Tag Archives: Youth Soccer Player development


How the large number of youth soccer clubs impacts youth soccer player development

Today I wanted to examine how the large number of youth soccer clubs negatively impacts player development in the United States. The first issue is that youth soccer clubs hoard players and the best players in an area rarely play together. The second problem is that the best soccer coaches are rarely coaching the best soccer players, because the number of youth soccer teams and youth soccer clubs easily outnumbers the number of good soccer coaches.

The first issue with the large number of youth soccer clubs is intensified when players from one area are discouraged to play with players from another area for several reasons. Due to the substantial money involved with youth soccer clubs, the goal becomes a number (of players) and not soccer player development. Clubs begin to focus, not on player development, but on the number of soccer players and teams within the club. Why does this matter so much? Several reasons that include competition, money, bragging rights, growth, and/or winning. Notice that soccer player development is not one of them. Why? That’s easy, there’s no incentive for clubs to develop players. In other countries, the clubs receive money for training and developing talent, not here, so why bother. So, the ONLY way to make money in youth soccer is to recruit as many soccer players as possible and charge as much as possible, and yes parents will pay thousands of dollars just so their kid can kick a soccer ball.
While soccer clubs are fighting over players, the soccer coaches take sides and that leads us to the second issue with the large number of youth soccer clubs in the US. One club will have 3 talented top tier soccer coaches, while another will have another 2 good ones, and the other soccer club another 3-4. Some of the best soccer coaches are the soccer club technical directors or the club’s director of coaching. However, each soccer club will have one of these, so in a good size city with 5-6 youth soccer clubs, those good coaches will be divided up into 3-4 top soccer clubs. This leaves many clubs with good soccer teams without qualified soccer coaches.

The goal of a soccer community should be to have all the best coaches in one or two clubs, with the best soccer players going to those clubs so that they can get the best coaching, competition, and training in the area. I know that US Soccer has tried with the DA, but that’s just another made up name for the same league, same coaches, same players, HIGHER PRICE. Same goes for MRL and whatever name they come up with next so they can charge even higher prices. So, what is stopping the clubs from getting together? Money, greed, politics, and stubbornness. The thing that puzzles me is that most of the clubs are “non-profit” and are supposed to be set up to HELP player development, but instead are directly hindering the development of these youth soccer players.
The other issue is parents are almost clueless. The majority of parents will throw money at “training” they think is a magic pill for little Johnny to make it big. Here’s a little secret…… clubs, coaches, and leagues don’t make players. It’s a mixture of DNA, environment, and psychology. More on that later. soccer-ball-on-green-grass-100152346

I think the solution to this problem is the soccer community coming together and identifying a soccer club that will be the top tier club in the area. The rest of the clubs can support that club and send players and coaches to the club. Those clubs on the lower tier would get compensated for sending players and/or coaches to the top tier club. This way the “lower tier” clubs can continue recruiting and developing youth soccer players, but never hoarding them, as they will move on to the top tier club eventually. That’s how it works in other countries.

In Spain, a small club in Barcelona competes with Barca, but they also are extremely proud and delighted when one of their players makes the Barca academy! Why shouldn’t they be? They were part of that player’s development and now they have a chance to someday play professional soccer. The child is now on a path to professional soccer. Barca has all the resources to help that player, great coaching, the finest soccer fields, a great environment, professional training (and I mean professional), great players, culture, and as I stated before, a clear path to the pros.

So, what if each soccer community could pool their resources and put one soccer club together with the best of everything soccer that community has to offer? I think we would be much more efficient in soccer player development and the ones that would benefit the most from this are the kids and US Soccer. Shouldn’t that be the goal anyway? If we shared the responsibility of training and developing soccer players, we could celebrate the accomplishments of every single youth soccer player we develop as a community of soccer clubs, coaches, and parents. We could also dramatically lower the cost of playing soccer, which would open the doors to even more youth soccer players.
Let me know your thoughts below.


Solidarity Mechanism’s Impact on Soccer Player Development with Liviu Bird from Sports Illustrated


courtesy https://www.facebook.com/liviubird Playing the Seattle Sounders

Sport’s Illustrated’s Liviu Bird stops by to discuss a controversial topic regarding soccer player development that many people don’t know about. Known to many as the “solidarity mechanism”, this FIFA policy allows clubs to be compensated for developing players. The controversy is over whether or not US clubs will be compensated. At this no US clubs are compensated for developing players. Please read this article first Crossfire VS MLS. You will then want to follow up and read the second article here. The stakeholders involved in this controversy are very prominent, the Crossfire Youth Soccer Club, DeAndre Yedlin (by no fault of his own), USSF, MLS, and FIFA.


