Why I am against the use of standardized methodologies in youth soccer

 

  • First, let us define soccer methodology. It is my opinion that we have reached a consensus as a wide-reaching, metaphorical sporting nation composed of soccer professionals and aficionados that a methodology is the concept of play instilled or carried out by a club in their developmental ranks or by their professionals respectively. In other words, it is the style of play taught or practiced and expected from their players.
  • Most footballers today are trained with the structure of a written program handed down by superiors and that is an issue that goes against the development of talent. Benchmarks are also set by organizations, federations, professional clubs, or self-proclaimed erudite of the sport who push their knowledge sometimes in good faith and other times for profit. Ironically, they even do this for squads or players that they have not even seen play.
  • Why?
  • They are looking for mass production. Every player should play like that or be able to do this. But, that is not what the sport is about. 
  • For example, during the height of Barcelona’s reign in global soccer, it was about possession. Suddenly, youth clubs everywhere emphasized playing the ball back, playing with the center defensive mid out of every play, no long passes–it was absurd. In reality, that style of play was not due to the methodology instilled by Barcelona’s La Masia.
  • It is a much cruder answer: they just had the right players for it.

Now we are seeing total soccer exhibited by clubs like Liverpool that constantly break lines, transition in blocks to attack and defend incredibly fast, press constantly, and shoot whenever possible.

Possession, total, counter-attack; they are all valid.
You cannot force a squad to play a certain way.
You are limited to your players’ ability which you, as a coach, help to fine-tune by teaching fundamentals rather than styles of play. Is the opponent pressing you? The long ball passes to the other side and starts a counter. Is the opponent better on an individual skill level?
Wait, defend, and counter-attack. 

Nobody is trained to play anymore, they are just taught to do a certain array of mechanics, so when you are faced with better opponents, players only know how to stick to the few mechanics they have been brainwashed into always doing. They do not know how to react to a game or what to do when the opponent can neutralize their method.

Spontaneous, natural formation perfected by learning the fundamentals of the game is the best of all, it has no regulations, no pre-set requirements or benchmarks.
Teach the kids the importance of first touches in dynamic situations, emphasize the beauty of playing simple, but always forward, and materialize the idea that breaking the line is necessary to move.

A law of soccer training is that you have to play a lot, if you don’t play a lot you don’t develop talent, and in another order, if you don’t play, you don’t reproduce the situations that you have to learn to solve to play or understand the development of the same.

Playing football well is learning to solve situations, and one learns to solve them by facing them.
How does the naturally formed one deal with them?

In my experience it was like this, I always wanted to play and I didn’t have a ball or structure to do it, I had to play in the street, there are no rules, if you want to be part of the group you must share the only ball, you must take care of possession, as there is no prohibited ages or physiques, the solution is “I avoided the smallest or weakest and before the largest and strongest I passed the ball as quickly as possible”

If you play hours every day for years like this, you find the solutions to the competition problem most easily.

A youth coach should not win everything he plays, but if he should generate respect in his players and his greatest triumph will be that year after year, they want to continue with him.

Pablo Rodriguez
Adrestia FC
Soccer without rhetorics.

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