The World Cup is Coming to AmericaThere isn't an American soccer player who isn't already talking about and thinking about the World Cup in 2026. The excitement such a world-class event will bring to our continent is huge! That said, there is also a lot of thinking going on around not only how do we get our US team into the next World Cup, but what we have to do at home to bring our game to the next level. Discussions are already underway and escalating in some very positive ways. Keeping in mind the mistakes made in the US Men's soccer community over the years (more on this later), I propose that we're going to win if we need to come together. If we can identify the best of what American soccer has to offer and create something new that serves a much larger population - rather than arguing which is best and/or charging the cost of kidneys to play - we will produce a cohort of players that are every bit as good as the best players found elsewhere in the world. 1Different Training Methods and Tools Are AvailableSoccer training is a mixture of art and science. Ignoring cost for the moment, selection of a soccer training method is often driven by these (number) things:What resonates well with parentsWhat resonates well with playersThe age of the playerThe location and generally accepted cultural norms for that area or ClubThe goals that each coach brings to the craft & the challenges he or she is trying to overcomeThough parents are often not aware of the various methods and tool available, their perception of what should be done has a big impact on the selection process. If a parent doesn't see what they expect, they can pull a player out of a program and place them in a program they think is more "soccer-like." We see this all he time. Some methods / tools can take longer than others, but also have a profound impact on development of a given player.The same is true for players. If a player has a pre-conceived notion of what they should be getting from soccer training, and doesn't like the particular methods being offered, they can lobby for a change to a program that is more in line with their expectations.A more command or directed approach layered on top of fun soccer-like games may be more appropriate for younger players than for older players. By contrast, older players may respond better to active learning and guided discovery as opposed to a more directed approach. Geographies seem to develop their own style. I think this has a lot to do with the people living in that area. I could write an entire article about the pressures that different cultures put on soccer development, but I'll save that for a future episode. Methods and tools have different names and entire schools of thought have been built around each. Getting to know each of the methods and tools available can be a daunting task - especially when, like me, a coach believes in implementing more than one for player development.Here are some of the more common methods used to train soccer players:Guided Discovery - coach guides players through problem solving using carefully crafted questions that lead to self discovery Controlled Repetition - continual touches on the ball, practicing through repetitionPlay, Practice, Play - recently added to Youth Soccer's program, this involves playing in a game-like environment, breaking for practice sessions for a particular skill or skills, then returning to game-like conditions to develop and test for understandingcheckTask focused - players are expected to master a specific skill and can do so at their own pacecheckProgression - single themed practice session with progressively more complex skills introduction - one building on the othercheckCommand - directed learning initiated by the coach involving explaining a skill, demonstrating and skill, and allowing players to practice the skillcheckActive / Interactive Learning - the player is actively involved in their own learning, not passively participating.
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