Guest Post: Here Claudio, Use This Schematic

Nick Sindt was one of the first community members on TSG. That he scheduled a honeymoon so near to the World Cup (May of this year) does not in any way diminish his soccer knowledge or standing in the TSG community.

Reyna: In charge of future Stars & Stripes...

I’ve been wanting to run this piece from Nick for awhile and with the introduction of Claudio Reyna last week as Youth Technical Director now is the time.

Thanks Nick.

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Curing US Soccer Development Ills

Quick, name the last US National Team outfield players to be considered World Class by those who are not ardent and biased supporters of the USMNT.  I bet the only two names you came up with are Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, and even for those two you were teetering on whether or not someone from England or Italy would consider them truly “World Class.”

The Goal: Dempsey & Donovan

While I was coaching youth soccer in Illinois I received their monthly newsletter, which contained an interesting article (reproduced in its entirety here) about how to appropriately measure success in US Youth Soccer.  The main point of this article is putting forth the idea that the use of a professional sports model when attempting to determine and measure youth sport success is not only incorrect but is also detrimental to the development of our youth, which could be one of the reasons that the US has yet to produce a player of the stature of a Rooney, a Messi, a Ronaldo.

Per the statistics of the following pages here (Winter & Summer), one could argue that the United States is the most dominant sporting country in the world. In the the Olympics, “we” are first by a long-shot. We should have the best athletes in the world.  Take a look at some of the stars in the NFL and NBA, the physical feats that they are capable of are simply jaw-dropping; one time NFL sack artist and probably Hall of Famer Warren Sapp got his 300+ pounds across the 40 yard dash finish line in roughly four and a half seconds, while I can barely move my 160 pounds the same distance in less than 6 or 7 seconds.

Slaughtering quarterbacks, making mad dashes, dancing with the stars...how are we not dominating soccer?

So why haven’t we conquered the soccer pitch yet?  It all comes down to the US focusing on physical talents (size, speed, and strength) instead of technical and tactical skills.  As the article points out, the sports Americans excel at are typically statistically driven and coaching-centered, and soccer is neither of these.

Sidebar:  do you think that you can accurately, statistically quantify the value of a player like Xavi Hernandez or Andres Iniesta? (Actually, I’m working on that Nick.)

Given soccer’s standing in this country, how do we go about developing some of these “world class” athletes into “world class” soccer players capable of cracking the starting line-up of some of the hallowed teams like Barcelona and Manchester United?

The immediate answer to this question is better coaching.  Sure better coaches will get more out of players than lesser coaches, but that’s not enough.  We need a complete overhaul of the entire soccer system in this country, starting from the recreational leagues where 6 year-olds play bumble-bee soccer and moving up through the youth clubs and professional ranks.

If we want to win the World Cup before I’m dead and buried (next 70 years, give or take) we need better coaches and coaching, more learning conducive environments for our young players, and a youth club and national team development system that is based on actual talent instead of “checkbook talent.”

Have you ever stopped by the local park and actually watches Rec League soccer?  Have you watched the coaches during a Rec League game?  Some of the things that you will bear witness to are absolutely appalling.  One time (watching a  U-13 Rec League) I actually heard a coach applaud and shout encouragement when a player “hoofed” (believe me, this was the perfect definition of that term) the ball 60 yards up field, to no one in particular, and eventually out of bounds.

"We need your help....and better coaching"

To make matters worse there wasn’t anyone around him and the player could’ve made a simple possession saving pass to a teammate.  That day I found myself saying, as most of you would, that this coach is a complete and utter moron and the discussion would end there.  In retrospect, I don’t know that we can only blame that coach and others of his ilk.

Most of the coaches for the local rec leagues are parents volunteering their time in order to keep the league going, and they don’t necessarily have a lot of experience with the game.  Not to put these parents down, bless their hearts, but rec league is essentially kids running around outside chasing a ball they’re not allowed to pick up with their hands.  As far as developing the necessary skills for advancement in the sport goes, it’s about as useful as riding a moped from LA to New York.

