Chase Your Fast. Join Cristiano Ronaldo with Sam Kerr and Bruno Fernandes along with Nike Master Trainer Jamie Reynolds as they share the tips, drills and training secrets that have powered their rise to the top.
• Speed with Cristiano Ronaldo
• Movement & Finishing with Sam Kerr
• Heading with Cristiano Ronaldo
• Playing Between the Lines with Bruno Fernandes
• Free Kicks with Cristiano Ronaldo
Equipment needed: 7 markers (e.g. cones) 3 football/soccer balls 1 tennis ball 1 goal
BROUGHT TO YOU BY NIKE FOOTBALL
The teamwork makes the dream work. Check out some of the best team highlights.
When the assist is more beautiful than the goal. When the players play for each other, the game is more beautiful..
Defense wins championships. Check out Atletico's fantastic team defending vs Barcelona. Watch the red and blue team pressure, cover and balance together.
Effort wins games. Watch the dark teams effort to get back on defense. Eight players sprinting to help defend!
Life is boring without sauce. Skills can change a game. Got sauce?
Goalkeepers save the team. Learn from some the best.
The USMNT has gone through many trials and tribulations these last couple of years. From missing out on the 2018 World Cup to getting dominated by Canada, the USA have not looked great. Over the last couple of months this has changed though. Prospect after prospect, goal after goal, the USA has developed so many players in such a short amount of time that it's hard to keep track. The Next generation of US talent looks phenomenal, and if they can reach their potential we have a team that can compete with the rest of the world. Cheers to a new era!
Meet the new boys...
America's best, check out eight episodes of Christian Pulisic's process.
This video contains some top moments of your favorite commentator Ray Hudson. Ray Hudson is a fantastic commentator famous for his hilarious metaphors and romanticized descriptions. His expression when his fellow commentator Phil Schoen mentioned Tom Cruise during a match is legendary. His favorite term to describe something incredible is "Magisterial". In this video you will find almost all of your favorite Ray Hudson moments. Enjoy!
NBC's Roger Bennett explores what makes Leeds United one of England's biggest clubs and the legend of manager Marcelo Bielsa as the Whites finally return to the top flight.
Widely considered one of the greatest team performances of all-time. Join us as we watch the 2011 Champions League final. With Pep Guardiola and Leo Messi both at the peak of their powers, Barcelona put on a true masterclass against Manchester United at Wembley. Here below is the full game, grab your notepad and take some notes. Click and enjoy!
Here is the tactical analysis of the game above. They analyze Guardiola's tactics that defeated Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United with 3-1. Check out how they broke down the game.
We offer "match analysis" via ZOOM, please email us for more infomation at WeAreProcessFC@gmail.com.
Bored at home? Learn about the world's most beautful game. Here are some of the best football stories to watch online...
Take the ball, Pass the ball
First Team: Juventus.
Sunderland ‘Til I Die
This Is Football
All Or Nothing
Go to youtube and search for "soccer documentary"
Dear Parents, if your elite soccer player has a dream of playing in a high level, you can help the most by fostering these mental qualities in your children and reinforcing them every day. The greatest gift parents can give their children in sports is the gift of mentality.
Lesson #1: Be Coachable
First and foremost, teach your child to be coachable. Being coachable means that your child has respect for his or her coach and listens to what is being taught. Being coachable means that your child trusts the process, listens to what he or she is told and executes it without complaint. Your child may not master the skill but he or she has mastered the work ethic necessary to master that skill. As parents, we struggle to trust the process as much as our children struggle to trust it. But keep in mind that trust in the process is most important when your faith in the process is most difficult.
Lesson #2: Be comfortable with being uncomfortable
Second, teach your child to reach out of his or her comfort zone by having difficult conversations with the coach.
Children should be the ones to have conversations with their coaches about playing time or skill progression. Children need to learn how to talk with the adult in a respectful way, yet advocate for themselves. When your elite soccer player reaches higher levels at an older age, coaches will not (nor should they) have a conversation with parents about playing time. Your children need preparation and practice in how to advocate for themselves in their professional careers. Elite soccer provides you the opportunity as a parent to teach your child a life lesson on communicating with authority and advocacy.
