Nurture or Nature? Are Players Made or Are They Born?
Albert Puig is a former FC Barcelona Youth Technical Director and now the Assistant Coach of New York City FC. A globally respected leader in player development, Puig’s famed La Masia developed the likes of Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, and Lionel Messi. Puig is the founder of APFC Courses – a program to help educate soccer coaches.
Are you born with talent, or is talent forged?
Albert Puig Answers the Question Everyone Wants To Know
Youth Soccer News: This is one of the most debated and exciting questions about sports training and formation, and specifically pursuant to soccer.
Is talent, in the world of football, a result of good methodology, or is it good recruitment that results in a pool of talent in a team?
Let’s dissect these two ideas.
Without optimal genetic conditions, achieving athletic success at an elite level is highly improbable.
But, keep in mind, I’m not only talking about physical aspects, but also coordinative, sensory, emotional and behavioral conditions.
Without proper methodological work, the level of improvement can be hampered and be out of tune with the evolution in the quality of a given player.
So are natural talent and methodology complementary?
Absolutely, within the scope of the maximum elite level, yes they are.
But from this premise, we need to touch upon some key aspects.
The search and incorporation of young talent are paramount and basic for a club that wants its youth teams to be the cornerstone of its present and future strategy. If there isn’t continuous recruitment, obsessed with finding quality, and clear in the desired profile, there is no successful future.
The search isn’t done from a desk, in front of a computer. It’s done, as is said in Catalan soccer slang, by “patejar els camps” which means to constantly be observing in situ to find raw, sometimes hidden talent. And, at the same time, this will help and improve the scout’s experience.
You can’t make a decision as important as scouting and recruiting a player without the knowledge that is forged from constantly analyzing players.
Delegating tasks should not serve as an excuse and neither should an organization’s hierarchical structure. Whoever makes the final call has to be equipped with extensive experience in scouting young players at a grassroots level as well as adults at pro levels. With his fieldwork experience, not in an office, he will improve the technical structure of scouting and analysis.
The fanatics of methodology, in its more academic and almost scientific version, believe that with the doctrine they can create talent. In my opinion, this is a mistake.
Good methodology improves talent, and can potentially aid in achieving success. But you can never forget that improvement and growth come from playing. The methodology can never be above talent.
All methodology must be based on the principle of playing. Not in infinite exercises and drills, each more beautiful than the next or the countless slides with many colored arrows going in all directions.
Everything must be based around the game and in supporting the potential of the talented young player.
So in conclusion, we can say that one is born and made. You are born with certain qualities.
Talent is forged at an early age with play and more play at its purest and freest state.
And this is improved and boosted with proper methodology.
And in the end, the human and behavioral qualities when facing life’s challenges will make each one reach his/her goals; or not. All goals are important, because they are our dreams, what keeps us going each day.