Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Refocusing the Player Development Model
by Brad Partridge, October 9th, 2008 10AM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

By Brad Partridge

Having been involved in soccer in the USA since 1967, I have had the pleasure of seeing it grow beyond anyone's expectations. The shear number of players is staggering to say the least. FIFA stats indicate that the USA now leads the world in registered youth players.

So why haven't we been able to develop more technically elite field players? The answer to this question lies in the developmental paradigms that have emerged in the USA.

Instead of focusing on the development of individual players, we have focused on team development. We are measuring our success based on team results rather than on individual results. For our youth players the structured game has become the developmental paradigm. Many youth teams, U-14 and under, are playing more than 50 structured games per year while some players play 75 to 100 games.

Structured games are games played in leagues and tournaments with results and or standing acknowledged. With this being the norm our youth players now engage in practice activities that are geared toward game preparation and results instead of individual player development.

The environment of these structured games has counteracted the original intended purpose of having the game be the best teacher and helping young players develop. Players are not getting adequate touches on the ball and players at an early age are being pigeon-holed in specific positions.

In addition, undue pressure to win is being created because of published standings and results. Finally, we are seeing players at a very early age becoming disenchanted and burned out because they do not have the technical skills to adequately compete at the highest levels. When players do survive these conditions, we quite frequently see that their technical skills, creativity and decision-making techniques are underdeveloped.

The style of play at this point is most commonly seen as very direct vertical soccer. So we find our youth development programs stuck in a results-centered process that produces technically deficient players.

It is now necessary to refocus our training procedures. The U.S. Soccer Federation quite clearly states, "The most fundamental skill in soccer is individual mastery of the ball and the creativity that comes with it. This should be a priority in training and games, especially in the early years. As this skill is mastered, the rest of the game becomes easier -- both to teach and learn. Practices should be built around facilitating the development of the skills necessary to move and control the ball well."

This message is clear and concise, that is, youth players should be encouraged, motivated and coached to develop individual ball skills. Refocusing the paradigm requires a new emphasis on individual skills. We know that effective skills development comes from constant repetitive activities and that it take years of deliberate practice to develop an elite athlete.

We also know that athletes respond to and are more motivated by immediate objective feedback and measurable goals than any other form of coaching.

But when player development isn't judged by game results, how does a coach ensure that the players (and their parents, who constantly seek reassurance that their children are progressing) receive the feedback that inspires them to improve their game? The answer is to use technology.

Our society's use of advanced communication technology offers some very valuable tools to help coaches refocus on a player's development. Coaches can now use the Internet and specialized programs that will give coaches and players immediate objective feedback on soccer skills and techniques.

These programs focus on objective activities for individual players. The results are captured in the program and can be reproduced and distributed immediately to the players. Thus, giving players a clear picture of their basic strengths and weaknesses. Now, as coaches help players become more technically sound through activities that focus on individual skills the results can be easily tracked and measured.

Coaches can also use objective activities such as dribbling courses, shooting and passing contests, and juggling contests to help players develop technical competency. The results of these objective activities also allow players to quickly set and measure objective goals. These objective goals help motivate players to work on developing advanced skills on their own.

By refocusing our player development paradigm we will start to see our players become more comfortable and creative with the ball. This will lead to more self-confidence and give our players the opportunity to become world-class elite players.

(Brad Partridge is the Director of Coaching for Palm Beach United FC in West Palm Beach, Fla. He is also the head coach of the Women's Premier Soccer League's Palm Beach United and the creator and owner of the CAPS -- Comprehensive Assessment Program for Soccer . Partridge has a USSF National Youth License and has the NSCAA Premier certification. He can be contacted at Partpro@aol.com or 561-745-3009.)

 

 

 



0 comments
  1. David Hardt
    commented on: October 9, 2008 at 9:14 a.m.
    Finally someone with a clue. Too many games, not enough training. And we must win every game or we are failures. That stifles player development. The best teams many times do not have the best players on them. Big strong fast and direct wins youth games, and winning is sooooo important. Also, where do the older players go after 17-18 to keep developing? College, I think not! An 18 year old is not done developing. But here we stop developing. Wonder why so many young phenoms never make it as adults???


Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Youth Soccer Insider
Injured Player? Take Safe Steps in the Return-To-Play Decision    
One of the toughest decisions in youth sports is determining when a player who has suffered ...
Screaming at Children -- A Ref's Eye View     
It's amazing that no matter how many games you ref, no matter how much you prepare ...
Is it OK to play in pain?     
"What's the difference between discomfort and pain? And is it OK for me to keep playing ...
The benefits of pool play vs. traditional leagues for U-10s     
The Youth Soccer Insider asked Sam Snow, Technical Director of U.S. Youth Soccer, to explain the ...
Ref Watch: Why three is so much better than one     
When I moved to Florida for business 27 years ago, I lived and worked in Orlando ...
Tab Ramos auditions new talent for U-20 World Cup     
Coach Tab Ramos has called up three players to the U.S. U-20 national team, which is ...
George Altirs boosts New Jersey-area youth ball     
As a boy, George Altirs spent his free time playing as much soccer as possible in ...
Are tire crumbs on fields a cancer threat?    
Some environmental and health advocacy groups have claimed that the crumb rubber infill, used in artificial ...
A World Cup for Richie Williams, better late than never     
Richie Williams might just be the USA's most successful player who never played in a World ...
USA avoids debacle in U-17 World Cup qualifying    
Ultimately, the USA's quest to qualify for the 2015 Under-17 World Cup hinged on shots from ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives