Soccer Development is something we hear, but what really is development? There are different ingredients necessary to make good soccer players. However, if the soccer player gets spoiled in the sense of they don’t want to keep improving then it’s no good. So many players love soccer but only want to ‘play’ not train.
The right elements and hours acquired
There has to be many hours of the right mix of simple & complex passing, dribbling, receiving, finishing, speed of play drills, tactical teaching, defending for a player to be solid.
For this to happen they need to reach specific milestones at certain ages.So many players love soccer but only want to ‘play’ but not train. Let's change the conversation.Click To Tweet
Ingredients for soccer development
I personally played against some of the best players in American soccer history (i.e., Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Brian McBride, & Eddie Johnson) & have seen how they work and how their giftings are different.
Top players share common traits.
They all loved to train outside of team practice…
Spending time solo or with an assistant coach before or after team training.
I remember one day going to practice with Major League Soccer club Kansas City…
Roy Lassiter was already there [first one] with a pile of balls.
He would dribble up towards the goal at about 70% speed, cut back and slot the ball back post on the ground.
This is how he scored most of his goals in MLS.
Have a realistic time frame for development
At GFT our students include 4 pro players who played in Portugal, MLS, NWSL & USWNT. There are more coming in the next year or two.
In addition, hundreds who played in college…
Some of these players came to us as young as age 10!
Age 9-10 is probably the safest age for me to tell a parent this is the best time to start extra private/small group training outside of their club.
Younger [ages 7-9] is fine, but don’t wait much longer than 10 years of age.
Starting extra training between ages 6-8 you will have to be careful with burnout.
Don’t get me wrong I know many kids who trained heavy from age 6 all the way through college.
Make sure they are the type that loves training. You can also do 2-3 months on, 2 months off to keep things fresh.
Another thing starting skills young [age 6-8] is the child will get well ahead of their peers…
So much that it’s hard to find players to train with because you are so far ahead technically.
The good thing, in my opinion, is a player playing a lot at a young age will be a top player in high school.
BUT – IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW that no matter how ‘good’ they are, they are not at the point where they can’t keep improving.
Video below is great for improving the foundation.
Complete soccer development shows when a player spends time with the ball at home.
Different routes to take as a youth soccer player
Being technically sound can be a hard deal, because there are so many routes to take.
Parents need to communicate with their child and make sure they understand all the things they need to know.
Yes, they are better than most of their peers but they have to want to keep improving because when they are 14 years old their competition begins to change.
Now they will have to compete with kids 1-3 years older than them for the rest of their youth soccer career and you want to be as good as you can to compete.
I have some players train with me non-stop from age 10-13 and then take off 1-2 years and come back at age 15 or 16 to prepare for college showcases.
Some youth players never stop training.
These players are solid technically, playing for the top teams in America and are healthy and happy.
Some parents think burnout will happen if the kid trains a lot… Not true.
It all depends on the kids desire, personality and atmosphere.
There are many roads to take to lead to the final goal!
The golden ticket
If a player has the opportunity, through their parents getting them private lessons or just having good clubs or training nearby, that is a golden ticket!
AND if the player has the want, drive and understanding, it results in complete soccer development.
For a player to keep improving they have to have a strong mentality.
Knowing they have to train on days they don’t want to.
Not every day will be fun – even if you’re doing your favorite thing.For a player to keep improving they have to keep wanting to improve. - Jeremie PietteClick To Tweet
“Pretty good” doesn’t count
In my opinion many players ages 14-21 get to the point where they can do the simple things pretty good – but not perfect – and they think they are ‘good enough’.
If this perspective – of themselves, their parents, coaches, etc. – is accurate, why are they not on the HS Varsity Team, Best Club League, Starting on their team, getting scholarship offers from top 30 D1 Schools, on the US National Team, All American list?
There is ALWAYS another level to reach and you should ALWAYS want to get there. Growing older is not going to do the trick.
I know I have said this before but look at players like Kobe Bryant.
An 8 year old can shoot a free throw but you have this professional practicing repeatedly his fundamentals.
And on his final game night, other legends of the game did not reference his athleticism (which is awesome) but his work ethic!
Great athleticism will get a player to the next level but only for so long.
However, what if those players also have the habit of always wanting to improve? That’s what American boys soccer does not have!
US National Team ingredients for soccer development needs
Think about it – you often see the divide most highlighted on our USMNT. The superior athlete or the technically skilled.
So what’s missing is the combination of the two:
The superior athlete who takes advantage of technical training all the time.
This is important because often times the dominant athletes are not naturally the best with the ball. (Disclaimer: before someone writes in with their argumentative list of USMNT players who are this combination, please note that they are the exception).
Around 2020 things started to change for the better.
The high school & college age boys need to keep training on their own.
Whether solo, with a trainer or with some buddies.
And don’t just go to a park and play pick-up or only do free kicks…
You need to work on weak foot, chipping, aerial first touch, redirection passing & shooting different ways. Get your weak foot as good as your strong foot, things like this. Be your worst critic and dissect your weaker areas and make them strong.ADVICE: Skip the pick-up & work on the right stuff! Mechanics matter! Click To Tweet
Habits and discipline needed in soccer / football
It drives me crazy when players who are not even playing in the top league have this arrogant attitude like they are so good!
On a positive note, most of the players I train are in the top leagues, starting for their club, Freshman’s on the Varsity Team, 14-16 year old’s committing to Big Name Universities, college players coming back for the Summer.
The players that will keep improving are the same people who will have these habits when they become adults working for companies or running their own.
Imagine the long term difference in a player who trains on their own for 10 years vs one who only goes to team practice.
The first player will be ahead in their soccer development.
10 Secret Ingredients for Soccer Development
- Players natural drive or the ability to learn
- Good attitude
- Proper training
- Good coaches
- Parents who give more opportunity on the field & support them off the field
- Practice alone, especially on the days you don’t want to
- Having people who will tell you what needs to be better and what you’re doing right. Iron sharpens iron.
Proper Training alone can be its own course or post, as the content is so deep that we can cover the steps but how long each step takes to complete and move on to the next.
If you have any questions about any of these 10 secret ingredients e-mail or book a consultation.
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