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January 30, 2012
'Coaches should help, not disturb' (Q&A with Bayern Munich's Werner Kern, Part 2)

Bayern Munich, Germany's richest and most successful club, buys international stars (eg Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben) and top domestic talent (eg Manuel Neuer and Mario Gomez) -- but its starting lineup usually includes four or five homegrown players, who are also national team regulars.


By Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

"Every time Bayern has been very successful it’s had a lot of players from its youth program,” says Director of Sport Christian Nerlinger, who himself joined FC Bayern as a 14-year-old and won league titles and the UEFA Cup with Bayern in the 1990s. “They have a special identification with the club.”

The club spends about 5 million euro ($6.5 million) a year on its youth program.

“It is not a question of budget,” says FC Bayern President Uli Hoeness. “If we need 5 million, that’s OK. If we need 7 million, we will do it. Because you cannot give a limit. You spend what is necessary. One year 4 million, next year 6 or 7 million.”

Last year, Bayern sold Munich-born Mehmet Ekici, who joined the club at age 8, to Werder Bremen for 5 million euros -- but Hoeness insists the youth program’s focus is on boosting the first team.

“We are not a selling club,” Hoeness says. “Our aim is always to invest money for players who can play for Bayern. If sometimes you can sell a player like Mehmet Ekici for 5 million – OK, that’s fantastic, it pays for one full year the academy.”

In Part 2* of our interview with Werner Kern, the head of the Bayern Munich youth program shares more details about the club’s approach to youth soccer. ...

SA: How do you want your coaches to behave on the sidelines during games?

WERNER KERN:
It’s OK for them to give some instructions from the sidelines. But it should always be positive and constructive -- and it shouldn’t be constant. If it’s constant it will make the players self-conscious and nervous.

We want coaches to help, but not disturb. To be supportive, to build players up, but also to point out when they do something wrong. ...

Starting at U-14, U-15, we do video analysis with the players.

SA: What value is placed on winning at the youth level?

WERNER KERN:
It’s a double-edged sword. If you want to become good, you need to learn how to win. Winning does play a role, but not winning at all costs.

You’ll find another club that has many more youth national team players than we do, because they “hire and fire.” They get physically strong players so they win -- they’re born in January or February -- they help the team win, and then they get tossed out the next season. We don’t do that.

I’m totally against cutting and recruiting at the youth level to win games. I say, we must always look, does that player have a specific potential to become a special player or doesn’t he?

Another point is also important. You always need a couple of players who are physically strong who can help the others win. It’s not only about winning, it’s about experiences of success. If you lose every game then you think, “There’s something wrong with me.” You do need to win, but not at all costs. We judge the youth teams on how they're playing soccer and on if they're ultimately producing players for our first team.

For example, at the U-15 level -- an age group where players are going through growth spurts. You’ve got really little players and ones who are like full-grown men. We support and protect the small players who might be at disadvantage but have the potential to become great players, like Philipp Lahm [the 5-foot-7 outside back who captains Germany and Bayern].

SA: It’s a common held belief that free play, or street soccer, is a key to the development of exceptional players. …

WERNER KERN:
It used to be like that – that kids would come home from school and play with friends. But the whole infrastructure has changed. There’s almost no unorganized soccer. Now the kids have a longer school day. The school is so demanding that they don’t have time play streets or in the park.

That’s what prompted us to invest in development. That’s why we coordinated with the schools that they have soccer twice a week at school.

SA: Is it a concern that kids only play supervised soccer?

WERNER KERN:
That depends. I believe creativity grows out of freedom. That’s true. But we must also link creativity with the things that are necessary to play successfully. I, for instance, require that players dribble, but in offensive. We don’t want players to dribble in front of their own goal and lose the ball, but nor do we want them to boot the ball aimlessly up field.

We want them to take chances, to dare to dribble, but in the right situations. There are many small practice games that help them comprehend when to dribble and when to pass. They get many chances to dribble and to figure out the right time.

SA: What’s Bayern Munich’s playing style philosophy?

WERNER KERN:
We want to play active soccer. We want to defend high and we want to possess the ball as much as possible because we believe that we learn and improve when we possess the ball a lot. When you’re chasing the ball all the time you’re not learning a lot.

You must, of course, learn the elements of defense, but we want to act not react.

*(Read Part 1 of the interview with Werner Kern HERE.)

