America's Next Top Messi

Discussion in 'Youth & HS Soccer' started by Ruud11, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. Ruud11

    Ruud11 Member

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  2. rhrh

    rhrh Member

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    In another thread, I wrote:
    "My age recommendations for players who want/expect to play at a higher level by age 18 (college, semi-pro, pro), on a weekly basis:
    Age 8 and below: 2 hours of practice, 1 hour of game, 1 hour of outside training.
    Ages 9 - 11: 2 hours of practice, 1 hour of game, 5 hours of outside training (including SAQ).
    Ages 12 - 14: 2 hours of practice, 1 hour of game, 12 hours outside training (including SAQ, maybe through joining a second team)
    Ages 15+: Preferably 6 hours of practice and 2 hours of games per week, but that's hard to find. If so, 12 hours of outside training, otherwise need 16 hours of outside training to get up to 20 hours per week."

    If anyone thinks that is bullcrap, that their little Johnny or Janie can't spend that many hours doing soccer, they should look up numbers for swimmers and gymnasts. Our local Y, which rarely even wins anything on a county level let alone sending swimmers to state or national championships, requires 14 hours per week of swimming as part of their program, at that facility. They recommend more swimming outside of the required hours.

    Yet somehow people think soccer is different! Is muscle memory less important in soccer? Is working with others less important in soccer?

    It is sad that the people IN CHARGE of US Soccer don't get the fact that the top players in EVERY OTHER SPORT are putting in the hours, and they are afraid to increase the DA program to 350 hours per YEAR? It is LUDICROUS that they are SO clueless!!!

    They listed in this article:
    Latest US goal: 350 hours per year
    Ajax's 576 hours,
    Barcelona's 768 hours and
    Sao Paulo's colossal 1,040 hours,
    Italy's total, where the elite practice 432 hours. "

    Yet none of these appreciate how much time TRULY top players of other sports in the 12 to 18 year old range spend on their sports! Parents complain that SIX hours per week is too much, yet they'll send their kid overseas to play in a U10 tournament?!?!?!? What is wrong with this picture?
  3. cdskou

    cdskou Member

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    Hey your correct. It is not only considered a sport in these other countries. It is an apprenticeship, leading to a trade or job.
  4. Ruud11

    Ruud11 Member

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    That's how US Soccer now seem to see the Academy System as well as per this quote "Our goal now is to build a system targeted at producing pro players instead of college talent and there is a world of difference between the two". But if they want to produce players better than Dempsey then they have to step it up to something rhrh recommends.


  5. rhrh

    rhrh Member

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    I agree 100%. In the past year, we are focusing on my son targeting semi-pro or pro soccer instead of college soccer, and it is quite difficult, even if you neglect upping the training significantly and the time and money associated with that. Right now we plan to take him to England for trials, but are looking for other opportunities And he is "old" - 15 though he won't go to trials until 16. There are kids as young as 11 going to the same trials, but also adults as old as 30. All on trial together to get a chance at an EPL trial.

    Do you think swimmers, gymnasts, and tennis players are targeting college sports? No, they are targeting what are the "pros" for them - the Olympics and other competitions. College sports are a side note. Michelle Wie is an example - although she started college the fall after she graduated HS, she attended only in the fall and winter, and missed the spring and summer to play pro golf. And of course she could not play golf for Stanford.

    And that's not even counting the difference in earning potential. It may be difficult (<1% for the best players) to get into the pros, but even making $200,000 per year would be outstanding for all but the top golfers and swimmers. $200,000 per year is something a pro soccer player could get being mediocre.
  6. Mirzam

    Mirzam Member

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    This is the goal for my son also. He is currently training 8 hours a week with his (MLS) club which is bare minimum IMO, add to that playground play and futsal for an couple of hours a week and it still isn't enough, but it is better than most kids in the area get.

    The US needs more residential programs preferably run by MLS club and free of charge. One bright spot for us is, if he makes the U13/14 DA team next fall, which he should, it won't cost us a penny!
  7. Ruud11

    Ruud11 Member

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    Good discussion about all this this morning on SiriusXM channel 94 on the Daily Football Show when Charlie and Neil talked about youth soccer (after the dismall US-Canada game). They had a good point that the (middle class) kids these days have too many distractions and zillions of other things to do daily. So it is not just that the Academies do not offer enough training; kids just do not play enough with the ball (on the street, on playgrounds, etc.). If your kid is in an Academy or playing Club Soccer elsewhere, free up their schedule and get them to play additional hours with the ball.

