An Inside Look At World Football Academy USA’s Raymond Verheijen
Stop. Listen. Learn. Do Better – Challenging Perceptions To Develop Better Coaches.
Youth Soccer News: Raymond Verheijen grew up in the famous Dutch Academy structure and is one of the leading coaching educators in the world. Considered an extraordinary resource by America’s top coaches, including Anson Dorrance, Raymond Verheijen is different than most coaching educators. He is a thinking and practical coaches’ coach, and one that liked to provoke other coaches to stop in their tracks and think about what they are doing.
Raymond Verheijen is touring the USA again, holding seminars and attracting lifelong students of the game from across America. Unlike many coaching education programs, coaches actually want to attend these seminars. Never boring, they are like an immersion into an ice bath for the brain, rebooting thoughts and perceptions on coaching and player development.
Surf SC‘s Assistant Director of Coaching – Boys, Evan Fuhs attended The World Football Academy two day program in San Diego, listened to Raymond Verheijen and is now sharing his thoughts with our readers.
Coach on Coach: Youth Soccer Coach Evan Fuhs on Raymond Verheijen
There are at least as many methods for interpreting and training football as there are coaches. Every club, country, and coach seems to have their patented “way” or “method”. How could one possibly say one way is better than another?
The crucial difference that sets Raymond Verheijen’s philosophy apart from the rest is that it is not actually his philosophy at all. “His philosophy” implies that it is his subjective opinion.
Verheijen’s THE philosophy of football.
It is universal because it is objective. Raymond interprets the fundamental nature of the game as it exists at every level and uses that as the logical foundation for a theoretical approach to developing players and teams.
Whereas normal coaching education says: “This is how we see it,” which are a series of opinions and experiences — subjectivity through and through. Raymond, on the other hand, uses logic to let the very nature of the game do the talking: “This is the conclusion we can logically deduce from the structure of football. Therefore, this is how it is.”
Verheijen’s approach is objective; using universal facts and principles.
In this way, Raymond establishes irrefutably that the basis of every action in a football match is the sequentially ordered steps: communication, decision, and the execution of the decision. Taken together, these 3 components comprise a football action:
- The player communicates with teammates, opponents, and the environment around to gather information,
- Then the player chooses what they will do based on their game insight, and
- Finally, the player executes that decision using a technique.
Vitally, if these components are separated, something that looks like football might occur, but it will not be football.
For example, a player kicking a ball against a wall or passing through mannequins may resemble football, but without attacking, defending, opponents, and directionality, football is not really taking place.
This is Football Action Theory at its best, and it is track #1 on Raymond’s greatest hits.
Working from this foundation, the impenetrable logic of football action theory carries valuable implications for training every aspect of the game from tactics to fitness and even psychology.
That is, all football training should be tactical in nature since it must involve Communication, Decision making, and Execution (CDE).
While one component may be overloaded more than the others, they cannot exist without one another.
Fitness then is merely doing these 3 things (CDE) more often and for longer, not some separate variable to be trained in separate exercises by a separate coaching staff. Of course, this conclusion gives birth to a whole litany of principles of periodization. Finally, CDE carries priceless implications for the actual learning that takes place in the brain – what Raymond calls “Football Braining.”
Communication is the stimulus that enters the brain, the decision is how the brain selects a behavior response based on that information, and execution is the outward action of that behavior. Tactics, fitness, and psychology are all elegantly woven together by this single unifying theory.
The powerful universality of this content alone trumps the sparkly, flavor of the month content common in most coaching education, and yet, the course content is only the surface of what is occurring in Raymond’s classroom.
At another deeper level, Raymond is modeling his philosophy as he delivers the raw content.
Raymond’s famous “locker room” culture is where he really diverges from traditional coaching education. To create this culture, Raymond intentionally sets a mercilessly high bar for thinking, debating, and drawing conclusions. He establishes a top professional environment, and he demands that delegates actively engage with the philosophy, as opposed to passively observing it.
Beyond playing the role of coach to the locker room, Raymond is equal parts rebel and missionary.
Despite the fact that the philosophy espoused in the course is directly derived from a logical analysis of the game itself, the conclusions, in fact, the entire objective approach to thinking about the game, is counter to the more traditional we’ve-always-done-things-this-way approach to coaching. Consequently, his discourse has rebel written all over it.
Raymond challenges almost every long-held assumption about the game that aimlessly wanders into his classroom.
This rebellious nature is fueled by the unwavering conviction and relentlessness of a missionary. As he is known to say with an extra helping of Dutch wit, “I’m here to help your players – like Mother Theresa.” A missionary, indeed. He is on a crusade to protect players from injuries that result from overtraining and to save players from wasting training hours with soccer-like activities that do not respect the nature of the game and therefore do not optimize their development. More still, he endeavors to protect coaches from the behavior patterns, biases, and assumptions that creep out of their subconscious and impact their ability to teach players.
While his books are rich with detail, philosophy, and practical applications, his fiery charisma (as well as his bone-dry humor) emboldens the message as it is delivered in his courses. For an eager, ambitious, and open-minded coach, this is a dream come true.
We all bring a complex litany of conclusions, feelings, and past experiences to the field every time we coach.
Despite that diversity, we can all agree that our players deserve even better than they are already getting from us.
Every player deserves a coach who is aware of the lens through which they see the game and intentional in their approach to player development. More still, every coach should walk the walk by actively developing him/herself in the same manner they expect of their players.
Studying under Raymond is a step in the right direction for each of us to gain awareness of our assumptions, give our players the coach they deserve and do our small part to improve the game we all love so much.
As Raymond says, “Coaches should be lifelong students of the game.”
Related READ: WORLD FOOTBALL ACADEMY USA CLINIC WITH RAYMOND VERHEIJEN
EVAN FUHS is the Assistant Director of Coaching – Boys, Coach – B99/00 DA, B01 DA at Southern California’s San Diego Surf SC.Fuhs holds a USSF National “A” License.
Evan played at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN where he received a Master’s of Arts in Leadership while working as an assistant coach. He also holds an United Soccer Coaches (NSCAA) Premier Diploma, and was a member of the 2015 cohort of the NSCAA’s “30 under 30” program.