The Global Football Training Project

The purpose of the GFT project, was to collect and analyse data so as to map football’s development on a global scale.

After nearly 3 years on the road, the survey is now complete, and the GFT Curriculum is already affecting players.
The key word, and foundation of the curriculum is Game Intelligence.

The survey covered a number of focus points including player development, training techniques, the player’s social environment, player physiques, nutrition and any other factors that influence player development. The survey’s focus points was selected so as to be as quantifiable as possible and allow for accurate comparison.

Surveys and data collection took place in 26 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and South and North America. In other words GLOBALLY.
Survey visits to the +100 individual club/academy typically lasted for 1-4 days, some even longer.

Read more about the project HERE or in different langues by using the menu bar or read one of the many articles done on the project.

Educational and Eventful World Tour Comes to an End

Global Football Training has travelled the world to map, analyse and boost coaching methods to improve the next generation of footballers, and now it is time to recap the pros and cons.

Feature by Kenneth Steel

A few years on from setting out on a mission to get an in-depth look at coaching structures and player development strategies around the globe, the trip has come to an end.

The journey was scheduled to last 12 months. Instead, CEO Kenn Schmidt ended up travelling between continents for three years, notching up a staggering 125,712 air miles, staying in nearly 200 cities, and visiting more than 100 clubs and academies.

Global Football Training did, however, miss out on getting a first-hand glance at coaching and life in India, South Korea, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast as time ran out and visa issues played their part. Besides that, this non-profit project travelled to footballing powerhouses, sleeping giants and traditional minnows.

The aim never changed from start to finish: to map structures and develop a coaching method to improve the skill level of future generations of footballers. And visits to clubs and academies revealed some intriguing patterns and facts.

Status Quo – nothing new on the horizon

Global Football Training is now back in Denmark and ready to share valuable insights, lessons learned, pros and cons of the way the game is managed throughout the world. And ´uniform thinking´ seems to be an inherent part of the modern game.

“Europe is a dominant force in football, and most youngsters dream of plying their trade in one of the leading leagues over here. Coaches have developed a habit of using Europe as a benchmark and, as a result, adopted a conventional approach to coaching and player development,” states Kenn Schmidt and continues:

“In some way, the trip was a bit of a let-down as a majority of clubs and academies tend to think alike and employ identical programmes. I only saw a few tweaks as some coaches tried to push the boundaries of conventional coaching. To produce better players in the future, coaches need to evolve and embrace new possibilities.”

Letting themselves down

The British Isles were singled out as having to take a step back and regroup, leaving outdated coaching cultures and development schemes behind. Instead, British clubs should embrace a new style of football to increase the output of talented players as infrastructure and financial backing are in place.

If a large contingent of foreign players in the Premier League packed up and left, English football will be leaps and bounds behind other European behemoths. A new approach to coaching and player development is needed, and British clubs need to learn from other European countries – or risk being left behind.

Major problems in the US

Another country to share the same fate is the US. Whilst the US is not renowned for its footballing prowess and ability to produce talented players aplenty, the country boasts a plethora of state-of-the-art facilities, as well as a growing player base. And lack of funding never seems to be an issue.

The US could become a true great of the global game, but nothing will change until the approach to developing new talent is amended. “The system has been measured and found wanting,” says Kenn Schmidt and points out:

“Youth players are developed through a system dominated by a ´winner-takes-all´ attitude. The US should shy away from playing a large number of competitive matches. Instead, developing a unique skill set and a natural instinct for possession football should be the focal point up until the age of 13.”

Global Football Training also found that the game suffered from the close ties to the UK, as well as a lack of skilled coaches and officials. Youth football in the US has become an industry in which players pay a substantial fee to play, and the overall goal is to keep players at a club and, in the process, make a profit.

Instead, creating a setup with the primary focus on player development should take centre stage – and the US game would prosper if clubs and academies were open to children from all layers of society. Clubs should also aspire to attract quality coaches with a sound knowledge of the game to increase the output of talented youngsters.

Breaking free of the chains of conformity

Mexico and Denmark make up two out of a handful of countries adhering to such an approach, and they are starting to reap the benefits. Under the guidance of Morten Olsen, the youth setup in Denmark has improved immensely as results are starting to improve across all age groups – and major European clubs are snatching up a growing number of the talented youngsters.