Training compensation – designed to reimburse clubs for money spent to develop pro players. Crossfire is NOT looking for any compensation through this rule.

Solidarity Mechanism – to incentivize player development – promote grassroots and reward youth clubs for doing a great job.

But before we discuss his article, we get into Liviu’s own soccer player development experience. Liviu will discuss how his parents were always involved with his playing and development. They pushed him but always supported him.

He discusses how he grew up playing on the streets of Romania. How kids improvised and made goals on the street.

liviu birdLiviu discusses how he just started playing goalie during Recreational soccer. At 16 yrs old he started to specialize in goalie. He feels that it was important that he played on the field before that as 60-70% of a goalie’s involvement is with their feet.

Liviu also discuss the importance of goalies being able to read the game and how it can impact the outcome of matches.

Free Play days, are those still too organized? or do we still have too much control? Why it’s so important to play with friends, siblings, and family.


Learn More about Liviu Bird: http://www.si.com/author/liviu-bird



First article on Solidarity: http://www.si.com/planet-futbol/2015/06/29/us-soccer-youth-club-compensation-crossfire-deandre-yedlin-mls-fifa

Follow up article, response by FIFA: http://www.si.com/planet-futbol/2015/07/21/fifa-crossfire-us-soccer-mls-youth-training-compensation-solidarity

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How Greedy Soccer Coaches Thwart Player Development

As some of you may know, I recently started a Futsal Academy. The academy, KP Futsal, was set up to create interest in Futsal in the community and to improve the soccer skills and game intelligence of soccer players. There are only a handful of Futsal Academies in the US so I knew I was fighting an uphill battle. About 60% of soccer coaches today in the US do NOT know what Futsal is, amazing I know, considering it’s one of the best tools to improve soccer skills.



I knew that educating soccer coaches, players, and parents would be difficult based on the popularity of Futsal in the US. However what I learned today was very depressing. I have started to put together a few teams with skilled players that can compete in the newly formed Futsal Premier League. I did not want to just collect money from players and show up with any team. I want to train a good group of motivated kids and have a good base to compete in league play. There are no Futsal teams in my area, so none of the kids are committed to Futsal for the summer.

The first thing I did was contact a few players that are very good and I knew personally. I started with 3 players. Futsal is only 5 v 5 so we don’t need many substitutes. After getting 3 good players, I set out to recruit a few more at the local soccer fields.

I then sent an email out to all of the soccer coaches in the area and explained to them that I may speak with one or more of their players. I tried to do the right thing by explaining that the Futsal academy was not associated with any club and poaching players was never a goal. I also offered postings for coaches who were interested in coaching with the Futsal Academy. The goal was to work together with all the clubs in the area to create the best teams to compete in the Futsal Premier League.

I saw a very good player and gave a flyer to the parents about Futsal. I didn’t want to recruit until I spoke with the soccer coach personally. The following day I contacted the coach and explained the Futsal Academy. That it would help the player with game intelligence, quicker feet, and movement off the ball. I explained that the Futsal Academy would not interfere with any of his soccer training and/or club season. I explained my goals again about uniting the clubs and creating a Futsal Academy and why it was important to work with all the clubs.

The answer from the soccer coach is what led me to write this article. He explained that his club was tired of losing players to teams in the area. He said that he would not be discussing anything with the player because he didn’t want to lose the player. Although I appreciated his honesty, I could not help but feel disappointed. Not because the soccer coach wouldn’t speak on my behalf, because I can always reach out to the player and family myself, but because it reminded me of how soccer coaches and clubs hold players back so that they can look good as soccer coaches and clubs.

The clubs and soccer coaches, who should be advocating and promoting player development with players, are willing to hold players back so that they can benefit. They look at players as numbers and dollar bills. They may find programs or services that can help the player reach new heights, but soccer coaches are willing to hide these tools from players for fear of losing them. How selfish is this? Think about how many players have been hindered because the parents don’t know any better and the soccer coach refuses to actually help this player so that they can keep them. And I have seen this over and over again.