What about the club level you ask; these kids are obviously better, right?

Of course they’re going to be better due to the simple fact that they’re focusing enough on the sport to shell out the hundreds of dollars per year it costs to play club ball, and hopefully more organized practices than the average rec league team.

But the problems that I witnessed, as a young and inexperienced coach, is that most kids that I’ve worked with at the U-13, U-15, and even the U-19 levels are stuck in the First or Second stages of development cited in the Illinois Youth Soccer article.

How long until an American Rooney?

This means that instead of coaching my U-13 players on their decision making on and off the ball, I continually had to work on the basic inside-of-the-foot passes and using the appropriate foot to make the pass instead of poorly using the outside of their right foot to avoid using their left.  So at a time when Wayne Rooney was training with the Everton Youth and Reserve squads, my U-13s were desperately trying not to use the left foot and couldn’t juggle a ball more than 15 times using only their feet.

While youth clubs provide better coaching, for the most part, and better access to good competition thus doing a better job a developing the skills and mental side of the game, too often you heard of or coach against teams that are only about winning games and tournaments to up their prestige.  While winning is an important skill to teach young athletes, winning at all costs sacrifices the long-term development of players for short-term gains.

To solve the issues plaguing the development of our players we must first mandate that all rec league coaches have the USSF “Y” license at the very least.

Though you can argue that a license doesn’t make you a good coach, parents with little or no experience with the game can learn an awful lot about what makes good soccer and get some tips for planning a practice from these classes.

Who should foot the bill for these coaches to take the classes?  The leagues themselves operate with the sole intent of earning enough to merely keep going year after year, so they’re not a viable option.  The USSF could pony up the dough, since it is their future after all that would benefit the most from this setup.  But I think it would behoove the clubs in the area to subsidize this endeavor.

The only problem is that the middle of the road and even the elite youth clubs don’t really have an incentive to spend this large amount of money each year.  Sure they’ll get better players out of it, but better players don’t pay the bills, richer players do.  To entice these clubs, and even the MLS and other outfits, to invest in the coaching of grassroots soccer, they need to have an economic interest in these young players, or more of an economic interest in the MLS clubs’ case.  If your local youth club were able to develop players that were eventually picked up by an MLS side, and in doing so they received a nice little stipend, they would be more inclined to invest.

The next step is to create the appropriate environment for players.  How many of you reading this played for a club team that competed in a league as well as 4 or 5 tournaments each Spring or Fall?

Let’s assume that would total somewhere around 30-40 games per Spring or Fall, add in ODP for those players who have the skill, time, and money to play and you’re looking at roughly 50-60 games per season. Some states don’t preclude a player from playing club ball during the same season as their High School soccer season, which means elite level players could be playing upwards of 100 games in a given calendar year; 60 is too many for a professional player, so why is it different for non-professional players?

The new USSF Development Academy has the correct mindset, focusing more on practice, development, and higher levels of competition instead of playing meaningless game after meaningless game after meaningless game.  They’ve even gone so far to decree that any team competing in the league must practice at least three times and no more than 6 times per week, and the clubs involved in this competition are not allowed to participate in any tournaments outside of the competition (it includes 4 showcase tournaments and playoffs each season).

While limiting the number of games and focusing more on the practices is a step in the correct direction, there is still the gigantic issue of money.  Due to the limited number of clubs involved in the Development Academy, any team competing can expect to travel quite a bit to get to away matches (for example the Central Conference, which is split into three regional divisions includes teams from Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Texas).

The USSF does assist these clubs with some of the costs, and I’m sure local business pitch in with some sponsorship money but most players are required to pay some portion of the fees associated with playing at this level.

In order for US Soccer to get to a point where we can consistently call ourselves one of the world’s best sides we need a system where a kid’s socio-economic status has nothing to do with his ability to play the sport for the best teams in the country, rather his talent determines which team he plays for.

