Youth player development is an ongoing process. Young players at academy programs in Europe spend over 10 hours a week developing their technical, tactical, physical and mental performance levels.
Our objective is to assist young North American players reach higher level of performance and challenge young players in Europe for professional playing opportunities and US Scholarships. We hope that our weekly tips help several young players maximize their full potential on their soccer journey .
You can subscribe to these weekly individual player performance tips here
Technique – What to focus on to play at the highest levels
A new study has confirmed that technical ability is the best predictor of success in soccer.
No player will be able to instantly master all technical aspects of the game without constant practice. In Europe, young players, after age 11, are training 10+ hours per week. In Brazil, young players are spending 12-15 hours/week working on their technical skills.
In North America young players have to supplement their team training with additional training by themselves or with a technical skills coach in order to successfully compete.
Technical Training Video of the week – Dribbling Through Gates with a Tennis Ball
Tactical – Be prepared to press, persist and possess
Young players in North America are not immersed in a vibrant soccer culture like Europe . They have few opportunities to watch top players and teams in action. Growing up in Northern Ireland for example I was able to watch top players like George Best and Johan Cruyff play. Therefore, young players in North America must be students of the game and be able to analyze and learn from games that they watch on the internet or television.
For example see the tactical analysis of the recent game between Liverpool and PSG Learn More
Physical – Improve your agility, acceleration and power
Youth players between the ages of 12-16 typically run an average of 6-9 kilometres a game, with 350-550 metres completed at high intensity. (Arcos, A. Et all, 2015)
Young players can develop this. Here, Leicester City’s Head of Fitness and Conditioning outlines an exercise that is guaranteed to test your agility, acceleration and power.
Mental – How to progress from academy level to the professional game
Youth football in Europe is very highly competetive. Only 180 of the 1.5 million boys who play organized youth football in England will become a Premier League professional player. Here ex-player Joey Barton offers an insight into what is required to successfully move from the academy levels to playing professional.
Pathways to the Pros
Ian McClurg Learn Perform Coaching is delighted to announce several new initiatives to provide young players in North America with a clearly defined pathway to train and play at European academies and then attend trials at professional clubs and pursue US Scholarship Opportunities.
As I have been advocating for many years, it is my belief that young North American players can compete at the highest levels. However, it is critical that they participate in the European development models as much as possible. There was a great article by US player Geoff Cameron recently that confirmed this.
Embrace Hard Work in all your training sessions & games this week. Hard Work beats talent ……when talent doesn’t work hard!