In case you are wondering, I have personally sent players from my smaller club to a larger club where I thought the player would flourish and I can prove this. Why have I done this? Because I know it’s about the player, not the club or soccer coach. The players give everything they have for the club and the parents pay for their child to play there. Why do soccer coaches feel like they own these players? Why aren’t coaches and clubs actually serving their players like the loyal customers that they are? The best players pay the same fees that the bench players pay, yet these skilled players make your team look really good. These players are repaid by thwarting their soccer player development.

I was upset, but again very grateful that the coach was honest with me. I know his fear is real and it demonstrates what the priorities of the club are. Clubs are fighting over kids, not because they want to serve them, but because they want to look good with wins and grow the bottom line. The truth is that the more kids in a club, the more money it is generating. What’s the big deal with this? Well clubs in other countries are actually developing players, that’s their main priority. They want to develop a player to play on the first team and they will do whatever it takes, including exposing the players to new ways of training.

I hope parents realize what is happening in the “club scene”. Unfortunately many of them have very little soccer player development knowledge and are being taken advantage of. This is sad not only for the parents and the kids, but for the soccer community as a whole. How can we ever create world class players when everyone is trying hide them from from each other in fear of losing them?

My E-book on player development for parents will be coming out soon. If you would like a free copy, send me an email.


5 Reasons Youth Soccer Tournaments are killing development

Youth Travel Soccer Tournaments are a big business in the United States and across the globe. The idea behind soccer tournaments was brilliant, get the best players and teams together to see who is the best in a weekend or week. It still is a brilliant idea today. However what has happened, like much of soccer, is that someone has decided to make the youth soccer players, play like adults. Everything adults do, the youth must do. This has also occurred with training and development aspect of soccer. Kids as young as 5 are being placed in training programs for adults.

Today the Youth Travel Soccer Club scene is over saturated with tournaments ranging from local 1 v 1 games to full fledged trips to Europe or the US. Parents are paying up $5000.00 for a single tournament. The cost of these tournaments is not only money, but the kids are physically paying the price as well as their player development. Today we analyze the impact of Youth Soccer Tournaments on the youth soccer player development model.

danny-welbeck-manchester-united down-1001844261. Too many games in one weekend is physically demanding and stressful on their young bodies. This overplaying and training increases the number of injuries on the kids. When going into a tournament, the coach and team should have plenty of substitutes for the long weekend. The part to understand is that we are asking kids to play 3-5 games in a 2-3 day span. This is physically demanding on their young and developing bodies. If the games were just for fun, the kids would not be going at full speed for very long and would take themselves out when they got tired. However the problem is that the kids are under pressure to win and stay in the game for as long as possible. They over work their muscles to the point of injury. It is a fact that the body requires a resting period in order to rejuvenate, but if you keep playing just as hard the following day, you don’t give your body enough time to recover.

To avoid problems, take as many substitutes as possible to every soccer tournament. Don’t put pressure on the kids that they have to win. Limit the amount of tournaments you attend. One or two tournaments in one season is plenty, especially for younger teams in the U11 and lower divisions.

2. Too much emphasis on winning today. If you have joined a travel soccer team to develop or improve your soccer skills, the clubs will make you believe that tournaments are necessary. There is no single tournament in the world that can help develop players. The tournaments are mainly used for competition play, where teams can measure themselves up against other soccer teams in a different part of the nation or world. When traveling to a tournament, the teams want to win, and who can blame them. Every team has paid their fee, paid their traveling expenses, worked hard on the training grounds, and now are ready to see how much they have improved. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be the best or the desire to want to beat the best soccer teams. The problem is that many clubs and teams will go to 3-4 soccer tournaments in a 2 month span. They are looking for wins. When a coach is looking to win, development takes a backseat and the players suffer.300by300pixels_logo

Player development is one of the main reasons that kids get involved with travel or club soccer, so why do they travel to so many tournaments. At the tournament, only 22 kids can play at a time with one soccer ball. That leaves about 20 other kids on the bench watching. The 22 kids that are playing only have 1 ball, so the amount of player development that happens during soccer tournaments is almost zero.

I would rather have the kids attend a 4 team scrimmage where kids can relax a little, but also get a few minutes of full speed training. The coach is not under any pressure to win or put the best kids in the game because ultimately, the results don’t matter.


