Pros and Cons Between Youth Soccer In The USA and Europe

Albert Puig - Why do soccer coaches yell from the sideline?

What Are The Differences in Player Development Between Europe and America?

IN AMERICA, THE CHILDREN DARE TO INVENT. 

THIS IS AN ADVANTAGE.

Youth Soccer News: Since my expedition to the US, I have been able to notice the differences in American and European football (soccer). Let’s start by first establishing that in development soccer there are three stages that should be universally respected.

Youth Soccer Training & Player Development Coordination: Stage Ages: 6 – 12

What is it? The objective of this stage is to identify the virtues of the player, what he/she does well in a natural manner.

IN THIS FIRST STAGE, IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT THE PLAYER PLAYS FREELY.

In this stage, the footballer builds his/her identity, i.e., by what he/she will be known or portrayed as a player (dribbling, feints, aerial skills, etc.). This stage is fundamental to develop and identify the coordinating talent and creativity unique to each player.

Who is better  – The USA or Europe?

In this first stage, Europe outshines the USA, since children in America still have no culture of playing on the streets, in parks, between classes at school, etc.

Soccer is something new and many parents have never played, that is why they have not taught their children to play the sport 24/7. In Europe, however, this culture exists and has for generations. 

Now, in this regard, there is something positive in favor of the US.

The pressure that exists in places like Europe — with a huge soccer culture — can be negative at this early stage.

There is pressure from parents and coaches, so creativity is restricted for fear of making mistakes.

WHEN FEELING PRESSURED IN AN ENVIRONMENT, PLAYERS DO NOT DARE TO RISK, TO INVENT, TO IMAGINE IN THEIR GAME.

In the USA, since that pressure does not exist, the children are not afraid to fail, and they dare to invent. This pressure and the lack of risk taken, continues in the next stage, the cognitive stage.

Youth Soccer Training & Player Development Coordination: Cognitive Stage (Ages: 12 – 16)

What is it? The second stage is called the cognitive stage and it represents all players from 12 to 16 years of age.

n this stage, the coach has a very important role, since this is the period of assimilation of concepts for the player.

The coach in this stage teaches the game to the player through concepts and fundamentals in order for the player to make good decisions and have the criteria of the game.

To dominate the ball and that the ball does not dominate you is key to the formation of a soccer player.

THE MORE INFORMATION I HAVE AS A PLAYER, THE BETTER SOCCER PLAYER I WILL BE.

The more details a player has of the game, the more coaches correct a player — the better they teach a player — the better soccer player he or she will become.

Who is better  – The USA or Europe?

In this stage, Europe is better than the United States, since the methodology and content are much richer than in the United States.

THERE IS MORE EMPHASIS ON THE PEDAGOGICAL PART BY EUROPEAN COACHES.

Consequently, the player receives more and better information and therefore can make better decisions because he/she understands the game (composed of time, space and deception).

IF I UNDERSTAND THE GAME, I MAKE BETTER DECISIONS, AND IF I MAKE BETTER DECISIONS, I AM A BETTER PLAYER.

We have mentioned the lack of creativity caused by the pressure in Europe in the Coordination Stage and that similarly influences this stage.

That’s why the USA could be a good environment for this stage if there was more knowledge of the game from the coaches. Since the effort of trying new things brings rewards and in the absence of high intensity and competition rhythm, the player is given more space for creativity and comprehension of concepts.

American children are usually disciplined and are cognitively talented, or in other words, fast learners. The pre-disposition to learning new concepts is very high and is stimulated in schools, family, etc.

Youth Soccer Training & Player Development Coordination: Competitive Stage (ages 16 – 18)

What is it? When the child has developed a player identity (what kind of player I am) in the Coordination Stage and understands the game — concepts and fundamentals of soccer — in the Cognitive Stage, then he/she is ready to express everything in a competitive environment.

This stage consists of competing with and against different styles of games through all the universal fundamentals of games that the player has learned.

AFTER THIS STAGE, AT 18, I AM PRO, OR I AM NOT PRO.

Who is better  – The USA or Europe?

Unlike the United States, in Europe, the degree of competitiveness is very high.

In the USA there is no environment where the child can be exposed to a real level of competitiveness between the ages of 16-18.

Finally, I leave you a reflection, 80% of professional players have a cognitive talent and only 20% have coordination talent.

What do I mean by this?

