WHAT IS PLAYER DEVELOPMENT?
Our younger ages represent the most influential period in forming a sound fundamental base and a love of the game. Continue to make training fun while at the same time keeping it consistently challenging and competitive.
Playing to win games becomes increasingly important but should never be at the expense of playing well.
Avoid the temptation to have your players BOOT the ball long and far in the hopes that one of your fast forwards can win a foot race to create a breakaway. A ball that is aimlessly kicked forward into a sea of opponents with the idea of gaining a territorial advantage is, at best, hopeful soccer. The style of playing incessant “direct” soccer, when a team always plays the ball forward regardless of whether or not it is appropriate to do so in that situation, does not develop players. Moreover, that approach has consistently been proven ineffective at the higher level of the game.
The “direct” approach should also be discouraged because it replaces skillful and creative play with an environment in which aggression and size becomes disproportionately important. While we want to encourage players to be “direct” by going to goal when the opportunity presents itself, there is a huge difference between being constructively direct as opposed to whacking the ball forward all the time.
Playing well means playing intelligent, patient, controlled game in which skill, mobility, and precision are emphasized and applied at speed. A precise pass to a well-timed purposeful run that culminates in a shot on goal is one of the most exciting actions in any sport.
Only if we teach and give our young players the freedom to make choices during the run of play will they be able to fulfill their potential.
Hard though it may be, refrain from bellowing at your players to “shoot it” or “pass it.” A “wrong” decision by a player is better than a “right” decision by a coach. After the game is the time to discuss why a player made a specific choice in a specific situation. But during the game it must be left to the players to think for themselves.
Rage Technical Staff