Hours Spent Playing Soccer

Discussion in 'Youth National Teams' started by gaucho16, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. gaucho16

    gaucho16 Member

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    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.


    xbhaskarx repped this.


  2. scoachd1

    scoachd1 Member

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    My kid grew up with Luis in LA. Actually he played with Luis during lunch and after school all through middle school. The put jackets or books on the ground and used them for goals. It turns out that Luis doesn't play in one league. He plays in 3. He plays for a Hispanic rec team in his local area. He plays in another Hispanic league in a different town. Since he's a better player, he has also been recruited to play in LA's travel league. Turns out Luis actually plays more than your Leo in Argentina. Luis is also trained by his dad and many of the other kids on his club team also had dad's that were former players and worked with their son's.

    The problem we have with Luis is that if he didn't manage to find one of the few good trainers, he was not drilled in fundamental skills. Also since Luis would help teams win, he would end up with a lot of bad habits because the coaches did now want to get Luis (or his parents mad) so the coach was careful not to criticize Luis to much or make him do things that would make him unhappy. Sure some courts would be nice, but what Luis really needs are more good and demanding coaches at a young age.
  3. gaucho16

    gaucho16 Member

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    I gu
    I guess I should predicted that my concept wouldn't be received well on this board. I am really not trying to devalue youth coaching here. But I don't think American soccer players age 5-13 need "more demanding coaches". This seems to directly counteract much of what Claudio Reyna has preached in coaching guide based off La Masia.

    My point is that I believe our players are losing a lot at a young age. I very strongly disagree that there is a sizeable segment of American kids that are playing the same amount as those in South America. I guess neither of us can prove the other wrong on this one.

    Do people here truely believe American coaches are working with the same talent as those in other countries? Do people think it's really that close? I understand you do believe this, and I respect your opinion. I agree that our coaching is poorer as a whole, and our college level coaching can be quite poor.

    But I think there is much more to this than poor coaching. I think poor coaching, much like poor referreeing, and mediocre players is a reflection of where soccer is in this country culturally. It can hurt to look in the mirror sometimes. But we're just dumping on the people who are trying to grow soccer.

    For example, I don't care too much for Bruce Arena as a player developer. I look at him a coaching ladder climber who is great at accruing talent (as are many American coaches). Regardless of my feelings about Bruce's means of accomplishing what he has, I have respect for him. He has done more to grow soccer tham arguably anyone else in American soccer history, even if that was not what he intended.

    Can we change the conversation for once?
  4. scoachd1

    scoachd1 Member

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    I don't disagree that most of the country play less than kids from other parts of the world and I certainly feel our players are generally behind starting from a young age. However, you gave an example of Luis from LA and a lot of kids here play a lot of soccer but the overall coaching is suspect which is why many of the top players in LA shared the same youth coaches see - the players listed in this thread. I had a friend in the mid-west who said the a large proportion of the national team/professional players in his area all had the same small number of coaches or took private lessons from them.

    The problem with "your ideas" is that they don't match reality. The players that get to La Masia are the best of the best that come to Barcelona through a well established pipeline. How do you think they get that way? As are Reyna goes, he's still a relatively young man who hasn't been coaching long enough to see how 10 year olds will turn out 10 years later.


  5. minya

    minya Member

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    Young and unproven. Coaching is different from playing, especially coaching kids. Very difficult to predict who becomes a good coach. As long as we keep guessing, putting random people at charge of development we will have the same results as we have now.
  6. FirstStar

    FirstStar Hustlin' for the USA

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    More facilities for playing soccer would be good. Can't argue with that.

    Better youth coaches would be better, but that takes time. I also think it is happening, but gradually.
  7. gaucho16

    gaucho16 Member

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    I have seen that thread. I am yet to see evidence proving that these coaches are more than just great recruiters of 10 year-old talent in LA. And while these players are great teen talents, they are yet to succeed as adults on the professional stage.

    I understand Reyna is a hot-button on these boards. Nobody wants to be told what to do by someone with less experience than them.

    To answer your question as to how I think the top players going into La Masia get that way. I believe they are players who have played soccer as much as possible with their friends, parents, siblings etc. They have developed better ball skills and instincts through repetition. In short, they are just great players.

    Why are we so good at basketball? Is it because we have the best youth basketball coaches age 5-13? Not in my opinion. It's just what we do. We have a small subset of predominatly black Americans who play the game obsessively in their neighborhoods. We have a good network of coaches for once they reach the age of 12-13 and can learn the more subtle nuances of the team game. These coaches can inspire them to work on weaknesses developed as a youth, and work towards the level of mental and physical fitness needed to become a professional European and South American soccer players are the same kids in their neighborhoods.
    Peter Bonetti repped this.
  8. scoachd1

    scoachd1 Member

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    This is a fair point. There was one youth coach (not on that list) who supposedly nicknamed the kidnapper among some Hispanic players because he used to scour every Hispanic youth league looking for players. But by the same token, what is your "evidence" that La Masia in nothing more than some great recruiting of world wide talent by one of the richest, most famous clubs in the world? Also if it is simply recruiting (and you certainly do need the raw material) by some of the coaches in the thread, how is it that these kids just just happen to end up at some out of the way small club team instead of some big, well known one?

    I'm not sure about that. There is a place in the US called Silicon Valley, where a lot of people make gobs of money by listening to some very young people that know what they are doing. What people refer to as "Reyna's" plan was actually written by Perez who actually has a good background. I frankly don't really have enough personal knowledge about the quality of Reyna's personal contributions but I'm really not expecting that much.

    A big part of many 5-13 year old players coaching are their parents. Given the number of ex-nba, ex-foreign league, ex-ncaa players who are parents, uncles, teachers, coaches, I'm curious as to why you think the US has sub-par coaching in basketball compared to other countries. Athletic ability, and in the case of basketball, being tall really are critical. But if you look at the backgrounds of great players you tend to good coaching at a young age. There is also an entire infrastructure and network to support the talent.

    I'm not disputing the fact that you need to practice. I'm just pointing out the obvious fact that having good instruction has a significant impact on the effectiveness of that instruction. In theory kids of 30 years ago used to play soccer on their own far more than kids in most parts of the developed world do today. Yet if you look at the skills of the generation of players that "learned to play in the streets," they are nowhere near what you see today.
  9. gaucho16

    gaucho16 Member

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    I agree that La Masia's success is more dependent on finding the right talent than people credit it for. In some ways they are "the kidnapper" on a grander scale. To me this proves the importance for having the right talent. Even for the holy grail of coaching self-congratulators such as Barca. It is easy to imagine how 1 small club can go on a run of collecting the best young hispanic talent in Southern California. They have a good network in these communities and can provide an affordable way to play at a high level.

    I do not believe the US has sub par coaching for basketball. Our basketball coaching from high-school up is the best in the world. I just don't really think coaching below age 13 matters much. I agree 100% that having a family member pushing/developing you at this age is of ultimate importance. If there are more people that live and breathe soccer, our talent pool will increase and improve.



    The difference between players now and those 30 years ago is more based on conditioning, higher level of professionalism (more money to be made means players will train harder to get to the top), and more access to see what other players are doing via TV/internet. By many accounts, players back then had better ball skills than those today. Regardless, comparing players of a different generation in any sport is comparing apples and oranges.

    We both agree that coaching can increase performance. But I believe that coaching is one of numerous challenges we face. If we fail to fully identify the problem then was can never solve it. I see the problem in our coaching as one that stems from a much larger problem. We lack the culture to compete. We are falling behind early and never catch up.
  10. poprox

    poprox Member

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    sadly, I think the biggest downfall to American soccer and the reason Luis and Joey fall behind Leo is due to the fact that American soccer is based on RESULTS therefore most coaches have to first win games and trophies and secondly develop players in order to keep the PAYING parents happy .I truely think we have some of the best youth coaches in the world and working our way developing our Leos' but until socccer becomes a sport that is not result driven until the latter years as it is worldwide we will always be behind regardless of how many hours our kids play per week . The result driven game tend to put developing our best talents in the back seat as long as there kids come home with snacks, goals and a 5.00 trophey. just my .02
  11. chrome_vapors

    chrome_vapors Member

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    I think it would make a noticeable difference if there was one public soccer court or turf field big enough for a small-sided game, for every one public basketball court, in all of the country's urban areas. Where I live in California there are a lot of soccer players. Very few places to play.
  12. El Michael

    El Michael Member

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    I think most of what we " the US " needs to do to develop top players is being implemented. The instant overnight gratification more than anything skews opinions, imho. As MLS continues to grow i believe it will continue to have a trickle down effect that is essential for us fully reaching our potential.. I really believe we are closing the gap much faster than most give us credit for, both on an individual player level and on the national team level.
    StrikerX4 repped this.
  13. scoachd1

    scoachd1 Member

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    I think we mostly agree with few exceptions. I think coaching (but not necessarily from someone who is a formal coach) at younger ages is critical to expert performance. One of the key aspects of coaching is not just being able to teach technical skills, but also motivating the young player to practice correctly. The other critical factor which people (not saying this is you) overly discount is physical ability. Older players don't forget how to play - they just lose that extra half a step that enabled them to make it to a higher level.

