had an opportunity to watch the youth girls play…they played with no goals. They only passed the ball around, until they reached a certain age. Even if there were goals on the pitch, there was little focus on that, because winning at the expense of development is frowned upon.
The irony was not lost on me. Our culture sucks that development out because winning is everything. Because winning is everything, development gets squashed and teams have “athletes”. The quality of training is in the toilet. I get spammed with so much crap from “coaching” websites, I ignore it completely.
Take a look at how many coaches still have their kids do static stretching before activity. If you see a girls coach doing this, they should have their licenses taken away!
I’ve even moved from dynamics somewhat and incorporate more of the “global method” – all warm ups with a ball and using game-like situations. Something I learned from Mourinho and directly training with a Valencia first-team coach. It was eye opening and refreshing – not to mention something I am so proud of, because I was the coach that was a terrible player, terribly trained…yet I feel like I’m at the forefront of the coaching revolution here in the States…even at my teams’ low levels, we are fighting the good fight (we may not be winning it, but we keep fighting).
Anyone that buys or reads this crap deserves what they get. Not to be an advertisement for 3four3, but I found it money so well spent…even if I am unsuccessful in driving the methodology with my older girls’ team, I now laugh at the so-called “experts” that claim they know soccer. HOGWASH.
RJ … very nice post. Please email me sometime.
I think my point has been somewhat missed. There’s a very large assumption here that the coach is question is a bad coach. Perhaps you think his session plan isn’t sufficiently detailed enough. That may be fair comment. However, unless you observed his session, I’m not sure how you are qualified to judge. In fact, even if you did observe the session, it may be an off day. I would have thought the only way to judge a coach is by observing over a period of time. It’s worth noting that I solicit feedback and believe direct criticism is essential to coach development. However, it should be a) constructive and b) based on sufficient information on which to make a reasonable judgement.
Perhaps I have missed the point. If anyone can explain to me the logical leap from a shared session plan (admittedly one lacking specific coaching points) to poor quality coaching, I am open-minded. However, I am genuinely dumbfounded at some of the assumptions being made here. How do we know coach didn’t spend six weeks prior to this exercise on functional practices and small-sides games where the concepts were taught? Maybe a few people on here have seen his team and doubt his credentials? Perhaps that would be fairer. I just feel conflicted by this since I would feel aggrieved if someone hung me out to dry on a blog having never actually witnessed the way i interact with players. What am I missing here that everyone else sees so clearly?
I respect the last comment saying they don’t usually engage in negative discussion. Nor do I but I felt strongly compelled to speak out on this one. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to engage in a further discussion away from a public forum.
If we were talking about a coach to coach relationship, or some sort of mentoring, I would agree that taking a more constructive approach would be wise. But who says the coach in question was the one Gary was speaking to?
Ridicule, satire, and harsh criticism are useful tools when attempting to buck the status quo, and are generally some of the first things banned by tyrants.
Of course Gary is not endearing himself to the coach in question or any of his supporters, but he might be reaching third-party coaches and inducing them to think about the issue.
The USSF preaches use of guided discovery when coaching youth soccer players and evangelizes a philosophy of “let the game be the teacher”. Because all you have to do is organize a pickup game, and from the chaos will emerge world class players. I assume that Gary disagrees with that as a core philosophy, or at least thinks those concepts are misapplied and I 100% agree.
Glad you think I’m a tyrant 🙂
Some good points raised. Agree the blog makes third parties think and, irrespective of whether I liked the concept of the blog, if it forces people to stop being lazy with their drills then I guess some good comes from it.
Great discussing with you all. Merry Christmas and happy holidays everyone!
My son played a a HUGE San Diego club for years. He routinely did drill after drill with the coach not explaining connections to the real game. In fact, little to no time was ever spent on how to react, think, move, see. There was lots of yelling to move here, or there, and do this. If a player was left to “discover” the coach would yell more and sit a player.
Of course, nothing was ever explained. Was same for all players except in the end, who was bigger and stronger and more aggressive was who started and played most minutes. Tactics had nothing to do with a real competitive game. It was chaos, which meant sheer physical aggression and no thinking, which in turn meant a certain kind of player that was 180-degrees different than what the club and coaches professed was their style of play.