3. Travel Soccer Tournaments bring unnecessary anxiety and pressure to kids, parents, and their environment. Have you ever been to a travel soccer tournament? The amount of tension is remarkable. Every player, every parent, every coach, and every team wants to win every game. This puts an enormous amount of unnecessary pressure on the kids and creates an environment filled with anxiety. I was once at a tournament and a group of 8 year olds were running around kicking the ball (it was obvious they liked playing soccer). The coach came around and started yelling at them to go sit down and rest……. He said that they had another game that day and needed to be ready. The whole point of being involved with soccer is to play. That is all these kids wanted to do was play soccer. However their coach had other goals for that weekend. He wanted to win every game and take home the trophy. This is completely backwards and it’s one of the main reasons why players quit or fail to develop, because we put winning first.

4. Youth Soccer Tournaments are expensive. On average the cost of a one weekend tournament, for 3 games guaranteed, will cost about $750.00. So when you do the math, a youth soccer team could pay up to $250 for one game! Think about this, a team of 18 players will travel at their own expense for 3-4 hours, to play a soccer game for 80 minutes. Can you see how all of our money for player development is being utilized improperly? Can you see why so many lower income kids will never have the opportunity to play? We have the money, we have the resources, the fields, the coaching, but the infrastructure and environment is not even close.

The tournaments make too much money for too many people and for that reason, they will remain part of the youth soccer travel culture. It is true that many clubs get much needed funds from hosting tournaments, but the price we are paying is ruining the development of the players. There are other ways that clubs can develop players, but it should not be at the expense of player development.

5. Can’t beat teams in your own area. When I first started coaching travel soccer, I thought I was going crazy because I didn’t see the need to travel out of state to play a U9 game. But parents, coaches, and club administrators at the time looked at me like I was crazy. Why wouldn’t you want to go to the tournament? I don’t know, because I didn’t care how my 8 year old stacked up against other 8 year olds who probably wouldn’t even be playing in 2 years. And even if my 8 year old was the best one, that didn’t mean anything because if we didn’t continue learning, the other kids would catch up in two years. I discussed it with another parent who happened to be very smart, he is a heart surgeon. He agreed with me and said “if they can’t even beat all the teams in this area, why do they have to go to Chicago to find more teams?”. I thought that was perfect. Why do so many teams go outside their area to find more teams, if they can’t even beat the ones in their league. Why not worry about developing players so that they can perform at a high level, then when they are ready to be challenged, take them to a different state or city to be challenged.

How to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator

How to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator

Youth Soccer Tournaments have their pros and cons (click here to read the 8 Reasons Travel Soccer Teams play in Tournaments). You don’t have to follow the norm and just continue this trend. Pick and choose the tournaments to play in carefully. There is no need to attend out of state tournaments at U11 or below. Kids should stay local and play as much as possible for fun. Once they reach the U14 and above age group, then you can start thinking about traveling out of state to play tournaments if they are beating everyone around them.

If you would like to learn more about training and development and how to maximize your child’s soccer development, contact us today! [email protected]


Case Study on Youth Soccer player development, coaching U11 Girls


In the fall of 2009 I was asked to coach a U11 Girls team. I had just joined the club and was eager to get started with a young team. This would be a newly formed group. My daughter, who had played recreational soccer for the past 4 years, would also be trying out for the team. I knew this was an opportunity to develop young soccer players who were not thought of as “elite”, since most of the bigger clubs had already taken those players at the U8-U10 years. Youth soccer player development was something I was really getting interested in. I had a few years of coaching under my belt and I wanted to see how and/or if I could develop a group of players using my system.

Tryouts: The tryouts were simple. There were only 9 girls that showed up to tryout. This was a small club so we were not expecting many kids. The part that I enjoyed was that I would not have to cut anyone and all the kids that came out would get the opportunity to play soccer. The team played an 8 v 8 format in the league. So I knew we had to pick up a few extra players from somewhere. Luckily the U12 team in the same club was a very strong team in the area and also had 2 other players that were playing up a division, but were true U11 players. After speaking to the president of the club, it was decided that those two players would be asked to play and “dual-roster” with the U11 team to fill the roster. Out of 11 girls on the team, only 5 kids had experience playing travel soccer, so I knew I had my hands full, but was up for the challenge.

