I am a UEFA A licensed coach with a Masters Degree in Performance Coaching. I identify and train North American players for professional playing opportunities overseas. Learn More
Everyone want’s to play professional football (soccer) ….only a select few will put the work in to achieve this goal
Professional football (soccer) is very demanding. Top midfield players in the English Premiership are covering over 13 kms/game and the top forwards are sprinting as fast as 35 kilometres per hour. Midfield players will complete up to 50 passes/game and the top forwards in the EPL are now sprinting (on average) over 960 metres.
I get approached most days on social media or by the players I train on how to secure professional playing opportunities in Europe. That is the easy part!
The most important part and the part that most young players and their families place less emphasis on is focusing on how to attain the performance levels required to play professionally. How many players from North America are currently attending talent identification opportunities without understanding (before they leave) what the performance requirements are?
Our partner clubs Fleetwood Town and Glasgow Rangers have invested in the North American market and are providing players with opportunities to pursue their goal to play professionally. See Announcements
However, I believe there are a lot more players from North American capable of playing professionally in Europe if they can understand the following 4 things:
1) The demands (Technically/Tactically/Physically/Psychologically) to play at the professional level.
Obviously, young players are not expected to currently match the performance levels of the EPL’s top players today. It can also be difficult to measure game understanding (tactical knowledge) and psychological attributes. However, young players who aspire to play professionally must understand ( as soon as possible) what the technical and physical standards are for players (of the same age as them) at academy programs at professional clubs in Europe. They can also receive feedback from the coaches at professional clubs on their current tactical and psychological attributes by attending Player ID events.
2) Your current performance standards
Through the performance partnerships that we have developed we can enable players to measure their physical performance levels in games, test themselves technically and physically and compare their results to the current data that we have on academy players at professional clubs in Europe. Due to the high demand for these services we are now offering this service online – so any player worldwide can have access to it.
3) Analysis of the gap in performance between you and the academy players in Europe that you are competing against for professional playing opportunities.
*(Note: these same players represent competition for MLS or US Scholarship Opportunities also)
It is critical that young players in North America understand these metrics and have a firm understanding on the areas that they must focus on for improvement. We provide very clear graphic illustrations on what these gaps are. Some players can become disillusioned with this data and are reluctant to embrace the challenge of closing this gap. However, we have placed players at professional clubs (in Europe and at MLS academies) and opportunities are there for those who choose to put the work in on a daily and consistent basis.
4) What is the action plan (Individual Learning Plan) to close any performance gaps?
Once the performance gap has been established then an Individual learning plan must be established – which is an action plan on how to improve performance levels. This process should be backed up with additional testing and analysis to track development and ensure that players are on track to attain the high levels of performance that are required.
2.8 % of the players we have trained have progressed to playing for professional clubs
It has been my experience as a coach that only a very small percentage of players who fully commit themselves to play at the professional level will follow this process and design an environment that will fully support their goal. The one’s that do will fight through the inevitable struggles and set-backs, they will put in the required work that no one else is willing to do and they will back themselves to overcome the odds.
As a species we are naturally competitive. Our most competitive players will be the one’s who are capable of overcoming the odds and playing at the professional level. These are the players who are constantly challenging themselves competitively to exceed their previous performance levels.
What we have learnt is that young players in North America can B.E.A.T. the odds and play at the professional level, providing they adhere to the following formula:
B.E.A.T = Best+Energy+Accelerate+Tenacity
- They must fully commitment to being the Best. Bo Eason in his book “There’s No Plan B for your A-Game” outlined how he as a young athlete wrote up a declaration to play in the NFL at a very young age. He fully committed his life to this goal, even when every college in the country turned him down. He defied the odds by becoming the 1st player within his local area to play professional sports. He achieved his goal by making a firm declaration to achieve this and by designing an environment to fully support this.
- They must ignite what they do with high Energy. What do you see when you watch the game’s top players like Lionel Messi, Christiano Ronaldo, George Best, Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff and Pele play? You see a deep passion for the game and a relentless energy to keep pushing themselves beyond normal boundaries.
- They must Accelerate the learning process with significant hours of deep practice learning. Andres Ericsson outlined the benefits of “deep practice learning” to achieve expert performance in the following research paper. Learn more . The quality of the training process plays a greater influence on skill acquisition than simply the quantity of hours. Young players with 10,000 hours of deep learning practice will be so much further ahead than other young players competing for professional playing opportunities. The young players we profiled who have graduated to playing for professional clubs all trained by themselves at home or with their friends and pushed themselves beyond their comfort zones to accelerate their development.
- They must be Tenacious to go the distance. Becoming a professional athlete is a marathon, not a sprint. Many young soccer players still believe that they will attend one Player ID camp or train in front of professional coaches for one week and will be selected. They focus more on the Talent Identification process than the Talent Development process! Young players get selected by professional clubs for the 10 years of work that the have put in and on the future player that they might become. Theo Corbeanu was first identified by Wolves in 2012 in Canada and ended up signing for their academy in 2018. Young players must be mentally strong to overcome the inevitable set-backs and positively cope with the struggles (over many years) and be tenacious in never giving up on their dream.
We are launching a new initiate in the coming weeks to improve the odds for North American players to achieve professional playing opportunities even further. Our players have a disadvantage of being over 3,000 miles away from soccer’s most successful player development systems in Europe. They also have limited access to top coaches- in Spain there is one UEFA licensed coach (A or B) for 27 players. In North America there is only one A or B licensed coach for every 1,000+ players. In addition, players playing within academy programs at professional clubs in Europe have a team of physical trainers, nutritionists, video analysts and sports psychologists to support their player development process.
My plan is to work with a select few supremely motivated athletes online and offer technical/tactical training support in addition to game analysis and sports psychology support. With online delivery there is no restriction for players in North America geographically and I can deliver benchmark testing versus academy players at professional clubs in Europe.
From there, I can then formulate an individual learning plan and work with them proactively on a consistent basis plus provide them with placements at professional clubs in Europe – depending upon their levels of performance. The aim is change the game for young players in North America and help more and more young players overcome the odds!