Japan is another country to adopt a new approach and think outside the boundaries of conformity. JFA-run academies and clubs have embraced the Japanese culture and use it to their advantage.

“Regional and cultural aspects are incorporated into the coaching setup in a brilliant way as traditional values such as respect and an unreal work ethic compliment a freedom to create and the ability to take players on – and focus is on decision-making. A bright future awaits these talented youngsters,” states Kenn Schmidt.

Global Football Training was also impressed with the coaching structure at a number of clubs in Peru and Germany, as well as Sevilla FC in Spain and Wynton Ryfer in New Zealand.

After visiting South America, Global Football Training is, however, puzzled by the lack of coaching programmes run by the national associations, especially in a leading country such as Brazil. Due to the sheer number of talented youngsters playing the game, the country relies on skilled scouts to keep the stream of superstars flowing freely.

Will such an approach continue to make an impact on the world stage? Only time will tell.

Regional differences – way of life plays a huge role

The hours spent at clubs and academies also highlighted the cultural and social differences that exist in every aspect of life. In poor regions such as South America and Africa, young players seem to be more committed to the sport and showed an incredible hunger to succeed.

The passion is widespread, and football is seen as a ticket to Europe and a life in wealth. “Their training ethos exceeds that of their European counterparts, and playing football is a way of life. It is a game. But it also offers a chance of making it to the big leagues,” says Kenn Schmidt.

Clubs and academies on the African continent also feel the effects of poverty and the struggle to make ends meet as facilities are outdated, and a lack of funding is hampering the development of the game.

Life in Europe is a stark contrast to this portrayal as economic and social stability is not at risk in most Western European countries. And in some way that could be construed as a negative as Kenn Schmidt explains:

“Not long ago, children would play football all day long. That scenario has changed as several other factors have come into the equation. It is safe to say that young players in Europe could spend a lot more time on the training ground than they do. And it would not hurt them at all – quite the opposite, in fact.”

In China, the one-child policy has also made an impact on football as youth players find it hard to adapt to the idea of playing and working as a team. Instead, focus is on achieving personal goals and success.

Football is not the number one sport in many parts of Asia, and it showed in Thailand as teams rarely train and play on full-size pitches. Thus, youth players struggle to gain a thorough understanding of the game and develop the necessary tactical and technical abilities to evolve into talented footballers.

Lack of quality coaches

Economic, social and cultural aspects are not the only issues to pose a danger to the development of a steady stream of talented youngsters. The lack of top-notch coaches involved with bringing through future generations of footballers is mind-blowing and a real threat to talent development.

“Top-level coaches need to master the fundamentals, but, more importantly, they have to be able to instil a new skill set into youth players. Quite simply, coaches need to coach players to make the right decisions and allow them a great deal of creative freedom,” explains Kenn Schmidt and elaborates:

“Studies show that learning is easier early in life, and when players take ownership of the process. Thus, coaches should create an environment for youth players to flourish while adding the basics and enhancing the technical skill level. It is easier said than done, but good coaches will adapt to such a way of thinking.”

Global Football Training also got to watch its fair share of talented coaches in action, and their players showed off some incredible skills, both tactically and technically. If only, this was the norm.

The future goal of Global Football Training is to promote a new approach to coaching and player development, and move away from rigid, outdated environments that leave little room for creative players to thrive. To develop the game, this should be the aim of all coaches.

Incorporating other sports – and the mental aspect

Global Football Training is a staunch supporter of incorporating methods from other sports to improve skills and physical attributes. Coaches could draw on tennis, volleyball or basketball to improve movement and the ability to leap off the ground.

Further, sports such as athletics and American football have a knack for producing all-round athletes that combine speed and agility with power and strength. Kenn Schmidt points out:

“Coaches should not be looking to emulate all the physical attributes of a sprinter or a wide receiver; instead the idea is to incorporate certain elements that will turn players into better footballers. And other sports could also learn from studying football. That is how the dynamics of sports work.”

Studying other sports also revealed that the modern approach to coaching could gain from focusing more on mental training – even when coaching youth players.

“It is the missing link. Mind training plays no, or only a minor, role in coaching, but it is a vital tool to prepare youth players for the future, as well as produce talented players in peak mental and physical condition,” says Kenn Schmidt.

This cannot be implemented overnight as it takes time to create a sustainable coaching culture, but Global Football Training will continue to promote such an approach to coaching and talent development.