At the 3 v 3 tournament

At the 3 v 3 tournament

Practice Begins: Youth soccer player development was a challenge. I had two kids who had been playing at a high level with the older U12 team and they would get frustrated when the rest of the team couldn’t keep up. I realized that the kids lacked technique and I was trying to teach them tactics. Through no fault of their own, the kids had never had specific technical training, and it was obvious. This is an important lesson, you cannot teach tactics until they have good ball control. I modified my training sessions to include 1 to 1 player to ball ratio 60-70% of the time. The rest of the time was split into 1 v 1 moves and 4 v 4 small sided games. The kids were getting tons of touches on the ball every single practice, twice a week. But the reality is that kids don’t practice during the summer months because, according to parents, it’s their “time off” from soccer. The other reality is that the majority of kids don’t play soccer unless it’s structured. So we had about 6 practices before our first game, for a total of about 9 hours of training.

Season Opener: The season opener started with a major defeat, 10-0. The second game, 14-1. I could tell the parents and kids were getting discouraged. The two “dual-roster” players didn’t want to be part of the team anymore. They were used to winning games. I sent out an email to the parents explaining my plan and begging for a chance to work with the kids. I explained to the parents that I was focusing on technique and if they stuck around, the girls would make big improvements, but they had to be patient with me. I also requested that the kids get to the field one hour before the game, to give the kids an extra hour of practice. Parents questioned, “what if the girls are tired by the time the game starts?”. I explained to them that the result of the game didn’t matter, the girls needed one on one time with the ball as much as possible. Surprisingly the parents agreed and followed my lead. They were putting their trust in me to develop their soccer player.

We played the same two teams (that beat us with a combined score of 24-1) towards the end of the season again and lost 5-0 and 4-0, respectively even without the help of the two dual roster players because by that time they were not coming to the games to get beaten. I could tell that the kids had improved from the start to the end of the season. I was overjoyed and sold it to the parents! They bought it, as they should have since it was a major improvement. I was very proud of the kids for working so hard for those 3 months. There had been some significant improvement. We ended the season with a 0-8 record, 48 goals scored against and only 2 goals forced all year long. I was able to keep the team together thanks to very understanding parents.

Here are the results posted on the league website:

Winter 2009-2010: Fortunately for our club we had our own private indoor facility in Michigan. While the rest of the clubs sat at home and played only on the weekends, our team did two training sessions every week and played in an indoor soccer league on the weekend. The team was doing about 15 hours of extra training each month. The training sessions were still mostly technical training, but it was obvious that the players were starting to gain confidence. I taught the girls some street soccer skills, introduced them to futsal, and even brought my computer to show some Messi and Ronaldo videos to the girls for inspiration. I had to make them fall in love with soccer, I knew it was critical that they get inspired by someone or something. They needed to find a passion so that they could start practicing on their own.

The 2010 Spring Season brought the first win to the team, however this was in the B Division. The team finished in the middle of the pack out of 14 teams, in 5th place with a 4-2-2 record. 30 goals forced, 14 goals allowed. We were moving forward and the parents and players were seeing some results.

2010 Fall Season: All of the players came back to tryouts, except for one that was injured. We picked up another 2 recreational players as well. We moved back up to the A Division. This time we finished with a 2-4-2 record, playing the same exact teams that had just wiped the floor with us 12 months ago. Major improvement from the previous year. The girls were getting very confident on the ball and we were starting to work on some tactics. Now they wanted to go to tournaments. I wanted to keep working on development. They saw every other team traveling all over the country for tournaments and camps, I just asked them to keep playing, on their own, with a sibling, or with friends.

Winter 2010-11: Now winter indoor trainings were divided into technical and tactical. The majority of the time we worked on dribbling, possession, and just plain ball control. I also added shooting and some 1 v 1 moves. Defense and Offensive tactics were also taught depending on the day. We also attended a small 3 v 3 tournament where the girls made the Final, but lost to a talented, hand picked, team from Chicago. There was nothing fancy or secretive about it, they just played and played. During indoor games, I prohibited the girls from playing the ball off the wall, while every other team would wait for the ball to bounce back to them. This was not about winning or looking good like the other clubs, I wanted them to develop.

