Recent History & Coaching Trends
Until fairly recently the only full-time paid soccer coaches were employed in professional or college soccer. Youth coaches were fathers with a child on the team or philanthropic volunteers with a passion for the game. Until 1989 when I became the first coach in Kansas City to make my total living from youth soccer coaching, I had never met anyone in soccer who earned their whole paycheck from coaching multiple youth teams. That does not mean that there wasn't anyone else out there filling that role but it does mean that not many people were doing it. This is perhaps surprising because the United States has an educated and enlightened attitude to coaching and the length of formal education traditionally enjoyed by coaches in the U.S. far exceeds that of the rest of the world. Therefore, although the United States does not have the soccer history and tradition evident in other countries, players in the U.S. are more likely to enjoy the benefit of intelligent and rational coaching philosophies that have been strengthened by a solid educational background. Furthermore, as opposed to the rest of the world where soccer is a working class sport, American soccer is middle to upper class in nature meaning that soccer parents in general are somewhat better educated and informed than the average individual and significantly better educated and informed than their counterparts in other countries. In the rest of the world where soccer is more of a working class sport the likelihood of the soccer parent or coach having enjoyed a collegiate education is much lower.
When analyzing the status of the world's youth coaching literature and theory it becomes easier to understand why coaching philosophy for players between the ages of 4 and 16 is both embryonic yet antiquated. This may seem like a contradiction, however it is embryonic because coaching at the youth level is immature in its methods, rationale and objectives. It is also antiquated because youth soccer coaching and literature about the topic, in some format, has been around for the best part of a century. But, just as in life where most change is resisted forcefully, so it is with "modern" soccer around since the 1800's but still, from the teaching perspective, little understood and often neglected.
"The world hates change yet it is the only thing that has brought progress." - Charles Kettering
Thankfully that is changing rapidly as more coaches make their full-time career from coaching a limited number of youth teams. This is because the coach can now focus entirely on the young player and no longer has to split time between his "real" job and his love for soccer. Unfortunately for kids most of the U.S.S.F. and U.E.F.A staff coaches come from the professional or collegiate coaching environment. Very few of these individuals have true long-term immersion in youth coaching at the earlier age and ability levels. Sadly, most coaches who have coached or played at the higher adult level mistakenly believe they know the best methods for developing the young player. This can be likened to the college lecturer who has never taught young children claiming to be an excellent kindergarten teacher. The available coaching literature illustrates the lack of deep thought and experience in the matter of young player development. “Training Soccer Legends” is designed to stimulate thought in a way that no youth coaching book has ever done before. The methods described here are guaranteed to develop the young person with reasonably athletic genetic imprint into a dominant player with phenomenal creative genius. Years of complete dedication to youth soccer development have provided me with a fresh perspective that, in many ways, refutes the established reactionary coaching school methods. Youth coaching and preparation of players for the highest levels of play need to undergo a total metamorphosis from the current mode of identification of problems and “quick fix” solutions, to an educational curriculum that builds gradually and sequentially to develop highly skilled, deceptive, creative and disciplined players. Because it focuses on developing players who can dominate the ball and the opponent the approach detailed in this book will benefit your players to the maximum degree whether you coach recreational soccer or a professional club youth program.