Paul Bright on Player Development at the Youth Level
Developing youth soccer players is becoming more competitive and top clubs in America are attracting top talent from across the Atlantic. SoccerToday spoke with LA Galaxy OC’s Paul Bright on his specific philosophy when it comes to coaching, developing players and the importance of the MLS shield. A new breed of English soccer coach, Bright has an amazing background and respects what American youth players can achieve.
Youth Soccer News: The influence Los Angeles Galaxy has across all regions in Southern California is providing aspiring youth players with the opportunity to take their talents to the next level thanks to the help of tested and experienced coaching personnel.
The latest alliance of the MLS side is led by Tim Woodcock who wanted the very best coaching director for the club — and, after searching, found just the right person — Paul Bright.
Known for identifying and developing youth soccer talent, Bright’s coaching career began at Bobby Charlton Soccer Schools and in 2001, he became the Assistant Academy Coach at the famed Everton FC’s Academy. Bright also worked as skills manager with the English Football Association and was the Head of Academy Coaching from 2010 to 2014 at The Manchester College.
Knowledgable in England’s youth academy’s Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP), Bright coached youth soccer players at the Manchester United Academy for 8 years and assisted with numerous EPL youth soccer camps during his 12-year coaching tenure in England. Most recently before crossing the Atlantic, Bright was U15 Manager at his home club Oldham Athletic, where he played with the academy as a youth.
Bright is a UEFA A Licensed coach, with plans to receive his USSF B License in the coming months.
SoccerToday’s Diane Scavuzzo spoke with Paul Bright on coaching development and understanding all four phases of the game as a player on the pitch.
Diane Scavuzzo: Welcome to California. You have an amazing background, and I hear you say experience is great but, “Everything really depends upon what happens on the pitch.” What do you mean?
Paul Bright: It is simple. You can have your philosophy, approach and concept — but, we ultimately judge what happens on the pitch.
Diane Scavuzzo: So, it is about being able to execute your plan for player development effectively and the results are seen on the pitch?
Paul Bright: Yes, exactly. So many coaches — here in California and in England — talk about development however we all have to continue to develop strategies on the pitch that allow players to acquire game understanding in line with a club’s chosen philosophy.
Diane Scavuzzo: What does being part of LA Galaxy OC mean to you?
Paul Bright: Being part of the LA Galaxy world means we can push players to the highest level of U.S. Soccer, which is extremely important. Everyone around the world knows the name LA Galaxy.
I want to work with players that can perform at the highest level and work on reaching their potential. Being part of Galaxy means that potential is not capped — because our path leads all the way directly to the MLS.
Diane Scavuzzo: As a coach at LA Galaxy Orange County, you feel connected to the MLS team?
Paul Bright: Yes, and the connection is getting stronger. We are the newest affiliate — We have regular interaction with the LA Galaxy and I think that it will grow and grow. The LA Galaxy is very committed to their partner clubs.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are you’re plans as Director Of Coaching?
Paul Bright: I think short-term goals include getting all the coaches on the same page, working from the same curriculum and around the same concepts – attacking and defending principles.
We represent the LA Galaxy and we need a united front where all our coaches know the message and our plan for how we are going to get players to fulfill their potential. Diane Scavuzzo: What is your philosophy about attacking and defending?
Paul Bright: Ultimately, I want to teach players how to win soccer games.
It’s not just winning. It’s HOW to win – that’s important.
It’s understanding tactical concepts and understanding where your strengths and weaknesses are in any given game. It is important to understanding how you can break down the opposition and how to expose their weaknesses — and communicate this to your players and teach them how to respond on the field.
Here is what is critical:
- If youth soccer players don’t have tactical understanding, then they can’t reach their potential and they do not know how to respond to what is happening on the pitch.
- If youth soccer players have tactical understanding, but not technical mastery, they can see what needs to happen but they can’t implement what they want to do.
Does an individual player know his or her role? Is that individual connected to his or her unit? And are those unites connected to the whole team?
Can players have an impact across all four phases of the game – attacking, defending, transition to attack and transition to defend.
Together, we know what to do during attacking; we know what to do when we lose the ball; we know what to do when we regain the ball; we know what do when we are not on the ball and we can deal with a multitude of formations/playing styles. We are trying to score goals and prevent them.
Is that always possible? No, but that’s the beauty of the game.
Diane Scavuzzo: When you say attacking. Do you believe in positional training
Paul Bright: Yes, very much so.
A lot of the training I do has to be game related and it will be around positional roles and where I expect players to be. I don’t go as far as making it autonomous. Because when you do that, then becomes patterned and engrained — and players become predictable.
I want players to be able to think in the pitch and know their options when attacking when they have the ball and when they do not.
One of my concepts is – when you have possession the midfield don’t play on the same horizontal lines. Which means they don’t stand side-by-side on the pitch.
So straight away, you get that triangulation, opportunities for through balls that are penetrating the opposition. You also have support and cover behind the ball. That will also help in attack, because the players can understand and recognize it themselves on the pitch. By standing on different horizontal lines, you are asking a question of the opposition because you have options ahead of the ball, behind and around.
Diane Scavuzzo: With you pedigree coaching, you could go anywhere. Why did you join LA Galaxy OC?
Paul Bright: It has to be the LA Galaxy badge.
Diane Scavuzzo: The LA Galaxy badge meant that much to you?
Paul Bright: I think yes. With my background – would I have worked for a club that isn’t as high profile as the Galaxy? The answer is yes. But when you have opportunities to wear a badge that is know in the UK and across Europe as well, to add that badge to your résumé and see what they do at their club, you’re going to take it.
And, Tim is great to work with and I really look forward to helping develop the players — after all, helping players reach their full potential — that is what it is all about.