Beasley and Player development

Discussion in 'USA Men: News & Analysis' started by Shaster, Nov 30, 2004.

  1. Shaster

    Shaster Member

    Apr 13, 1999
    El Cerrito, CA, USA
    This is coming from the discussion of Beasley's skillset from the Yank Aboard discussion.

    Recently, sice I have nothing better do to. I picked up one of older Soccer America from my storage room to read some youth development thing. Then there is an article in April 12, 1999 by our favorite writer Paul Gardner by checking the young Donovan and Beasley Co. in Dallas Cup. He generally feels that team is very talented by has trouble to finishing. He also feel (not news for BS members) that US is play fast and too fast and everything is being rushed (that contributes to bad finishing). Then he asked if there is a 17 years old Valderrama or Etcheverry, things may different.

    Then he just described the youth team of Brazilian club Santos that demostrated "rhythm, smoothness, inventiveness and finishing that looks easy". In the mid of it, a 14 years old wearing No. 10 shirt has full of subtlety and impish tricks, back-heels, outside of the foot flicks, sudden stops, sudden darting dribbles, direction changes, the full repertoire. Gardner did give this kid's name for the future greatness. I don't take too much when 5 years ago by reading the article, but today, I know this kid's name. His name is Diego.

    Maybe that is the kind of thing we need to do. Taking that Dallas game videos from the 14-years old Diego and make a mandidate for all 11-12 years old kids to watch it and practice on it.
     
  2. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

    Oct 14, 2004
    To do what Diego did you'd need about 6-8 hours each day with the ball for about half a decade ... assuming you'd have the dexterity to do that to begin with.
     
  3. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Shaster -

    Will take much, much more than that.

    What you ask is a fundamental shift in coaching style. The U.S. coaching style is similar to that of English, German, even Dutch to a certain (lesser) extent. It's about speed of play. Don't linger on the ball. Move the ball faster. One touch. Two touch.

    There is much to be said for this style of play, in terms of developing players. Look at the U.S. senior national team today. Devastating when on top of its game against the minnows and fully capable of beating the giants if the breaks fall right.

    However ... this style of coaching is absolutely anthetical toward developing a Diego. Because the emphasis is always -- and I do mean always -- on playing faster. Coaches very quickly train the parents & kids to be brutal on children who linger on the ball. They get yelled at, a lot. And yanked from the game.

    By U12, there are no Diegos. Oh, don't get me wrong. There are some very talented dribblers/playmakers who can hold the ball in traffic without being dispossessed. But they don't do it in games. Messing around, yes. In games, rarely. They'd be ball hogs, after all.

    I empathize with the coaches. For every mini Diego, there are about 1000 bad players who are too stupid, too clumsy, or too slow to move the ball at the appropriate time. They need to play faster to be more effective. It's can be tough to distinguish which player will become a mini Diego and which will be a clod. Plus, in U.S. youth soccer, where the team is king and the individual exists to make the team better, it's difficult to send along the message that "this kid is good enough to dribble in traffic so I'll let him, but you are not." So most coaches don't bother.

    It's egalitarian. Footskill or not, vision or not, flair or not ... the instructions always are, Play Faster.

    The Next Level (youth coach) will tell you that I exaggerate. :) But I bet he'll also tell you that there's some truth to what I write, which is that ultimately it is the U.S. youth coaches who could benefit most from Diego tapes, not the kids themselves.
     
  4. mtr8967

    mtr8967 New Member

    Aug 15, 2003
    John R,
    Interesting post, as I know you're close to the youth development system yourself. The situation you describe sounds to me like the youth coaches are using coaching techniques for ordinary good kids on potentially world class kids. Is this an argument for some super-elite youth soccer program? A junior Bradenton, if you like? I don't know how you'd reliably pick out the super talented from the pretty talented (let alone the body-matured-more-quickly kids).

    Or is a player playing like Diego more of a style and less of a quality issue? If he had been born in, say, Germany, would he still have grown up as effective a player but not as flashy a player?
     
