will make a great individual effort and head the ball into the goal . We don ’ t play soccer and use our athletic ability .
Every coach reading this has talked to his / her players about all these coaching points :
» Hold your run » Sprint into the box » Frame the goal » Pass to a teammate » Shoot first time » Shoot to the far post
Yet mistakes persist . We don ’ t hold our young players to a standard that demands proper execution .
For years U . S . Soccer has stated that “ the game is the best teacher !” But is it ? I am not sure . If our young players simply play the game and expect to get better , it will not happen . They will not learn the little things that make the difference . If a young player is successful playing only with the right foot it is because he / she is bigger , stronger and faster than the peer group . But are they getting better ? Are they becoming soccer players ? The bad habits that are not corrected in youth soccer cannot be changed as the players get older . The game didn ’ t teach anything . If anything , it reinforced the habits — good or bad — the player developed moving through the youth ranks .
Having spent many days in Europe watching many soccer training sessions , I can say this is not the case in Europe . Every session in Europe you see teaching happening . Here is a sample of what we see in a European session and don ’ t see in the U . S .:
» Turn , man on » The proper foot to receive and pass the ball » Timing of runs » Moving off the ball » Pass and move
» The proper runs to make , i . e ., in front of or behind the defender
» Which part of the foot to use for passing and shooting » Playing one- and two-touch soccer » Head on a swivel » Etc .
The solution is not easy . The size and diversity of this country can hinder the teaching process . But here are some thoughts :
Make a coaching license / course mandatory : We are one of the few countries in the world that does not ask youth coaches to take a course or get a license / diploma to coach . This will ensure at least a cursory level of soccer knowledge and pedagogy . I have mentioned this before in this column and received mixed reviews . The U . S . is the number one country in the world that relies on volunteers for many things . Youth coaching ( in all sports ) is one of them . Although the volunteer coach ’ s heart is in the right place , we are missing important teaching and learning time at a crucial age . In Europe , the best coaches teach the young players .
Role models : At the Bayern München training ground the U10 training field is adjacent to the first team training ground . The young players get to watch world-class players train every day . They watch and then take what they saw to the training ground and practice it on their training field . That does not happen in the U . S . Often the first team is segregated from all the youth teams . But young players in the U . S . do have an opportunity to learn from role models . Watch television . But the right way . There is more soccer on television today than any other time in our history . But we should watch high-level games not as fans , but to learn from the role models we see . How do these teams at the highest level play ? How do these players play ? When and how do they use certain techniques ?
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