Lesson #3: Be an excellent teammate and leader
Third, teach your child the characteristics of how to be an excellent teammate and leader. These go hand in hand. Teach your child SELFLESSNESS by emphasizing good body language if a teammate makes a mistake. Teach your child ACCOUNTABILITY by not placing blame toward others. Teach your child a STRONG WILL and stronger COMMUNICATION SKILLS by not avoiding difficult conversations.
There is no “I” in team!
Lesson #4: Be mentally tough
Fourth, teach your children mental toughness and resilience. One day in their lives they may not start, or maybe they don’t even play at all. Elite athletes survive disappointments because they are mentally prepared for whatever happens to them. They have dealt with adversity, disappointment, and failure and learned how to grow from those experiences.
Lesson #5: Postive Attitude
Last but not least, remind your children they can achieve anything IF they put in the work CONSISTENTLY. When the going gets tough, the tough keep going! Trust your process.
Consciously or not, every player that is part of the team, during the game faces many opportunities that demand different decisions. The players decision that is fast and correct is extremely influential in the game.
“Everything starts from what the player sees. Not from what they looks at.”
If the player is aware, there is no place to fear and they will want the ball. They become responsible, creative and confident in the game. The basis of the decision process is information. The time, quality and frequency of gained information is a key in this process.
Constantly moving, players must be aware of which direction and part of the field they should move and why. That is perception, sense of awareness, and our field of sight. However, our field of view is limited, but our awareness can improve by understanding this:
1) Scanning the field - Player gathers information from surroundings.
2) Correcting body position
3) Correcting position on the field
Types of information on the field
– Where is the space with advantage (free space, numerical balance)
– Where are opponents
– Where are teammates
– Position in the formation
Based on the received information, a player must analyze them in relation to their position, principles and, assessment of the risk and which solution will bring the biggest advantage for the team.
All this information seems to be quite easy to remember and use during the game, however, sometimes the easiest way seems to be the most difficult to use. Cryuff once said,
“Soccer is simple, but it is difficult to play simple.”
How much you know is the one, but how you will use it is the other thing. Cognitive Process is one of the most difficult pieces of skill a player can develop. Done correctly, their speed of play will be unstoppable. But it takes time to develop the brain to think this way because it’s happening individually inside the head of each player. The player must understand it takes time and patience to think this way. Trust the process.
All we can do as coaches is to replicate the situations that are troublesome for the players during the game. Situations where defenders are set in transitional opportunities (ex. defense to offense), where they need to control more than one aspect of the game. Where attackers must decide what to use to control the pass or what type of run to make or dribble. The direction they will choose to create an attack.
Watching football is a great way to learn more about the game. Ask your coaches questions!
The biggest difference between the good and the best players is, decision making and first touch. So get your head up and gather the infomation to execute.
Many coaches and trainers have been saying that phrase quite often but most are missing a ton of depth and nuance. As a result, we’re not correctly identifying this player attribute.
By far, most players [outside elite pros] you identify as ‘checking their shoulder‘ are doing it to see if there’s pressure nearby. By far, they are not scanning the field to assess what their next decision is – not to mention what 2 or 3 moves into the future could be.
That, my friends, is truly ‘checking your shoulder‘. That’s next level. And that’s what separates special from average. Well, let’s be careful; we’ve also got to consider what level the player is exhibiting this at. Context matters.
Learning to ID these players who are next level takes a ton of experience. But at least now we’re aware there’s more to it than witnessing a simple head swivel.
Highlights on social media, scoreline, parent sideline, prizes for individual stats, the opponent style of play, time left on clock etc... all force you to make a decision of how to play during the match.
The correct decision, by far, is the one that retains possession. Here are examples of risky decisions...
The most important thing every player should understand is, in general:
That is the process to the top.
Inspired by 343
Amazon Prime Video has some amazing football documentaries.
