Success for me as coach is to develop young players who can play the game with skill, creativity, vision and passion and help them to transition to higher levels of play. It is also important that the players that I work with develop good life skills and become good people who are humble, take responsability for themselves and demonstrate respect for themselves, their colleagues and their family.
My coaching philosophy towards development is based on inspiring young players to be the best that they can be. This can best be achieved when we remember that football (soccer) is a game. It is not about wins and losses. It is about teaching young players to be open to learning, having the courage to try new things and challenging themselves to become better and to find new solutions.
I accomplish this by maximizing contact on the ball and teaching the players how to make their own decisions through small-sided games. I have strong beliefs on the type of training and the environment required to accomplish these goals. It is important for me to have autonomy over he type of coaching I do and to continually challenge myself to improve both as a coach and a person in the work that I do.
Influences on My Coaching Philosophy
A great deal of my coaching philosophy has been shaped by my early education as a coach at Crewe Alexandra in England, the Futsal-based training at Brazilian Soccer Schools and my observations in Spain at Sevilla FC’s academy. Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code has also played an important role in helping me define my own coaching philosophy.
Some of my practices may seem unconventional but I am a firm believer that young players must “struggle” in training and that they must be out of their comfort zone to improve. (View Talent Code Video)
I do believe that we must attain a certain standard with respect to our training facilities but I do not believe that Facilities do not develop superior players. If that was the case, Canada would not have such a poor ranking in the world and Maradona, Ronaldo, Messi etc would not be the some of the game’s greatest ever players. I like crowded training areas, where players constantly have to “solve problem’s” to keep their ball under control and in play. This philosophy is consistent with the development of elite athletes in other sports. Daniel Coyle refers to this as the “Power of Crumminess” . (Read article on the Power of Crumminess)
At 1v1 Soccer, we are not trying to develop the best players in Canada, that to be honest is not good enough, we are trying to develop players that can compete with the best young players overseas. Futsal is an important component of our winter program. Players such as Ronaldo and Messi have all played this and Xavi has recently confirmed how important the game is to development. (Watch Xavi Video).
Recently, I have became influenced by the work of Sir Kenneth Robinson, author of “Finding your Element”. Sir Kenneth focuses on the nurturing and development of creativity. His work can best be illustrated by his video “Do schools kill creativity?”
Long-Term Development for the Individual Player
It remains our philosophy at 1v1 Soccer FC to place “individual long-term player development” for all our players ahead of “short-term team development” for a select few. This is a philosophy consistent with professional club academies in Europe, where the objective is to educate and develop as many players as possible for higher levels of play. Academy coaches at Wolves , Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, PSG and Santos do not concern themselves with winning games and nor do we. What we do concern ourselves with is ensuring that as many of our young players as possible have the skills required to succeed at Wolves FC, MLS academies, the new OPDL league and within our regional and provincial programs.
It would be easy for 1v1 Soccer FC to keep most of our current SAAC team in a U11 division next year and win most of the games. We will not be doing that as we are committed to “individual player development” and not winning games. Players who grow up playing in successful teams frequently do not reach the higher levels because as they develop they become more and more dependent on talented players around them. This changes when they go on trial at professional clubs overseas. Many top European coaches make this comment to me on a regular basis. If young players do not develop the ability to overcome adversity during game situations, embrace it and channel it into becoming better…they simply will not be able to play at the highest levels!
Where we are going to……
As Dario Gradi at Crewe Alexandra famously said “…..our job is to develop better and better players……and more and more of them”! Our goal remains to have someone in the very near future ask the question “….how come there is a little “soccer hotbed” called 1v1 Soccer in south western Ontario developing some of the game’s greatest players?”