Self Reliant Players
I’ve recently been thinking about youth soccer development and how these little pockets of well rounded soccer studs seem to be produced. You can see it right now with the Golden Generation in Belgium with Hazard, Fellaini, and Courtois. You could see it 5 years ago in Spain with Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, and Ramos. The Ivory Coast had a run 5-6 years back with Drogba, Yaya Toure and crew coming through the ranks. I understand these are world class players, but they are also Self-Reliant players. Let me define, for me, what a Self-Reliant player is. This is a player who possesses the technical ability to deal with high pressure and low pressure situations with equal grace. This is a player who has the vision on the field to know where every other player is and picks out the best passes with composure and perfect weight on the ball. This is the player who has the tactical decision making to know when to distribute the ball and when to surge forward into 1v1 or 1v2 or 1v3+ scenarios. I dub this the self-reliant player because they have the ability to a) achieve success in these environments but b) also understand that if they get themselves into trouble they possess the tools to stay calm, carry on, and get themselves out of trouble. Here is my favorite player for the past 18 months who personifies this:
San Diego Soccer Camp and the Self-Reliant Player
One of the issues I have with the buzzword “development” in youth soccer right now is that it lacks purity. Anytime you have wins and losses, you have successes and failures, and for this reason you cannot have a pure developmental platform. There are a host of reasons for this:
a.) Overzealous parents obsessing over got soccer points
b.) Clubs urging coaches to go for the win for player retention and recruiting
c.) Ego for coaches (I’ve been guilty of this too)
One of my focal points in the evolution of San Diego Soccer Camp is creating a platform where players are comfortable with failure. Dwell on that a moment. There are numerous reasons people fail: fatigue, lack of skill, lack of support, outmatched by opponent, lack of concentration. This list is infinite. But if you can boil it down to it’s single common denominator, it’s that a stressful situation has been created that challenges a player outside of their comfort zone, and that is where true and pure development can be found. When a player is tested beyond the means they currently possess and then are taught the resources to achieve success the next time around.
As we progress into our San Diego Soccer Camp summer curriculum I want to have a focus on creating technically sound players who are as comfortable collecting the ball at their feet with time and space as they are collecting the ball from the air in traffic. In terms of body mechanics, I have a vision of players collecting touches into space and getting their heads up on their first touch to make quick decisions on scanning the field. I look forward to creating obstacles that forces players to fail in order to find success, and then being comfortable in that mindset in a consequence free camp environment. I’m looking forward to the summer camp sessions and the technical ability the kids will gain, but also being able to give them the tools and to be free in consequence free game environments where this guided discovery can take place.
I look forward to any thoughts or comments on this matter, you can email@example.com with your replies.