The end of the road

Global Football Training crossed the equator eight times and covered a total distance of 165,000 miles – enough to travel around the equator 4.7 times.

However, this is the last and final piece to come from us in a while as CEO Kenn Schmidt has set his sights on new, exciting projects and would like to employ his coaching skills and knowledge at clubs and academies all over the world. A new role of Technical Director or Specialist Coach is high on the agenda, while Kenn Schmidt is also eager to give a lecture on Global Football Training´s world tour.

That was all for now. Hope you enjoyed our insights into the world of football and views on coaching and player development from around the globe.


Global Football Training – Charleston, SC, USA

After nearly a year, working on getting a VISA, Kenn Schmidt, is now in USA, and will be for at least the next 3 years.

He is based in Charleston, South Carolina, where he will be making GFTcamps, consulting and do other football events, using the NEW Global Football Training Curriculum that he has been working on for the past 4 years.

The GFT Curriculum is inspired from training done on 6 different continents, and therefor contain the best football training from all corners of the world.

The most important part in this material, has come together as he has travel the world, studying how and what is done at all levels.

In the GFT Curriculum, the main focus is set on “Game Intelligence”, on learning to understand the game thru new small sided games and special drills designed for specific football events to occur more often than in regular training sessions.

The Global Football Training survey.

The global tour has resulted in a pioneering training method inspired by the assessment of training all around the world combining and focusing on the best techniques available in order to achieve the goal: The new – Global Football Training method.

This paper could give you an insight into what is going on around the globe.
Read the articles on this site to know more.

Global Football Training has visited 100+ clubs, 26 countries, 200+ Cities and covered a total distance of 165.000 miles/265.000 km, and the aim remained the same from start to finish. “Ending up with a new coaching method to produce a new breed of more intelligent and complete footballers.

The global trip is complete !! after nearly 3 years of travelling the globe.

After visits to Japan, and to China, the trip is now completed.
We, or should I say I, Kenn Schmidt, have made my way around the world of football.
Visiting 26 countries, and nearly 100 clubs, schools, academies and federations.

A trip that started in September 2010, is now complete.
Did I see something new and innovating on my trip. ??
Yes I saw things that were done differently, but not as much as I was hoping when I started this journey nearly 3 years ago.
Did I learn something new. ??
Indeed I did, and the Global Football Training Method, WILL be very different from what trainers and coaches around the world are doing today.

To get an inside knowledge on this trip, and to get an idea on what is done differently around the world, read the articles on this website.
The next 2-6 months I will spend time on developing the method, and will post news here on the website.

A World Apart – Japan and China in different places.

An article about the GFT project, by reporter Kenneth Steel.

Global Football Training looks back at coaching and player development in Japan and China and finds two countries a world apart.

China and Japan are old enemies with a long history of fighting it out on the battlefield, the political arena and stadia around the world. On the footballing front, however, one country is leaps and bounds ahead of the other as Japan has raced clear and left China behind.

“In most sports, China has unlimited resources and a seemingly-endless player base, thus allowing the country to gain total dominance and pick up gold medals at will at the Olympics. But this is not the case in Football,” says Kenn Schmidt, CEO of Global Football Training.

China in need of a wake-up call

Since qualifying for the World Cup in 2002, China has struggled to compete at the highest level, and the domestic game is relying on gigantic wages to lure ageing stars to this part of Asia. Such an approach can hardly be classed as a sustainable way to improve the domestic game and turn out a flow of talented youngsters.

Instead, something needs to be done at youth level, and a change in mind set is paramount if China is to progress and develop gifted players, who are able to take the domestic game to a new level.

“Global Football Training visited several academies in and around Shanghai, allowing us to get a genuine feel for football in the region. However, these experiences were somewhat disappointing and far from what we expected,” explains Kenn Schmidt and continues:

“The skill level was close to being abysmal, and considering the size of the country and its player base, China is far behind everyone else. Academies are run by former European players, and coaches have been brought in from leading clubs around the world. But youth players still seem to lack fundamental skills, especially in terms of technical abilities.”

Global Football Training did, however, get to experience the launch of exciting projects aimed at improving football in China. Only time will tell if these are able to create a buzz around football, as well as change the country´s fortunes.

From bad to brilliant

A short flight separates China from Japan, but the two countries are a world apart in terms of footballing skills and passion for the game. Japan is everything China is not. The setup is well-structured; focus is on producing complete footballers with a solid technical skill level, and coaches are highly skilled.

A minor obstacle, however, is the language barrier as few Japanese players are able to speak English, and translators have to assist foreign managers and coaches during training and matches. The language barrier could also provide the explanation as to why so few Japanese players ply their trade in Europe.

Watching young female players train was also part of the schedule in Japan. And Global Football Training was impressed with the skill level on display as players down to the age of 12 were blessed with fantastic abilities.

Japan to progress on the world stage

Japan has been a constant feature at World Cups in recent times, but the team has yet to fulfil its potential and challenge for honours. According to Kenn Schmidt, Japan might be the first Asian country to progress to the last four and break the European and South American dominance since South Korea triumphed on home soil in 2002.

“With the current setup at clubs and JFA-run academies, as well as a strong focus on producing players with excellent skills, Japan might turn out to be a future powerhouse at international level. Players are gifted and possess strong technical abilities and have a thorough understanding of the game,” states Kenn Schmidt.

Global Football Training has had the opportunity to get a first-hand glance at coaching, player development and setups around the globe, and a few clubs and countries stand out.

“Due to the setup and a gifted player base, Japan could surprise a lot of people and end up in the top six at the next World Cup. This trip has revealed some hidden gems, and countries such as Japan, Uruguay and Mexico could join Germany as the footballing superpowers of tomorrow,” says Kenn Schmidt.

Also improving at club level

The national team is not the only footballing institution in the country to prosper from Japan´s rise to prominence and approach to player development. The domestic leagues are also feeling the impact as Japanese teams qualify for the knock-out stages of the AFC Champions League and take part in the FIFA Club World Cup on a regular basis.

“Japan has definitely been the surprise package on this world tour and seems to have created the perfect environment for young players to flourish,” states Kenn Schmidt and points out:

“I have only seen such positive signs in a few other countries, and it will be exciting to follow Japanese football in the future. The country is, without a doubt, on the right path and much will be expected from Japan in the future.”

More to come from Global Football Training

The world tour ended following visits to Japan and China, but more is to come from Global Football Training. Keep an eye out for our final article in this series.

State of Affairs – Getting a Feel for Football Down Under.

An article about the GFT project, by reporter Kenneth Steel.

State of Affairs – Getting a Feel for Football Down Under
Feature by Kenneth Steel

Global Football Training´s world tour has come to an end, and it is time to reflect on coaching and player development in Australasia and look at the region´s progress in a challenging environment.

Australia and New Zealand are considered the teams to beat in sports such as rugby and cricket and have a proud history at the Olympics. Nonetheless, both countries are unable to master the global game even though the Socceroos and All Whites featured at the last World Cup – and both teams are still in the hunt for a place at Brazil 2014.

“Australia and New Zealand cause the occasional upset and produce a Premier League star now and again, but both teams fail to mount a serious challenge. Thus, visiting clubs and academies in the region will provide valuable info as to what is needed to become a mainstay on the global stage,” says Kenn Schmidt, CEO of Global Football Training.

And one element seems to pose a challenge to producing talented footballers in the region as the overall skill level leaves a lot to be desired. Thus, up-and-coming footballers lack the technical and tactical abilities of their European and South American counterparts.

Football playing catch-up to other sports

Football is growing in stature Down Under, but the game is still struggling to attract the same following as rugby, Aussie rules and cricket, and it is hurting the development of a talented player base. A majority of clubs and academies thus seem to be unable to bring through a constant flow of footballers who possess the technical and tactical abilities needed at the highest level.

“However, all is not lost. A new trend is gaining a foothold at leading clubs and academies in Australia and New Zealand. Hopefully, introducing a new mind-set will be a sign of things to come in the future,” states Kenn Schmidt.

New approach leading the way in New Zealand

A majority of clubs in New Zealand favour a traditional British style of football, relying heavily on a physical and direct approach. However, Wynton Rufer and Auckland City FC have realised that such an approach will not produce a crop of world-beaters, and have chosen to implement a more modern style of play.

As a result, Wynton Rufer is a dominant force at youth level, whereas Auckland City FC is on route to claim the national title. Focus is on keeping possession and playing the ball along the ground, encouraging players to develop and use their technical abilities – and young players are given a chance to prove their worth.