January 28, 2012
Inside Bayern Munich's youth program (Q&A with Werner Kern, Part I)

Bayern Munich stars, such as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm and Thomas Mueller, often cross paths with the youngsters at the club's Sabener Strasse grounds -- though they arrive in a different manner. The pros drive Audis provided by the team sponsor whose license plates end with their jersey numbers. After parking in the underground garage, they stop at the autograph station to sign shirts, balls and pictures that will be sent to fans. The youth players come mainly after school by train or in buses provided by the club. A small group of them live in the club's dorms.

By Mike Woitalla
(from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Bayern fields one team at age group from U-8 to U-17, and a U-19 and a U-23 squad. The U-23s serve as Bayern’s second team and plays in the fourth division against clubs without an age restriction. Bayern's annual budget for the youth program, including the second team, is $6.5 million.

Bayern’s youth program mirrors that of Barcelona – the most successful in its country and a source for the core of the national team lineup. Germany finished third at the 2010 World Cup and second at the 2008 European Championship, having fallen to Spain at both tournaments.

Germany went undefeated in qualifying for the 2012 European Championship and last year beat Brazil (3-2) and the Netherlands (3-0) in friendlies -- while regularly fielding four or five field players who came out of Bayern’s youth program, including Schweinsteiger, Lahm and Mueller.

Bayern’s youth program is comprised of 185 players, 29 full- and part-time coaches, three goalkeeper coaches, two fitness coaches, seven physiotherapists, one doctor and six academic tutors. The club employs one scout for each age group.

Werner Kern, who has served as the head of Bayern’s youth program since 1998, was also assistant coach of Bayern’s senior team in 1970-77. We spoke with Kern in his office at the Sabener Strasse clubhouse about the team’s youth program. …

SOCCER AMERICA: How does Bayern approach the youngest age groups?

WERNER KERN:
Our youngest group is the “Base” group: 7-year-olds to 10-year-olds. These U-8s to U-11s play 7-v-7 on small fields.

We do not have a set goalkeeper at those age groups. We rotate goalkeepers because we know, with the back- pass rule, the goalkeeper must be a good soccer player.

We move all the players around positions, because they need defensive skills and offensive skills. The need experience in back, upfront, on the left side and the right side.

They need to learn ball technique … the fundamentals. Controlling the ball, moving with the ball. The short pass. Begin to comprehend individual tactics and within a small group.

SA: What’s the format at U-12?

WERNER KERN:
They play 9-v-9. At the U-13s we move up to 11-v-11 because the new regional league begins at U-15 and they need two seasons to get used to 11-v-11. It’s questionable we should already have a regional league at U-15 because the travel can be too demanding.

SA: What’s the league play like for the younger levels?

WERNER KERN:
We always play against older teams. Until U-17, Bayern’s teams always play a year up. That’s because all our players are scouted, so they should be better. And they need to be challenged.

SA: What do you look for in coaches at the youngest age groups?

WERNER KERN:
With the youngest age groups, the most important for me is the personality. That they are role models and that they know how to communicate and relate to children.

And it’s also beneficial if they’re parents, because then they know how to treat children in an age-appropriate manner.

I have had great experiences with young coaches who come out of the university having studied education -- but also having a soccer-playing background is important.

SA: How does Bayern find talent?

WERNER KERN:
Each age group has a scout, and we have a network of scouts. We focus first on talent in Bavaria.

SA: At what age do players join the residency?

WERNER KERN:
Age 15 is the youngest we bring players into our residency, and that separates us from many other clubs.

We don’t want to take players out of their family house earlier than that. It’s important that children grow up with their families. We feel that’s crucial.

SA: How many players are in residency?

WERNER KERN:
We have a dorm with 13 apartments for 13 players who live with us. That’s a small number, so the challenge for our scouts is to really pick the best.

And they have done a superb job. Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos and Holger Badstuber all lived here.

SA: So the vast majority of players commute …

WERNER KERN:
Yes. We have two buses that pick players up after school, one for the north and one for the south. The others generally take the train, like Thomas Mueller and Philipp Lahm did. [Mueller, 22, and Lahm, 28, both joined Bayern at age 11].

SA: What’s the turnover of players?

WERNER KERN:
We only have scouted players. Players we pick. No one can come to FC Bayern and say, “I’ll play for a youth team.” And we’re constantly looking for talent. And each year, if we find better players, then the worst players must leave. We help them find new clubs.