Since the MLS has 16 clubs that are spread across the vastness that is the US and Canada, it would be extremely tough for each club to have a developmental/residential academy system that can reach all areas of the country, therefore the youth clubs have to be involved in nurturing young talent regardless of the ability to pay hundreds of dollars per year.

This brings us back to the stipend, if the youth clubs, and elite youth clubs as well, were given a monetary incentive for developing better players we would see a) more “under-privileged” urban kids playing the game and b) more of a focus on developing true soccer players.  While this may sound like the ranting of a lunatic, the Philadelphia Union are already partnering with a local youth academy, and the Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS expansion franchise in 2011) have stated that they would be open to youth transfer fees for clubs that nurture and develop players consistently.

Though, this dream scenario hinges on the adults in charge of running the clubs invest money back into their clubs and not skim off the top, greed and corruption ruin too many good things.  The youth clubs’s mission and purpose will then have to be to serve the clubs that pay the fees, to produce the next great player.  Because, the transfer fee garnered from this player being “sold” to a professional club, here or abroad, makes the 50 other kids who didn’t make it worth all of the money invested.  This money would then go back into the clubs to develop more players.

If am allowed to dream huge….If I owned an MLS club, and cash flow was not an issue, I would set up partnerships with as many youth clubs within the area, especially those in the inner cities.

These partnerships would be akin to an employer-employee relationship; my club gives the youth clubs coaching courses, free camps for those partner clubs, as well as a certain amount of money each year to be spent on coaching fees and education, player scholarships, or other development oriented costs, not uniforms or tournament entry fees. In return for those modest sums of money, the clubs would in turn abide by player development guidelines that are set forth by all of the clubs involved in order to provide my club with technically and tactically astute players, not just a bunch of athletic assholes only focused on winning at all costs. As the years go on this relationship would be reviewed and the amount of money would be increased or decreased accordingly.

In conjunction with these partnerships I would create a paid (meaning to compensate the players and families in a small way) residency academy for U-14 age groups and up, we would hold tryouts every other year to keep the talent fresh, as some players may “lose the plot” or simply not wish to continue down this path, and we may uncover a player that was a late bloomer. Players from the partner clubs would obviously tryout for free, while all others would pay a nominal fee.

Clubs whose players are selected for the squad would receive a two-tiered transfer fee based on number of years with the club when we signed them. This fee would help offset the cost of developing the player for X number of years, as well as encourage them to continue the good work. Now if my club then sells the player on to another club a portion of that fee will go to the youth club, again to encourage better player development in the future.

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44 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Bob on 2010/04/19 at 5:29 AM

    This a great article and something I ponder on a daily basis.

    One thing I noticed as I coached my son this past year in soccer and basketball and watched him play baseball, youth coaches in all sports are inexperienced and doing the best they can as volunteers. So where do basketball, football, and baseball players get good coaching if not at the youth level? High school maybe? Basketball and football players can and do develop playing in high school leagues and later college (at least for one year for bb players). But baseball? It seems very similar to soccer with many various leagues like Legion ball for elite players, as well as a very deep and thorough minor league system, supported financially by MLB, that covers the entire U.S., including the Caribbean and Latin American nations. I think this the dream scenario that Nick proposes, but is the money there?

    Also, is there a difference in the girls youth system v. the boys system? Is the coaching poor or inexperienced or inadequate in the girls leagues? How can we produce the best girl players in the world and dominate girls soccer, but fail to duplicate the same for USMNT? Is there something different that is going on the USWNT that can be replicated in the boys development system? These are questions that always come to my mind when watching the WPS or the female WC.

    Reply

    • I think young football, baseball, hockey, and basketball players benefit the most from being inundated with the highest levels of these sports on TV, and though you mention youth coaches in all sports are inexperienced, most volunteer coaches for other sports at least have a passing knowledge of the sport they’re coaching because they’ve grown up with it.

