Tab Ramos on new rules, U.S. progress, MLS and youth clubs

Interview by Mike Woitalla

Tab Ramos, a U.S. Hall of Famer whose playing career included three World Cups, is entering his fourth year as U.S. Soccer's Youth Technical Director. Ramos, who is also aiming to become the first coach to lead the USA to three straight U-20 World Cups, has been at the Technical Director helm during a period in which U.S. Soccer has increased its impact on grassroots youth soccer by implementing rule changes such as the build-out line, standardizing small-sided formats, and switching to calendar-year registration. The USA has also seen an increase in teenagers turning pro.

SOCCER AMERICA: It’s now been three years since you were named U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director. Have seen the kind progress you were hoping for in U.S. youth programs?

TAB RAMOS: Three years is a very short period of time for youth development, and still we have changed so much. From small-sided games to the addition of two new youth national teams – U-19 and U-16 – and so much in between.

With the help of all youth soccer organizations, we have changed the size of fields, improved rules, and hopefully the approach to the game by the clubs all the way down to 6- and 7-year-olds. Everything is guided by a complete focus on players’ relationship with the ball first.

From a youth national team standpoint, organizationally we are in the best place we have ever been. For the first time we have a youth national team in every age group from U-14 through U-20, and solid integration between them that is continuing to improve.

Our young players are getting more and more opportunities with the senior team, and players like Christian Pulisic, Matt Miazga, Rubio Rubin and DeAndre Yedlin have taken huge steps to play overseas for important clubs. We cannot take credit for individual players development, but our coaches have provided solid international experiences that are really important for them and their futures on our senior national team.

SA: One of U.S. Soccer’s youth rule changes is the “build-out line” -- which requires the opposing team to retreat when the goalkeeper has the ball -- and no punting at U-10. What are the benefits?

TAB RAMOS: We all would like for coaches to teach and for players to learn and not be afraid to have the ball and play. It is important that younger age groups believe that punting or clearing a ball is always just giving the ball away.

The build-out line takes the responsibility of taking chances away from the coach; it is now part of the game. Teams will automatically make an effort to play out of the back. Too many of our youth coaches have had the pressure to win games, and because of that they would do whatever gave them the best chance to do just that. You cannot blame a coach for trying to keep his or her job. This particular change should help players to learn to want the ball and to play out of the back, and it should help coaches to not be “blamed” for trying to play the game properly and losing because of it.

SA: Can you comment on the change to calendar-year registration? There have been a fair amount of complaints during the transition.

TAB RAMOS: Change is always difficult. We are conscious that some players have had to change teams and that is not easy. We care about every single player and would like for soccer to be a good experience for them. We need the support of the adults.

As an example, I have three children and their classmates change every year in school, and although it takes a few weeks to adapt to the new classmates, classroom and teacher, they do adapt. In this case, I believe adults play an important role in being positive about the change of teams. Kids will adapt fast. We are looking at the big picture as a nation.

SA: Do you believe young American players are getting enough opportunities to play in MLS? If not, would you advocate for a minimum number of minutes as the Mexican league once implemented?

TAB RAMOS: Of course you have to be a good player to get a chance, but I do not think that American players are getting enough opportunities. It seems like for the most part MLS teams are investing in foreign players for most all of the important positions. I would be supportive of any change which could potentially help MLS teams be rewarded for giving young American players more minutes. Clubs like FC Dallas and New York Red Bulls already do a very good job moving youngsters up.

SA: How would you rate MLS’s youth development efforts?

TAB RAMOS: MLS is doing a great job in investing in youth development. We have to give Commissioner Garber and MLS owners a lot of credit for believing that the future of our league depends on our youth. MLS clubs are investing heavily and it will pay off, but youth development needs time.

SA: How would you rate the progress of non-MLS clubs in producing players for the higher levels?

TAB RAMOS: Youth clubs are incredible. More and more of them are investing time, effort and so many resources without a reward in the end. Many develop players for six or seven years only to lose them to an MLS or an international club without anything coming back to them. We are working diligently to try to figure out the right way to help them. We think about this every single day. Our youth amateur clubs are our backbone. We need them.

59 comments about "Tab Ramos on new rules, U.S. progress, MLS and youth clubs ".
  1. R2 Dad, January 12, 2017 at 4:50 p.m.

    It's like a Michelle French smack-down: "It is important that younger age groups believe that punting or clearing a ball is always just giving the ball away." When I write this stuff, I'm just an internet crackpot. What do you do when Tab Ramos says the same thing, Michelle?

  2. Matt Dishongh, January 12, 2017 at 5:18 p.m.

    "Kids will adapt fast."

    During the last season, I witnessed so many on the younger end of a birth year placed at such a disadvantage on teams with players who were already a year ahead of them. Not only can these kids not catch up physically or developmentally, but for many it will lead them straight out of soccer. If birth year is such a great idea, let's also do it in school classrooms and see how it turns out.

  3. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, January 12, 2017 at 6:33 p.m.

    In my state grades in school are organized by birth year. We all turned out fine. Much ado about nothing.