As I see it, this is exactly what irks me when I see graphics like what Gary posted. To me they are shell games. Coaching by numbers to pretend.
I know nothing about the coach who presented it. It’s my Pavlov dog response to systemic failures I’ve experienced in youth soccer and paid thousands of dollars to understand that.
Thanks Graham … I will send a private email in the near future. I would like to throw out an illustrative example that hopefully sheds light on what I believe is going on with this specific discussion. I’m actually quite inexperienced in so many ways but am also learning as much as I can to help my U11 son. At first (years ago) I watched session after session where I knew that the activity/drill could be better if one did this or that … and this happened all the time. At first it was simple math. Five pairs with 5 balls is better than two lines with one ball and 5 in each line. Simple math … more touches. Yet this still happens everywhere. As the complexities of the activities increase things actually get worse. In short there is so much nonsense and so little brilliance.
Instead of the “playing out of the back” illustration/guide that started all this lets just use the simple circular “classic” rondo if we can call it that. The circular shape with the guy or two in the middle.
Reyna mentions “rondo,rondo.rondo” and the importance of this drill in his speech unveiling our new direction in 2011.
I admired the Youtube videos showing Barcelona at work … what beauty. As well, I have two books extolling the values of the drill and describing WHY it is a valued drill.
Through the 3four3 Coaching there is a video showing Barca’ again … and the following details are supplied:
When a defender intercepts (just touches ball), swap out with the perimeter player who caused the interception
If perimeter players connect 10+ passes (or whatever trainer sees fit), defenders must stay in the middle an extra round after interception
If a defender gets megged, that defender must stay in the middle an extra round after interception
Continuous action until trainer sees fit to stop play or activity.
Intention of this activity is for a fun warmup that provides many touches, and gets the players thinking one or two moves ahead of the ball.
While it should be fun and provide for smiles and even laughter, trainer should ensure players are giving the activity the respect it deserves.”
So a nice video and the “details” are provided. Assuming technical ability is accounted for this will help most get started on the right path.
Now this drill with it’s actual complexities is a very simple drill BUT more times, many more times than not, I have seen disaster come from this activity. Sure the coach/trainer has heard of the “rondo” but they have no clue what is really going on or how to properly do the drill. I see kids just kicking w/o precision because they believe the ball will go to someone. The purity of the pass … not a chance. The quick/proper decision making (IQ) ??? Basically all the benefits one can derive from this drill are missed because the coach did not grasp what was intended or how to benefit from the very beginning. Just do “rondos” ! No matter how long it is done in this fashion the kids are doomed.
As I mentioned, I receive the “top 10” drills for this and that all the time from a group that is setting the standards for this country … and I totally ignore them. It’s like a flavor of the month club.
I believe the example for “playing out of the back” above with just a few details falls so short of actually aiding in true development and if most can’t even instruct how to do a simple “rondo” properly then there is absolutely no way they will benefit from the more complex drill. This seems to be the rule and not the exception for most of the training drills I have seen.
I am currently reading about Dutch Training methods and something I think about everyday is the fact that they have a “pedantic attention to detail”. So often I notice a total lack of detail in what I see everyday.
For the fortunate members that have seen the “playing out of the back”drills and other instructional activities offered by 3Four3 …. when you see the beauty, the logic, the progression of levels and the FEW core drills that should be mastered as opposed to numerous random tasks that change every week … it’s just upsetting to see more examples of mediocrity.
Most that would use the above drill with just details provided would be doing more harm than good.
Gary – you commented that I am ill-informed and I think that is correct. My initial reaction to your blog was that I didn’t understand the sentiment behind it. Some of the responses on your blog give me a level of insight to that re the state of coaching in the U.S.
I still don’t fully understand the rationale behind the blog and I’m still glad I was the lone voice in pointing out my concerns with it. However, I do accept there’s a lot I do not know about. It also made me think about some of the material I am preparing and the focus on the “how” and “why” part of coaching so, in that respect, it was positive.