Here are some of the best and most inspiring team talks by Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, from the Amazon Original documentary: Manchester City All or Nothing Man City: All or Nothing is available to watch now exclusively on Amazon Prime Video.
Marcelo Bielsa is a man of few words but luckily lots of other people are happy to talk about what makes him such a special manager. Watch Take Us Home: Leeds United exclusively on Prime Video.
This is the unmissable inside story of an unprecedented campaign at @SpursOfficial. Watch the full discussion in the latest episodes of All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur on Prime Video
Marcelo Bielsa is a man of few words but luckily lots of other people are happy to talk about what makes him such a special manager. Watch the series, Take Us Home: Leeds United exclusively on Prime Video. Season two has just begun, check it out.
Take Us Home: Leeds United Season 2 Episode 1
Click and enjoy!
An elite group of world-renowned athletes and scientists prove that everything that has been taught about our diet is not all true. There is a new form of power and it's yours if you want it.
For one week, can you eat plant based meals? Give it a try, these champions below did.
Dani Alves has everything you could want in life – family, wealth and the distinction of being the most decorated champion in football history. But at 36, Dani doesn’t want to be invisible. Dani still wants the stage. And feels he has to prove it every time. Follow Dani has he starts the next chapter with his new club, Sao Paulo FC, his new city and new dreams - while never forgetting where he came from. Watch Dani as he brings his full self to the camera – the good, the crazy, the inspirational. Agora!
"SPFC have signed their biggest fan, I want to write my next chapter with the club of my dreams."
After deciding to leave Paris Saint-Germain, Dani Alves announces that he has signed with São Paulo FC.
Watch all 8 episodes,enjoy.
BY: The Players Tribune
This is a story for anyone who might be doubting themselves.
By: Alphonso Davies
You might have read some stuff about me sometime in the last few years.
Like when I was 15: Davies becomes second-youngest player to play in MLS.
Or when I was 17: Davies makes record-breaking transfer to Bayern Munich.
I guess it must have looked like I was always going to make it.
But that’s not how it was. Or at least that’s not how it felt.
When I joined the Vancouver Whitecaps, at 14, I was a nervous wreck. I had just left my family in Edmonton. I was a very shy guy. Didn’t really say much. And I didn’t feel like I was one of the best players there. Over the previous year or two I’d had two trials there, but the coaches didn’t feel I was ready. I needed to do a third before they finally took me in.
When I began playing for Vancouver’s under-16s, I struggled. I needed time to adapt. After a while, I joined the under-18s, which was even more difficult — like, Wow. But when I got promoted to the second team, which was senior level, that was when I really hit the wall.
Suddenly I was playing with the big boys. Over the first couple of weeks I couldn’t get anything right. I couldn’t keep up. I wasn’t strong enough. I wasn’t thinking quickly enough. My passing wasn’t on. I began to worry. Is this really for me? Can I really do something here? I took a step back to evaluate the situation. My dream was to become a big player in Europe. But most of the stars there are either from Europe or places like Brazil and Argentina.
It must have looked like I was always going to make it. But that’s not how it was. Or at least that’s not how it felt.
How many come from Edmonton, where you’re only supposed to play hockey?
None. So yeah, I had a lot of doubts. I wondered if I had gone as far as I could. Because let’s be honest: There are many reasons why there are more footballers coming from Rio de Janeiro than Edmonton. It’s not just cold. It’s basically like living inside a freezer. When it hits September, and the snow starts coming down, you can’t play football outside.
The snow shocked me when I arrived there. I mean, I was a six-year-old boy who had been born in a refugee camp in Ghana to parents from Liberia. We had arrived in Canada just a year earlier, in Windsor, before moving to Edmonton. I remember waking up one day and seeing this white stuff lying on the ground outside. I was thinking, So what’s this? I went outside. I was wearing a T-shirt and shorts! I touched it. It was cold. My parents woke up and went outside, too.
It was so cold, though. To this day, I don’t like winter, even though I lived in Canada for so many years.