  4. Max Weber replied, January 16, 2017 at 11:17 p.m.

    Where I lived, it was common for parents to hold their kids back a year so they could be sports stars. some study on Hockey showed this technique works. Well, in sports aligned with school year, and not age. Of course, soccer and tennis don't really base the player rankings on high school performance, from what I am told; so, true school year and current school year would not matter anyways. I think the annual year is easier to remember. I think age matter up until Pro levels. It makes a big difference in the teen years, I observe.

  5. Rene Rodriguez, January 12, 2017 at 5:49 p.m.

    Do we really need Birth year at the rec and state level? Working with National Level players is one thing. Clubs also. But a blanket change for the small percentage of players that could be national level players seems drastic.

  6. Scott Johnson replied, January 12, 2017 at 6:11 p.m.

    In Oregon, OYSA competitive teams switched to birth year this past season, but recreational teams (at least the rec league serving where I live) has remained on school year.

  7. Frank Fonte, January 12, 2017 at 9:41 p.m.

    where's the fairness. the men's side gets tab ramos to make decisions about youth development. the women get april henrichs. and michele french. seems a bit out of balalnce. lucky boys.

  8. barry politi, January 13, 2017 at 12:29 a.m.

    Ramos is full of crap. He knows that changing to the calendar year negatively affected tons of kids but continues to deny it. Just another antihero self serving adult looser!

  9. Glenn Manning replied, January 15, 2017 at 10:03 a.m.

    Seriously what are you people so upset about? WOW!

  10. MA Soccer, January 13, 2017 at 8:26 a.m.

    Time for Tab to focus on U-20s full time and hire a full time youth technical director.
    I hope he did not spend a lot of time on the youth side, If he did he is out of his depth.
    How will US youth soccer players improve technically with any of these initiatives?

  11. R2 Dad replied, January 15, 2017 at 7:13 a.m.

    You're right. He totally gives Garber a hall pass because MLS is spending money, when everyone here knows investment per se does not equal development. My guess is that US Soccer is now only allowed to make cuddly noises regarding MLS, in the hopes these academy teams will sprinkle some magic on youth soccer. From what I've seen, the general trend is that academy teams play faster but in the attacking 3rd nothing has changed. There will be a couple skillful players at each age group but we can't grow an attacking mid that can unlock a defense. We have these small/quick dribblitos, but they're sitting on the bench of played out of position. Dribble = risk, and coaches want to minimize that by playing a fast counter and relying on speed to do the damage. Nothing's changing in that regard.

  12. don Lamb replied, January 16, 2017 at 10:45 a.m.

    Jen - Are you pretending that there has not been a change to youth development landscape with the advent of MLS "academies?" The USS Development Academies are not always set up in a great way for youth development, but even those "academies" have greatly improved the landscape when it comes to youth development in the US. You and R2 expect this development to happen overnight...

  13. frank schoon replied, January 16, 2017 at 1:54 p.m.

    Don, granted the youth academies have improve the situation horizontally( whatever that is and mostly in the PR dept.) but not vertically and that is the problem. These academies are money makers, the personnel teaching there I'm not impressed with. Besides one only has to read articles like this one shows that those who teachers are still making stabs in the dark as far as developing players. These academies have been around for over 10years but I have yet to see a player coming out the academies after 10 years who are able to dribble and pass or receive a ball with either foot( or receive a ball with the weak foot while under pressure)....and that is the prove in the pudding for me.

  14. don Lamb replied, January 16, 2017 at 3:02 p.m.

    Sorry Frank, but that is crazy talk. The MLS academy system and the trend of second teams playing in USL has absolutely helped the vertical progression/integration of youth players. If you have not seen players who have skills, you are not looking. Did you see the U17s last month destroying Brazil, Portugal, and Turkey. Have you seen the prospects that FC Dallas, NYRB, LA Galaxy, etc. are starting to produce? Pulisic? Wright? Perez? The list goes on for a while, and these are products of the "academy" system...

  15. frank schoon replied, January 16, 2017 at 3:23 p.m.

    That we beat foreign youth teams is meaningless that is nothing new. As a matter of fact the Europeans know that very well at this stage of youth development but what counts is the American player loses when the European and American player hit the age of 20...That is the problem the American player falls behind in development. Realize the soccer played at the youth level is not that good or sophisticated and therefore less skilled teams can survive either through size and speed(a la americans) can win , but not after 20 the game becomes much more sophisticated in Europe as compared to American style of play which is characterized with high rate of ball loss, unable to string more than passes together. And that is why you find American teams don't build up an attack from the back as a style for they lose the ball after other every pass and that is why American play a more counter attacking for they are not sophisticated enough to play a passing game. Also like I stated before , I have yet to see a player ming out of the academies that can play with both feet...

  16. don Lamb replied, January 16, 2017 at 4:20 p.m.

    Frank - You obviously didn't watch those games. Lots of skill on display. And none of our players simply out-ran or out-muscled the opponent. There are dozens of players who can play with both feet coming out of academies. Andrew Carleton switched from left to right with ease. You are relying on tired stereotypes to make an argument that is quickly becoming irrelevant.