U12 playing vs TKO

U12 playing vs TKO

Spring 2011 Season: By now the girls were starting to learn tactics and implementing them in the game. In the A Division, the girls finished 3-4-1. This was another step in the right direction. The parents continued to believe in what we were doing and were on board to continue the project. We also attended a tournament at the end of the season where we made the semi-final. Their confidence just kept growing along with their development. The most impressive part was that the team had never recruited a single player and the two best players that had started out with the team had left because they saw no hope for this team. We also kept getting beat by a certain team with very athletic players. I kept reminding the girls that once they learned to have complete control of the ball, they would be able to beat this team. The reason was that these athletic teams with no skill would not be able to keep up and would end up chasing the ball. This team kept winning the league (by U14 they couldn’t win any games).

Tryouts Summer 2011: The transition from U12 to U13 is always very hectic for clubs, teams, players, and parents. The problem is that in U12, each team only needs about 11-13 players, since only 8 play at a time. Once they move to U13, they now play 11 vs 11 and you need about 4-5 substitutes. So every team that existed at U12 must now get an additional 5-6 players. The reality is that some teams will cease to exist after this transition. I knew our team had made an impact around the league because I had parents from different clubs calling me asking if they could get on our team. Unfortunately there were some geographical problems since our club is outside a major metropolitan area. I think the fact that parents were requesting to get on our team was a sign that they respected and recognized the work that had been done by the team, coach, and parents. We came out of tryouts with our core group of 12 players, and added two more, for a total of 14. This was enough to get us through the season.

Fall 2011 Season: By this time, the team had been training for two years together. They were starting to really communicate and play together. They had developed into smart technical players that could play in any system. Additionally, 4 players had been invited to play on Premier level teams. The team finished with combined record of 6-2 and finished tied for 2nd place in Division A. The team scored 17 goals and allowed only 4.

Winter 2011-12: As soon as the season was over at the end of October, we quickly transitioned to indoor training in our private facility. This was a great opportunity to continue with the Youth soccer training and development. The team also played indoor soccer at the local indoor soccer arena. During that session, the team picked up two additional players that wanted to join our team. On two separate occasions, the parents had asked what I was doing to help the team play so well. I explained to the parents that I wasn’t doing anything different and invited them to train with our team so they could see what we do. I didn’t try to sell them on anything or recruit them, I just offered to help. As a matter of fact, I invited their entire team to join us. I had nothing to hide and didn’t really think I was doing anything special. Since we trained indoors anyway, I invited them to train with us anytime they wanted. Both players attended our trainings and decided that they liked what they saw. They soon got along with the rest of the team and they were asked to join us and dual roster. We never asked either one to leave their team, but if they had the time and desire, they could help us.

Additionally that winter I decided to take the next step in the development process and challenge the team by applying to play at the Elite level. I had a parent meeting and explained the reason I felt the kids were ready to play at that level. There were some concerns regarding the costs, travel, and competition. I was able to convince the parents and the team was accepted into the Elite Division. The cost to play was the same, but the travel was a little longer.

Spring 2012 Elite Division: That season the team not only proved that they belonged at the Elite level, but they were also one of the best teams. They ended the season in 3rd place! We also attended a tournament and received 1st place. All this was accomplished with the same core group of 8 girls that went 0-8, just 3 years prior. By this time several of the players were getting frequent requests from bigger clubs, including my daughter. The next Fall 2012, the team won the Elite Division. I stepped down as the coach due to other commitments with my business and coaching.

We started with 8 core players that stayed the entire coarse. They lost every game with 2 “dual rostered” players that were very good.
4 years later, that same core group had already been promoted to Elite league and won the league. The next season, all 8 players were offered spots on Premier teams, 1 went to MRL team.