There were many things about Edmonton that I had to get used to. The housing, the schooling, how to make friends. I didn’t really know anyone there except my family, and I wasn’t as talkative as I am now. But when I started getting to know people, I was able to bring out the real me: A guy who is just humble and fun to be around.
My friends and I bonded over sports. I did track and field, basketball, volleyball. I tried to play hockey a little bit. I had a friend whose family owned a rink, and they opened it to the public. I didn’t know how to skate. I didn’t know how to tie a skate. My friend actually had to tie my laces. And then I just slid out on the ice and … I couldn’t stand. I was so bad!!
I tried it for like a day and that was it. Now I’m good. I’m not good — I’m O.K. I can stay on my feet. But put it this way: If I was a talent scout assessing Alphonso Davies the hockey player, there would be no doubt about the assessment.
“This guy needs to go.” Anyway, I wasn’t planning on making the NHL. My dad, Debeah, was playing football for an amateur team in Edmonton, and every weekend he would turn on the TV to watch Chelsea. So I grew up watching guys like Didier Drogba and Michael Essien. Chelsea became my team, too. And when I went to bed, I would dream about being like one of the big stars who played in Europe and scored goals and celebrated with tens of thousands of screaming fans. (Btw, I also wanted to become an actor. I still do. But football was No.1.)
One day when I was nine or 10, a friend of mine saw me play at lunchtime at school. He was going to a tryout for a team called Edmonton Internationals, and he invited me to come. A few hours later, as we were walking toward the pitch, I told him I was nervous. He said, “It’s O.K. You got this.” But the stakes were high. Either you made the team that day or you didn’t. And at the start, my touch wasn’t really there. But then I pulled off a couple of dribbles, my confidence grew and soon I was showing what I could do. An hour or two later we were sitting on the grass waiting to hear if we had made the cut. Suddenly everyone went quiet. The coach came over and looked at his board. For a few seconds you could hear a pin drop. Then he said, “Hey guys, congratulations. You all made the team.”
So I signed up. What carried me forward after that was my passion for the sport. It was just so sharp. It was always with me. But I had one problem. I would often miss practice because of my duties as … a babysitter.
I’m 19 now. My sister, Angel, is eight, and my brother, Brian, is 12. So seven years ago they had to be looked after around the clock, and my parents couldn’t always do that. My dad worked in a factory packing chicken. Sometimes he would leave in the middle of the night and come home after noon. My mom, Victoria, worked as a cleaner, and she might leave at 9 p.m. and come back at 8 a.m. They couldn’t afford a babysitter for when they both worked night shifts. So while my friends were training or playing video games, I’d be at home changing diapers and singing lullabies.
So yeah, that wasn’t ideal for my development. But I also had some luck. One day a friend of mine left our team to join another one, the Edmonton Strikers, where his dad was the coach. He invited me to come with him. I’m still not sure why I did it. The team was the worst in the league. But I’m glad I did, because his dad was Nick Huoseh, who is now my representative.
Nick turned the team around in no time. He brought in players who were very humble and hardworking. But he was way more than just a coach. He became a central part of my life. He’d pick me up for training and drive me home. He’d give me food. He’d make sure I was doing good. He cared about me as if I was his own.
When I was 11, while still playing for the Strikers, I also enrolled at St. Nicholas Soccer Academy, where I trained every day. Many of the kids there loved football as much as I did. Whenever I wanted to play, nobody ever said, “No, I’m tired.” They were on it every time. The school had these indoor facilities that allowed us to train in winter. That was good for my development as well. So yeah, I just kept playing for the Strikers and St. Nicholas, and trained as much as I could.
In August 2015, when I was 14, I had become good enough to join the Vancouver Whitecaps. It was really hard to leave my family at that age. Fortunately, Vancouver helped me with everything I needed. They sorted out the housing. When I couldn’t attend school because of training, they paid for a tutor. From the first day to the last, they took care of me.