    For example, my youngest son gets a teacher to reserve their school gym couple hours a week and he plays Futsal there with his friends from school. Then he is often with friends on the school's turf or fields (mostly on weekends) and they have pick up games or they practive shooting and/or freekicks. Means we have to drive a bit more but it is worth it.

    If you rely just on the Academy to get your kid to play professionally, then you don't have done enough.
  8. rhrh

    rhrh Member

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    I think the main program (8 hours per week as you say) should be free of charge, however I am perfectly fine with a club charging extra for players who *want* to increase training time. Having multiple 2 hours sessions that don't interfere with team training would be great.

    Not every kid who is able to play for a pre-academy or academy team should be "forced" to do the extra training, if they do not have pro soccer as a goal.

    Now that my son is in HS, he does get sports training through track, but obviously it is not soccer-specific. If perhaps 5 out of 20 kids on a team want to go up to 15 - 20 hours of training per week, that would be at least 30 across the club and enough to make it cost-effective.
  9. rhrh

    rhrh Member

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    That's how it is in the US, and as it said in the article, 350 hours per year is their GOAL not what it is now. 10,000/350 = over 28.5 years to become an "expert" - that is LUDICROUS - Beckham would be starting his career! If a player starts at age 12 to do 1,000 hours per year, that makes them "expert" by age 22 - or at least enough training to do so.

    It's like USSF can't do basic math, and again, they ignore what happens in other youth sports with players that are not even state level!
  10. Softtop67

    Softtop67 New Member

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    I dont believe the 10,000 hours is all training..its work within a particular field..so if they reach their goal of 350 hours of formal training and the kid does equal amounts of "work" at home you get closer to a reasonable 10,000hour expert level. Also why start at 12?
  11. rhrh

    rhrh Member

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    Starting at 12 is relating to Messi, who went to La Masia at 12. I don't feel that working on your own 650 hours per year (in addition to the 350 hours per year they recommend) is going to do it, unless there is some kind of guidance. The issue is that many players are getting 100 hours per year of formal training, and thinking that they will somehow become pros when they reach 18. The article lists *formal* hours of training, not pickup etc. which you can be sure is happening a lot more.

    On the other hand, is the DA program mostly serving to make pro or MNT players, or really just assuaging the egos of parents that "their kid is good enough"? In my area, the two top DA's likely have at least half of their players with pro or college soccer as a goal, but the other four in the area likely have only two or three who really want to play pro soccer, and they'll play college soccer if it can get them scholarship money.

    Too many DA programs and too few quality DA programs.
  12. Softtop67

    Softtop67 New Member

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    rhrh
    I agree with you that most of the programs are geared more for the parents egos than preparing children for a career choice. I do disagree with your premise that formal training supercedes self driven experimentation, with the fact that to be truely successful one must put in as much if not more time on their own above and beyond formal training. Formal training is a great tool and resource but a fraction (less than half) of what it truely takes to succeed. It is impossible for someone to reach these levels without the extra commitment that lay beyond the traditional formal training practices. I would also expect that Messi had thousands of hours under his belt before he walked into La Masia, thus why I thought doing the math to the 10,ooo hour expert rule doesnt really start ast 12. When you look at the people who are considered success by this rule, especially those mentions in Outliers, the majority of their activity in their fields are self driven and not formal.
    With all that said I think 350 formal training hours is low I would like to see it climb closeer to 500. I just bellieve this should be less than half the time someone spends in their field not the majority
  13. rhrh

    rhrh Member

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    Soccer is not an individual sport. The proof is watching practices vs. games. I agree that "self-driven" is a huge part of success, but I don't think individual training - ball skills, springing, etc. - can substitute for high pressure competitive situations.

    My son has a teammate who was dropped to the B team. This kid is dynamite in practices, but every time he gets the ball in games, it is like a time warp as he decides what to do with it.

    I agree that Messi likely had thousands of hours under his belt by age 12, but there are so many more "informal" opportunities to compete in Argentina and other soccer countries that there is no comparison to a kid in the US. And those opportunities were likely with older players willing to help teach younger players. Even saying that a kid can get to the gym a couple hours per week to do futsal is nothing compared to what kids in other countries can do. I know kids who practice hours on their own at home, who would rather be practicing with others but we just can't find the time or opportunity.
  14. Mirzam

    Mirzam Member

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    I don't expect 8 hours of Academy training a week to make my son a pro, he has to do much more work than that, but the 10,000 hours is more than just formal training, and can range from juggling in the backyard to being ball boy at 1st team games and everything inbetween. The club offers free season tickets for Academy players if a parent buys a heavily discounted season ticket, attending matches is considered part of their training and their 10,000 hours.

    My son also started putting in the hours way before 12, he turns 13 in a few days. As a six year old he was getting 4 hours a week of formal training and by 9 it was more like 6.
  15. Softtop67

    Softtop67 New Member

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    rhrh
    We then will disagree. IMHO Soccer is a team game built on individual excellence. I just dont see formal vs informal training to be either or. I see the formula for success being basically get the formal training you can and devote spare time to figuring things out on your own in a 1 to 2 ratio. I am not suggesting forgoing formal training but realize on its own formal training is grossly insufficient in its ability to create elite players and only by combining formal training with self driven training does anyone reach an elite status in any endeavor
  16. ChapacoSoccer

    ChapacoSoccer Member

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    Just as an aside, the evidence behind that 10,000 hour "rule" paper/book/etc. is horrible. Would fail my stats class horrible. Just really bad science. The basic problem is that the original work started with a sample of already world class performers (IIRC musicians). Which means it is at least as likely that "10,000" hours came becuase they were naturally good and liked practicing as that the practice made them good. The other real fail is that there was actually huge amount of variation in the chess articles. People who were good hit mastery levels in IIRC <5000 hours while people who sucked couldn't get there in 20,0000 hours.

    Use examples from other successful countries, etc., but the 10,000 hour literature is really not based on much evidence at all.
    ncsoccerdad repped this.
  17. Softtop67

    Softtop67 New Member

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    I love your take on this, very sound points. My view was that if you did believe and cite in this as an effective measurement you must include more than just formal training.
  18. Mirzam

    Mirzam Member

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    I agree. An example of doing it on your own is a kid on my son's team, He is their holding mid, and he spends hours and hours watching youtube videos of world class holding midfielders studying how they play the position, how and where they move on the pitch, how they position their bodies, and then tries it out by himself.
  19. rhrh

    rhrh Member

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    My point is not that individual excellence doesn't matter, it's that excellence during the actual game matters more. If your son checks out videos on his own and then tries out moves on his own, then in practices, and then in games, that's great! (and that also shows his drive to get better). If he takes everything he learns 1 v. 0, and makes it work in games, that's vastly different than most players. And I look at players on the top 5 U16B teams in my state, NJ, I see many many players who have "it all" in practices and warm-ups, and can't cut it in games. Game time and organized practices with high pressure do count for that.

    My chemistry teacher said "rules of thumb are made to be broken". I believe that the 3:1 bare minimum training to game ratio is more important than the 10,000 hour rule. I do not think anyone can excel without spending at least 2,000 hours at an activity. Look at it this way - if you are a full-time employee, 2,000 hours is only 1 year of experience.

    It is sad to think 350 hours per year is sufficient for the best of the best, when 500 is more reasonable and those kids who *want* to practice and play 500+ hours per year are the ones who really want to be the best of the best. And yes, most kids in Barcelona won't make it despite getting the hours in and being at La Masia.

    My son has played as much as 30 hours of soccer in a week, including a college combine followed by a league game on the same day. He was very happy after that experience. He wants more. But his club does not offer more, just a 1-hour SAQ session in addition to 2 hours of practice and futsal during the winter. 2 hours of skills training, 2 hours of shooting class (they film and show you what you can do better in the film) is just getting him to 7 hours per week! Yet this club brags how they get players into college and even some to the pros! His only other option is to join another, albeit lower level, team, which is 1 hour of practice and 1 hour of games. That's 9 hours per week. During the spring, he'll be back up to 15 hours per week. And that is in addition to practicing daily (and loudly) footskills and precision short shots.

    I don't believe in punch the clock, but why don't academies have a once weekly dinner where they eat pizza or pasta and watch a game while discussing pros and cons? My son's best coach gave homework - watch this or that game, and write down three key plays by a player in your position by either team. Or, focus on corner kicks - who got more - what did they do with them? How did they set up? There is a sharp contrast between the best coaches and trainers and the average, but the clubs all seem to be the same mediocre goal, be they DA or not.