All players are with Bayern at least one year and then we assess if they stay or are replaced.

(Look for Part 2 of the YSI’s interview with Werner Kern on Friday.)

January 15, 2012
Why Wilmer Cabrera's U-17 tenure ended (Q&A)

Wilmer Cabrera, who guided the USA to the second round in the 2009 and 2011 U-17 World Cups and headed the Bradenton Residency Program for more than four years, explains why he's left U.S. Soccer and looks back on his tenure.

Interview by Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Wilmer Cabrera, who guided the USA to the second round at the 2009 and 2011 U-17 World Cups and headed the Bradenton Residency Program for more than four years, explains why he's left U.S. Soccer and looks back on his tenure.

SOCCER AMERICA: Why are you no longer the U-17 national team coach?

WILMER CABRERA:
I rejected the offer from the Federation.

SA: Why?

WILMER CABRERA:
Because the length of contract wasn’t long enough. Not even similar to what I had in my two cycles. It was half of the time that I was offered the last times.

SA: So just a year instead of two years?

WILMER CABRERA:
Correct.

SA: Do you know why they offered you a shorter term this time?

WILMER CABRERA:
No. I don’t have any idea. I had been working very well with the Federation but I couldn’t accept that offer. It wasn’t good enough for me or my family.

SA: The non-renewal came shortly after the team did so well at the Nike Friendlies -- beating Brazil (3-1) and Turkey (2-1) and tying France (2-2) in December -- so it came as a bit of a surprise ...

WILMER CABRERA:
I was thinking we were going in the right direction -- but the offer was different perhaps because they have different plans. I have to respect that. But I have to think about what’s good for me and my family, and for me as a coach.

SA: Do you know yet what your next move might be?

WILMER CABRERA:
I’m in conversation with an MLS club to try and join the staff and we’ll see.

SA: How much contact did you have with Jurgen Klinsmann?

WILMER CABRERA:
I just met him once, and it was a very nice conversation. It was the first time I met him and the only time  I spoke with him. [Last summer] I presented my technical report to the Federation and he was there -- and it was a very nice conversation. I imagine he’s very busy with his team because he has a lot of work.

SA: When you look back on your four and a half years as U-17 coach, what you think went well?

WILMER CABRERA:
A lot of players jumped from the Bradenton Residency right away into professional clubs and they’ve been adapting very well.

If we provided the players with a good base for them finish at Bradenton and come to a professional club and adapt well, that means they were well prepared. Adapting not only to Major League Soccer, which is the most important thing our players should think about, but also to international clubs.

(EDITORS’ NOTE: Among the players who played for Cabrera at the U-17 World Cups were Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Perry Kitchen (D.C. United) and Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union), in 2009, and, in 2011, Jack McBean (Los Angeles Galaxy) and Marc Pelosi, who signed with Liverpool in November.)

SA: What about the team’s performance under your watch?

WILMER CABRERA:
The results in Central America were very positive. We played in two Concacaf Championships (U-17 World Cup qualifying) and we won all the games, and that’s important. In the eight games that were played, we won them all, and that proved the team at the Concacaf level was well prepared. We are progressing, but we’re not there yet.

I think with a better plan, where all national teams are communicating and working with the same idea we’ll get better results for the players and soccer in the United States, but I never received a plan. I never received feedback for what I was doing, right or wrong.

SA: What do you think the future of the Bradenton Residency is?

WILMER CABRERA:
At some point, if the Development Academy and MLS clubs provide everyday training at a good level and good mentality -- I would say it won’t be necessary to have Bradenton. But right now that’s not happening, for different reasons.

We have to compete with the top players from the rest of the world, and they practice and compete everyday -- and if we’re not prepared to do that, we can go backward. So I think it’s very important we recognize when it's the right time to stop Bradenton, and that would be when they have the same opportunity in a good environment that’s not far from their parents.

SA: What are the main challenges of running a 40-player residency for kids from around the country? How difficult is it to provide a good environment for kids who leave home at a young age?

WILMER CABRERA:
It’s very difficult because they’re coming from different backgrounds, different culture, different education -- and they need to have the kind of discipline where they have to be a role model.

Most of them are coming from places where they’re superstars. They’re big in their clubs -- and nobody says anything because they’re the best players. But when they come to Bradenton, no one is a superstar.