    I also think you should look at film from years past. There is no comparison to the speed of play and technical skill. This comes from improved teaching methods. Anyone who thinks players of former generations had anywhere near the level of skills on the ball as modern players is not living in reality. The reason for this is better coaching. Certainly TV and internet help players, but I think it helps coaches just as much.
  14. scoachd1

    scoachd1 Member

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    Often claimed but in my experience simply not true. The reason is that the teams that get better coaching win more. If you second touch is a tackle you are not going to play anything that resembles skilled soccer and if you have very skilled players you are not going to play a bunch of 50/50 balls when you can easily control the ball. While some poor coaches win games with better physical talent it is not because their poor coaching helped them win, but instead their superior talent helped them win despite their poor coaching.
  15. scoachd1

    scoachd1 Member

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    Field space is a challenge in many areas of SoCal, but for the most part there are places to play if you really want to. Just don't try to do so on a weekend afternoon!
  16. chrome_vapors

    chrome_vapors Member

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    Here in Norcal there is certainly enough green space to grab two pair of trash receptacles and get a game going. While there may be places to play, I guess the question we should be asking is, are these places adequate?

    I live in the East Bay, specifically the Oakland/Berkeley area. Right this moment, there's not a single public park with any kind of standing goal in it.

    Funny enough, there are well over two dozen baseball diamonds in parks here and in 25 years, I've never seen a pick up baseball game being played. There are two baseball leagues in my city, one league uses a single baseball complex to play all its games, the other uses four diamonds in a certain section of the city. The majority of baseball diamonds here are not used for baseball period.

    I'm sure this is obvious but we need more permanent soccer infrastructure in public places if we want to seriously go about facilitating the growth of soccer culture in America.
  17. Peretz48

    Peretz48 Member+

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  18. Peretz48

    Peretz48 Member+

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    Maybe the way to go is futsal. There seem to be a lot of vacant industrial buildings near the docks in West Oakland. The only thing you might need are security guards.
  19. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

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    That's not what most basketball pros believe.

    At the youth level, basketball is just like the US soccer - a coach needs to win, so he gives the ball to the tallest or the quickest player.

    At the college level, the generals of old like Wooten, Knight, Smith and alike have often been replaced by the "one and done" crowds. Michael Jordan went to three years of college ball under the most fundamentally sound and demanding coaches that ever sat behind the bench. Most kids leaving college early mostly know how to run a fast break and to dunk. That's one of the reasons why the NBA has began to ban draft of the high school players.

    The Europeans and South Americans, on the other hand, are far more sound. Even their big men like Divac, Sabonis, Nowitzki, et al. can dribble with the ball and shoot from the outside, something you rarely see from an American, who will operate within six feet of the basket.

    What instant gratification?

    The US soccer has actually produced fewer "star" players than the old U-20/U-17 teams of a decade ago. It preaches a lot but produces very little. If your standards include the improved performances by the locally grown members (no Germamericans here, as they are taught by the best over across the pond) and transfers to the well paying European clubs, then the situation is worse now than it was then.

    And this even applies to MLS, who needs to instantly go back in time.

    Go watch the reruns of the 1974 WC, where any midfielder could easily dribble around his marker. Nowadays, half of them can only pass sideways.

    A perfect example, with the emphasis on the stretch starting at 7:45

  20. Jeff Bradley

    Jeff Bradley Member+

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    There is still a lot of pickup basketball played in the US, where kids play uninhibited and develop a feel for the game that has very little to do with coaching and more to do with observation and imitation.