I suspect our worldviews may not be as far apart as you think. In particular, my own brother would wholeheartedly agree that material in the public eye is open to criticism; he is a journalist and builds his career on that viewpoint. However, like you, I don’t think its a great use of energy to have an ongoing argument about it. As I’m sure you agree with, sometimes poking the hornets nest gives you an insight you would not otherwise get and forces you to challenge your own thoughts and opinions. I’m aware of you and your brother’s reputation when it comes to youth development. You both do very good work and should be commended for that. I think its important to point out that I respect your opinions as coaches, even if I disagreed with the concept of the blog.
Graham. Welcome to the Revolution!
To my perspective the whole point of the blog is to help awaken the sleeper. This is not just about a game and a ball- it is way more complex than that and it begins with how you interact with and value the world itself. I urge all newcomers to go back to the big bang in August 2009 and learn your way through countless ideas, arguments and articles. What is unique among this place is everyone with an open mind and heart who visits here comes to realize the necessity to question everything we thought we knew and think we know about soccer. This then helps forge a far more sophisticated soccer/futbol worldview.
Based on your comments about this session in question, I’m curious what you think of making practices as “game-like” as possible.
The obvious thing that jumps out is that there is no structure. It doesn’t appear that he has given the players a framework, so chaos is inevitable.
However, what if he had given a framework. What if he had done set-tactical play with specific patterns he wanted to see out of the back with no pressure. Now if he added a drill like this, after he had give them all the tools to break the pressure and play out of the back….what would you think?
Is making the practice as game like as possible necessary. Will the players ever really be successful if the coach doesn’t create game-like practice.
Gary Kleiban says
Yes, if there were a framework as you describe, containing the details of how (tactical work), then something like this activity has acceptable context.
This is precisely one of the reasons why I followed up with the author.
And the answers were in essence: “no framework whatsoever”.
Like “development”, I think we need to be very careful what is meant by this; but my answer will go ahead and assume what is perhaps the conventional view.
Yes, training should contain a “game like” element. But “game like” without the foundational training of “how to play the game”, is garbage – it’s not training at all, it’s pickup recreational soccer, or some misguided [maybe even convenient] interpretation of so-called guided discovery.
PG 19 says
If the above session is all that is used to teach playing out from the back, then I agree entirely that it will be useless because it starts off too complicated and does not allow for the technical detail to be addressed of proper passing, receiving, and positioning of the players without the ball.
That being said, quite a bit of the above training session is still useful in my opinion.
Start with the 3Four3 Set Tactical Training (STT) which is a 5v0, possibly 6v0 (including goal keeper) shadow game to teach building from the back. Use the STT to establish basic ball circulation patterns (swing, pivot bounce, pivot switch) and use it to correct proper positioning of players relative to the ball and ball handler so there is always an outlet for the ball to be played and proper “safety” in the event of losing possession.
The above training session’s merits is that it can be used as a progression of the STT, how to make the STT more game like by adding defensive pressure against the back 5 or 6 when they are building from the back. It is one thing to do something without pressure, another when there is pressure which will unravel tendencies of players and a team. In essence you’re moving from shadow play to phase play.
I don’t have an issue with this training game. I can’t believe it would be their full practice day. I think if you started with pattern play, into maybe shadow, and then put them in a game situation like this to see if learning occurred. It is also good because every pattern in the world never really materializes exactly like a game does and we need to correct decisions in game situations. I’m totally against guided discovery (how long did it take humans to discover how to make fire and we want kids to learn by just playing????)
Here is my question, why do you coach the game of soccer?
I was in LA on business and had time to stop by your practice a couple of weeks ago. I spoke to your parents to get a sense of the program, and appreciated the intensity of play during practice, quality of first touch, playing out of the back in almost every instance–it was impressive. I hadn’t seen anything approximating that up here in Cal-N until I refereed an Earthquakes 01 team recently. Speed of though and play, quickness of feet, intensity, playing out of the back–it looked like your playbook (figuratively speaking). So while the overall number of quality programs is low, I am seeing more of them and at younger and younger ages. This makes me hopeful the MLS Academy system may turn into a useful pipeline of professional-quality players. I’m not a coach, just a fan of artful play, and this gives me hope for the future of the game.