  17. frank schoon replied, January 16, 2017 at 5:27 p.m.

    Don , the point is that the Europeans move beyond the Americans in development , you can't argue with that for if that wasn't the case we wouldn't also be sending young players to play in Europe instead of staying here.Second the American youth are able to beat foreign teams at young ages, big deal, since the play is not that sophisticated. Next the style because of the lack of technical skills, especially in smalls space is deplorable in american soccer and therefore the Americans are unable to string two passes together under pressure ,creating lots of ball loss and you can see that all time in MLS. Lots of ball, this style of soccer is played from youth on up to the pros....we can't hold on the ball long enough to play a possessive style.

  18. don Lamb replied, January 16, 2017 at 7:36 p.m.

    Yeah, I fully understand that we are catching up to Europe. I don't think that's a secret. For many reasons that have been detailed in these comments, the build-out line is helping us close that gap. The results of youth national teams and of individual players signing professional contracts as teenagers once again shows that this gap is closing. The argument needs to much more nuanced than the simple one that you are making.

  19. don Lamb replied, January 16, 2017 at 10:35 p.m.

    I don't think there's much of an argument against the point that our current teenagers are much further along than any generation ahead of them. But, ultimately, we will have to wait a few years to see how they pan out. But.... we were talking about the build-out line. Glad to see that you have completely given up on your claim that it's a dumb idea that no serious nation would consider using for youth development. Much like many of your other assertions, it was proven completely false.

  20. don Lamb replied, January 17, 2017 at 12:06 a.m.

    Yeah, or... 35 of the 50 top players in the world were produced in Europe. Brazil got waxed 7-1 because they were stupid enough to try to play with Germany and run at them with all of their amazing exports.

  21. frank schoon, January 13, 2017 at 11:01 a.m.

    Guys, why do we reinvent the wheel constantly in soccer. It so simple to develop players. HAVE YOU NOTICED ever since the National Soccer Coaching Schools have grown by leaps and bounds in power and control everywhere, the technical abilities of the players have gone down hill. And that is because their material is programmed , pedantic, professorial "Garbage". Since the past 50 years we still haven't produced a nice tricky winger or great attacker that fans would run to a stadium to see play,and therefore as a result, the Coaching School try new ways of packaging their "Garbage" with new color wrapping paper, every so often. And the end the result is we have more kinds of different coaching licenses( 4 on 4 coaching diploma, unbelievable!! ) which is great a money making endeavor. Talk about our depressed economy is in a slump, well I'll tell the National Coaching School is not hurting for they are making money hand over fist!! They are taking advantage of the gullible public.
    Wiel Coerver ,the Dutchman, who became world famous by inventing a new way of teaching technical skill to players. Many don't know the real story of Wiel Coerver. Coerver blasted the Dutch National Coaching Academy for failing coaches to teach players adequately how to teach technical skills and develop youth. Coerver has A-license from the Dutch Coaching School so he knows what the problems are at the Dutch School. Coerver called the Dutch School a bunch of "paper poopers" who are better at talking to a potted flower than teaching skills. In other word the Dutch Coaching School (DCS) are more about issuing licenses, setting up courses -programmed garbage. The class instructors are/were not good soccer players, having played on the level of Joe's Pizza Hut and are telling retired pros 20 years of playing the insights of the game...WHAT A JOKE!! The late Ernst Happel considered by Johan Cruyff one of the greatest coaches in the world stated that no good players end up
    at the coaching school but are usually nitwits who work their way up through the diploma ranks and become coaching instructors, who really lack the game expertise and real insights of the game. Wouldn't you rather have a Beckenbauer, a Cruyff, a Pele, Dzajic, a Zidane, etc type running the coaching school and learn from rather than one of these diploma 'bloviators".
    Let me explain on Wiel Coerver who basically saved the soccer community from having "cone drills" that were propagated my the coaching schools.

  22. Max Weber replied, January 16, 2017 at 11:03 p.m.

    Correct. Kids don't play soccer where I live. They play league soccer. I am teaching the kids on our U7 team to play soccer. Its actually a lot of fun. I watch the challenge/classic/academy teams and see some good raw athletes but never see excitement. Energy without love or passion. Genga?
    I don't care about the rule changes so much (no headers, no offsides, no attacking pressure, this article said no punts) although most are garbage; but, I really care that I don't see any style or pizzazz amongst our "elite" players. No wonder we can't even get out of CONCACAF and into the WC.
    Next Presidential election, let's put US Soccer on the debate table. Time for the USA to get it together.

  23. frank schoon replied, January 17, 2017 at 10:07 a.m.

    Max, don't let this garbage influence your style of working with the youth. At this stage of the game allow the U7 the dribble their ears off ,just let them play and bring in if possible some older better kids like 8 and 9 year old so they can learn and see the possibility. let them see this.

  24. frank schoon, January 13, 2017 at 12:10 p.m.