That helped me a lot when I was struggling in the youth teams. But like I said, when I reached the second team, I wondered if I had reached the end of the road. By now it was April 2016. I played some really bad games, and it got to a point where I didn’t know what to do. But one of the older players on the senior team kept trying to cheer me up. His name was Pa-Modou Kah, a very experienced guy who had played in Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and for the Portland Timbers. He had watched my games and knew that I was struggling. He kept telling me, “Just keep going. We all have bad games. It’s the ones with the strongest mentality who make it.”
At first I was like, Yeah, he’s just saying that. Maybe he just wanted to be nice. But that line stuck in my head.
It’s the ones with the strongest mentality who make it. So I began to take his advice. I just kept fighting. I started to play better. In May I scored my first goal in the USL Championship. Then out of nowhere, the first-team coach, Carl Robinson, said, “Alphonso, we want you to come train with us.”
I guess I should have been excited. But I was just like, Wow, this is nerve-racking.
I was still just 15. At the first training session I said a quick hello to everyone and tried to let my football do the talking. But they played the ball much harder and faster than I did. I thought, I don’t know if I can play here.
Then I remembered what Pa-Modou Kah had told me. Back in the second team, I had really needed to hear that. Now I needed to remember it. So I kept training with the first team. Day by day I adapted slightly more. Then in this one session I pulled off this trick on the captain. He is nearly seven-foot. Big guy. I did this move on him — I can’t really explain what it was or how I did it — but I went past him, and all the other players were like, “OOOOOHHH!!”
This skinny kid from Edmonton had just come in and embarrassed the captain. I turned around to see his face, and he was so upset. Everyone else loved it, but I just thought, This guy is going to kill me. For the rest of the session I didn’t go anywhere near him.
Anyway, that moment kind of confirmed that I was able to play in the first team. On 15 July 2016, I signed a first-team contract. We had a game the following day. Pretty much as soon as the ink on the paper had dried, Carl told me, “You’re in the team.” I was like, “Already?” The next day we were playing Orlando City in front of 22,000 fans at BC Place. I sat on the bench and saw Orlando take the lead. We turned it around, but then they equalised to make it 2–2 . As I was trying to take in what was happening, Carl turned to me. “Alphonso, go warm up.” So I warmed up with three other guys. Then Carl said, “Alphonso, you’re going in.” I froze. I think I actually asked him, “Really?”
Then Carl said, “Alphonso, you’re going in.” I froze.
I pulled out my jersey and got ready. There were 14 minutes left. They put my number up. I looked at my toes. I was sooo nervous. And the problem when you’re nervous is that you don’t really want to touch the ball. You don’t want anyone to pass to you. You don’t want to make a mistake. But then a long ball came toward me and a defender came chasing after me. I was like, He’s gonna hit me. I’m gonna get rocked. Yet somehow I brought the ball down, took a touch inside and fired off a shot. Even though it didn’t go in, right then and there I got confidence. Most players get into the game by playing a couple of safe passes, easy stuff like that. My version of that was a dribble and a shot. It wasn’t really that easy! But yeah, my nervousness went out the window. It gave me the burst of energy I needed to get going on the first team. After that, things happened quickly. In 2017 I became a regular on the first team. The year after I scored eight goals in MLS games and was named the Whitecaps player of the year. Then Bayern made an offer for me. And when Bayern want you, you can’t really say no.
By the time I left the Whitecaps in November 2018, I was completely different from the shy kid who had turned up there more than four years earlier. I knew where I was going. I knew what was happening for me. When I got to Bayern, I wasn’t too nervous. I just wanted to show people that I could play at this level. And since I had come such a long way, I wanted to play with a smile on my face. I still remind myself of that.