    DA program needs a "best practices" guide.
  20. Mirzam

    Mirzam Member

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    This kid is not my son, my son's team mate, but you can see that this boy has taken what he watches on youtube and uses it in games, he is a very smart kid both on and off the pitch.
  21. Softtop67

    Softtop67 New Member

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    7 hrs a week is a ton of formal trainng I attended a prominent academy and formal training was 3x per week plus one game (if you were 10+ otherwise no game). Now this was 30+ years ago, but I have been back a few times and it does not seem like that has changed much. I was sent away at 13 so I cannot speak to the older age groups. As far as I know there is no academy program that would allow 30hours in a week of on the pitch soccer
  22. jeremys_dad

    jeremys_dad Member

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    At IBM they call it a "train the trainers" clubs can only train 3 or 4 times a week? but highschools can train every day. So the club rat that experiences an intense HS coach and fitness routine, that next step up, gets a taste of Euro Reality...... Fit enough to go the full 90....Golden !! Being ready for stoppage or overtime .....priceless.
    ,
    ....those who can .....emigrate....
    those who can't......teach
  23. ncsoccerdad

    ncsoccerdad Member

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    My $.02, fwiw. My oldest son (just turned 9) lead his U9 select league in scoring this year, and lead his team in assists as well. I have already been approached by one small-college head coach who observed him (not a serious conversation, mind you, more like "please tell your son to stay in the game, he has a future if he'll work hard") playing his own son's team. Keep in mind that I never played soccer in my youth. I was a starter on my high school baseball and basketball teams - that's the extent of my playing career. With those things as background/caveats...

    - He practices 2.5 hrs per week with his team
    - He usually has 2 games per weekend
    - He plays probably 30 minutes at school most days
    - He and I spend 1-2 hours per week in the back yard, working on specific ball skills
    - He watches professional soccer on TV every day (his choice)
    - He attends college games regularly

    I will leave the "formal" training alone and comment on the last two bullets a touch further...

    School play: these games are usually 3v3, 4v4 at the most. I think this is a HUGE help to him, and I encourage him to try and make sure it happens every day. While these kids aren't necessarily soccer players, they are pretty athletic. This is his laboratory. He can take things he practices at home and try them out on a defender who is actively trying to take the ball from him, and even though the defender may not be at his level as a pure soccer talent, this is probably a kid who is pretty fast and quick and presents a decent challenge. Great environment for him to hone ball skills. Also, to hear him tell it, he plays the role of play-maker in these games, concentrating on setting up teammates as opposed to scoring himself. He and I both believe this has helped him recognize angles and become more adept and passing teammates open, instead of passing to the teammate.

    Back yard: like any other competitive kid, he wants to play and he hates repetitive drills. However, he seems to recognize that letting dad help him has made him better at specific things. Stuff we work on are things like volleying the ball, settling a difficult pass, weighting passes, etc. Very specific things. I make a game out of it most of the time. For good performance he can get an extra 30 minutes of Wii, buy something from the iTunes App store, stay up 30 minutes later, etc. He never has anything to lose, always something to gain. If I can say this has made a difference anywhere, it's in his trapping. He uses his body much better these days, feels defenders and directs the ball to space very well.

    So far, with this as his schedule, he continues to improve rapidly. I am hesitant to put any more soccer in his life right now, and sometimes I feel like this is too much. I ask him how he feels about it almost every week, and he always says he loves it, that it's not too much, so we keep on.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Chapaco. Who knows if 10,000 hours will work? Nobody. I watch Cristiano Ronaldo and think that he could be a professional player with nearly no additional practice. He's that gifted. Yes, he's elite because he worked his tail off, but some kids are just more physically and mentally gifted for the game. And some kids will burn out. Some kids won't. You have to realistically assess your child, what he or she can take on, and be brutally honest about his or her potential. I can't stand to see a kid burdened with his parent's unfulfilled life. 10,000 hours is just a number. Know your kid.
  24. y.o.n.k.o

    y.o.n.k.o Member

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    I don't buy into the 10,000 hours myth. IMO there is no set formula for how many hours of practice it takes someone to become great soccer player. All I know for certain is that it takes talent (no, it is not overrated!), hard work, ambition, dedication, appropriate coaching and the right circumstances/opportunities for someone to become great soccer player. And even then there is no guarantees, because everyone could be one serious injury away from it all being taken away.

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