Why Eliminate Heading? Better Training – Restructuring Soccer Development in the U.S.
NEW SERIES: CHANGING THE DYNAMICS OF YOUTH SOCCER DEVELOPMENT
There are many suggestions and beliefs as to how we can improve soccer development in the United States — and the training mentality has changed dramatically in the last 5 years but are we making the right decisions for the right reasons? If America has the talent, why do we not have the training to develop that talent to its fullest potential.
SoccerToday new series brings together the minds of the leaders in our youth soccer community to discuss the direction of player development in America. Here is Eddie Loewen from GFL Soccer — a coach very familiar with player development across the Atlantic speaking out on youth soccer player development in the USA.
Eddie Loewen – GFL Soccer Enterprises
Youth soccer in the USA needsto focus on 1v1 at the younger ages.
We see soccer only as a team sport that relies on implementing the right system for success and putting players with certain skill sets in positions that will enable the team to win …
In reality, especially in the ages U13 and younger, soccer should really be seen as an “Individual sport that is put into a system.”
The development should focus on the individual player! We need to strive to develop creative and technically independent players!
Related Article: Exploring Youth Soccer in Germany – 2017 GFL Youth Soccer Trip
Players need to master individual skills with the ball first, but instead most coaches will try to win at U9, U10, U11 and focus on systems, and where players should position themselves and how they need to move as a group.
It is critical that children at young ages learn to control and master the ball and learn to be successful in one vs one situations, make independent decisions and have fun.
The game is really decided in 1v1 situations — even at the older stages. Teaching players how to beat players 1v1 in many different ways should be our main focus as well as giving the players the freedom to express themselves on the field without the fear of making mistakes.
Related Article: Exploring Youth Soccer in Germany – GFL’s Eddie Loewen
Only this way will we ever develop creative players that can make a difference in a game on the highest level.
Which players are every year nominated for the FIFA Ballon D’or? We know the answer but still we tell our players all day long to play one touch and two touch and squeeze them into systems and rules that don’t make sense.
Talking about rules that don’t make sense…
I have seen a U16 Game just recently and none of the players on the field knew how to properly head the ball and now we are taking heading out of the game at U12 and younger. In 10 years, we will wonder why we will have more concussions and injuries and players that have no clue how to head the ball safely and technically correct.
Related Article: Eddie Loewen on Raising the Level of the Game
Players already are not confident in using their heads because they have never been properly taught how to master this technical skill safely and correctly. Rather than teach the teachers how to safely and effectively head the ball, we just think that abolishing this technique at U12 and younger will solve the problem. It won’t!
It would be better to teach coaches to use light weight balls and safe techniques to teach heading in a creative way at young ages. In all truth, how many times do headers really occur in a U12 or U10 game? Not that often! Don’t tell the kid that when the ball comes in the air from a cross you can’t head the ball in the goal and score! If you do it, the penalty for using your head and scoring will be a free kick against your team. Seriously? When I told my German colleagues about this new rule change, they seriously thought I was joking. They could not believe it.
But we want to win a World Cup any time soon and I say we have the talent and the potential to win a World Cup — but there is so much that needs to change. What I addressed is just the tip of the iceberg. First let’s start developing creative players that want and can beat players 1 on 1 defensively and offensively — that is the heart of the game!