Since then I have won two league titles, two German cups and become the Bundesliga Rookie of the Year. So yeah, I’m still smiling. That said, no matter how much time I spend in Germany, North America will always be home. When I went back there last year for the Audi Summer Tour, which is always a big part of our preseason, I enjoyed it a lot. This year we were supposed to go on tour to China, but then COVID-19 happened. So to make up for that, Audi and Bayern have set up the Audi Digital Summer Tour, where you guys can follow our routines and activities in real time through digital platforms. I hope it can help people get to know me even better. And if kids can relate to me through it, that would be amazing. I have thought about what my career will be like when I’m not so young anymore. I want to stay in Germany for as long as possible. When I’m ready to retire — many, many years from now — I’ll definitely get my coaching badges. Then who knows where I’ll end up? Maybe somewhere in Europe, or even back home in Canada.
But anyway, that’s far away right now. I’m still 19, so I don’t want to think too much about the end of my career. I have had a lot of big dreams ever since I was a kid, and Bayern are helping me achieve those dreams.
But trust me, there is more to come.
I’m just getting started.
Story by The Players Tribune: Alfonso Davis
Here is a great example of youth soccer in the states vs football overseas. One philosopy wants to development of ALL the players and focus on syle of play aka standard of play. When you do not know what the standards of play should look like then you could follow a salesmen into mediocrity. Here is the big and fast PDA, one of the best ECNL clubs in the nation, vs F.C. Barcelona, one of if not the best youth Academy in the world. Enjoy the football match.
Do you see a difference of play?
One of the best midfielders in the world, Manchester United legend, Paul Scholes. Here is his story.
This football documentary style-film inspired movie takes a look through career of a footballer. Finding love with the beautiful game growing up to developing in the youth academy and given a chance. It then takes a look at the best players this generation has ever seen, Messi and Ronaldo. The Champions League is the greatest trophy a club can win while the World Cup is the highest honor. The movie then takes a look at the players with the best skills and those who have scored the best goals. Players are written in the history book when they achieve the impossible. The documentary wraps up with a tribute to the players that are no longer here. Total football culture, enjoy.
CREDITS Director and Editor: Josh Gerczak Musical Composer: Morgan Williams Narration: Chris Harvey
Today’s most youth soccer players are tired. What happens if a soccer player doesn’t get enough sleep? How important is sleep anyway?
Although sleep is most times overlooked when planning out a training regimen, it should be considered as equally important as nutrition and physical conditioning. Slowed reaction times lead not only to missed pass or goal opportunities but can result in injuries as well. No matter what level they are performing at that they need to listen to their bodies. When preparing for a physically demanding match or training, it is important to ensure that you are hydrated before, during and after, are well fed and have given your body the proper nutrition to supply the body with energy throughout the entire match.
Sleep is a requisite if you want to be great on the field: Sleep experts have been studying the effects of sleep deprivation for many years and have determined that the lack of sleep affects the athlete greatly in the following ways:
Sleep to Recover:
Muscle fatigue and breakdown, which occurs after strenuous activity, and needs adequate time to heal for the muscles to repair and regenerate before the next activity in order to refrain from injury. A lack of sleep can also increase stress. Elevated levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, has also been shown to interfere negatively with tissue repair and growth. SLEEP DEPRIVATION CAN ALSO LEAD TO SLOWED DOWN REACTION TIMES. And, a slow reaction on the field can lead to injury in the form of a collision with another player or being hit by a ball you didn’t see coming your way.
A lack of sleep can also increase stress. Elevated levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, has also been shown to interfere negatively with tissue repair and growth.
Those who are sleep deprived may experience lower energy storage levels, which is needed to perform at peak levels in endurance events like soccer. Sleep impacts a soccer player’s performance: With busy schedules, often sleep suffers and no one really thinks about the lack of sleep impacting peak performance. This a big mistake.
In today’s fast-paced world, sleep is thought of as a luxury as opposed to a necessity. SLEEP IS NOT A LUXURY. This way of thinking needs to change, especially in the athletic population if a peak performance is expected out of the body every time it touches the soccer field.
Recommendations: What are the recommended hours of sleep for youth and adult athletes/soccer players?
This is a hard question to answer because like with most things in the human body, the number of hours of sleep needed is individually based, especially when we are talking about athletes. Sleep experts for many years have recommended 9-10 hours of sleep for the average adolescent or teen and 7-9 hours for the average adult, but those hours may need to be increased for the athletic population.