  5. lmorin

    lmorin Member+

    Mar 29, 2000
    New Hampshire
    Club:
    --other--
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    JohnR, I appreciate the sentiment, but I think you are wrong. Such kids as Diego or Landon Donovan are extremely rare. That means really, really, really rare. You probably have not seen one; I have not seen one (and I have been around a lot of soccer kids), at least not until announced on the national scene already. These kids are so far superior to the others on their teams of 10-12 yr olds, it is not funny. It is evident then and it is evident later. Yes, brutal coaching can interfere, but more often than not poor coaching does no damage beyond driving good players out of the game completely. These kids develop on their own. Good coaches can only point out context and opportunity and say, "Go to it" or "Try this, it's cool, particularly when you are up against a big guy with long legs," or some such. These kids adapt to new ideas, building on the skills their parents delivered to them in the form of a genetic contribution. That's the baseline. The rest is honing them to fit the best high level slot possible. This is not to say practice does not make perfect; it does, but ultimately these superkids do what they are built to do whether it is Diego, DMB, Adu or LD.
     
  6. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I don't know about "potentially world class kids"! ). However, given that Chicago is now graduating a couple of players a year into the professional pool and that I know the bulk of the top players at my son's age group, it's likely that I know one or two future professionals. Plus a bunch of good college players.

    To answer your question, yes. I guess. I mean, everybody plays at age group, everybody attends the same practices.

    I don't know what it's an argument for. As I think more about this subject, I don't really know how much we need a Diego. I mean, Landon is pretty damned good. Plus, Greek used the fast-play style + good defense to win the European Championship. I think we're doing enough right now to play like Greece.

    That's where I'm leaning. In Germany, they would have banished the flicks and forced him to play very fast whenever he was in the middle of the field. But that doesn't mean that he wouldn't be a very effective player. Just a different one.

    All that said ... the lead candidates for FIFA/Euro Player of the Year are Ronaldinho, Henry, Deco, Svechenko. Hard to imagine the first three players emerging in the U.S. I think we're putting out enough excellent players to be truly competitive, but will our system produce a jaw-dropping player? I'm skeptical. When your country's main (maybe only) jaw-dropping candidate happens to be among the 3% of U.S. youths who emigrated from another country, you've gotta wonder if the U.S. system is really capable of such a feat, or whether it emasculates the potential superstars in the name of team ball & playing faster.
     
  7. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Wrong about what? Oh, I probably confused you with the term "mini Diego." Don't translate that as "future Diego." Translate that as "poor man's Diego," or "the Diego of local U13 soccer." :)

    Let me be clear: I sincerely doubt that I've seen an actual future Diego or Donovan, or anybody close to that level. It would be very strange if I have given the limited number of players that I have seen.

    My argument is instead that what talent I have seen, those players will most likely will become poor man's Donovans (master of the one touch) rather than poor man's Diegos (master of dribbling & flicks) due to U.S. coaching influences.

    Do you agree with that proposition?
     
  8. iawt

    iawt New Member

    Aug 21, 2000
    Landenberg PA
    I think some of the flash, creative thinking and foot skills that come out of Brasil, Argentina and similar countries is the result of kids spending countless hours of thier pre-teen years with a ball and playing pick-up games with their friends. Contrast that with the typical US player who spends most of his practice time during those years in organized practices sessions.

    Its been said before, there are striking similarities to the environments that most of the skilled/flashiest/creative NBA players come out and where their counterparts grow up.
     
  9. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Jonathan Spector has a chance to be a pretty damned good player, To my knowledge, he was regarded as just another excellent 12 year old. Don't think many people pointed at him and said "That's the one kid in the Chicago area who's going to be an EPL player by the time he's 20." Think instead he was regarded as one of a handful of really good looking little players, some of whom might make it and some of whom might not.

    But I could be wrong, that's second hand news, I didn't see the kid directly.
     
  10. mtr8967

    mtr8967 New Member

    Aug 15, 2003
    Ah, but isn't there a growing feeling that the quality of NBA play has dropped because there are too many flashy players and not enough who do the dirty work like setting picks and playing defense for the entire shot clock? Are we confusing flashy play with good play? If everybody tries to play like Diego/Michael Jordan/Babe Ruth, how much do we suffer from the loss of players who could be effective if they played in another style?
     
  11. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I used to think that and write that until my kid got old enough where I started to see a bunch of 11, 12 year old players.

    Some of these guys are very flash. They can juggle from now until eternity. They can flick. Outside of foot, inside of foot, stepover, scissors, bob, weave. I call them "tabletop players" because they could dance on a tabletop all day with the ball and it would never fall off the side.