      On the difference between girls and guys developments, I don’t see a difference; we’re plagued with the same problems on the female side as well. The only reason we’re so successful, as someone points out below, is that our Women’s National Team has for a long time been the most physical and direct which has served us well. However, with other nations beginning to pay more attention to the Women’s game I think we’ll see the US start to struggle mightily until we can develop more technically & tactically astute young women. I want to mention that I haven’t been able to watch this newest generation of the USWNT all that much, so we may be well on our way to producing those more technical and tactical players, but from past viewings we seemed to be overly reliant on the long ball and a bruising forward (Wambach) or transcendant talent (Hamm) up top.

      Reply

  2. Great article… I think this gets at something that every passionate soccer fan can do to help the game develop in this country: get their coaching license and get involved locally at the grassroots level. I think a lot of people around here do indeed do this but the more of us who know the game that are involved, the better. Who knows, one of us may be the American Jose Mourinho – we just need a chance to show it.

    As for the MNT vs. WNT. I think the difference isn’t so much differences in the player development system as the comparative lack of resources devoted to player development in the women’s game in other countries. There are also fewer professional alternatives available to high-level women athletes, so women’s soccer ends up keeping more of the best athletes here in the US than the men’s game does.

    Reply

  3. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/19 at 7:15 AM

    Nick, what a well written article – nice one!

    The one thing I have said to Mrs Cross is that when we have kids and they’re old enough to play football, I will not let them play 11-a-side until they’re a little older. As mentioned in the article, all the children do is play bumble-bee soccer, and hardly ever touch the ball – I don’t see the benefit of this. IMO, at a very early age, 5-a-side football should be the only game that’s played as all players will touch the ball more.I am not advocated a high-pressure environment for u10s though!

    When I was growing up, the emphasis was not to be a ‘chicken'; you’d get laughed at if you ducked out of a 50/50 challenged or somebody would boot the ball up in the air and if you didn’t head the ball. On the continent, kids would get laughed at if they could not trap the ball or control with a couple of touches. And if you think about the football in England and Europe, you’ll see historically, one’s physical and the other focuses on technique. Obviously that’s changed a lot now but you understand my point – you need to start early.

    Reply

    • Posted by kaya on 2010/04/19 at 10:36 AM

      Well, George. Just don’t have a Giuseppe Rossi, mkay?

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/19 at 10:43 AM

        Kaya, that all depends on if Mrs. Cross and I go to live in England.

        But if he’s born and raised here, I’ll get him to support the Yanks – and also I’ll have to teach him that ‘winning isn’t everything, it’s taking part that counts!’

        Reply

        • Posted by kaya on 2010/04/19 at 10:50 AM

          I guess you’re in NYC, right? If you were in Cali, I think one winter would put to bed any question of going back. LOL.
          Glad to hear we have an understanding, tho ;)

          Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/19 at 11:07 AM

          Yes, NYC. Actually, I am taking Mrs Cross and another couple to the NYRB/Union game on Saturday – it’s the other couple’s first MLS game ever. FBM would be proud!

          I have strong opinions about hyphenated-Americans not supporting America. That would be a dictionary definition of hypocrasy if young-Cross supported (or played for)England if he was American…

          Reply

        • Please please buy them some beers George and take a picture I’ll send ya a FBM sticker for the trouble.

          Reply

    • George – The Scottish FA has actually done research into the 5-a-side (or other small sided games) being played at the younger levels, and their results were pretty interesting. The % of touches difference between small sided and full 11v11 games is astronomical. I couldn’t agree more that this is something our rec leagues should also be doing; how many times have you seen U6s playing 9v9 or 11v11 in a field that’s perfect for 6v6?

