Football is So Much More
It is with great pride and pleasure that we welcome Todd Beane as our newest columnist. I know our readers will benefit greatly from his expertise.
If you read my first article in this series, you will know that we are going to dance along the fault lines of coaching and see what unfolds. You will also know that growth in our profession requires friction. The friction of one idea rubbing against another.
In the previous article, we busted our first coaching myth about our opponents. Time to take on another.
Coaching Myth #2: Football is the sum of its technical parts.
Let me suggest that football is far, far more than the sum of its technical parts.
Football is not the sum of its technical parts. If it were, coaching would be a simple journey down drill lane. Set up a circuit, done. A passing drill, done. Dribble to kingdom cone, mission accomplished. Passing, receiving, shooting, dribbling, and heading. Check, please.
Let me be more brazen in saying that far too many of our youth suffer from trainings based upon this preface.
Not so fast.
Here’s the thing. For the last 40 years, we have manifested this myth into training sessions from the Carolinas to California.
And what do have we to show for it? At the grassroots level, an astonishing drop rate of soccer players who leave a dynamic sport because they are not having fun.
At the national level, a team stuck in the mists of mediocrity. Or more specifically, the puddles of Trinidad and Tobago. And everywhere in between football of humility and hubris, we perpetuate this crippling myth.
We have diminished the game and thus have deprived our players. If we are to coach the game effectively, we can no longer reduce the game into disparate parts. It’s time to move on from an era of reductionism in talent development.
Reality: Football is far more than the sum of its technical parts.
Let me remind you:
Soccer Coaching Myth #2: Football is the sum of its technical parts
When you embrace football as a game of finding and exploiting space, everything changes. Technical precision is critically important, no doubt. But it is not enough.
To find space, a player must search for it.
To exploit space, a player must instantly recognize patterns and proceed. Angles, distance, timing, lines, situation, and so on. Such rich and intriguing parts, no?
If you believe that football is indeed the sum of its technical parts, then carry on with the line drills. Carry on hoping that kicking a ball is the same as playing with purpose.
If you believe that football is so much more, continue reading.
Two Simple Steps to Better Youth Soccer Training
Step One: Rethink and redesign every exercise in your training portfolio. Trash those that do not develop a player’s cognition, competence, and character. I know it will be painful deleting hundreds of drills compiled season upon season. Do it anyway. The delete button can be liberating. I know; I deleted hundreds of drills that I once held dear as a young coach.
Step Two: Implement exercises that ask a player to perceive her environment and act within it. Perception and action. A wonderfully potent combination. The very same combination required to play a match. See it, do it. Vision and precision.
Let’s bust Myth #2 and move on.
Our children deserve so much more.
Let’s deliver them dynamic and cognitively faithful training sessions. Let’s help them understand the game like never before. In the end, like us, they will see football as so much more than the sum of its technical parts.
Todd Beane is the founder of TOVO Institute and TOVO Academy Barcelona, Todd Beane is committed to rethinking and redesigning talent development. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Stanford University, he has led professional development projects at FC Barcelona, Ajax Amsterdam, Chivas Guadalajara, and LAFC. Having worked with Johan Cruyff on projects worldwide, Beane is uniquely positioned to share his insights as an American citizen living in Barcelona.