Euro Trip 2019 – Winning vs Development

The recent trip taken by the Fremont YSC Directors, gave an opportunity for great insight in to how other countries, successful countries, are developing their players. This post will be exploring the differences in how Europe confronts the challenge in prioritizing winning vs development.

It’s important to remember that these are huge clubs, with multi-million dollar budgets, and are the elite of soccer, with some of the worlds best coming through their academies. Notably was how these academies worked together, to find the best pathway and environment for the player. The following are differences between the US model and that used in the Netherlands.

Netherlands US
1 On a game day multiple playing systems are used. i.e. 7v7, 9v9, and 11v11 if age appropriate. A game is seen as one system to be used, strict to the playing code of the age.
2 Fields are outlined using cones, with no need for additional sized fields, as it fits within a regular playing field. A game is played on a specifically lined field for the age group.
3 There are no determined penalty areas, it is left to the perception of the player. Regulation field detail.
4 Corners can be dribbled in. Regular rules for all ages.
5 There are no referees, the home coach facilitates the game. Up to 3 referees for a 7v7 game.
6 No scores are kept or league tables published until U13, scorelines are not of importance. Scores are kept, published, and league tables made public. Championship banners awarded.
7 Teams socialize following the game at the club house, parents and players mingle. Parents shout on the sidelines, need to be restrained, and often there are reports of abuse.
8 Players have a given topic for the game, not a strategy to beat an opponent, but a topic to be optimized. Priority is given to winning the game.

All players are used, very few players need to sit out, and the game system develops throughout the playing event. With the focus shifted to the development of the player, there is less time and resources placed on the demands of lining multiple fields, specific outlines, and players within the game are given the freedom to regulate and decide on appropriate parameters of the game, and this even goes as far as not needing referees. This keeps the money within the game and not out to referees, this could save clubs a fortune, and get clubs to work closer together, but this made possible by no focus on results. When the importance of the scoreline is taken away there are less confrontations and any need for referees.

With the focus and importance placed on the scoreline, there is less investment in the process. It also means coaches cannot make decisions based on the benefit of the individual player, but what will get them the win, but that is the adult world. Coaches need to be rotating players through different positions, and setting out the players to achieve a solution to a given problem through the practice topic.

This is where winning and development cannot co-exist, as their priorities are different, and the process is different, therefore not pulling in the same direction to reach a common goal.

How Can You Help

By investing in and supporting the process, this gives both the coach and players freedom to make mistakes, learn, and grow. From the players perspective, the chance to play without stress gives them an opportunity to try new skills and be a decision maker on the field. Reading up on the clubs vision and philosophy will help with understanding the direction and purpose of the club. The focus on a game day from a parent should be age appropriate and specific to their own child, and not based a comparison with a different player. The importance should also be placed on the player being out and playing, and that you enjoy watching them play.

Some things we cannot change, and this needs to come from the higher organizations that govern soccer in the US, but at a local level we can all help with making change.

An Elite Coaches Insight –

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