80% of the players who are professionals do not have any kind of coordination talent, but through hard work every day, and at the same time receiving information to develop as a player, this is what makes the difference.

The 80% that are PRO is because they dominate the game and the game does not dominate them.

80% OF ACTIONS IN A MATCH REQUIRE A VERY SIMPLE TECHNICAL ACTION.

Most of the actions in a match do not have any difficulty to be performed.

Why do we complicate our lives so much by wanting to teach soccer?

THE KEY IS TO EXPLAIN THE COMPLEXITY OF SOCCER THROUGH SIMPLICITY. REMEMBER, WE ARE WORKING WITH CHILDREN.

In the USA, there are children with better physique and who are more disciplined.

How is it possible that countries with as little a population as Belgium, Croatia or regions like Catalonia produce so many high-level players?

The key is in the assimilation of concepts and game habits with and without the ball and not in the repetition of technical actions. In the USA, a lot of emphasis is placed on training soccer through repetition and repetition of movements.

CHILDREN IN THE USA HAVE A LOVE FOR THE BALL WHEN THEY SHOULD FEEL LOVE FOR THE GAME ITSELF.

This is the consequence of the repetition of movements where the ball is the protagonist and the only reference.

EXERCISES WITHOUT DECISION-MAKING HAS NO IMPACT ON THE FORMATION OF THE PLAYER.

Soccer is a global game where each action is different and never repeated between them, so the decision of the soccer player is everything.

This is only possible through the practice of global exercises where the variables like the ball, adversary, space, teammates, and opponent exist.

THERE ARE NO BAD STUDENTS, JUST BAD TEACHERS.

The United States has intelligent and disciplined children. It is time for coaches/trainers to value this and exploit cognitive talent. Only then can US Soccer take a leap in quality.

See What Others Don’t…

Marc Sagal

More than just a clever slogan, these words represent what makes APFC so special.
I suspect by now you realize that there are those who think they understand soccer and those who really understand it. What’s so amazing about APFC, about Albert and Bernat and their staff is that they want to, and are able to, teach the concepts, principles, and ideas that provide a clearer and more powerful way of seeing (and playing) the game that we love so much.
It’s somewhat ‘cheesy’ to say, but getting such a gift is pretty damn special. I say this because I’ve benefitted tremendously from being exposed to the APFC curriculum.
As a Sports Psychologist, I spend a great deal of my time helping players identify and connect with what makes them special. Knowing this helps players to be more confident, resilient and reliable. Players who embrace and grab hold of the APFC concepts are gaining access to superpowers that can and should transform both their playing quality and their appreciation for the game.
But it’s one thing to be taught and another to learn. While the ideas may be simple, their mastery is anything but. My hope is that as you (and your son or daughter) join us on this journey, you will focus on the two things that you can control in order to maximize the value of this opportunity: Effort and Attitude. Come with the commitment, drive, and determination that will allow you to soak up as much as you can, as quickly as you can. And, come with an attitude of positivity and spirited competitiveness so that the environment matches the coaching wisdom.
I’m excited to be part of the journey and happy to help how I can.
Best,
Marc

Marc Sagal
Managing Partner
Winning Mind, LLC
www.winningmind.com
sagal@winningmind.com

Is a Messi born or made?

This is one of the most debated and exciting questions around sports training and formation, and specifically pursuant to soccer. Are you born with talent, or is talent forged? Is talent in the world of soccer a result of good methodology, or is it good recruitment that results in a pool of talent in a team? Let’s dissect these two ideas.  

Without optimal genetic conditions, achieving athletic success at an elite level is highly improbable. But, keep in mind, I’m not only talking about physical aspects, but also coordinative, sensory, emotional and behavioral conditions. 

Without proper methodological work, the level of improvement can be hampered and be out of tune with the evolution in the quality of a given player. 

So are natural talent and methodology complementary? Absolutely, within the scope of the maximum elite level, yes they are. But from this premise, we need to touch upon some key aspects. 

The search and incorporation of young talent is paramount and basic for a club that wants its youth teams to be the cornerstone of its present and future strategy. If there isn’t continuous recruitment,  obsessed with finding quality, and clear in the desired profile, there is no successful future. 