    Wiel Coerver after criticizing the DNS, obviously fell in disrepute with the Coaching School...have you noticed the Dutch School doesn't really propagate the Coerver teaching techniques. It took quite a few years later after Coerver's worldwide success leaving the Dutch Coaching School with egg on their face forcing them to invite Coerver to do his demonstration in front of the coaches. Not one one of them was successful doing the Coerver exercises and most of them tripped over themselves.
    This is why both parties parted company while Coerver made a name for himself world wide. Notice it is not the Coaching Schools that discovered a new way of teaching technical skills but Coerver . As a matter of fact the coaching schools were still propagating boring cone drills for teaching skills. Realize all the poor a idiots going to the US National Coaching School for a license were being taught how to teach skills with those lousy cone drills....and at that time the coaching school was run by a bunch of college coaches .
    I'm not a total fan of the Coerver techniques but sofar it it's better than what we have in teaching skills. But Coerver sort of HIT upon the secret of how to develop and teach technique. And the real secret of how to teach technical skills was "STREET SOCCER". Coerver took elements of street soccer which to Johan Cruyff was the best training grounds ever for player development. I , having been brought up and learned to play in that era in Holland, know exactly what "Street Soccer" entails. Realize in those days there was not a Dutch coaching school , as a matter of fact Rinus Michels was the first coach in Holland to be licensed in mid 60's. Up to that time kids learned to play soccer in the streets without coaches yelling at you, "one-touch, pass the ball, don't dribble so much" along with all the other programmed jargon these licensed coaches learn from the coaching school. Instead kids dribbled and dribbled, and dribbled becoming very proficient in ball handling skills. Playing on concrete forces the youth to play with technique to beat a player and not with speed. So beating a player was done with finesse and street smarts, not with power , size or speed.
    If you look at a Barcelona's midfield with Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, they are what Cruyff took from "street soccer".
    Barcelona has small midfielders, quick technicians, don't employ running or rely on size or power to beat an opponent but quick ball handling skills with quick ball movements, furthermore they are not build to fight or out head the opponent.
    The secret of street soccer was allowing them to do as much as they want individually with the ball, play on CONCRETE, and the MOST important asset of street soccer, kids of all ages played together. In other words MIXED AGES. The younger not only learned from the older kids but also had to learn to play and survive playing against older, smarter and quicker players.

  25. frank schoon, January 13, 2017 at 12:27 p.m.

    What Wiel Coerver never mentioned is how important it was to learn to play on concrete for that makes players think ahead when trying to take on an opponent for one can't use speed because you might fall. Furthermore the defender realizes he won't be beaten with speed has to think what the attacker will come up with , be it a pass to another player or a dribble move. In other words both the attacker and defender are thinking and this thinking factor ,which can't be taught, is done through doing . Realize a licensed coach is totally useless at this stage of the game for the youth are learning on their own, through the conditions they are given. Realize the defender becomes knowledgeable at reading the attacker's capabilities for there is no running. It is this "thinking" that becomes automatic with the players as they grow older and develop and thereby read the game. You can't teach this as a coach, for it is a natural progressing. This is players from my era were smarter where as today players are programmed by programmed coaches. These licensed programmed coaches are not able to teach the hidden qualities the street soccer era kids learned naturally. Today, the kids are programmed to, regulated, told what to do , where to go as a result they lack creativity,technical skill and smarts.....

  26. Goal Goal, January 13, 2017 at 12:38 p.m.

    Frank,you make some great observations. When you talk about the lack of players with technical ability. We talk about tech ability. We say its important. We say its necessary and we all know that in order to compete at the international level we have to have players with this ability. However go take a look at our youth National Teams, boys I am talking about in U14,15,16 and 17. There are some kids at the U15 and 16 age group that have tremendous tech ability but when they try to exercise that ability they are chastised by the coaches who are not interested in working the ball up the field in an organized manner but want to launch it like a cannon and shot and let the big fast players fight for it in front of the goal. The only interest is speed and winning. Some of these coaches have even cut the tech players from the teams because they wont play over the top and fast. God forbid that a player try to take someone on one on one. All these coaches are interested in are kids that are big and fast. Skill or tech ability is an after thought. Then when we get to international competition at the older ages we are left standing in the dust because the kick the cover off the ball method doesn't work when you are playing technically skilled players. I truly think some of our coaches have no idea how to handle a possession game and their only recourse is to go hard and fast. Ramos knows this. He is one of the smarter ones in the organization. Until we get this corrected we will continue to put teams on the field who struggle at the international level. Why can't US Soccer see this?

  27. frank schoon, January 13, 2017 at 2:02 p.m.