      As for the jibes for being chicken, FBM and I can atest all too well that the same culture exists in the US. When we were 12 we played on a team that was coached by 4 of the dads (one of them being mine) and since we were 12 we were a little timid about getting hit with the ball, winning a 50-50 challenege etc. So the brilliant fathers devised a drill where they would kick the balls at us to get us to not flinch. Not sure how many on that team are now sterile because of the shots to the pills that we took…I’m hoping that as we get more (Insert Prefix here)-Americans involved in the youth system in this country, especially the Latino-Americans, that we’ll see more of the continental attitude you mention where kids are made fun of for not being able to trap a ball or play a simple pass, though we mustn’t lose our agression and physicality in the process.

      Reply

  4. Posted by Colin on 2010/04/19 at 7:40 AM

    There is also a general lack of desire from the youth to become great soccer players and are only playing soccer simply because their parents signed them up. When soccer players are looked at in the same light as peyton manning, or lebron james, or derek jeter…only then will the youth have a desire to grow up and be the next Messi. It remains to be seen how best to raise interest nationally for the sport. Personally, I would think the best way would be for fans of the game to buy a ticket to an MLS game for anyone that claims the sport is boring and sit them in the supporter section. Unless they are really stubborn, chances are, they wont leave disappointed and will drop at least some of the “soccer is boring” mentality.

    Personally, nothing is more boring than baseball…yet it is one of the most popular sports in this country.

    Reply

    • Posted by Bob on 2010/04/19 at 7:57 AM

      I agree totally here. To me, bb is so popular in the states bc it is everywhere. I don’t have figures, but I bet most MLB teams are located at least within a three hour drive from where most Americans live. I live in the southeast and the only MLS team that is within driving distance is D.C. United and that is a good 7-8 hour drive (and I mean hard push of a drive) up I-95. We desperately need more discussion of our professional league in all regions of the country for the sport to grow and to get kids to want to be the next Tim Howard or LD or Dempsey. Why are there no MLS teams in Charlotte, Atlanta, and/or Florida? We have great college soccer out here, but no discussion of MLS teams unless it is a local USL2 team.

      Reply

      • Colin – I feel the same way. The sooner kids realize that they can be famous and make bags of cash playing soccer the interest will begin to increase. One of the biggest blocks to that is the MLS not yet being on par with some of the other leagues in the world, but we’ll get there, just need to be patient (I hate being patient…). Your point about buying soccer novices a ticket to a game is something that FBM and I have been trumpeting for almost a year now. The live match experience is something to behold and it would take a real grinch to continue down their path of hatred.

        Bob – Sure the USL/NASL teams in your area are not our highest level of the sport in the US but they’re still better than most of our Sunday Leagues. Drumming up more interest at this level will also help guide MLS in their future expansion efforts since they’ll see a USL team being better supported than certain MLS franchises…

        Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/19 at 8:04 AM

      They (USSF and Nike?) tried to make Freddy Adu the poster-boy of US soccer, didn’t they? Somebody for the kids to idolise…

      Reply

      • Posted by Colin on 2010/04/19 at 8:41 AM

        yea sorta, but they did so too early…before he had actually accomplished much. Turns out he wasnt as spectacular as they assumed he would become.

        Reply

        • Posted by Bob on 2010/04/19 at 8:49 AM

          They did a good job for sure getting him name recognition. I teach at the college level and if you ask my students to name a pro soccer player, a very large majority would still name Adu over Dempsey, Howard, and/or Lando. Mind you, Adu was 14 when my students were 14 so they did grow up together with him so to speak. But it still does show the power of Nike in getting someone/anyone publicity and making them a household name in the USA.

          Reply

    • “Personally, I would think the best way would be for fans of the game to buy a ticket to an MLS game for anyone that claims the sport is boring and sit them in the supporter section.”