The work on the field is not as difficult as the work off the field -- school and responsibilities.  We weren’t only coaches. We were parents, psychologists, advisors.

It was quite challenging -- but very rewarding when we traveled around the world and the Americans we encountered told us how proud they were of the way the players were representing the USA. ...

I’ve been receiving e-mails from all the players saying thank you. Even from the ones we had to send home because of discipline -- they weren’t doing the right things -- they're sending me thank yous, saying, “I know I didn’t take advantage but I learned a lesson.”

I think we helped the kids a lot.

January 11, 2012
Remembering Thomas Fleck; FA changes 'travel' rules; Bliss, Rongen in new roles ...

By Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

A memorial service for Thomas Fleck, one of the original national staff coaches with U.S. Soccer and instructor for U.S. Soccer for 30 years, will be held in St. Petersburg, Fla., Jan. 21. See details on www.drfleckfoundation.com. Fleck died on Dec. 24 at age 74.

"Dr. Fleck's impact on our sport was profound," said Sam Snow, coaching director of US Youth Soccer. "Tom educated and influenced generations of American soccer coaches and was a pioneer in the growth of our sport during the 'soccer boom' of the 70s and 80s. I was exceptionally fortunate to have had Tom as a mentor and he was a close friend as well. His passing is a loss to soccer in the USA."

Snow shares more memories of Fleck HERE.


* * *


The English FA has lifted the "travel time" rules that have restricted professional clubs' ability to recruit youth players who don't live in their region. The move was lauded by Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson, who said the restrictions encouraged major English clubs to recruit youth talent from abroad rather than from England

“The academy rules as they were, the distance that players could sign, an hour and a half away, or an hour up to 14, seemed ridiculous when you think I could bring a boy over from Amsterdam or Ireland,” Ferguson told the Daily Mail.


* * *


MLSsoccer.com’s Randy Davis reports on Real Salt Lake’s residency program in Casa Grande, Ariz., at the Grande Sports World resort. “There were a lot of kids that came from smaller markets, like the four corner region – Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado or the western Texas area,” says RS-AZ assistant coach Freddy Juarez. “They don’t really get the recognition because it’s not big clubs. So I think we caught a lot of people by surprise last year.”

Real Salt Lake AZ finished third place in the 2011 U-15/16 U.S. Soccer Development Academy finals. Vancouver is the only other MLS team with a residency program.


* * *


Tab Ramos, head coach of the U.S. U-20 men’s national team, has brought in as assistant coach his former USA teammate, Brian Bliss, currently the technical director of the Columbus Crew’s youth program. Bliss and Ramos played together in the 1988 Olympics and in the successful qualifying campaign for the 1990 World Cup.

Under Bliss, the Crew Juniors became the first MLS team -- and first team from Ohio -- to win the McGuire Cup when they won the USYS U-19 title in 2010. Bliss was assistant coach of the Kansas City Wizards in 2000-06.


* * *


Thomas Rongen, who coached the USA at U-20 World Cups in 2003, 2007 and 2009, has been named Toronto FC’s Youth Academy director. Rongen, who had MLS head coaching stints with Tampa Bay, New England, D.C. United and Chivas USA, will be working under fellow Dutchman Aron Winter, TFC's head coach. Both started their playing careers with Ajax Amsterdam. Rongen, whose second stint at the helm of the U-20s ended last spring after the USA failed to qualify for the 2011 U-20 World Cup, identified more than 400 teenage American players in foreign leagues, including some of the German-raised Americans who are vying for spots with on Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad.

For more on Rongen’s move to Toronto, check out Nigel Reed’s CBC Sports article HERE.


* * *


U.S. Soccer is in the process of hiring a new coach for the U-17 boys national team after Wilmer Cabrera's contract, which expired in December, was not renewed. Cabrera, a veteran of the Colombian national team who moved to the USA in 2003, replaced John Hackworth at the helm of U-17s and the Bradenton Residency Program after the 2007 U-17 World Cup. Under Cabrera, the USA continued its streak as the only country to qualify for every U-17 World Cup. Cabrera guided the USA to the round of 16 in both the 2009 and 2011 U-17 World Cups. Late last year, his new squad of U-17s impressed at the Nike International Friendlies, beating Brazil (3-1) and Turkey (2-1) and tying France (2-2). Besides naming a new coach, U.S. Soccer is likely contemplating the future of Bradenton Residency -- perhaps no longer necessary since the advent of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy and MLS's clubs ambitious entry into youth development. For more on Cabrera, go HERE.


