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.
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.