David Beckham’s early life and soccer development

David Beckham is one of the most recognized football players of all time. Although some will disagree about his talent on the field, there is no doubt that he could bend it like very few in the history of football. I decided to read the new book that recently came out, The Life and Career of David Beckham, by Tracey Savell Reavis, on his life. I was hoping to learn more about his soccer development growing up. From reading the book, I did get a good sense of why he became the David Beckham. Today I share what I learned from this book about Becks. I did reach out to the author to see if we could get just a little more information about the events of his childhood, but were unable to get her on the show, we are currently working on a time and date. The next best thing is to analyze what I learned from the book and discuss it for your entertainment and education. beckham

How it all started, the Environment and Parental Support
During the podcast we always discuss the environment and analyze how it impacted the development of players. David Beckham was no different. The book starts out discussing David’s background and where his ancestors came from. It was pretty interesting to learn about his ancestors, but that’s not the reason you are reading this article. The book then describes how young David started playing soccer. David’s father, Tim, played professionally in the lower divisions in England. He would go to training during the week and the young David Beckham would follow. At just 7 years old David would accompany his father to training, sometimes joining the team (yes the pro team for fun), and sometimes stayed after with dad to continue playing. His mother and father were both huge Manchester United fans. David’s grandfather was a Tottenham Hotspur fan. David also visited Wembley stadium and watched many professional games during his childhood. This created a great environment for David to develop and be nurtured. Like any other child, he imitated his parents and wanted to be like his father. “On many different occasions he has remarked on spending time in his family’s back garden, kicking a soccer ball with his father” The Life and Career of David Bekcham; Reavis, Tracey (2014), pg 6. “By the time he was seven years old, David Beckham already had years of football under his belt” (Reavis 2014, pg 5). However very few of those hours were from actual structured training, most of the hours spent were with his father and friends.



David recalls playing soccer with the neighbors and his father. He gives most of the credit of developing his free kick to his father. “When I wanted someone to kick a ball around with back in those days of dreaming, Dad was there, sometimes until it was so dark that we could hardly see each other. Mum would be worried because it would be 11 o’clock at night and we still weren’t home. But it was only because I still hadn’t practised my corners enough and I was begging him to stay on and be in goal for a few more. When I needed to be somewhere for a trial, a match or anything else connected with the game, Dad was there to make certain I made it in time. When I wanted advice he was there, although in the end he said it was up to me. With that kind of support behind me from the outset I have learnt to stand on my own two feet and not be afraid to make the right choices. Dad implanted so many of the best practices into me – keep improving, keep practising, keep your love of the game. And sign for Manchester United”. The Free Library, (http://www.thefreelibrary.com/WORLD+CUP+98%3a+I+only+ever+wanted+to+play+football+but.+.+.+I+never…-a060650935) As you can see, David had an exceptional environment around him. Although we can’t all be professional players and take our son or daughter with us to training, we can offer many of these things that David’s father offered. We can choose to stay after practice, or go in the backyard and practice our kicking. We can be there for our kids when they need to be at practice or at a game.


So how much does parental support matter with young kids. And when I say parental support, I don’t mean just going to games and yelling, but actually encouraging and taking part in the development. Playing with them, coaching them, learning with them, and supporting them. The author goes on to state “But it was David’s father who had the most influence in his early football development. The elder Beckham nurtured this talent by working with David and honing his skills hour after hour, night after night at Chase Lane Park” (Reavis, 2014, pg 7). The father later explained “I can’t say how much is down to me. I’am just part of a big cog that’s helped him to get where he is today. I was probably the big cog at the begining but there’s been other cogs since. We’d go over to the park all the time for a kick-around. I’d get one side of the goal and David the other and we’d try to chip the ball and hit the crossbar. Chipping in the park with his father helped him learn the technique. “He’s admirable, I mean he was willing to put in the time needed to develop what would be the most effective method. He practiced it, day after day, session after session, year after year. And he perfected it” (Reavis, 2014, pg 8).

Organized Soccer
David soon started playing organized soccer at about 8 years old. Joining a very small club in his community that was started by his father and a few other parents. They simply put an ad up in the newspaper and made a team, Ridgeway Rovers. His father and Coach Underwood started coaching the team. Coach Underwood is quoted in Reavis, 2014, stating that “David looked a professional from day one. Even at eight he could hit the ball from every corner of the pitch. his timing was incredible. He could strike the ball like a rocket – from any distance”. (Reavis, 2014, pg 10). What that tells me is that David was already good when he joined his first team, so it will be difficult for anyone to take credit for what he became, except his father. It was his father that introduced, maintained, and nurtured David’s love for the game. The book later discusses that the team, Ridgeway Rovers, won several cups and tournaments etc. which tells me that they had very good players to begin with since they started winning at a young age. The author later mentions that there were 4 other kids who went on to play professionally on David’s team.becks

David Beckham is known for his free kicks and good looks. On the field he was above average because of his passing accuracy. But when there was a free kick, there are very few that can do it better, ever. If free kicks were eliminated from soccer, David would still have been a very good player. He was not very good at 1 v 1, but he was an excellent passer. All those nights he spent with his father, chipping the ball and trying to hit the crossbar were hours and hours of practice. However it was just a game to young David. He didn’t realize that he was preparing himself to be a magnificent goal scorer from set pieces. This is the intrinsic learning that Ted Kroeten talks about in Episode one of the YSE Podcast. When you are having fun, you learn without thinking about it. David Beckham wanted to spend time and play with his dad, but he wound up becoming a legend.


This is a lesson for all parents, just go have fun with your child. In the end, you will win no matter the outcome. If they go on to be great football players, great, …. if not, then you still spent quality time with your son or daughter and that will have its own benefits.

If you would like to purchase the book The Life and Career of David Beckham: Football Legend, Cultural Icon , by
Tracey Savell Reavis, click on the link and it will take you to Amazon.com.


YSE8: Before Total Football and Tiki Taka, there was Jimmy Hogan, with Dermot Dalton


Ernesto with Dermot Dalton at the FUNINO Clinic

Dermot Dalton, the manager for The Beautiful Game, joins YSE Podcast to share some of his research on Jimmy Hogan. Jimmy Hogan was a critical component in the spread of possession based football throughout Europe, today known as Total Football and Tiki-Taka, among other names. His innovative approach and possession based philosophy impacted many managers who went on to have an impact on several storied teams in the footballing world.

Jimmy Hogan is credited as the visionary that saw possession in football as not only a way to defend, but also the best way to score. While the majority of teams, coaches, and players preferred to play direct, it was Jimmy that went against the grain and touted possession as the way to win.

Jimmy Hogan’s impact on the footballing world started with young coaches that worked under him in the early 1900’s and has reached all the way to the Netherland’s Total Football and Barcelona’s tiki-taka today.

Below we list some of the few coaches and teams that can be linked back to Jimmy Hogan.

Coaches such as Hugo Meisl, the Austrian coach who went on to coach the storied “Wunderteam”  http://www.fifa.com/classicfootball/coaches/coach=61643/

The Wunderteam, sometimes known as the “danubian wirl”  http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2014/apr/22/world-cup-stunning-moments-austria-wunderteam

The German coach, Helmut Shun  http://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/spl/aberdeen/helmut-schoen-1.465124

The “Magic Magiars” team  http://www.fifa.com/classicfootball/coaches/coach=61688/

Coach Bela Guttman http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C3%A9la_Guttmann

Dermot also takes the time to talk to us about Horst Wein and his philosophies. You can find out more about Horst Wein, Dermot Dalton, and Funino by going to thebeautifulgame.ie

You can also view the post from April that I wrote about Horst Wein by clicking here. See the post on Horst Wein, click here.

If you would like to purchase one of the many books by Horst Wein, click here.

Ernesto Diaz with Horst Wein at the FUNINO Clinic in Philadelphia


YSE7: Tom Frambach on sacrificing trophies to improve youth soccer player development in New York City

YSE Tom FrambachTom Frambach, General Manager, from Downtown United Soccer Club (DUSC) in New York City joins the Youth Soccer Evolution Podcast to discuss how his club is sacrificing trophies at the younger age groups in order to maximize youth soccer player development. Why trophies don’t equal player development and what clubs can do about it.