I tell this story because it’s remarkable. I didn’t do anything special. youth soccer player development is not that difficult, but there are many out there that make it appear as if it was.
This is what I did to improve the youth soccer player development of each player.
1. Created an environment where they could make mistakes without judgement.
2. Taught them that soccer is supposed to be fun and if you are not having fun, you are in the wrong sport
3. Gave them players and teams to look up to (I would tell my fullback, wow that looked like Dani Alves, and she would ask who’s Dani Alves. The next session i would bring a video of Alves). I would show them a move and say, this is how Ronaldo does the scissors, then show them the video.
4. Had year round training sessions, NOT GAMES, just practice where they could make as many mistakes as possible. The practices were so loose and unstructured, that a parent once complained to me about the lack of structure. I told them YES, they are very unstructured and that’s how i plan them. FREE PLAY!
5. I did not allow them to use walls for support during indoor games or training sessions. I introduced them to futsal, even though a few parents didn’t like it, but it helped.
6. I had to rewire their brain and show them that when we are in possession of the ball, EVERYONE is on offense, including the goalkeeper. This was new to them because they were used to getting yelled at when they “left their position”. Now they all interchange positions without even thinking, which in turn improved their communication. It’s great to watch.
7. Worked on technique, but understood that they sometimes master their own technique. some kids pass really well with their outside. Not everyone shoots the same, ask Ronaldo.
8. I encouraged them to be creative and applauded anytime they tried it, whether it worker or not, winning or losing, didn’t matter, creativity was part of the development process. I would use the word “ole” when we did a good move, so much that the girls started using it as well.
9. I communicated with the parents always respecting their opinion on travel, costs, and tournaments, afterall, these were their kids, not mine.

This wasn’t just my doing, the kids also put in tons of hard work. I think they believed in the process a youth soccer player development and bought into it. They did their part by working hard. That’s the trick, is that they have to make it to practice, work on their own, and then it will pay off. It doesn’t matter if you have the greatest soccer coach, if the player is not motivated, forget it.


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


Soccer Player Development vs Soccer Coaching

What is the difference between Player Development and Coaching Soccer? There is a huge difference and every soccer parent needs to know.

A good soccer coach is not necessarily a good soccer player developer. A good soccer coach may have a lot of knowledge about tactics and how to improve team performance. The coach may also have experience in playing different formations and positions. All of this knowledge has to be transferred over to the players soccer-ball-on-the-field-100184840so they can function as individuals on a team and perform well. The soccer coach is more concerned with team performance and outcomes. The coach may win a lot of games under that system and the players may perform really well. That is the sign of a good coach. He/she gets the most out of the players. In order to be able to successfully coach players, they need to be developed.

Player Development is similar to coaching and it’s the reason why the two are used synonymously. When working on Player Development, the goal is to get players prepared to play in a system or prepared to be coached. Although the Player Development phase starts out at a young age, it continues throughout their childhood and into their early adult life. The process is very long and it’s key to understanding player development. A coach can also improve player development during coaching, both tactically and individually.

The problem we face as parents is when we get coaches who want to coach at such young ages. Some coaches will attempt to teach tactics to very young kids that are not prepared to be “coached”. I have seen coaches on numerous occasions trying to teach a diagnol run to a 6 year old. The young child has never been interested in any of those tactics. At that young age, kids just want to kick the ball.child-soccer-player-100226365

Everyone can be a great player developer, it’s easy. We have to let nature take its course, and allow kids to be kids. Don’t teach young soccer players tactics when they are not prepared, instead invest your time and energy on player development. The young soccer player must first develop as a player before they can learn, execute, and/or understand tactics. I still see 12 – 14 year old kids who have been playing soccer for 6-8 years and they still can’t learn tactics because they have yet to develop their fundamentals. What this tells me is that their development process was broken. They started learning tactics at a very young age and they skipped the development phase.

To avoid this problem, make sure you know what you want to accomplish whenever you put your child into a class, team, or academy. The first thing you should be concerned with is to develop the player. This means you have to ignore goals and game scores. It doesn’t help if your son/daughter’s team wins every game and all you are working on is tactics. At some point the rest of the kids that are developing appropriately will catch up because they will understand and execute tactics better.

You will need a “good coach” when the child gets older and ready to learn about tactics. The most important thing during the development phase is to have a trainer/coach who understands development and is only concerned with individual progress, not wins or losses. The coach/trainer should have a healthy nurturing soccer environment. He/she should always be positive with the kids, always encouraging and challenging the kids to improve as individuals. The “team” concept won’t matter to kids until they get older, so don’t hammer this into them. It’s part of nature, kids are born selfish, and they only think about themselves until they get older.

If you are interested in learning more about soccer player development, you can listen to our Free Youth Soccer Evolution Podcast where we interview professional players about their development, or purchase my friend Mark Burke’s ebook, A Different Kind of Soccer Book. In this book, Mark (who played professionally for Aston Villa in the English Premier) goes into detail about training and development for young kids.

How to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator

How to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator