Klinsmann's message to youth coaches

By Mike Woitalla

Jurgen Klinsmann, head coach of the USA since July of 2011, earlier this month was re-signed for another four years and Technical Director was added to his responsibilities. That, in USSF President Sunil Gulati's words, formalized Klinsmann’s previously informal role in influencing the direction of American player development.

In a interview, Klinsmann addressed youth development issues.

On the style of play he’d like to see at the younger levels, Klinsmann said:

“We would love to see a consistent style of play over time that is defined by being more proactive and more possession-oriented.

“We want more confident players who have the technical abilities to play out of the back and to play out of difficult situations and really take the game to the opponent. We would like to improve the way we play against bigger nations by facing them eye to eye and having a 50/50 share of possession. We want to signal to them that we are here to play; we’re not just sitting back and hoping for a counter break. …

“That’s a lot of work obviously, and it also requires special talent. The key to all of this is the work that we do on the grassroots level through our Academies to develop our own players. To transition to a style of play that is more proactive and more dominant is a long-term project.”

U.S. U-20 coach Tab Ramos, who has also been assisting Klinsmann with the senior team, was named U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director in November.

“The responsibility we gave Tab Ramos is really important because he’s the connector to all topics in the youth sector,” said Klinsmann. “He’s the connector to our youth coaches, Javier Perez with the U18s, Richie Williams with the U17s, Hugo Perez with the U15s, and Tony Lepore with the U14s. It’s important that he becomes like a think tank of topics where we need improvement.

“We need to get more messages out there. He’s becoming a very important messenger of many different things that we need to get out to the players, to the parents, to the coaches. Hopefully we can intensify this relationship and use it in a very productive way.”

In the year-end address, Klinsmann encouraged youth coaches to take advantage of coaching education opportunities. The U.S. Soccer coaching schools are headed by Dave Chesler, the Director of Coaching Development.

“I think the topic of Coaching Education unfortunately is often not recognized enough,” Klinsmann said. “Dave Chesler and his team of instructors are really building the foundation for the future of knowledge in our coaching education. That foundation will benefit everyone involved in the game based on the knowledge they spread to coaches in the licensing courses. His role is priceless. It’s so important and it’s something that we have to build on more and more.

“We have to have regular get-togethers with Dave and his team in order to always question if we are giving out the right information to coaches.

“What is the best way to communicate with kids? What are the main issues coaches have to think about? What additional information can we give coaches to pass on to the kids, to the parents, and to other coaches?

“I think it’s the highest priority for every coach to get his licenses upgraded, one step at a time but as quickly as possible, because it’s the highest sign of credibility. If you do not have your coaching license you do not have credibility. If parents send their boy or their girl to school, and the teacher doesn’t have the highest teaching license, they would question the school. They would probably change schools and take action right away. It’s the same with soccer.”
13 comments about "Klinsmann's message to youth coaches ".
  1. Jim Welnetz, December 22, 2013 at 12:22 p.m.

    An issue I have with the coaching licensing program is the high cost. I understand that the instructors should not be doing this for nothing, but 20 or 30 students @ $ 300 or 500 or more.Too much!

  2. cony konstin, December 22, 2013 at 6:52 p.m.

    First of all I want to wish klinnsman, his staff and the team a successful run at the world cup. We don't need more coaches. We need teachers. In Latin America they use the word Profe. Meaning professor. But before we keep pushing style, coaches/teachers, systems of play, coaching philosophy, dvds, books, curriculum, numerous
    tournaments, nice unforms and of course $250 soccer shoes. We need to create an enviroment where kids starting at the age of 5 can play everyday, for free, and with no stinking coaches interfering with the kids so call development.
    I have been coaching in the US and throughout the world for 39 years. Coaches do not win
    championships. Players win championship. The kids are already max out with coaching and all the rest of the gimmicks that have been used to develop players. It's time for radical change. It's time to go rogue. It's time to go unorthodox. It's time to shake and rattle the foundations of soccer in the US. I propose that the MLS and US SOCCER build 30,000 Futsal courts in the inner cities and another 30,000 Futsal courts in our suburbs. You want magical warriors that can do the business then the MLS and US SOCCER need to step up and hit a grand slam beyond center field. No more smoke n mirrors. Our kids need meat n potatoes. Coaching is totally over rated. Our kids need a sandlot experience and not an organize and predictable experience where adults are dictating to the kids. Klinnsman was a hellava player and he is not a bad coach. But he is not miracle worker and he is not going to revolutionize soccer in the US. It must come from the top. So the MLS, US SOCCER Adidas and Nike need to collaborate to build 60,000 Futsal courts throughout our great and wonderful nation. If they don't then soccer in the US will continue to be treated as a hobby for upper and middle class kids and the media will continue to focus on the big 3. We need a soccer REVOLUTION in the US and not more rhetoric with a lot if mumbo jumbo. We must stop preparing players to go to the prom. We must prepare warriors to conquer the world. We must create a NEW SPARTA in the USA.