    Fanfor, I remember one of my players who didn't make the high school team because of his size but since I made him technically proficient .He made the college team but his college coach told him he should not pass employing the outside of his foot. I almost went ballistic when he told me that. These are some of the idiots that run around with a coaching license.....
    Let me mention a couple other aspects of what "Street Soccer" did for the players technical capability -BALANCE. Notice how kids today fall every moment because they learn to play on grass. I can't remember a kid ever falling on concrete when I played in the streets of Amsterdam,NEVER!!! And the reason is that kid playing on concrete always had to think of what they are going to do in order not to fall. Todays kids , don't have good BALANCE!! ,and with good balance you can't execute well. REMEMBER good winger does not use speed but watches the moment the opponent is off balance than he cuts... WATCH Garrincha , when he cuts he does it when the defender has to move step sideways to follow him thereby he's off balance. Balance was another aspect Coerver failed to mention when learning playing in the streets. If my kids are on grass then I tell them to wear indoor flats for this forces them to think of not sliding or falling; I want their minds totally involved when they play soccer and therefore I create conditions forcing them to think; instead of telling them to think which is useless
    Another element of street soccer was you played with a rubber type ball which bounces more and thereby ,again, you have to think when passing what the ball could, or would do and what the consequences could be for you teammate, again , it is THINKING!! The only time I ever saw a coach when I played as youth was on saturday for Ajax.
    The rest of time you learned by playing and doing in the streets against better players. Another thing that Coerver failed to mention is the "gunslinger". The more serious youth players like myself would not always play in the same neighborhood for I want to learn more from other players that I don't know about ,therefore on mondays I would walk maybe a kilometer or two in the city to find another pick up game. That is called "gunslinging" for I am encroaching on some else territory who runs the roost. Top dog picks the teams. Players can sense if the new gunslinger is better than the one who is currently best in the neighborhood. Many times we play with tennis balls or larger than a size 5 never know what kind of ball your playing with. Another aspect of street soccer is that kids were much better passers than today's kids because growing up in the city you use walls of buildings to pass against if you're by yourself. Go to any soccer field , you won't find a Tennis wall even to pass against. The last thing I want to mention is Johan
    Cruyff who learned his game in the streets of Amsterdam

  28. frank schoon replied, January 13, 2017 at 2:17 p.m.


  29. Bob Ashpole replied, January 16, 2017 at 1:28 a.m.

    Hi Frank, I don't think Cruyff was against licenses or coaches with licenses. The way I would put it is that a license is just a piece of paper. I think his view as a club advisor was everyone has strengths and weaknesses and that individuals ought to be intelligently matched against the jobs. Being a good player doesn't guarantee success as a youth coach, just as it doesn't guarantee success as a first team manager. On the other hand it is tough for a coach to teach fundamentals if they haven't played the game.

  30. frank schoon replied, January 16, 2017 at 10:46 a.m.

    Hi Bob, Cruyff DID state that LICENSED COACHES SHOULD NOT be training the youth but good soccer players. And the good soccer players he referred to were usually the best players of the the A-team whether pro or Amateur. For example for youth players of Ajax, like myself would be trained by the best player of the A-team. Cruyff stated licensed coaches hamper and restrict the development of the youth for they are too programmed, too pedantic, and too dogmatic as compared to the best player teaching the youth for they would be able to guide the youth better in their development for they can read better the nuances in development of the player. At Ajax the players to the A-team know right away if a coach is licensed by the jargon he employs.
    For example, at any moment a licensed coach might yell , "cross the ball !". Players who play at a high level would never say that but instead say "spoon it' or slice it " meaning ,depending on the situation at that moment, "spooning" means to bend away from the goalie, and "slicing it" means for the ball to cut in. Now let us take it a step further. Why do you spoon it , for example, because l at that moment the opponents in front of the goal are very quick and fast and thus are capable for a fast counter attack. Spooning it means the attacking team is ;one, able to head the ball harder as compared to slicing it because they are coming in to the ball; two ,positionally the attacking team can be back at their position quicker to stop any counter; and three ,in this situation the slicing effect would put the attackers off balance since they are running forwards and therefore the transition time for defense takes longer. If you want to slice it that means ,for example, the attacker in front of the goal is in this case, for example, small, quicker than the defender and is running, naturally towards the first post. Of course the cross is also related ,technically , to who is crossing...I don't want to technically so I'l will stop here, but this is just an example of the nuances these licensed coaches miss as compared what the players can read in to the
    game. A close example is a referee who has not played as much as compare a referee who has played at a high level. True both know the rules but the one who has played at a high level can read nuances of the foul, the run of the game ..the intangibles that you don't learn from going to a referee school....
    The very fact that we use the term "coach" working with
    the youth, is WRONG for the proper term is "trainer' or developer' is better suited, and that is why CRUYFF prefers a player working with the youth not some licensed coach. Because the kids are in the developmental stage and therefore "development' trumps coaching which has to do more with teams and team play.
    That a good player might not be necessarily be a good coach...that is true but that is not the issue since we are talking about developing, not coaching which is for older players....

  31. Bob Ashpole replied, January 16, 2017 at 1:39 p.m.

    Frank, I think we see the same problems. I don't think you or Cruyff really care whether a coach has a license or not. I think your actual point is that in your experience a lot of licensed coaches put form over substance and teach coaching conventions they learn in coaching school instead of how to play the game. He is my definition of good versus bad coaching. Teaching players the language of soccer so that they can create their own poetry versus teaching players to memorize someone else's poems. My definition of a good team is 11 players sharing the same soccer brain. The modern trend is for the coach to take tactical decisions away from the players and control through instructions how the game is played. I liked the game a lot better when coaching from the sidelines was banned.

  32. frank schoon replied, January 16, 2017 at 2:21 p.m.

