Very interesting news coming out of one of the top soccer teams in the world:
Key parts pasted here:
Squad members feel like ‘robots’ under the manager’s famously methodical approach and as though they are wearing ‘straitjackets’ when they go onto the field of play.
Rooney and Carrick told Van Gaal that the players felt they had become suppressed, and that many were not enjoying their football.
Nobody is allowed to take a chance. They feel like they are wearing straitjackets. Everything is in zones. It’s a case of “you can only go this far”. The feeling is that they are being turned into robots.
Now imagine this kind of approach with youth soccer teams. Eleven, twelve, thirteen year old players with fixed positions, focusing on doing a couple of things well, coaches and parents upset if a twelve year old player tries to dribble and loses the ball, young defenders being taught not to take any risks, etc. Kids basically just playing a move-pass-move-pass-move etc. system of play.
There is no doubt that teams at the younger age brackets will perform better over the short and probably medium term with this kind of disciplined system of play, but is this really the way we want the kids to develop as players? Is this really the way to create creative players that enjoy the game and want to stick with it over the years? Do we really want to teach this to twelve year old kids or can we wait until they are, say, 16?
I strongly suggest that we find the right balance and time the introduction of systems of play better. Let’s encourage and celebrate risk taking and creativity and balance that with smart passing and movement. We don’t want egoistic players, of course, but we surely do want players that have the confidence to take risks and try unexpected and creative things. We need this to reach international standards of play. We need this to make sure our youth enjoy playing for as long as possible. And we need this to increase the entertainment factor of soccer in this country.