* * *


In an interview with Dan Woog in the Westport (Conn.) Patch, Mickey Kydes, the director of coaching for the Westport and Old Greenwich Soccer Associations, addressed the state of youth soccer. Soccer in Connecticut “used to be easy,” Kydes says. “There was recreation and travel. Then came another level: premier. That grew and grew, but without any criteria. Lots of teams started calling themselves ‘premier.’ It got top-heavy. That diluted the concept of premier soccer, but it also hurt mid-level travel programs by drawing players out of them. It became a vicious cycle. I’m really concerned, because I want the best playing environment possible for every player in Connecticut.”

Kydes "is a big proponent of rec soccer. It’s where the masses are, and it’s a kid’s first experience to the game. It’s where we make a huge impact, and pay a lot of attention to. First impressions last a long time.” Kydes believes that in the U.S. our best coaches should coach 5- to 10-year-olds. In reality, though, “we totally neglect recreational soccer in Connecticut.” Read the article HERE.


* * *



Ann Hicks
, a youth referee for 17 years, recounts some of the most atrocious sideline behavior she’s witnessed within the past two years in a Fort Worth Star-Telegram article: “Recent games had one mother shouting angrily to the referee, ‘You should be ashamed of yourself.’ In another match, a fan called the assistant referee a ‘----ing moron’ because the fan thought he missed an offside call. During an under-8 game, both coaches were ejected for displaying a hand (or rather a finger) gesture to the referee. All this while our youths watched. … Many of our refs are ages 14 to 20.” Read the column HERE.


* * *


The former president of a Northern California youth league serving nine months in jail for embezzling more than $58,000 from the league was denied a request to be released after five months by Sonoma County Judge Ken Gnoss. Kyle Hoffman pleaded guilty to writing more than 70 unauthorized checks from the 250-player Healdsburg league accounts when he was president from 2008 to 2010. Hoffman told the judge he wanted to begin earning money to repay the league and to support his wife and two children. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported that Gnoss, while denying the request, said Hoffman already received a break when he was allowed to serve his time in county jail rather than prison. Gnoss said he wanted to send a message to anyone who would steal from dues-paying parents and their children.


* * *


U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM ROSTERS


U.S. U-20 girls (Coach Steve Swanson)
(Preparing for Concacaf qualifying for 2012 Under-20 Women's World Cup March 1-11 in Panama.)


U.S. U-18 girls (Coach April Heinrichs)
(UCLA freshman keeper Katelyn Rowland among 24 in Chula Vista, Calif., camp.)


U.S. U-20 boys (Coach Tab Ramos)
(Three players with MLS experience and 10 foreign-based players on 36-player roster.)


U.S. U-18 boys (Coach Richie Williams)
(Nicholas Gaitan at Argentinos Juniors in Argentina and Romain Gall at FC Lorient in France are the two-foreign based players on 24-player roster includes Zach Pfeffer of the Philadelphia Union.)

January 08, 2012
Thanks, Manny Schellscheidt!

Perhaps no man has had as great an influence on as many American coaches as Manfred "Manny" Schellscheidt, who retired in 2011 at age 70.

By Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Back in 1970, he became the first person to earn a U.S. Soccer Federation “A” coaching license. He coached at every level of the U.S. men’s national team program -- but last year his 13-year tenure as head of the U-14 boys National Identification Program came to an end. He also retired, after 24 seasons, as Seton Hall University head coach.

A few years ago, Bruce Arena said, ''I think everybody who runs across Manfred learns something. He provokes a lot of thought on how players think and the role coaches play. He is very good at trying to keep things simple and not making a meal of things. He doesn't make a big deal about the influence coaches have on players. He believes in making sure players are in a good soccer environment and that they learn from the game.''

I had first “encountered” Schellscheidt in 1973 -- I realized a couple decades later -- when I was a 9-year-old soccer fan in Texas Stadium and Schellscheidt played for the Philadelphia Atoms, who upset me greatly as they beat the Dallas Tornado, led by “superstar” Kyle Rote Jr., 2-0.