Tom takes us on his soccer player development journey as a young man in the early 90s, when soccer was beginning to grow into what it is today. He shares how his environment, and the coaches he was exposed to, changed the way he viewed player development.

Tom shares with YSE nation how DUSC does not allow the younger age groups under 12 to play in leagues. They focus on development instead by controlling the environment and allowing for “proper competition”. The key is to educate the parents on the process of training and development and explain why winning does not equal development. Although it may not always be easy, Tom explains that clubs may lose some players, but you have to stick to your Mission and Philosophy.

He also discusses how kids are training outside of formal training hours, and how it helps them manage games. They play without structure and it allows them to get more touches on the ball. We also dive into how smaller players can focus on their qualities and master them, which is something Tom did as a youngster.

The video discussed in the show about the U18 team that won the State Cup can be found on the DUSC website, scroll down and to the left will be Dusk Video Channel, click on “U18 Golden Generation”.

Jean Paul Marin, academy player for Red Bulls, from DUSC

Tom can be contacted at

Having trouble with coaching? For coaching books Click Here!

Don’t forget to reach out to us through email [email protected], on twitter @ElErnestoDiaz, and Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of DUSC.net


YSE6: Drew “Ducks” Ducker making the US National Futsal team and Indoor Soccer Champion!

courtesy of http://www.detroitwaza.com/

In Episode 6 of the Youth Soccer Evolution Podcast, we welcome Drew “Ducks” Ducker. Drew is not only an outstanding soccer player, he’s also a outstanding person. I’ve had the chance to meet Ducks a few times and he’s always a pleasure to be around. Drew took the time to share with us his journey wich started out on the B team as a young player. He worked hard and his efforts eventually landed on the United States Futsal National team, Orlando Sharks, Nashville Metros, and with the Detroit Ignition, where he won his first professional championship. He shares his success in High School and at the club level, and then the obstacles he had to overcome as a collegiate player. How the positive influences in his life helped him overcome those obstacles. Drew also has a ton of advice for coaches and parents to help with the development of young soccer players, such as the importance of positive coaching at a young age, why futsal is important, and why peaking at a young age may not be ideal. Check out the Chamba website below and spread the word by forwarding the link to your friends and contacts. They have a lot of cool unique clothing and equipment for soccer players. http://www.chambastyle.com/ Check out Duck’s website for tons of resources about Futsal, training and development, his bio, and updates on his Futsal Academy. And some really cool videos made by Ducks himself. drewducker.com This is the article regarding the MISL and PASL merger. I think as soccer continues to grow in the US, the indoor league will grow and professional Futsal will soon make an entrance, only time will tell. http://www.milwaukeewave.com/news/MASL A link to the Detroit Waza Flo professional indoor soccer team, where Drew currently applies his trade. http://www.detroitwaza.com/index.html If you are in the Detroit, MI. area, get your team into East Michigan Futsal league! http://www.usyouthfutsal.com/eastmichiganfutsal/ourleague/index_E.html Check out our affiliates SoccerAthletics.com to Learn How to Improve Your Speed, Power, Strength, Agility, Endurance, Technical Ability, Creativity,
Mental Conditioning, and Diet…

Or try Go Pro Workouts recommended by Jozy Altidore!

photo is courtesy of http://www.detroitwaza.com/


Youth Soccer Age Groups 2015/2016

Age groupings for youth soccer players is sometimes confusing. The first thing you need to know is that the cutoff date that youth soccer clubs use is August 1st. The reason I highlight Youth Soccer Clubs in Bold is because Youth National teams use January 1st. We can discuss that later, for today we ca focus on youth soccer clubs in the United Sates.300by300pixels_logo

The second factor to understanding the youth soccer club age groupings is that the Under means you are Under that age group on August 1st. For example, a child that turns 13 years old on August 1st is considered a U13 player, even though they will be 13 years old the entire season. Most of his/her teammates will probably be 12 and start turning 13 during the year. If that child had turned 13 on July 31st, that player would now be a U14 player, because they will be 14 during this year 8/01/2014 – 7/31/2015.

A good rule of thumb is to take the date of the start of the season (usually September 1st) and go back a month (July 31st). How old was your child on that day? Add a U and 1 year and you get the age group. If he/she was 12, then they are a U13 player. If your child is 13 then they are a U14 player. If they are 12 and turn 13 the following day (August 1st), they are still a U13 player.

Understand that there are normally two seasons (Fall and Spring) every youth soccer club year, but your child will still hold the same age group throughout the entire year, until the following July 31st.

The table below will help you with the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 age groups. However when in doubt, refer back to the rule. Take the start of the season, go back to that July 31st and determine how old your child was. Then add 1 year. That is their age group.

Single year age grouping for 2015/2016 Season:


Born on or after AUG 1, 1996 & Younger


Born on or after AUG 1, 1997 & Younger


Born on or after AUG 1, 1998 & Younger


Born on or after AUG 1, 1999 & Younger


Born on or after AUG 1, 2000 & Younger


Born on or after AUG 1, 2001 & Younger


Born on or after AUG 1, 2002 & Younger


Born on or after AUG 1, 2003 & Younger


Born on or after AUG 1, 2004 & Younger


Born on or after AUG 1, 2005 & Younger


Born on or after AUG 1, 2006 & Younger


Born on or after AUG 1, 2007 & Younger


Born on or after AUG 1, 2008 & Younger


Born on or after AUG 1, 2009 & Younger


YSE5: Kephern Fuller: Taking Dutch Soccer to the East Coast


In Episode 5 of YSE Podcast Kephern Fuller takes us on his player development journey. His journey, which started as a young kid in the South, and Later played at George Mason University, ultimately landed him in the Netherlands.

What he learned during his career in Europe had a significant impact on his player development philosophy. He returned to the US and established Joga SC. Today hundreds of players at Joga SC are benefiting from Kephern’s knowledge of Dutch and European Soccer development.

jogascsmall_400x400In episode 5, Kephern discusses why kids need to be independent, creative, and develop their own identity. How these factors allowed him to be successful as a player.

Kephern also tells us how player development is different in the US when compared to Europe and specifically the Netherlands. The reason that street soccer is so important.

And finally, why the culture and environment are so crucial in developing young soccer players and what YOU can do today to enhance the development of your young son or daughter.

You can learn more about Kephern and his soccer club, Joga SC, in the link below.


Cambuur Leeuwarden – Dutch soccer club where Kephern had his trials


Tell us what you think about the culture in the US below in the comments section.


YSE4: Jake Gillengerten: How Youth Soccer Player Development has changed in the past 20 years

In Episode 4 of the Youth Soccer Evolution Podcast (which you can listen to below), we welcome Jake Gillengerten, former PDL assistant coach for the Kalamazoo Outrage. Jake takes us on his journey through his youth development in travel soccer and later at Tri State University (where he was an All American). He explains how the soccer environment that his father created, helped Jake fall in love with soccer and helped him develop as a player. Jake’s soccer environment was so nurturing, that it also influenced him into coaching.

He recalls watching world cup games, and then going out to play, with no pressure, just friends having a good time. How great support from his parents helped him overcome his lowest point as a soccer player.

Jake explains why coaches need to encourage players to play all positions, how dedication and commitment will maximize development and success, how learning tactics can improve development, how to network with other coaches, and how long travel can turn into a stressful experience.

You can reach Jake Gillengerten at


Becoming Christiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo, one of the greatest of all time started out the same way the majority of us are fortunate enough to begin. But Ronaldo took a different path and became one of the best of all time. Why did Ronaldo become Ronaldo? What made him what he is today? Why can’t that be duplicated? Today we look at Ronaldo’s upbringing and analyze what he did to develop into one of the greatest players of all time.

He was the youngest of 4 kids, born in Madeira, Portugal.

His family lived in one of the poorest areas in Madeira. This is common not only with soccer greats, but with the majority of professional athletes around the world.

His neighbors have stated that “he was always playing with the ball”, “you would always see him up and down, up and down the street with the ball”. If his neighbors saw him, this means he was always playing at home.