  3. Wesley Hunt, December 23, 2013 at 8:02 a.m.

    Right on Cony. I have been involved with Futsal for 7 years now. My kids play indoors in the winter and outdoors in the summer on a tennis court. 1/2 of that playiing time I am not coaching and they are just playing. Those that have been with us the longest are some the best skilled soccer players in the area and that includes plenty of kids involved in the high priced soccer clubs. Klinsmen wants a possession passing style of soccer then these kids could give it to him. Give me 11 athletes who played futsal intensly from the time they were 5 and even I could win the world cup and I don't even have a coaching licencse. Come on people build those futsal courts.

  4. Wesley Hunt, December 23, 2013 at 8:20 a.m.

    It is pretty obvious from his comments and past actions that Klinsman is pretty high on the academies. That makes sense since that is how it works in Germany as well and that is what he grew up with. The problem is that academies are not everywhere and they cost money. I have great players here that will never be able to afford travel soccer never mind an academy. For these kids being the star on the high school team and going to states is about the pinnacle of what they can accheive and aspire to. Not because they do not have the skill to go further or play on a competitive travel club but because that is stucture of soccer in this area. Until the professional clubs have free academies that looks for talent at young ages despite their ability to pay we will not be like Europe or Latin America. Klinsman has not been willing to recognize that difference. So he keeps pushing for more education and better training in the academies which is good for the academies business but leaves a lot of talented kids out of the loop.

  5. Wesley Hunt, December 23, 2013 at 8:40 a.m.

    In addition to exclusivity the other problem with the academies is the training is quite mediocer at times. Parents pay for training so they want to see what looks like training to them. Drills and lines and coaches barking orders. They choose the academy based on the record of the teams even at the very young ages. So the academies put a big emphasis on the credentials of their coaches and the records of thier teams. They emphasis passing and disclipline at the young ages and pick the early developers and athletes to win the state cups. The result is all their players look about the same. Big strong soldiers that have very little creativity or flair. I call it cookie cutter training. That is why the futsal courts are needed. The size of a Futsal court invites the small sided free play that US soccer is finally recognizing as being important. If we want creative players then we need a game that rewards it and a place for it to grow and has to be open to all the kids not just the few wbo can afford it. Maradona, Cryuff, Pele, Ronaldino, Inesta, their biograhies. They all spent countless hours on the ball playing with out any coach being around. That is what the futsal courts are good for. A place for those kind of individuals to practice thier craft from the very youngest ages. Until then we will just keep producing cookie cuttler soldeirs who all play about the same.

  6. mark courtney, December 23, 2013 at 4:26 p.m.

    Hummmm. What license Did Bobby Knight have? John Wooden? And the list could go on and on. Sure, you want coaches to have knowledge but what group of individuals are qualified to say "We know the answers ... this is how to do it so therefor we are the masters and you must pass our test to get a license! That group does not exist or the group that we believe exists really does not have infallible credibility! Not in this country!!! Locally I have seen numerous coaches with these licenses and they are totally mediocre. Because most parents have no clue about what constitutes a good session vs a piss poor practice session ... these coaches get away with mediocrity. I love the Ihor story locally in the Cincinnati area. Ihor, U10 coach last year, one of the few in this area with an "A" license and a coach that overestimates his sons ability and totally favors him, was red carded in a game and then they had to have the police intervene to have him removed from the field. Now what part of the process did not teach him how to actually act properly around the kids. Frankly I see coaches doing idiotic stuff all the time - and they all have their licenses! And the few
    coaches that are doing it right all say its a bunch of BS and they take the classes to say they took the classes.
    First we turn soccer into an elitist sport and now we are trying to limit the those who coach. I have seen several lists with what is good for youth development and the kids and an opposing list showing what is good for the club (or bottom line) and the coach and his ego. The order of priorities are club first, coach second and kids third ... and last. And this is done by all the coaches with these ever so important licenses! Lastly, I have never seen a group of individuals with over inflated egos and estimations of there abilities. It's about so much more that a license and when an idiot has a license then he has a free pass and everyone assumes all is well ... and that's the beginning of the problems. Remember this - 98% of coaches simply do not have a clue, so yes there are a few out there. But the odds are against you.