    In our dreams, we'd have a lot of that in soccer, too. It exists in some places, but it's not common. Soccer, baseball, ice hockey, lacrosse (and other sports) involve a checkbook from a young age. In basketball, in the cities and in hoops hotbeds, kids can still improve and evolve on their own.
  21. dcole

    dcole Member+

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    I think the numbers in the opening post are a bit off. My son is a U10 and his team practices four times per week (not twice per week) with one game per week in the fall and spring. Most kids then play indoor in the winter with one game per week and no practices. In the summer, kids attend training programs and/or camps. Even with four practices per week (rather than the two assumed in the opening post), when you factor in missed practices, rainouts, off-seasons, etc., you get about 170 hours of formal soccer training per year. (Trust me, I keep a running spreadsheet that tracks it for my son's team.) Truly dedicated kids might average 20 minutes per day of soccer on their own, getting them up to about 300 hours of soccer per year, but I would aruge that very few kids put in that time on their own.

    However, the quality of training in 2012 is much higher than this discussion assumes. My son's team has two team practices and two "academy style" practices per week. Training focuses on ball-mastery and all essential skills. By age 9, all of the kids have mastered step-over turns, scissors, Mardona, etc. and can execute them in the game. They have a full arsenal of moves and turns, good first touch, can settle the ball quickly and have good technique when passing and shooting. And my area is far from exceptional. I have seen teams and players from Raleigh, NC that put our program to shame. Coaching has improved drastically. And most programs are getting the kids started earlier and earlier. Our club starts high level training with 8 year olds, but the clubs in Ralegih are getting the kids involved in high level training at age 5-6, and it make a huge difference in terms of ball mastery. All you need is a sufficiently large player pool, a local club dedicated to high level training and some green space, and you are good to go. Most reputable U.S. cities have all of those things. We've already largely bridged the gap between us and the major soccer powers of the world. Just wait 10 years and you will see what I mean.
  22. scoachd1

    scoachd1 Member

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    You are joking right? One doesn't have to look past the first 32 seconds to see how much standard of play has been raised. Look at your video (of the world cup champs by the way). 5 seconds in a terrible first touch. 8 seconds in an awful first touch turning right into a defender when there are acres of open space available. At 15 seconds Germany finally get turned around starts a counter and 10 seconds later many Yugoslavia's players still have not made it back to within 30 yards of their goal. At 27 seconds Germany has a 3 v 2 in the attacking end with a defending player not within 10 yards of the ball. He starts dribbling from 30 yards out and finally a defender meets him just outside the area - does a wild lunge while two teammates jog/stand outside the area leaving a 3 v 2 inside the area yet Germany fails to score.

    The defense is basically cones. From 15 seconds to 31 seconds every German pass and run is forward yet if you look at the frame at 31 seconds Yugoslavia has a single CB defending near the penalty spot and not another field player in the penalty area. In contrast modern defenses have 8 or 9 guys within 25 yards of the goal who are actually defending and teams are still able to break them down.
  23. gaucho16

    gaucho16 Member

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    I said the same thing after the 2002 World Cup. The quality of our national team quality players has remained largely static. I have found that we have produced more good players, but the level of the top field players we produce has not improved.

    After 2002 we appeared to be progressing at an un-stoppable pace. I made a bet with a friend who is Columbian that we would win one of the next 5 World Cups. In hindsight, that was a bad bet. Not only because the outcome of the bet would not be determined for 20 years, but I was unable to fully grasp all of the factors necessary for being a top soccer nation.

    His explanation of why we would never catch the top countries was that kids don't just show up and play at parks in America. There is much more that goes into creating a World Class player than we can currently provide in the US.

    Going back to my original post, I think there are ways we can change this.
  24. CajunChicken

    CajunChicken New Member

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    Thought the same after the '94 World Cup here, as it was "supposed" to happen then. Will give that there have been improvements, in terms of more people "know" the game or more likely know of the game, but the field from grass roots to the top level is dry. Here's some food for thought from FIFA:

    http://www.fifa.com/worldfootball/bigcount/registeredplayers.html

    There may be an issue with officiating, meaning we have 796,000 for 4,100,000 registered players, though seems like France has a pretty high ratio as well. Yet, they crush us in terms of output at having players in the top level in UEFA.
  25. SUDano

    SUDano Member+

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    Agreed we have alot of gaps to fill but its not like we're not playing the game at a higher level than we have in the past. If you only judge our advancement as a factor of how we do every 4 yrs at the World Cup you will get poor samples statistically because of all the variables through qualifying and what group you draw and play. Our players are playing at such high levels at top clubs that could not have been the case in the past. We have had starters at Roma, Tottenham, Everton, Schalke etc. Never historically have we had players playing everyday at these clubs. Even if we fail to advance out of a tough group I know we are developing better players over time.

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