    Exactly, Bob. I tell my players to not call me coach for that is not what I do, call me by my first name or trainer for I develop. For example, a coach would not like his youth player to try and "Nutmeg" an opponent. As a licensed coach he learned that if this trick doesn't work, the team might up end losing ball possession, etc...the standard doctrine of not making unnecessary mistakes,something what you would learn at a licensed course. Yes, the coach is right from a coaching point of view but not if it comes from player/ developer. In other words I tell my players to Nutmeg the opponent the first time you get the ball and if it doesn't work you try it again but at your choosing. Why do I want the player to do a Nutmeg because , psychologically it gives the players a mental boost and all of sudden the mind takes over and he feels more relaxed and confident for that is most important thing to have when you have the ball; for than you feel like your in a practice fooling around. So many players are nervous and this one method of making the psychologically superior over the opponent...
    I tell them in order to get a flow take your opponent on 1v1, play with them, be arrogant for only when your arrogant your comfortable and confident with the ball....I don't care if they lose the ball, all I want them to do is go after the player you lose the ball to for that is the least I expect. The important for me is for the player to feel confident with the ball first....

  33. frank schoon replied, January 16, 2017 at 2:38 p.m.

    Bob ,one more thing, have you noticed reading the article and the previous article dealing with the dutch soccer academy coach coming over with their licenses,etc,etc,..when reading all these articles and including the comments there is very little about skills and the techniques and how to go about really improving the skills. All you read about is structures of coaching licenses and the re- organizational changes in the structures and variations of organizations , all of which is suppose to improve the youth play....blah, blah ,blah..This is why Wiel Coerver left the Dutch National Academy for there is so much garbage. Here is quote from that Dutch coach who came over and I can just see Johan Cruyff talking like this "This philosophy, together with the method of experiential learning based on a holistic approach, is the fundament for all our licenses." Oh , man we need to get back to the "street philosophy' where soccer was really learned.....LOL

  34. Bob Ashpole replied, January 16, 2017 at 3:22 p.m.

    My hope for the future of youth coaching is that coaches work more in coaching teams rather than independently. In other words the organizational approach currently used at the top of the pyramid should spread to the bottom of the pyramid. This is from Cruyff's new autobiography: "Youth training, for example, must be done by people who first and foremost have an understanding of football, but they must also have a back-up [support] team with good skills in other areas, such as health, education and welfare." The youth trainer should be taking the knowledge from the support people and using it to improve the training methods. In this way coaches collectively become more effective than individually. The old approach of coaches training teams independently is too inefficient.

  35. frank schoon replied, January 16, 2017 at 4:09 p.m.

    This type of development has always been the case with Ajax in the early days when Cruyff grew up. All the coaches work together but somehow when Cruyff left Ajax to Spain things changed. Van Gaal ruined the Ajax youth system along with his cohort both who were licensed, professorial types. They stifled the creativity of the players, through their pedantism, and being dogmatic . Neither played at a high enough level and that is the problem. They were good coaches for the A-team but stunk in developing the youth..they were "paper poppers" and can hold coaching seminars ,etc but didn't have know how to develop the player.....
    Cruyff brought about the new revolution before he died in which all coaches were familiar with different teams and players. The coach of the next older team would work with the younger team thereby knowing the players and organization goes down al ages. The best player would move up to the next older group but on the B team since each age group has two teams. Notice the mix age philosophy of street soccer behind this.

  36. Goal Goal, January 13, 2017 at 4:13 p.m.

    The youth national team coaches don't know how to handle kids who are technically strong. The big and strong always win out. If they can run through a wall and not blink they made the team.

  37. frank schoon replied, January 13, 2017 at 4:31 p.m.

    Well, I guess, that is why watching American soccer is so uninspiring. Oh, wait perhaps there will be a new repackaging of Coaching courses in the future. I can't wait for the new coaching course to come out that will certify a new and exciting coaching diploma in how to conduct players coming off the bus the field and how to deal with 'social justice warriors and LGBTQXYZ referees!!!

  38. Goal Goal, January 13, 2017 at 4:44 p.m.

    You refer to Cruyff who was part of the Barcelona system for a while. There is a guy who used to be the director of Barcelona's youth system his name is Albert Puig. A soccer genius. He has helped produce some great players.. He made a statement one time concerning Cruyff's time at Barcelona that all of the coaches have had faith in the youth system but Guardiola (who grew up at Barcelona) has taken it a step further because he grew up here. Do you think that can be said about any US coaches in the youth programs today?

  39. frank schoon, January 13, 2017 at 5:39 p.m.