Proper focus on sleep and will allow the body the time it needs to recover and re-energize to perform at your best!
The typical “top” club player has the latest cleats, haircuts, youtube highlights and are Alex Morgan, Ronaldo and Messi wannabes. I stand by the statement that these players are products of the consumer environment that is making it hard for young US players to succeed, but I believe there is a deeper rooted issue with why we struggle to develop players that excel at the highest levels.
We believe it lies in the definition many coaches, parents, and players have in the word “skill”. Skill means “decision making,” what decisions are you making during game scenarios that are leading to success. Recognizing the situation and having the “ability” to beat a player 1v1 in the right situation is a characteristic of a skillful player. The vision to see an open winger and the ability to drive a forty yard pass from the back to an open winger is skill. Having the ability to play the first time and not give the ball away in tight areas, but also having the recognition and composure to take multiple touches when given space and time is skill.
Watching Thiago Alcantara recently during a Champions League match completely changed my opinion about the Spaniard, I never noticed how much influence he has on the match and how much skill he has when he is “on and off” the ball. He is constantly orchestrating the play even without the ball, suggesting what passes should be made to teammates, ensuring the ball is moved quickly and away from pressure. He plays first time when he needs to with precision technique. His ability to splitting the opposing midfielders at every opportunity to advance the ball to the attacking third was what drove Barcelona forward. He is one of the most skillful players in the modern era. Can Thiago Alcantara do a double step over? Of course he can. Did he do a single double step over in the match I saw? No, because the situation never came about to the midfielder to go 1v1, and the lengthy midfielder would struggle to beat players due to lack of pace. Thiago Alcantara possesses the brain to be a successful midfielder at that level, similar to Xaxi for Barcelona or Modric for Real Madrid. All of these are examples of players who possess skill, they are superior decision makers, not the highlight reel or Nike commercial stars that are flaunted to the young players or America.
So how can players develop similar abilities that are shown by the likes of Xaxi and Thiago Alcantara? Sadly I believe we will never come close to capturing a major prize internationally without a player like this in our midfield. Players like this develop in elite settings, and are not always the most athletic players either, which is where we have failed in the past in US youth soccer. US youth soccer has favored pace and strength over brains for a majority of the past three decades especially at young ages, where quick rewards for coaches were favored over long-term development of elite players. I think US youth soccer is finally starting on the right track to developing these players at a young age, with academy settings starting to come stateside and young players being taught advanced techniques and ideas at the u10 levels and lower. The days of the pacey early developer being looked on as the next superstar are hopefully coming to an end in the near future but doubtful. Hopefully, coaches are becoming more educated to the value of the thinker, the orchestrator, the midfield maestro, rather than the “fast” striker who relies on his or her athleticism to succeed.
Players should be put into realistic game scenarios during practice sessions and decisions should be broken down as to why they were the right or wrong decisions to make. The more a player can play in these game scenarios the more he or she will develop experience in the various situations that come about in actual games. Thus why every session should end in some form of the actual game. Facility restrictions may make it difficult to always have two goals and two keepers, but youth clubs should do their best to supply these items for coaches to then have sessions that end with a game. In these settings players will develop the ability to beat players 1v1, to find penetrating passes, to use the techniques they work on in training and apply them to game settings. If the training atmosphere cannot replicate game scenarios then the training is most likely useless for the individual as they are not acquiring actual skills, they are focusing on abilities. If your son or daughter needs to work on their ability to strike a ball, or their ability to dribble past defenders, then personal training or small group sessions are ideal.
To truly develop overall skill, a player must train on their own. Skill is a concept that has not been clearly defined in US youth soccer and the greed of coaches and companies that provide training to paying customers has feed into this idea that skill = scissors. Parents love seeing their son or daughter perform 1v1 moves and strike balls over and over. The decision making aspect of the game needs to be developed over time as well, and a player who is a real student of the game should look to watching higher level games on TV or in their local areas for demonstrations of skill.