He Played street soccer with his friends and neighbors. He even talks about it in the documentary. Ronaldo said that they had to play street soccer on a sloped street, they would put rocks down as goal posts. When a car would be driving by, they had to remove the rocks. Ronaldo’s mother discusses how Ronaldo would come home from school and state that he didn’t have homework. Dinner would be on the table, but instead he would grab “a fruit and a yogurt and would not return until 9pm”.

If he was playing street soccer and at home on his own, this means tRonaldodribblehat Free Play played a big role in his development. There were no coaches around on the street or at home following him around telling him what to do. It was all Free Play.

What about Ronaldo’s environment and culture? I believe that the environment and culture make a huge difference in the development of any player. For starters, Ronaldo’s dad was director of a small soccer club in the City of Medeira. Ronaldo saw that his father enjoyed being around soccer so it was inevitable that Ronaldo would play as well.

His mother also loved soccer. She claims in the documentary that she wanted her son to play like Luis Figo. What a great environment to live under, his mom and dad both loved the game and that was a significant contributor to his development. Ronaldo’s mother also goes on to state that she wanted Ronaldo to play for Sporting Lisbon and supported the transfer when he was 12 years old. Sporting Lisbon was her favorite club growing up.

Christiano Ronaldo started playing for his dad’s club at 6 years old. He remembers that he had a lot of fun and they practiced almost every day. Can you imagine if you asked a parent in the US to practice everyday? Ronaldo loved to practice. He had an insatiable thirst for soccer and the key to his development was that the environment fed that thirst. Everywhere he went, he could play, at home, on the street, at school, and at his club. What a great soccer environment!

At about 10 years old, Ronaldo had established himself as one of the best players around. Ronaldo’s father contacted Ronaldo’s godfather and they facilitated a transfer to Nacional de Madeira. According to Nacional de Madeira coach, Antonio Mandoca, Ronaldo always wanted the ball at his feet. “He wanted to do everything on his own”. Think about what we do with 10 year old kids who are selfish with the ball….. I’ve seen so many parents and coaches coach this out of the kids. They yell at them that they must pass the ball. They work on drills all day long to coach the kids to pass because “he’s not a team player”. They forget the fact that the reason that the player is trying to do everything on his own is because he wants his team to win, he/she is competitive, but we view that as a negative. What we can learn from this is that we need to let kids be kids and let nature take its course. Kids are selfish weather we like it or not, and eventually they grow out of it.

What about his size? Today Ronaldo is known for his power, speed, and control. His runs and shots are so powerful. You would never have know that he was considered to be “too thin” as a young boy. His mother talks about how she was afraid that Ronaldo would break his shin from a hard tackle. What this should tell you is that size doesn’t matter. We HAVE to let nature take its course and allow the kids to grow. We must nurture their development. Ronaldo trophy

Ronaldo’s parents, sisters, and coaches report that he used to cry if he didn’t score or if his friends didn’t score goals. He did this so much that he earned the nickname “crybaby”. This is another example of how we need to let kids be kids. Ronaldo was only acting like a child, because that is what he was. Imagine how he would have been treated in the USA….. he would have been told that he doesn’t have the psychological make up to make a winner, etc. etc. He was a child and that’s how children act. My nephew who went on to play for the Regional ODP and college used to cry as well when he didn’t score, but that’s because he had a passion and that’s all.

Paolo Cardoso, from Sporting Lisbon, talks about the first time he met Ronaldo for the tryout. He said that he “put him (Ronaldo) to work with older players, got ball, went past two or three players, we looked at each other and knew he was special. Never seen such quality in a player.” He goes on to state that Ronaldo was “Player of unusual talent, excellent dribbler, we recommended that we sign him up!”.

At just 12 years old, Paolo knew that they had something special. Up to that time, Ronaldo had never attended any prestigious camps, clubs, or coaching clinics. He had never met any world famous coaches or anything of that sort. He just simply loved soccer, had a great soccer environment and culture around him, had a passion for learning and competing, had thousands of hours of free play, and was very athletic.