“Auckland City FC is committed to producing talented youngsters, and four members of the first team squad are under the age of 19. Bringing through a steady stream of young players will benefit the club in the long run, but it will also serve as an example for other clubs to follow,” says Kenn Schmidt.
“Wynton Rufer has also created a unique setup with a good structure, philosophy and highly-skilled coaches. And the U15 team qualifies for Nike Cup in Manchester on a regular basis and ranks among the best youth teams in the region. More clubs and academies could definitely prosper from adopting this approach to developing young, gifted footballers,” explains Kenn Schmidt.

Australia – a sporting nation

Australia has always had a reputation for creating talented athletes, and sports academies around the country provide the perfect opportunity for athletes to hone their skills – and football is part of the curriculum. Thus, the foundation is in place to increase the number of players to compete at the highest level.

“The Australian Football Federation has also created a talent structure with regional talent centres to increase the output of gifted players, and this could lead to success in the future. It is reminiscent of the system in Denmark where it is starting to pay off,” says Kenn Schmidt.

Global Football Training also met up with former Danish great Jesper Olsen at the Football Star Academy and was impressed with the coaching philosophy – as well as the focus on improving the technical skill level.

Looking at major sports in the country, it is also evident that Australia boasts a wealth of athletes with great physical attributes, and much can be learned from studying these sports. Global Football Training has thus picked up new ideas and inputs from the trip to Australia.

Melbourne Victory on the right track

Following a change in management, Melbourne Victory introduced a new player development strategy a few years ago, and the club is starting to reap the benefits. Emphasis was placed on developing complete footballers with the ability to break into the first team, and the coaching philosophy started to focus on the process, and not just winning games.

The youth teams at the club lost a lot of games at the start, but now Melbourne Victory has become a force to be reckoned with at youth level. And clubs and academies in Australia and New Zealand could benefit from implementing such an approach.

“Bringing through gifted players takes precedence over winning games at youth level, and if football is to kick on in Australasia, this is the way to go,” states Kenn Schmidt and continues:

“Coming to this part of the world has been a bit disappointing in terms of coaching and player development as Australia and especially New Zealand are far behind most South American and European teams”.

Global Football Training did, however, experience signs of a new approach gaining momentum Down Under as some clubs and academies are committed to creating a talented player base, by focusing on developing young players with a unique range of skills. But more is needed if we are to see an increase in the number of talented players coming out of the region.

Next up: Asia

Global Football Training went to Japan and China following the tour of Australasia and took a look at coaching and player development in Asia – and we will be back with more on that next time.

New Zealand, Australia and Japan is up next.

Global Football Training, is on the road again, as we take on NZ, AUS, Japan, South Korea, China and India, on this last leg of the global trip.
Kenn Schmidt, is currently in New Zealand, and will move on to Melbourne, AUS on the 16th of March.
He plans on being there for about 10 days, before heading of to meet the footballers in the Sydney area.
On April 15th, he will arrive in Tokyo, Japan, and will spend about a month in Japan, before moving on to South Korea and China.
According to the plan, the trip around the world should be completed in June, as Kenn returns to Denmark.
When completed, the global football journey, has taken Kenn Schmidt approx 26 months, over a period of nearly 3 years.

Keep updated by visiting the calender on the site.

Nurturing the Talent of Tomorrow: A Preliminary Conclusion

Global Football Training examines the pros and cons of modern approaches to player development in Africa, South America and Europe.

Feature by Kenneth Steel

A footballing world tour is reaching its final stages as Global Football Training is on its way to Asia and Australasia, leaving behind the traditional powerhouses of world football. Therefore, it is time to recap some of the lessons learned by taking a closer look at modern approaches to player development.

Three years on from setting out on a trip to map and analyse coaching techniques and player development schemes, Kenn Schmidt, CEO of Global Football Training, points out that coaching methods are dominated by similar trends:

“New methods and ground-breaking philosophies are few and far between. From Europe to South America, academies tend to employ similar coaching techniques. However, a few clubs and academies stand out and try to do things differently – as a change in structure might improve the end product.”

Global Football Training launched its world tour with high hopes of experiencing different coaching structures and approaches to player development.

“This part of the trip has been a let-down. The game is constantly changing and coaches need to evolve at the same pace. They need to learn new skills every day, shift focus from results to development, and focus on players as individuals with an individual skill set.”