      Collin, that’s where we ask you to start participating in the Free Beer Movement (not for children of course). Buy a friend a beer and take them to live soccer games.

      http://www.thefreebeermovement.com

      Reply

    • Posted by Wilson on 2010/05/08 at 3:39 PM

      Baseball is an individual sport like Golf or Bowling

      Reply

  5. Posted by Scweeb on 2010/04/19 at 9:23 AM

    So reading this article just made me go back threw my 6 years of coaching i did for my local Club and high school. Looking back one thing that helped these kids grow and become better players was there drive and the joy they had by playing simple pick up games with anyone they could. There just is something about that environment that helps a kid become more creative and aware of what is going on around them that they missed growing up.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Chris Anderson on 2010/04/19 at 10:06 AM

    There are a lot of great ideas contained in the article and the responses. However, all of this discussion is about developing the boys. Would the author and the responders propose the same system for female players? Would MLS and USSF make it an equal-opportunity system?

    Reply

    • Posted by kaya on 2010/04/19 at 10:49 AM

      I certainly hope so!
      I think however, that promoting the boys = promoting the sport in general. Remeber, the US women’s team is already the best in the world. Unfortunately, I think the US tends to largely lead the world to a better place for women’s sports in general.
      A lot of the club level girls soccer I’ve seen seems to rely on physicality and would just as equally benefit from a focus on skills. I think by creating a tighter network in the youth system, it’ll be understood to be for both boys and girls.

      Reply

    • I would propose the same system for female players also, but I don’t see MLS chipping in here. Unlike the NBA’s propping up of the WNBA (at least in the beginning) the MLS just doesn’t have the resources for that right now. That being said we do have the WPS, which given money could implement the same structure and skill based focus that I proposed above. Like Kaya said, our WNT is already in the top 2 or 3 in the world which is why the focus of this article was more on the development of our MNT player pool. I didn’t intend to make it a boys only club type piece since the ideas for better development are transferable between the sexes.

      Reply

  7. Posted by kaya on 2010/04/19 at 10:24 AM

    I love this analysis… it’s this kind of desire and thinking that I think that will allow the US to will itself into being a great soccer country.
    The bottom line is that your “typical” team and coach in your “typical” everytown USA just didn’t grow up with kids bouncing soccer balls around and watching professionals on tv. I’m sure when you see older kids juggling the ball everywhere they go, listen to your parents and their friends discussing that beautiful pass through and watching the replay a billion times, multiplied by 38 weekends a year, it has an impact.
    A 7 year old in a great soccer playing country is going to know that the cited coach is a moron because they grew up watching how soccer is supposed to be played.
    I can tell you, I grew up playing the kind of soccer where an enormous kick up the field was encouraged. I didn’t really care that much for soccer as a kid, preferring basketball because I saw it as a much more skilled sport. I was hardly a dewy eyed babe when the world cup came to the US: I was a freshman in college. This was the first time I even realized that grown men played soccer. (I like to blame the fact I grew up “behind the orange curtain”.) I think my experience is hardly a rare one, and is only now finally starting to change.
    The US is a biiiig country, and the entire world, until recently, for a whole lot of folks. It’s pretty hard to expect to raise a generation of Messi’s or Rooney’s until the average child knows who they are! How many times have I talked to people around here who claim they like soccer and the only US player they can name is Donovan. Soccer still ain’t on the radar for most american borns…
    These kinds of well thought-out posts and (hopefully) actions give me hope that my kids won’t grow up alone in knowing how the sport of soccer is played… and who knows what else!
    Anyhoo, I gotta figure out myself how to get involved in youth coaching.

    Reply

  8. Posted by Shane on 2010/04/19 at 11:19 AM

    Coaching and renovating the youth program will help a bit.. BUT the key that opens the doors to these “world class” players is lost in the all american sofa, and I will tell you why…

    1: To many sports in America.. American Football is #1 Followed by B-Ball, Baseball, and *Gulp* Nascar..

    2: Manipulation of the game: Some will disagree with me here but the fact is that Americans hate cheaters… So many times I have invited friends over to watch a big game, friends who are easily persuaded with beer, shrimp cocktail, and surround sound.. These friends could become fans of the sport, through a good time… Than there is that players who dives without any contact or falls down as if he was sniped from stands after being breathed on and my friends make jokes for the rest of the game..