    The difference of what Guardiola has accomplished as compared to when Cruyff created the "Dream Team" in the 90s was that Cruyff did not have a youth system to draw from, he had to create it from nothing, unlike Guardiola who took advantage of the Cruyff's youth system . Guardiola did not take it a step further, he followed what Cruyff believed in , in how soccer should be played ,Cruyff's philosophy. This is why Guardiola when he was a player stated that every practice Cruyff gave was like a college seminar. That is how much Guardiola learned from Cruyff. When Frank Rykaard coached Barcelona in the early 2000 he obviously had contact with Cruyff ,just like Guardiola did when he coached Barcelona. Cruyff is considered a genius by them....
    As far as your question go...I don't know any of the national coaches. What we need is Guardiola to come here and teach at the National Coaching School the deeper insights of the game which is not happening.
    And bringing over the Dutch coaches, ain't doing it for our program, for these same dutch coaches run like the devil to the newsstand In Holland to read the latest interview by Johan Cruyff on soccer... Let me you give an anecdote,the state of affairs on the National Coaching Schools. All new developments in soccer is never started at the Coaching Schools but at club level. Did you think Barcelona called up the National Coaching School and ask "Gee, what is a new and better to play? No, of course not , it was created by an individual with deep insight into the game , a la Cruyff... These coaches at the coaching school no nothing but follow what works out the pro leagues copy and teach. Let us say the next world cup winner had employed a monkey on the right wing, then the following season you will see teams copying the style and employs a monkey on the right wing and coaching school will be teaching a coaching license called 'The monkey overlap, and containment trap'. And next college coaches will be recruiting monkeys for right wing (it shouldn't be difficult for monkeys to pass SAT's these days) This is the story of
    coaching, or rather copying.. When Rinus Michels became famous with Total Soccer, many coaches read how Michels trained ,especially the coaching schools. Well they found out that Michells made the players run a lot and didn't work on skills or anything. Bingo , the coaching schools all over world created Tempo training with lots of running and weights copying Michell"s style of play. Here is where they went wrong, Michell stated that all his players were great technical players, Cruyff, Rep, Rensenbrink, Van Hanegem ,etc...all of which came from the street soccer era, so what could he possibly improve them on which was the physical aspect of the game not the technical aspect. But these idiot coaches overlooked that element and as a result thought that the game had to become more physical and less technical.

  40. frank schoon, January 13, 2017 at 6 p.m.

    Fanfor, read my comments going back to Jurgen Klinsman column is SA last week ....

  41. cony konstin, January 13, 2017 at 9:54 p.m.

    Tab it is a nice that you are showing some backbone. keep it up. We are devoloping robots not football players. Our pay to play model is an abomination if your goal is to make talented players. But this model is good if your goal is to make nice kids. But before you start to make nice kids or talented players you must first focus on developing Passion. Passion is the most important component. Why? Because now you are not only developing players but also future fans, coaches, refs, administrators, money people, and other positions that are involve in the game. How do you become passionate in anything? You must do it everyday to the point that when you are not doing it that it hurts so bad that you want to cry like baby because you are not doing what you love. That is passion. How do we create this type of environment? By building 600,000 futsal courts so kids can play king of the court, 24/7/365/, for free and with no adult interference. You create this playground/streetball/sandlot environment then you will develop a world of passion and eventually world class talented magical geniuses. Mean while if we continue to sell gimmicks, smoke and mirrors, $400 cleats, coaching DVDs and nice pretty uniforms we will continue to be mediocre. You can't make chicken soup with chicken s$&t. You need a chicken......... It is time that we stop focusing our football on selling and buying crap and start to have conviction in creating our way the USONIAN WAY. REVOLUTION!!!!!!

  42. Glenn Manning replied, January 15, 2017 at 10:25 a.m.

    Now that makes sense

  43. Max Weber replied, January 16, 2017 at 11:10 p.m.

    Similar to what I commented. I didn't see beautiful games at the tourney I attended here - and this league if one of the best in the country. Granted, I haven't seen a whole lot; but, I have seen the USMNT. ;-)

  44. Bob Ashpole, January 15, 2017 at 11:53 p.m.

    To Tab: From an outsider's vantage point at the bottom of the pyramid, I would like to see the following in youth development:
    1. More cooperation between USSF and USYSA. It appears to me that USSF is not taking advantage of the resources at USYSA, which includes some of the world's leading experts on youth development and coaching education.
    2. All my life in all youth sports I have seen adults attempt to accelerate development by teaching intermediate topics to novices at the expense of fundamentals. I wish it to stop. It produces hot teams of 10 year olds at the expense of long term player development. In youth soccer it takes the form of teaching team tactics, developing teams instead of players, at ever younger ages and essentially shorting "elite" youth players of 2 years of training in fundamentals at ages 11 and 12.
    3. I would like to see USSF adopt the German system of local supplemental breakout training for the top 8% or so of teen players who are not in professional club academies. The key is that it is conducted solely by full time USSF employed professional coaches and not by club coaches. It focuses completely on identification and training of the best players. It doesn't compete with clubs. I realize there are practical problems, but surely USSF could start with with a pilot program in a soccer dense area such as Southern California or MD/VA/DC areas to demonstrate the potential of the program to the state organizations and others. This was not an easy program for the Germans to establish, but they did it. Consider the professional coaching development potential in the program too.
    4. I wish that playing multiple sports was encouraged if not required of elite athletes. Playing multiple sports produces better, smarter athletes. Personally my playing benefited from playing tennis, basketball, American football, ice hockey, golf and martial arts. Each of these sports had elements that transferred to soccer and to coaching too. From the bottom of the pyramid, I cannot see what it is like at the top. I am sure that the view from the top can be daunting at times, but growing the sport is a worthy goal. Stay focused on the big picture and don't worry about the small stuff. Best wishes and a big "Thank you."