“During the trip, I have seen clubs and academies incorporate such an approach, but, in too many cases, coaching is done in the same way as it was 15 years ago,” says Kenn Schmidt.

Sevilla FC – employing new tactics

Coaches and fans around the world are well acquainted with the capabilities of FC Barcelona in terms of developing world class footballers – no need to look further than the current squad. Further south, the pride of Andalusia, Sevilla FC, is trying to get ahead of the herd by incorporating new methods.

“Coaching is still based on technical drills, but focus is on producing complete footballers with the ability to make the right decision. Decision making is an essential attribute in the modern game, and players with a high degree of footballing intelligence have proved to be a valuable asset to leading clubs in Europe,” explains Kenn Schmidt and continues:

“Players should be able to react naturally to any given situation, and a way to instil this in players is to introduce youth players to drills that improve their footballing intelligence.”

Sevilla FC has opened the door on a new approach to player development; however, Global Football Training has also been impressed with the coaching set-up in Denmark. Global Football Training met with Morten Olsen, coach of the Danish national team, in Arizona and he was proud of the talent base and coaching set-up in Denmark.

Morten Olsen also pointed out that Denmark could get even better and needs to develop at a constant rate to be able to produce the players of tomorrow.

Uruguay and Mexico on a path to glory

To devoted readers, it comes as no surprise that Global Football Training admires the view on coaching and player development in Uruguay. But clubs and academies in Mexico are not far behind as Kenn Schmidt points out:

“Developing new talent is at an all-time high in Mexico as the country has transformed its coaching structure; focus is now on producing gifted footballers with unique technical abilities. The gold medal at the Olympics in London is a testament to the success of the Mexican approach to coaching.”

The final at the London Games may also be a taste of what is to come for Brazil. Losing the final is not a massive disaster for most teams, but the Brazilians were touted by many as being the best team in the world. Is the world of football heading for a power shift?

“Brazilian players are always in high demand as they possess a unique skill set, and the country seems to have an endless talent pool. But the governing body does not give any importance to educating coaches and it might come back to haunt them in the future. The coaching structure in Brazil has been one of the negative features on this trip,” adds Kenn Schmidt.

Failure to grasp the vast possibilities

A footballing world tour is bound to showcase special features and a need for improvements – as well as bring on new ideas. And academies and clubs do implement new techniques from time to time, but Global Football Training saw limited examples of incorporating methods from other sports.

“Clubs pass up a vital chance to improve player development and coaching by not looking to other sports for inspiration. Player intelligence, running lines, movement, physical and technical capabilities can be improved by broadening horizons. Why not try it out,” says Kenn Schmidt.

Small margins separate success from failure, and, in a multi-billion industry, even the smallest breakthrough may lead to an increase in the output of talented footballers.

Combining player development with social responsibilities

Throughout the world, football is an inherent part of society and culture. And Ghana is no different. Thus, Right to Dream, a non-profit organisation in Akosombo, uses its academy to produce talented footballers as well as educated individuals.

Right to Dream has created a professional environment, and several rising stars have come through the academy, including Mohammed Abu of Manchester City. “It was a pleasure to experience life and coaching at Right to Dream as the academy has much to offer in terms of nurturing talent and preparing young people on life to come,” adds Kenn Schmidt.

A similar approach to nurturing talent can be seen at Academia Deportiva Cantolao in Peru. The academy provides talented youngsters with an opportunity to make it to the big leagues – an opportunity Claudio Pizarro has embraced with open arms.

That was all for now

Global Football Training is on the road again and hitting Asia and Australasia soon – and will be back with more news on coaching and player development around the globe.

To follow Global Football Training, go to

Pros and Cons: An In-Depth Look at Coaching in the U.S.

Global Football Training is back in the U.S. to take a close look at coaching setups, technical skills and tactical competencies.

Feature by Kenneth Steel

Sport is an inherent part of culture and life in the U.S., and leading universities and academies boast a proven track record in regards to developing gifted athletes. America won 46 gold medals at the Olympic Games in London and was a dominant force in almost every sport – from track and field to shooting.

But the country seems unable to compete with its more illustrious opponents in the global version of football. And why is that? To answer this question, Global Football Training has taken an in-depth look at coaching at youth and senior level, and spent time at the NSCAA Convention in Indianapolis.