  7. James Madison, December 24, 2013 at 5:53 p.m.

    It's good to see all the men's natonal coaches on the same page from the top down. Now if we can only do the same with the women. One can argue about the significance of licenses, but not about the significance of training. Maybe
    the training didn't "take" with Thor. However, if we as coaches are going to produce the players the top wants, we need the training they want us to have. US Soccer and NSCAA need to resolve their differences or make their respective missions clear---US Soccer for the national team program right down through the academies to the youth level and NSCAA for the colleges and high schools.

  8. cony konstin, December 24, 2013 at 8:25 p.m.

    There are many problems that exist in US soccer. One of those problems that I hope is fixed one day is the helter skelter approach to competitve youth soccer. I propose that US Soccer, USYSA and US Club Soccer get together and form a new national league that selects the best teams and not the biggest clubs. It should be localized and inexpensive. And there should be a national championship. The MLS youth teams should be a part of this league as well to keep their cost down.

  9. R2 Dad, December 26, 2013 at 4:59 p.m.

    I agree Cony with this idea of consolidation, but the other half of that is a commitment from the teams to stick with the league for X years rather than hopping around from league to league depending on what's perceived as the hottest latest greatest thing.

  10. Peter Skouras, December 27, 2013 at 5:11 p.m.

    Put this in your Browsers...Pay to play??? Can be eliminated!

  11. Kent James, February 21, 2014 at 5:22 p.m.

    Many critical issues being discussed. First, how important are coaches? Many (Cony, Paul Gardner) argue that skillful players cannot be created by coaches, what you need are large numbers of kids spending lots of time with the ball (and Cony's futsal proposal is a good way to meet this), and certainly, I agree we need this. But we don't have it yet. Theoretically, coaching can be a more efficient way to improve talent (replacing thousands of hours of trial and error on the part of players, with someone who can demonstrate what works, at least in the best case scenario). And JK certainly sees coaching as a conduit for promoting best practices (and this too, is not unreasonable). Then the issue is coaching schools and licenses; is the goal to promote learning (make the schools accessible and inexpensive) or is a license a testament to talent (validation), in which case it should be difficult to pass the courses (at least at the higher levels), so the behavior of the U10 coach Mark Courtney described should not happen.

  12. Kent James, February 21, 2014 at 5:25 p.m.

    In many ways the development of coaching poses similar challenges to the development of players. Do you make it accessible so you have many participants (spreading the word widely) or do you try to pick your best candidates and focus your limited resources on them (select teams, fewer but deeper coaching schools)? I think the broadest net possible should be cast, at least at the first levels (of both players and coaches), and that approach maintained as long as possible. Only at the upper levels should the resources be more limited and focused.

  13. Kent James, February 21, 2014 at 5:35 p.m.

    To use a personal example to illustrate some of the issues, I have played for many years (college, semipro), took the C license course when it first came out, and have generally educated myself and been aware of the issues (recognized the value of 3v3 soccer when it first came on the scene, e.g.). When I had children, I became involved in the youth soccer scene because I wanted my kids to play in a good program, and we had moved to a relatively backwards soccer area (western PA not in Pgh). I coached in the most progressive, child-centered way I could, but I didn't know how little I knew about coaching kids until I took Sam Snow's national youth license course. It is radically child centered, and focuses on getting the kids to do stuff on their own. But the cost something like $700 that I had to pay out of pocket, and give up more than a weeks' vacation for, so that's not something a lot of people who aren't getting paid are going to do (feeding back into charging the kids more to get licensed coaches). But that coaching school (ironically) was demonstrating the importance of coaching less (getting back to Cony and PG's arguments). But when few people take the course, it is much harder to change the culture. So especially for that license, the USSF should make it cheaper and easier to attend, so more people can go back to their clubs and spread the word the USSF wants spread.

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