Jon Townsend stopped by to discuss a great article I read about the cost of player development, titled “The Game is Free” for www.thesefootballtimes.net. It’s a great article that makes you step back and really think about why we are paying so much money for the price of soccer development.
Jon has great stories about growing up in a Latino community in Chicago and San Jose, CA., and how that helped shape not only his soccer development, but his way of thinking about it. Jon feels he is a product of the street game and academy system, and players should not just depend on an academy for development.
Jon discusses some of the reasons he wrote the article. One reason is that he spend time in Europe and In Europe kids are playing all over, in the US we have an abundance of land, but don’t let kids play on that land unless they belong to a league or club team. This is hurting the youth soccer development. Instead of kid playing outside at the park, kids play video games.
- John discusses the environment he grew up in and how it impacted his soccer development.
- No player has ever reached a high level just by playing in an academy system, free play must be utilized to maximize soccer development
- Parents view dollars as an opportunity and think they can buy their way to talent, so soccer development is viewed as the more money you spend the higher level kids should be able to play.
- Way too many coaches making money off parent’s ignorance about soccer development. Parents are desperate and willing to pay whatever it takes.
- Intensity, volume, and frequency is what will help you improve
- Creativity is being coached out of the kids and they are not allowed to be artists with the ball during their soccer development. Cant expect kids to be creative if they are made to do anything.
- Free Play is one of the best tools for player development and it’s free, but parents want to pay for it because they feel that soccer development should cost a lot of money.
- Is the obsession with control that so many coaches and adults have hurting our soccer development?
I love the story about Jon’s Siberian Huskey. He would go to his backyard and grabbed a toy or ball and played one on one vs the dog. This is actually something I used to do, and I am sure many others have. You should try it, it’s a lot of fun and you both benefit. The dog gets tired of chasing you around and has fun, while you improve your soccer development.
Also discussed a great story about a European academy coach looking for NATURAL talent, not cone player. He wanted to see what the kids would do in a “free play” environment.
A HUGE PROBLEM that was discussed and I had not thought about is that many Academies and Big Clubs are going into ethnic communities and taking players out, instead going in there and enhancing their environment by building fields and actually helping them. Don’t remove them from that environment that made them so good before they were removed.
Finally Jon discussed his plans for his book on his player development journey as a player, which will be appropriately titled “Its just a ball”. Can’t wait to read it Jon.
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Raheem Sterling’s discovery was discussed in the book The Nowhere Men: The Unknown Story of Football’s True Talent Spotters
Great piece on Icelandic Football by Jon Townsend
http://farpostfooty.com/ – John’s very own website where he posts other articles about soccer and player development.
http://www.thesefootballtimes.net/ where you can get many other great soccer related articles.
http://www.theoriginalcoach.com/#!the-game-is-free/cj8q – “The Game is Free” article.
https://www.yearzerosoccer.org/ – Project Jon is currently working on.