    All they more technical in Brazil? Sure. But the gap isn't large as I used to think, back when I was watching the clumsy 7 and 8 year olds. :)

    These guys tone down their acts a lot in games. First, their coaches beat up on them. Second, they are often small and they get whacked by defenders. You might ask, doesn't this happen in Brazil? The answer, I am told, is no. I talked with the parent of a Brazilian U13 last month and he was lamenting the physical quality of our leagues. He said that in Brazil, our U13's "defensive techniques" would be whistled as fouls.

    Hmmm, sounds like MLS, doesn't it? Rusty Pierce, you live in the right country.
     
  12. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Yeah, these are all good questions. Which is why I toned down my original criticism of the U.S. coaching style. There is certainly a downside into teaching soccer as solely a game of individual skills.

    It's been written before, but we shouldn't get too carried away about this notion of 6 hours daily of street soccer being the big difference between the U.S. and Brazil. Even the Brazil's national team coach says that most of the player development these days is done by the professional teams. Those guys do a great job; somehow, they manage to nurture & grow the individual skill, yet introduce the team concept. I mean, the Brazilian youths are not only technically better than us, they're tactically better, too. I bet that's due to coaching, not the streets.
     
  13. mtr8967

    mtr8967 New Member

    Aug 15, 2003
    I don't see how street soccer particularly helps your tactics either. Playing constantly, yes, but the street enviroment in particular, no.

    I'm probably going to get flamed for this but.... I don't see why technical skills have to be taught at a very young age (U12, say). I don't know of any other sports related skill that has to be taught that way; why should ball control be any different? I doubt if anybody has studied the development of jugglers, slight of hand magicians, or acrobats but it might be enlightning.

    Now in most countries soccer is easily the major professional athletic career. It could be that kids learn it young because they're in a soccer-only enviroment - if they have the talent to learn it they do it early.
     
  14. iawt

    iawt New Member

    Aug 21, 2000
    Landenberg PA
    That is very true, and that is where coaching comes in. But I think the key is that it is easier to take a very skilled creative player and hone their tactical and strategic awareness as a teenager than it is to do the opposite.

    Another big contributing factor is that kids in Brasil grow up watching and emulating creative professionals while the typical US player may not even watch more than a handfull of professional games a year.
     
  15. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

    Oct 14, 2004
    Street-ball is a de facto pre-pro soccer school for a lot of the Euro and South American kids. In other words, those kids that get admitted into soccer academies already have the required skills by 13-14. After that point, they don't teach much of the individual skill, aside of taking free kicks, penalties and corners on a regulation size field. They do practice a lot of 3-man and 5-man side play.

    What is the key here is that the 14-16 year olds in top soccer academies have the individual skills to practice the pro game. If you tell someone to swing the ball 40 yards from flank to flank, they'll say OK and do that without hitting the ball out of bounds.

    I am curious however where JohnR sees all this "on the ball" talent. Surely, when in their early 20s, the US kids are vastly inferior to their counterparts overseas. Without bringing up the lucky US boys with Euro passports, I am yet to see a young American dribble past his competition with ease in any major U-17->21 tournaments. The closest to it were Brad Davis and Edson Buddle at the U-20 that was held in 2,001 in Argentina. The Cory Ashes and Jamie Watsons of the last cup seemed to have no skills required for their position whatsoever. And those the best young athletes the US could offer.
     
  16. mtr8967

    mtr8967 New Member

    Aug 15, 2003
    I think there may be a big difference between the generation that's now 12 years old and those 10 years their senior. Soccer in the US seems to be very much in flux.
     
  17. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

    Oct 14, 2004
    The difference here is that offensive players have to be creative. The defenders are the one that have to be physical.

    The worldwide basketball academies are a mirror copy of soccer academies. Their kids practice all aspects of the game 6-8 hours each day and then go on to have a few academic classes. Thus, they produce very skilled players who put in in effect a full-working day in their craft.

    As a wild suggestion, I would recommend that MLS set-up some sort of an academy for its US born draftees who would take a year and put in 2,000 hours or so in improving their ball and tactical skills. After graduating from this academy, they could graduate to the MLS benches.

    PS. The problem with the NBA young'uns is that they are: A) uncoachable B) not coached.

    The tall kids can only dunk without having a jump or a hook shot. They can't dribble nor pass ... but they are a dunking highlight reel. And if a coach tells them what to do, they'll choke him.
     