    3: Most Important one ( genuine love for the game ) Messi, Ronaldo, Xavi, Rooney, these players have lived and breathed soccer since the day the doctor yanked them out of their mothers womb..

    For example: Could you imagine how good the US Rugby team would be if American football did’nt exist, or the US Cricket team without Baseball (lol) …

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/19 at 11:44 AM

      I think this is more about positive change for US grassroots / youth football, rather than increasing the numbers who follow football.

      I think that’s the whole point – to get the US to the point where #3 is an option here, along with the traditional US sports.

      #2 – unfortunately cheating is part of sports. See Belichick, Harding, Bonds, McGwire. Some might be more subtle, but cheating is cheating.

      Reply

    • Posted by kaya on 2010/04/19 at 1:52 PM

      To your point #3. This is the ultimate chicken/egg incarnation. The USA is going to move up in soccer just by virtue of immigration. Humans have been proven to be nothing more than sheep over and over again. The US team does well and people pay attention. If you can move the massive sporting inertia of the US just a bit with better coaching, that butterfly *will* flap its wings, the next Torsten Frings will miss the hand save, and the US will go to the semi finals and beyond ;)
      …and then Joe Blow Messi, etc, will be coming/being born to a town near you.

      Reply

  9. Posted by Scweeb on 2010/04/19 at 12:02 PM

    So this thought just came to me. So what if we made a USA coaches website for youth coaches. I site that shows what the coaches should focus on in what age groups. So say some city league father who dosen’t really know the game but wants to do the best he can to coach his sons team can easily got to this sanctioned USA SOCCER site and see drills for his sons age group and skill. Even do some video feeds of what is good vs what is bad. I know when i was coaching i would sit for hours during lunch breaks checking sites for help on how to coach a certian thing for my kids but there wasn’t really anything out there.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/19 at 12:06 PM

      Scweeb: I wish I had more time to comment today.

      This is a phenomenal idea…I’m wondering if TSG can do it….

      Reply

      • Posted by Scweeb on 2010/04/19 at 1:04 PM

        This idea has plagued my mind for years sense coaching. I really think if the USA youth system would make this happen it would dramatically raise are talent plus bring more fans to the usa soccer.

        Reply

    • Ironically, US Soccer has something like this already…

      Trawl through this part of their site: http://www.ussoccer.com/Coaches/CoachesNet.aspx

      And EA Sports has INTERACTIVE TRAINING: http://interactivetraining.easports.com/soccer/home.action

      Reply

      • Posted by Scweeb on 2010/04/19 at 1:08 PM

        I really like the EA sports with the interactive training its easier to understand what type of drill to do. But as for the ussoccer one no parent could go there and get any information on what they should be coaching and doing for drills.

        Reply

    • Scweeb – I have the same problem when I’m trying to get some fresh ideas. There are a lot of sites out there but they want to charge you or you have to spend hours sifting through different things to find something you’re looking for.

      Reply

  10. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/19 at 12:11 PM

    How much football is played at school? Don’t you have specialised PE teachers who take after school practise? How are the weekend leagues arranged – is it a case of paying your subsription fee then your kid plays? Or are there trials to (1) make sure the kid is good enough (2) put him/her in the appropriate team ability-wise?

    Reply

    • Posted by Bob on 2010/04/19 at 2:01 PM

      I know most youth leagues take any player as long as they can pay the fee. When I coached last year, the rules were that a player must play at least 2 quarters (we played a 4 quarter game).

      When I was growing up in Arizona, soccer was not a team sport in high school until I was a senior. I would guess that organized soccer teams in schools will vary between region etc. But, if another team sport such as baseball or football or basketball is playing at the same time, then my guess is that most kids will turn to those sports over soccer.

      Reply

    • George – First off, PE in this country is going to go by the wayside like our music programs due to the financial trouble some of our schools are having, and my old gym teachers barely knew how to help a kids shoot a basketball, let alone anything about a sport that wasn’t mainstream. The weekend rec leagues are pay a fee and your kid is in types, without tryouts. The “club” teams around the country are a little more selective and have tryouts which helps get kids in the right teams per their abilities.

