I give you 3 kids. All are top class soccer players from a very young age exhibiting better skill, coordination, and athleticism than their peers: Joey: Born in Boston, MA Luis: Born in Los Angeles, CA Leo: Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina They all get into organized soccer at age 5 and begin playing mini soccer and move up to comp teams as their clubs allow it. From age 5, all three practice twice a week and play 1 game on the weekends. Joey plays all of the seasons he's allowed. Due to cold and snow in the northeast he can only play 9 months of the year outdoors. For 3 months in the winter he plays futsal indoors 1 time per week. Assuming 1.5 hours of playing per practice session (game included), Joey plays 195 hours per year. Luis also plays as much as he's allowed, and has the advantage of year-round outdoor soccer weather in southern California. Assuming 1.5 hours of playing per practice session, Luis plays 234 hours per year. Leo also plays as much as he's allowed. He has good enough weather year round, so he is able to practice as much with his club as Luis. He also plays with his friends at school during recess, lunch, after school, and when he gets a chance with his close family and friends. As a result he gets an additional 2 days worth of practice per week (3 hours) out side of his club commitments. Assuming 1.5 hours of playing per practice session, Leo plays 390 hours per year. Over the course of 8 years from age 5-13: Joey from Boston plays 1,560 hours of soccer Luis from LA plays 1,872 hours of soccer Leo from Buenos Aires plays 3,120 hours of soccer As one would predict this reflects the success of players from LA relative to those from Boston on the world soccer stage. It also reflects the success of players from Buenos Aires relative to those from LA. Leo has played 66% more soccer than a kid starting at an equivalent point in Los Angeles. How do we get our Luis' in LA to catch up with Leo in Buenos Aires? One idea is to have his coach institute more practice time. Of course, most parents would look at a coach that has his kids practice 5 days a week as a psycho. Additionally, no club coaches have that amount of time to dedicate to one team. Here is the best solution I have come up with: US Soccer needs to push to get mini futsal courts built at schools and parks as you see in Europe and South America. These are built with public funding and usually include basketball courts. Kids can play at recess on these concrete courts and look to close the gap of hours spent playing before they get into more complex soccer styles at age 13 and above. To me, this is the first step we need to make to improve in soccer. Any other ideas? Coaching quality aside, I see culture as a major obstacle in us catching the top soccer player producing countries.