  18. Rob Base

    Rob Base Member

    Apr 30, 2003
    'Burque, NM
     
  19. mtr8967

    mtr8967 New Member

    Aug 15, 2003
    But the GMs keep drafting/signing them. If they want all around, unselfish players they can sign those instead. Apparently they think they'll lose if they do.
     
  20. DoctorD

    DoctorD Member+

    Sep 29, 2002
    MidAtlantic
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    John, I'll repeat my story of sitting next to Nott. Forest fans attending a DCU- Galaxy game who lamented the contact being called as fouls in MLS, saying "those wouldn't be called fouls in England". And the Brazilian league certainly doesn't seem to shy from contact either (as opposed to the MFL). Was the point that the defensive techniques were inappropriate for U-13?
     
  21. Walter3000

    Walter3000 Member+

    Apr 8, 2004
    gainesville, Florida
    Club:
    Chelsea FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    what an ignorant view. one guy chokes a coachin the history of the nba....i dont think he was a young player btw(spreewell, almost 30, very good jumpshot, decent defender, not one of these dunk only guys). as for the young guys, LeBron, dwayne wade, amare stoudemire, kirk heinrich, elton brand, rich jefferson, carlos boozer, micheal redd, dwight howard, yeah these guys are really uncoachable :rolleyes:
     
  22. Shaster

    Shaster Member

    Apr 13, 1999
    El Cerrito, CA, USA
    Very good discussion. I don't agree that US doesn't have talent young kids coming up.

    For example, Eddie Gaven has pretty good dribbling skill. He at least showed that he can do a back heel cut to elude two defenders. Szetela, Memo, and Rossi (for all argument sake, he is a US product, and in contrast Adu is not) all have made dribbling skill. Capano, Quranta and Mapp are not too shubby either. So definately at least in National team level, the coaches didn't get enough good skillful players. Remember some US veterans talked about when they have no idea what to do during a game, they just pass the ball to Ramos/Reyna. Some others, in Sanneh's case, just kick the ball as far forward as he can. In modern game, there is no definate roles about offense and defense, everyone has to involve on both.

    But we do make progress. In last U-17, we at least had 4.5 good players on the field (Adu, Szetela, Gaven, Memo, 0.5 for Curfman).
     
  23. Peretz48

    Peretz48 Member+

    Nov 9, 2003
    Los Angeles
    FYI- In the case of Donovan, he actually came under a coach at 12 or 13 who relentlessly trained him and his teammates in ball skills. That coach (I won't mention his name for personal reasons) is not as effective in other areas, but I have to say he really does a good job in getting his players to be comfortable with the ball.
     
  24. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

    Oct 14, 2004
    I don't think it's the lack of talent.

    First of all, ask any top coach or scout and he'll tell you that speed is probably the most essential element of success and the US kids got plenty of that. Other things you can teach, although some students absorb teaching better than others. In that respect, the US produces enough raw athletes to be a very competitive world team. The key is polishing those raw athletes into competent performers.

    Someone brought up the case of Kevin Garnett recently (or one can mention Kobe Bryant, another high schooler cum an All-Pro). Both of them were very raw players at 18, who then worked extremely hard to perfect their talents.

    But it appears as if no one tells the young US soccer players what they should work on. Having watched MLS, I recall Justin Mapp receiving the ball 15 yards away from the LA Galaxy penalty box with only one defender to beat. Instead of trying to take the guy off the dribble, Mapp made a 180 and jogged back with the ball.

    Now, if I were his coach and he did that in practice, I would have yelled at him for about 20 minutes. Imagine a creative winger getting such an great ball and totally failing to exploit it. Yet, it's a common occurrence in the league. The players are either told the wrong thigns to do or are not told the right things to do. In either case, they do not develop either technical or tactical skills as they should and whatever they learn seems to be by osmosis.

    That is the biggest area where the opportunity for improvement exists. Believe it or not, it's not that difficult to teach proper soccer.


    And three of them are of immigrant parents or were born outside of the US, I believe.
     
  25. Bob Morocco

    Bob Morocco Member+

    Aug 11, 2003
    Billings, MT
    Johnathan Spector anyone?

    I don't know what anyone else has seen of him but I think Capano is a very good player who doesn't fit the pass the ball as soon as possible mold. He can move the ball fast but it seems to me that he plays a very Latin style.
     

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