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.
My 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 .
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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.
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.
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 competitive. Only 180 of the 1.5 million boys who play organized youth football in England will become a Premier League professional player. Here ex-Liverpool/England player Steven Gerrard 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 fully committed to assisting young players elevate their performance standards on par with academy players at professional clubs in Europe. Our talent ID & development programs consist of three main elements: Benchmark Testing (ASSESSMENT), Online & Live Training (LEARNING) and direct pathways to training & trials with professional clubs in Europe (PERFORM)
As I have been advocating for many years, it is my belief that young North American players can compete at the highest levels. Theo Corbeanu, a former player in our program, is now involved in the 1st team squad at Wolves in the English Premier League and as an example of what is possible if you can reach the required performance 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, who has experience playing in Europe and North America to confirmed this.
Embrace Hard Work in all your training sessions & games this week. Hard Work beats talent ……when talent doesn’t work hard!