When many years later I mentioned that NASL championship to Schellscheidt, he related an anecdote that demonstrates the kind of youth coach he was. Schellscheidt had planned a Europe trip with the youth team he was coaching before becoming a player/assistant coach of the expansion Philly team that, with an uncommon number of American players, made a surprising run to the playoffs.

It turned out the youth trip would conflict with the NASL semifinal – and Atoms head coach Al Miller couldn’t believe his ears when Schellscheidt said he would keep his promise to the boys and miss the game against Toronto. The Atoms beat Toronto, 3-0, so Schellscheidt still celebrated one of the many triumphs of a career in American soccer that began when he emigrated from Germany at age 23.

Schellscheidt was visiting his aunt in New Jersey in 1964 and was recruited to play for Elizabeth SC of the German-American League. Elizabeth SC provided him with a tool-maker’s job and sponsorship for immigration.

''I arrived in the country on a Monday, went to practice at Farcher's Grove on a Wednesday, and they gave me a player's pass in time for the Saturday game,'' says Schellscheidt, 64. ''Only in America!''

He continued working the tool-and-die factory until in 1988 taking the Seton Hall helm -- his first full-time coaching job. But he had already coached the U.S. national team, was an assistant of the U-20 U.S. team, and he was the Olympic coach until the eve of the 1984 Games when the Federation disbanded his team of amateurs and replaced them with pros. Schellscheidt coached the U.S. team at two Pan American Games. He coached the U-17s in the early 1990s.

As a player, besides the NASL title, he won two U.S. Open Cups with Elizabeth SC. He was player/coach of the 1974 ASL champion Rhode Island Oceaneers and coached the 1977 ASL-winning New Jersey Americans.

Throughout his career, Schellscheidt served the U.S. youth game. He was a Region I ODP coach for 25 years and its head coach in 1997-2007. He coached the Union Lancers of New Jersey to two straight McGuire Cup U-19 national championship titles in 1987-88. His Lancers' assistant coach was Bob Bradley.

A refrain from the coaches Schellscheidt influenced is that he showed them that soccer’s an art, not a science. He never let one forget that it’s a players’ game – and that the key to youth coaching is respecting the players’ right to enjoy the sport and explore it on their own terms:

“Kids like to explore – learn and discover on their own terms. … To explore, to toy around with, to experiment.”

For me, every conversation with Schellscheidt ended with my affection for the sport rejuvenated. Thanks for that, Manny! … I’m looking forward to our first chat of the new year.


 


* * *


Manny Schellscheidt on Soccer:

"The game is the best teacher. The coach is really a substitute voice. We want the players to hear the silent voice, the game. The game is actually talking to you."

“Judge players by their talents, not their faults.”

“Soccer without ideas is boring. Players with skill and imagination are fun to watch.”

“We don’t lose by making a few mistakes, we lose for the things we never did.”

“No kid ever steps on the field and says, 'Today I'm going to lose.' They're naturally competitive. We should be concerned about the players' performance, not the final score.''

“There are always shortcuts that you can find to win the next game. That doesn't necessarily mean you'll be winning five, six years from now.”

"The great players lead with their minds. How do I make space and time? How do I take it away?"

On coaching youth with small-sided games: "It needs to be small enough so positions don't matter. That's the best solution. If coaches would have the patience to graduate their kids from really small numbers, one step at a time, that would be the most natural and the most potent education the players could possibly get. They would learn to deal with time and space, and how to move around and have some shape. The problem is we go to the bigger numbers too early."

On screaming orders from the sidelines and shackling players to areas of the field: "It destroys the children's natural instinct of being part of the game.”

On the difference between team development and player development: “There's such a difference. … You can divvy up the field, make players rehearse what they're supposed to do in their small areas, and as far as team development it works fine because they can find a quick way to get results. It's a short cut to success, but the kids don't become good players."

“The language of the game is body language. It's universal.”

On technique … "I don't believe skill was, or ever will be, the result of coaches. It is a result of a love affair between the child and the ball."

“All the questions will come from the game and so will the answers.”


(Mike Woitalla, the executive editor of Soccer America, coaches youth soccer for East Bay United SC in Oakland, Calif. He is the co-author, with Tim Mulqueen, of The Complete Soccer Goalkeeper, and More Than Goals with Claudio Reyna. Woitalla's youth soccer articles are archived at YouthSoccerFun.com.)



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