You may have heard people talk about siloing coaches in age groups many times.
It goes something like this:
A club should assign coaches to an age group, not to a team. For example, John has a U13 team. When the season ends, that team moves on to a different coach that coaches U14. John then inherits a new set of U13s.
There’s reasons why something like this can make sense, but there’s also a whole bunch of reasons why it may not.
If the entire club had a common and well established cradle-to-grave philosophy, then a strong case can be made for instituting such a policy.
There’s a mainstream example of this – Barcelona’s La Masia – where every practitioner in the club is experienced and versed in teaching the same methodology from 8 year olds all the way to the first team. Everyone’s on the same page, and everyone supports each other. It’s one coherent team of practitioners, not isolated age group silos.
I don’t know of a single club in the United States that has this.
Some may be trying, but not really. First, I’ve been immersed in the nation’s soccer mecca – Southern California – and I can tell you this doesn’t exist. Second, I’m not surprised as there is no imperative for this to happen.
As such, the level of effort and efficacy of any club that may be “trying” isn’t the same as those of clubs where the survival & success of their business depends on cradle-to-grave alignment.
Now, if a club had a first team, or a business model where legitimate player development actually meant something on the business end, then there’s a tangible incentive.
Fundamentally, pro clubs consider maximizing player development because it could be good for business. Across the globe, this generally means:
- Players for the club’s adult/professional team.
- Players to sell on the market.
- Players to feed to bigger clubs up the hierarchy (potential monetary windfall).
- Local community engagement, which translates to authentic supporters of the club.
Unfortunately, as a consequence of no promotion and relegation in the US, just about every club has no 1st team. And of the few lower division clubs that do, the health and survival of the 1st team is completely disconnected from serious development of their youth.
Adding to that, without training compensation & solidarity payments, all of the incentives listed above don’t exist.
Sure, some non-pro clubs may [in their minds] genuinely and altruistically be attempting player development. But in the American environment, requiring coaches be placed in age-group isolation as part of that attempt doesn’t make the same sense as it does for clubs elsewhere in the world.
I mean really, what is the point of isolating coaches in age group silos if there’s no club cradle-to-grave philosophy/methodology? And further, why would there be a club cradle-to-grave solution to begin with if it doesn’t translate to the financial and hence ultimate *success of the club?
If there were a legitimate incentive to do such a thing, don’t you think that in the decades that US clubs have been around we’d have at least one example to point to where such a thing exists?