The search isn’t done from a desk, in front of a computer. It’s done as is said in Catalan soccer slang, by “patejar els camps”. Which means to constantly be observing in situ to find raw, sometimes hidden talent; at the same time this will help and improve the scout’s experience. You can’t make a decision as important as scouting and recruiting a player without the knowledge that is forged from constantly analyzing players. Delegating tasks should not serve as an excuse and neither should an organization’s hierarchical structure. Whoever makes the final call has to be equipped with extensive experience in scouting young players at a grassroots level as well as adults at pro levels. With his fieldwork experience, not in an office, he will improve the technical structure of scouting and analysis. 

The fanatics of methodology, in its more academic and almost scientific version, believe that with the doctrine they can create talent. In my opinion, this is a mistake. Good methodology improves talent, and can potentially aid in achieving success. But you can never forget that improvement and growth come from playing. The methodology can never be above talent. All methodology must be based on the principle of playing. Not in infinite exercises and drills, each more beautiful than the next or the countless slides with many colored arrows going in all directions. 

Everything must be based around the game and in supporting the potential of the talented young player. 

So in conclusion, we can say that one is born and made. You are born with certain qualities. Talent is forged at an early age with play and more play at its purest and freest state. And this is improved and boosted with proper methodology. 

And in the end, the human and behavioral qualities when facing life’s challenges will make each one reach his/her goals; or not.

All goals are important, because they are our dreams, what keeps us going each day. 

Youth Team … Yes …reasons…

Is it important to develop the youth divisions at an elite soccer club? Is there an economic as well as sporting return? Is it an investment or an expense? Is it an image or a concept? Principal or complementary? 

An elite soccer club measures it all in athletic, social and consequently financial success. The objective is clear. To be a reference in the world of sports through success, which in turn increases the club’s brand, and in turn means financial returns. 

To achieve sporting accomplishments a soccer team needs to have the best players available in the market. You also need a great orchestra director, called a coach, that knows how to adequately combine the individualities. Being the best player means that the signing must yield a return quickly. Hence, the price of acquisition is high. 

On the other hand, a youth team player, with a low acquisition cost, needs time to mature, a time which in football is very short. It seems as if it’s impossible to combine both concepts. 

I believe that the above is the problem, or the most frequently used excuse that coaches and club executives give. 

The youth teams is a concept that goes beyond having a grassroots player debut at pro level after 10 plus years going up the ranks. It’s a strategic development and at the same time a conceptual development of the club’s identity, which is shared between the fans, shareholders, employees, manager, coach, president etc. 

The success of a club’s youth program can’t be measured by the debut of a player in the first team. Nor can scoring a goal define the success, or a magnificent dribble which comes as a splash of magic (it isn’t magic, it’s the hard work of the player, professionals surrounding him who have a lot of passion and many times are short in resources). 

Is the youth program athletically and financially profitable in an elite club? Yes. Unequivocally, yes. It’s an investment and concept. It’s use and development. It’s implication and future. It is transcending and success. 

But to have, one must first start. And so few soccer clubs have or have started. Mine has. 

Dad, I want to be a soccer player

How many times have we heard our children express this dream? Hundreds of times? Thousands? I believe too many to keep track of. I don’t think that nowadays there’s a career, socially, and in many cases economically, that is so well recognized. I also believe that there isn’t a profession with so many side effects in the present and the future. A correct classification would be a high-risk profession. 

Currently, a rollercoaster by the mix of three factors: fame, money, and youth. That is to say, the three elements in an eternal dream that many historical figures have reached, throughout history. The holy grail of happiness but with no possibility of handling remotely or at cruise control or pausing in time. High speeds will cause the train to derail at the first curve. A continuous pause will burn the frame, and the opportunity of a future will go up in smoke. 

A profession in the future that has an expiration date. With an end, but no end to the journey. In the best of cases, a change in direction, like the exodus of the people of Israel, who crossed the desert for 40 years. A journey which the whole of society has been prepared for. And sadly, the glorious tattooed gladiators of the Roman arena (tattoo laser removal machines will be such a lucrative business), are not prepared for. 

Dad, I want to be a football player … yes son/daughter, yes. Fight for it and enjoy every single moment of this beautiful career, You will be one of the privileged few. Unique memories. Unparalleled experiences. But don’t forget to be prudent in the present and foresighted in the future. Enjoy youth with humility and arm yourself with education for your next career, the career that will provide sustenance for your family. 

Originally published in: http://www.mundodeportivo.com/opinion/20150529/20273185453/papa-quiero-ser-futbolista.html