And one factor stands out: “clubs, academies and universities are blessed with state-of-the-art facilities that clubs in Europe would envy. But they lack the ability to develop a large number of talented players,” says Kenn Schmidt, CEO of Global Football Training.

Facilities are in place to produce world class athletes

Football is growing in stature in America, and lack of funding is not an issue. Facilities are designed to nurture talented players, and coaches are able to incorporate sport science and techniques from other sports.

“Some European clubs could benefit from adopting this approach to coaching. Strength and conditioning are key factors and, by implementing new techniques, clubs may be able to develop stronger and faster players, as well as reduce the risk of injury,” says Kenn Schmidt and continues:

“American athletes tend to dominate world sports, and they never pass up a chance to raise the bar by turning to new methods. Especially on the goalkeeping front, techniques used in other sports might be the answer to take goalkeeping to the next level. However, studying the game and player development in Mexico, Europe and South America is crucial to the future of football in the U.S.”

Inside the U.S. game

Passion for the game is widespread in America. With some structural changes to coaching, the U.S. could become a force to be reckoned with in time to come. From youth level to professional clubs, players are determined individuals with a strong mind-set and an above average technical skill level.

“Structures are in place to increase the output of talented players, but an essential component is missing: qualified coaching. And qualified coaching needs to be available to all children – even if their parents cannot raise the funds,” says Kenn Schmidt.
Global Football Training visited areas where talented players are leaving the game as their parents cannot afford to pay for them to play in a structured environment.

“Something needs to be done ASAP to increase the output of talented players. To introduce scholarships for less privileged children is an option worth considering. This will benefit the game within America,” says Kenn Schmidt.

Qualified coaching needed to master the global game

Due to the structure of the U.S. game, players without the ability to make it to the MLS or ply their trade in Europe are often unable to continue in a professional environment after an end to their college careers. These players never evolve an in-depth tactical understanding of the game.

And it shows in the day-to-day coaching at clubs and universities as players lack the tactical awareness and skill of their European and South American counterparts.

“A structural change is needed to improve the tactical understanding of players as well as coaches. It is vital for the development of football in America that players are involved with the game for a longer period of time. This will improve the standard of coaching – and that is needed,” explains Kenn Schmidt.

Time to rethink the college system

Colleges across the country serve as a pipeline to franchises in the NFL, NBA and NHL; however, in regards to football, the college system acts as a stumbling block. Playing all the league matches from August to December is hampering player development as Global Football Training found that this structure does not leave much time for technical or tactical training during the season.

“During the season, the match schedule is too crowded and training is limited – whereas the off-season is far too long. And the NCAA has imposed far too many restrictions on training and matches during this period.”

“It is hindering the development of the game and does not favour the players, colleges or country. Prolonging the season is a viable solution that would solve fixture congestion, as well as benefit player development,” says Kenn Schmidt.
Global Football Training also took an in-depth look at coaching at youth level and came up with some new ideas.

More focus on developing skills

Youth coaches also need to incorporate a new approach to coaching. Gone are the days of approaching coaching with a ´winner-takes-all´ mentality; instead, focus has shifted to developing youngsters with a unique skill set and a natural instinct for possession football.

In Mexico, focus is solely on developing skills until players reach the age of 13, and this approach has led to great success – and similar approaches dominate player development in many European countries. As Kenn Schmidt points out, parents and youth coaches need to get on board:

“Youth players are developed through a culture of ´winner-takes-all´. This is positive in terms of winning competitive matches. However, if the objective is to develop complete footballers with a unique natural ability, such an approach falls short of the mark – and it seems coaches and clubs are ready to change. However, change is impossible until parents are ready to play along.”

“Reduce the number of competitive matches and replace them with more training sessions. Youth players should be encouraged to develop their skills through challenging training exercises – not by playing a large number of competitive matches. It requires a change in mentality, but the long-term benefits will be worth it,” says Kenn Schmidt.

Facilities and funding are in place, and the player base is growing. Thus, a change in mentality – from the governing body to coaches and parents – could lead to the U.S. achieving great success within the sport.

From the U.S. to Asia and Australasia

Following a short stay in Arizona with the Danish national team, Global Football Training is off to Asia and Australasia. Stay tuned for more news as well as the fourth and final article in this series.