Too often, we as coaches, look to make things (training sessions) too complex for our players when simplicity would be a more valuable solution. We want to progress from one activity to the next…continually adding another layer – increasing the difficulty and demand on the players. More often than not, the end product is something that might look pleasing to a by-stander, but is it soccer? Does it sufficiently address the problem you were trying to solve with your players?
“FOOTBALL IS SIMPLE. THE HARDEST THING TO DO IS PLAY SIMPLE FOOTBALL.” – JOHAN CRUYFF
I recently conducted a coaching event with a gentleman by the name of Manuel Vidrio. I did not know Manuel prior to this event but was looking forward to meeting him. Manuel was a very successful central defender earning 37 caps for Mexico over a 10 year period (1993-2002) including representing his country in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and 2002 World Cup in Korea. In addition, Manuel represented clubs such as Chivas Guadalajara, Pachuca, Toluca, Osusana, UAG and Veracruz.
I was hoping to learn a thing or two from watching his training sessions….to gain a better understanding of his influences – both as a player and how those influences now showed in his coaching. Maybe I would see something new – an idea that I could commit to the memory bank and use for myself at another time. Better yet, the discussions we would have about youth development at the end of grueling days in the hot sun.
Through his broken English, my biggest take-away is what I heard (and understood) him say repeatedly to the 13-15 year olds who made up this event – “SIMPLE. SIMPLE. SIMPLE.” If it wasn’t that statement used, it was “CONTROL. PASS. EASY.” (as he said clapping his hands together as if washing them clean). “I control the ball and pass to Alberto Garcia Aspe’. SIMPLE.”
Coach Vidrio had a very basic explanation of a team. “Most teams have one or two special players. The rest are there to support those special players. I was one of those supporting players.” On so many levels, I completely agree.
There is/are no magic exercise(s). Nothing revolutionary. Just simplicity.
Coaches – keep that in mind as you prepare your next training session. Organize a simple game for the players, sit back, watch, let mistakes happen and fight the urge to go in and fix it. Give the game to the players and let them sort some stuff out on their own. Use the game as a guide. Identify (1) one specific problem in the game and focus your coaching on that singular idea.
First – give the game time to mature. Then see if the players can solve the problem on their own. If not, get in and get back out quickly (in other words – make your point quickly and get the game going immediately). See what comes of players trying to sort things out themselves.
K.I.S.S. – KEEP IT SOCCER SIMPLE