      Reply

  11. Posted by kaya on 2010/04/19 at 12:33 PM

    There’s quite a bit of info on coaching on the ussoccer.com website.

    Reply

  12. Posted by Ben on 2010/04/19 at 3:44 PM

    Nick,
    Great ideas. I too coached in Illinois for 4 years and was very suprised (as a young coach) by how many bad, older coaches there are around. I train for a great little community club that has taken on quite the reputation as a feeder club for the better ones around the area.
    I believe that kids need someone “cool” to copy on the field, they need to want to practice their “skill” moves, and they should want to have fun while doing it. Too many coaches today yell, scream, and make the sport intolerable for little ones. The ones that do stick around turn into “robot” type players…I consistently show youtube videos of Messi, Ronaldo, etc. to my kids to see if they can do the same types of things. It’s worked very well in the past.
    The only problem with the ideas given is the lack of money. Until the US wins the WC, the MLS starts to get better, I don’t think many people will invest in soccer. It sucks now, but as popularity increases, so will knowledge, etc. making our players better in the future.
    GEORGE- also props on the not playing 11v11 for a long time. Short sided games is the road to better skill and confidence on the ball.
    sorry for the long post. passion. gets me going.

    Reply

    • I completely agree that they need someone cool to copy on the field. I had one of my players trying to emulate Dennis Bergkamp’s opposite direction turn he pulled against Newcastle a few years back, and the kid never pulled it off when I was the coach there, but his eyes always lit up when we would talk about the move.

      As for your mention of money being the biggest hurdle, I completely agree but tried to write this in a vacuum and simply analyze what we need to do going forward. Hopefully, like you said, the USMNT will be successful and the money will begin to follow. Or maybe the Galzers, Hickses, and Gilettes of the EPL will come home and begin investing in the MLS…

      Reply

  13. Posted by Idaho Vandal on 2010/04/20 at 10:23 AM

    I didn’t play soccer as a kid. Baseball was it. I desperately wanted my boy to be a baseball nut, but that just isn’t him. We initially signed him up for soccer, just to have him play some sport. To my surprise he as excelled, and is now completely obsessed with soccer. He won’t consider playing anything else. His passion has infected me, and now we watch EPL, MLS and international games together. We even made it to the qualifier game against El Salvador.

    So in small town Idaho, starting around a year ago, he and his cadre of friends are now playing pickup soccer in the mornings and at lunch every day at school. Blacktop in the winter and grass in the spring/fall. They could play almost anything, but choose to play soccer because they love it. This has expanded to include a larger group of kids, mostly 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. I also coach few of these kids on his U10 team. From last season now, it is amazing how much they have progressed with no coaching. Extra time on the ball and trying to get better than your buddy does amazing things. Every day after school he can’t wait to tell me about some amazing assist or goal he scored.

    If this kind of thing is happening here, I can only imagine what’s going on elsewhere. How can US Soccer not be on the rise?
    I

    Reply

    • That’s an awesome story. I can’t wait for the day when I can walk down to the local park and see kids playing, just for fun, on an open patch of grass.

      It’s too bad that the youth leagues dominate the public parks (at least in the Minneapolis area) to the point that my men’s team couldn’t practice on an empty baseball field because we didn’t have a permit…

      Reply

  14. Thanks for all the great commentary and feedback, I appreciate it.

    Reply

  15. Claudio apparently just gave his first State of the Union Address: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/soccer/world-cup-2010/05/25/reyna.usyouth.ap/index.html

    Can’t say I agree with completely going the “everyone is instructed in the same manner” route but I sincerely hope that we outline some guidlines about what kids at certain ages should be learning and what skills they should be attaining.

    Reply

  16. [...] • Here Claudio, Use This Schematic, by Nick Sindt [...]

    Reply

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