Former Defender Arne Friedrich on What It Takes To Make It In Soccer and GSD’s Program in Berlin
Youth Soccer News: Arne Friedrich is one of Germany’s former top professional soccer players and he has coached Germany’s U18 National Team. A country that is highly acclaimed for player development, one of Germany’s most respected coaches in the Bundesliga shares his thoughts on developing youth soccer players.
Currently the Performance Manager of the Bundesliga club Hertha BSC, Arne Friedrich is a German football legend — the former defender played 82 times for the German National Team and was the Coach/Manager of Germany U18 National Team.
The first choice for right-back for his country, Friedrich played for Germany in five major tournaments including the 2010 FIFA World Cup roster in South Africa. A starter in every match and was pivotal in Germany finishing third and became one of the best defenders of the World Cup and even scored his first goal for his country in the quarter-final against Argentina.
In both 2006 and 2010, he has received the Silver-Laurel-Leaf, which is the highest sports award in Germany.
During the Euro 2008, Friedrich helped Germany make it all the way to the final, where they lost to Spain. Before hanging up his pro cleats, he played for MLS’ Chicago Fire, earning the 2012 season’s Defender of the Year. In 2018, Friedrich used his experiences playing in the World Cup as a TV commentator on the action.
Friedrich is a person youth soccer players want to learn from.
Friedrich has more knowledge and practical playing experiences than most coaches or managers who have ever walked on a youth soccer field.
SoccerToday’s Interview with Arne Friedrich:
Diane Scavuzzo: As a former national team star, what do you believe is important when developing youth soccer players?
Arne Friedrich: I remember when Eddie Loewen and I worked with youth players from America a couple of years ago —we had a youth soccer summer camp in Berlin. I was able to lead the group and it was really nice. We worked on and off the field — it is important to educate the kids off the field too.
For me, it was a very good experience — there are so many things you have to think about besides the soccer field to make it a youth soccer camp rewarding.
Diane Scavuzzo: The camp was attended by boys and girls U11 through U18. What did the American players need the most?
Arne Friedrich: Soccer-wise there is always space for all players to improve.
For many American players, there is a need to work on the technical side.
We worked on shape on the field as well — and all the players participated in presentations off the field as well. It was great to see all the players embrace the camp and take advantage of the program.
Diane Scavuzzo: Your international playing career kicked on when you were on the German U-21 team. What do you believe is the most important trait for an elite soccer player — if they want to be successful and become a professional soccer player?
Arne Friedrich: Being good at soccer is about decision-making.
Goal setting is also critical.
If you have a goal, you have to keep it in mind when you make daily decisions.
It is very easy to decide something and then not act accordingly. It can be really hard to always make the daily decisions to progress towards your goal.
And the basics are so important.
Even if you become a professional soccer player, you have to work on the basics all the time — even if it is annoying, then you really have to do it.
Players need to have discipline — if you just act according to how you feel, it is a huge trap as feelings are just emotions and you can’t really get better if you work when you are feeling good or when you are motivated.
If you want to make it, you have to have discipline, good decision making, and goal setting.
On the field, the first touch is very important and saves you a lot of time on the field, especially under pressure.
We have a plan to improve American soccer and youth soccer players.
Diane Scavuzzo: What needs to be improved the most in American soccer?
Arne Friedrich: Definitely the technical aspects of the youth players — and the player development system in America runs differently compared to Germany.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are the youth soccer players like in Germany? Are they really that much better than our American players”
Arne Friedrich: Right now, yes. Players need to compete on a high level to improve — this is why friendly games in Germany are where you can really see the difference between American and German youth soccer players.
Competition is always very important.
Friedrich works with Eddie Loewen, CEO of Global Soccer Development (GSD) which focuses on providing top American youth soccer players with trails in Bundesliga clubs and offering youth soccer training, trips, and competitions in Europe.