  45. Kent James replied, January 16, 2017 at 11:12 a.m.

    Very well said.

  46. Scott Johnson replied, January 16, 2017 at 11:24 a.m.

    One thing I think would be useful--is there a concise summary of how the German youth system (whether tightly organized or loosely) works? At what age due the club academies--which I assume are the primary training grounds for elite players--start? If you don't get in at the ground floor, what chances are there for players who develop late to get in? It sounds like other youth clubs (even if competitive) are more recreational or early-development focused, leaving the training of the elite players to academies. One issue with the "old way" of doing things in the US is that (ignoring exclusive rec clubs) we've tons of classic clubs, each pretending that their program or their coach or their director holds the keys to the kingdom. Most have one or two current or former pros who once played for them, and an ex-pro or two on the coaching staff, who are trumpeted as proof that Their Way Works. Were I to believe the marketing literature, virtually every classic club in town is a guaranteed ticket to the USMNT or USWNT. Of course, the number of US internationals this city has produced can be counted on the fingers...

  47. Bob Ashpole replied, January 16, 2017 at 1:03 p.m.

    I am relying on the description of events in Honigstein's "Das Reboot" in "The Beginning of the Beginning" chapter.

  48. Bob Ashpole, January 16, 2017 at 8:22 a.m.

    I think people would appreciate what USSF is trying to do if they realize that the U10 rule changes are meant to change how the adults coach tactics rather than how the kids play. Do I like the "initiatives?" Generally not, because I don't think they are significant. This type of thinking I have a problem with: "It is important that younger age groups believe that punting or clearing a ball is always just giving the ball away." Here is the mistake I see being made--tactics involving routinely giving up the ball are a problem, not the techniques used to give up the ball. I agree that U10 keepers are not going to be able to accurately distribute punts, and that it is a smart idea to look at when to add punting back to the game to maximize everyone's development. The mistake is in teaching everyone that a technique is bad when your point is really a tactically one.

  49. humble 1, January 16, 2017 at 12:15 p.m.

    Nice article, I did not realize Tab was behind all the changes in youth soccer. Kudos to him. Taken in aggregate, and combined with a greater focus on coaching licenses, these two changes could possibly become the foundation for the USA to finally produce some proper footballers. Wouldn't it be ironic that the USA has a Uruguayan-American architect for this revolution after all the Europeans that have tried and failed?

  50. Goal Goal, January 16, 2017 at 12:23 p.m.

    The US problem is not kids who are talented but coaching to develop that talent. Coaches who promote decision making on the field.

  51. Rankin S, January 16, 2017 at 4:06 p.m.

    Jen- go to youtube and check out the LaLiga Promises tournament final between Barcelona and Athletico Madrid. This is the infantil or U14's and they are playing with the buildout line. That is also the first age they go 11 v 11. The defense gets a running start and closes fast so it makes a clean first touch and quick decision more critical than just getting open.

  52. don Lamb replied, January 16, 2017 at 4:24 p.m.

    Not to mention the movement off the ball... Jen, interested to hear what you have to say now that someone has pointed to evidence that this sort of thing is being done, not just at U10 levels, but at U14 at two of the best clubs in the world, no less.

  53. Bob Ashpole replied, January 16, 2017 at 4:31 p.m.

    I couldn't find U14s playing with a build out lines, but did find U12s playing with them in the tournament.

  54. frank schoon, January 18, 2017 at 6:54 p.m.

    Don and Jen, check this out on Youtube, type in
    'jan mulder twee ballen' , he use to play for Ajax with Johan, and for Anderlecht, and the Dutch National team.
    He was one of those who learned in the streets in Holland. Look at his ball handling skills from the 'old school"

  55. ferdie Adoboe, January 26, 2017 at 1:36 p.m.

    One of the things happening in youth soccer in my state is that, in the name of "development" and "advancement", 13 and 14 year olds are being asked to play 5 games a week!! Sat/Sun, Wed, Sat/Sun. Not just for one week, but for A WHOLE MONTH. This is the result of yet another "ADVANCED" league called SRPL (google it). Is this okay?

  56. frank schoon, February 25, 2017 at 2:08 p.m.

    Fergie, this is the most absurd thing I've heard of. Johan Cruyff once stated, "We use games to see how much the player has developed and learned". In other words games are not used to develop and advance the player.
    The people who run soccer are Nutjobs.

  57. T B, May 24, 2017 at 10:37 a.m.

    question for tab. the birth rule change put my daughter from a team that was nat 1 to a team that was nat 5. if she remained with previous team she would be playing a much higher level but instead is forced to play lower. how is that fair?

  58. T B replied, May 24, 2017 at 10:38 a.m.

    how does that help her development?

  59. T B, May 24, 2017 at 12:54 p.m.

    and to everyone who is saying the birth rule change aligns to schools. if a school changes the cut off for enrollment, they do NOT change it for students already in the system. they change it for students who are coming in. students in the system are left at the level they are at.

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