If you analyse these things, you notice that none of them cost anything. His love and passion for soccer and competition were part of his character, his soccer environment and culture were given to him, and his free play hours and athletic ability were part of his environment. He did receive good coaching, not great, but just good. He didn’t start getting “excellent coaching” until he reached Sporting Lisbon and Manchester United. By that time he was already considered a great soccer player, he was 12 years old. I believe that his parents and coaches made the right decision to send him away at 12-13 years old. I think this is the time when players are ready to be coached. By this time they should already be polished technically and ready for the tactical side of training and intentional practice.

So, when your son/daughter is U6 or U8, there is no need to pay thousands of dollars for coaching or playing. They need a love for the game, desire to play, receive reinforcement from their environment, create a culture that nurtures their creativity, free play, and thousands of hours of practice. You cannot control athleticism, and you won’t know until they reach their late teens. So in the meantime, give them what you can get for free.


YSE Episode 3: How a soccer environment developed Pepe Perez


Summary: In Youth Soccer Evolution Podcast, Episode 3 Jose “Pepe” Perez takes us on his youth soccer development journey. He discusses how “Free Play” and the soccer environment in his home helped him excel without ever receiving “professional training”. Pepe never played on a travel/club soccer, and only played one year in High School, yet he has reached a level that few players get to experience.

How the love for the game was passed on to him by his father and siblings. His environment was “soccer”, he is thankful and credits this environment for his success.

Pepe shares what he would do today if he had a son and what development model he would implement to maximize the development.

Pepe tells us about the highs and lows in his young career and how he almost gave up on his dream of playing college soccer. He shares how he kept his dream alive by continuing to work hard and taking advantage of the opportunity when it was presented.


Lake Michigan College Soccer

Pepe’s email for questions or comments

Pepe is a perfect example of how critical “free play” is to children. As parents we jump ahead and attempt to make our children professionals before they learn to love the game. I can’t stress it enough, kids must first love the game before they want to get better. If you force them to grow up too fast, they will burn out. We have to remember that soccer is a GAME. It’s a game played by children and adults, and we as adults, parents, and coaches should not force them to play OUR game. The kids need to play THEIR game, and that is FREE PLAY, not deliberate practice or pressured competitions. Once the child learns to love the game, he/she will seek to improve on their own, and that’s when we can maximize their development when they come to us asking questions and are interested in the answers. This is the way the top players in the world developed and we need to stop trying to reinvent the wheel.

Remember, keep giving kids opportunities to play with different balls, different surfaces, barefoot, with shoes, and against different opponents, make it FUN! Futsal is always a fun way to get kids playing.

Any feedback, questions, comments are appreciated at




YSE2: Part 2 with Ted Kroeten from JOTP, Youth Soccer Player Development

In the Second part of the interview, Ted explains the difference between the Acquisition and Deliberate Practice Phases in youth soccer development.

But first, thank you so much for all the positive feedback regarding Ted’s interview. We will continue putting out great content for additional resources and inspiration to all of you that want to make a difference in the lives of young footballers.

Show Notes:

In episode 2, it is the 2nd part of the interview with Ted Kroeten from joyofthepeople.ORG, this is a CORRECTION from the first episode where I mentioned that it was a .com URL.

Ted continues discussing the acquisition phase in youth soccer development. He jumps into comparing the difference between the acquisition phase and the deliberate practice phase.  You can get more information about the Deliberate vs Aquisition model at joyofthepeople.org

Free Play Balls




Keys to Free Play Model

Acquisition period must be pure, be very careful when implementing.

Don’t move out of acquisition period too quick and don’t move into the deliberate practice phase too quick. Be patient.

Create High Motivation technical problems for kids during training sessions

Ted discussed his ideal Youth Soccer Player Development Model

5-6 year olds need to stay home and play with parents, organic development.

7-9 years old, play with friends, 2 v 2 and 3 v 3, move away from concrete stage of development; play as much as possible, as close as home as possible, barefoot with different balls, get introduced to Futsal balls.

11-12 years old, start deliberate practice, but continue free play, watch others, 20 hours of free play a week. See the model used by JOTP at joyofthepeople.org

Free play until 16, Pele, Cruyf, and Maradona played close to home and they turned out ok.

Rice and Beans program at JOTP