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#75685 - 03/29/11 10:52 PM Re: Soccer as a Vehicle for Learning Life Lessons [Re: AndyBarney]
hindsight2020 Offline

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 130
Originally Posted By: AndyBarney
Safety or Adventure?

Predictability or Randomness?

Ignorance or Experience?

Brave, creative leadership are cutting edge personal characteristics ...:) Andy

The silence of Andy was pleasant, but it didn't last long enough. OK, I'm an accountant, but didn't Andy's first sentence use the wrong verb?

Kaka, get Andy to use short comments again. Even if he's wrong, it's less painful to this board.

BTW, are spring sign ups over? Can't figure out why he's bragging about a club with HOW MANY freshman girls starting varsity.

#75705 - 03/30/11 02:15 PM Re: Soccer as a Vehicle for Learning Life Lessons [Re: hindsight2020]
AndyBarney Offline

Registered: 06/14/06
Posts: 1785
Stance Training by Deceptive Dribbling and its Vital Importance to Developing Great Teams

The mistake most coaches make is to view coaching as age based instead of stage based. We often see players who haven’t learned to dribble attempting to play the passing game. Inevitably the player with little dribbling training struggles to manipulate the ball with skill and has to resort to playing a clumsier version of the game with limited touches. What I mean by this is that any player with no serious exposure to an intense deceptive dribbling curriculum will not have the 1 v 1 skills needed at the highest level but will also lack the ability to prepare the ball under pressure to make a great pass or shot. The key to Brazilian success is their ability to adopt the right "stance" when shooting or passing. Penetrative passing and accurate shooting excellence depends heavily on being able to commit and beat defenders. Talented dribblers are often able to force defenders to commit and create space where a sophisticated passing game fails. Yet we have failed to recognize the vital role deceptive dribbling plays in providing great passers and finishers the essential "margin of greatness" ingredient to make ball striking excellence possible. Over two decades of developing excellent dribblers, who later became talented passers, has led me to the realization that an intelligently structured deceptive dribbling curriculum is the best way to create the foundation for effective passing. It's one of the conundrums of coaching that it is the selfish part of the game, (deceptive dribbling), that leads to success in the unselfish part, (passing). For example, it is first the ability to dribble the ball to the defensive point of no return and squeeze a pass by the 1st defender that determines whether a "Wall Pass" will be successful. Without this dribbling ability the defender remains "uncommitted" and can track the passer goal side thereby denying penetration. In my opinion the Brazilian national team has achieved its remarkable success as a result of its superior dribbling culture that has provided a root system of talented deceptive dribblers. The Brazilian culture deifies deceptive dribbling. Little boys from the streets have for decades emulated the dribbling skills of Garrincha, Pele, Zico, Romario, Ronaldo, Rivaldo & Ronaldinho from the time they could walk. No other country in the world has this dribbling worship culture and no other country has five World Cup winner’s trophies! What the rest of the world fails to recognize is because deceptive dribbling teaches a full repertoire of body positions under pressure at speed, (“Stance Points”), and trains the ability to create space or beat defenders, it provides the perfect foundation to "Set Up" a quick pass or shot under pressure.

The ultimate goal of most coaches is to develop a team that can win games at their level. In this quest to win such coaches teach a passing game and therefore develop players who gradually play a more refined version of the game, but still with limited touches. To most coaches that great dribbler, penetrating passer and finisher who can decide games with the sheer brilliance of his/her tactical choice, plus the accuracy and touch needed to lay the ball in front of the onrushing striker for the winning goal, is a player that they would love to recruit but they don’t know how to develop. It's in how to develop the deceptive dribbling, shooting and passing ability that every coach would like on their team that the Legends soccer club excels.

In the Legends we believe that we can train the best team technique by teaching the widest repertoire of individual deceptive dribbling moves as the stance platform for developing elite finishing and passing techniques. As the player gains skill and confidence we gradually increase defensive pressure on the dribble, pass or shot. In this way our players learn great 1 v 1, scoring and passing technique simultaneously.

We also believe that in most cases the moment the ball is received is usually the wrong moment to make the pass and that by forcing our players to play 1 and 2 touch before their teammate can get open, teaches poor decision making and lessens their effectiveness. This dictates that we need to teach our players how to hold the ball until the right moment to pass and often how to create that opportunity by moving the defender out of the desired penetrating avenue. This demands deceptive dribbling (fakes and moves).

The Brazilians are fantastic passers. This has been a decisive quality in their ability to win 5 World Cups. This quality is often made possible by the ability to put the ball and defender in exactly the right position at the right moment to allow the best pass to be made. This is a function of "stance control". Stance control is the ability to coordinate all body parts in a split second to maximize the percentage chance of the desired outcome. Top coaches in all individual sports know that stance training is the core of technical brilliance. Stance control in soccer is best trained by deceptive dribbling because the neuromuscular actions inherent to deceptive dribbling, under extreme defensive pressure, are the most challenging physical skills of soccer.

Therefore, in a logical yet strangely contradictory twist of coaching, we have to train the very best deceptive dribblers in order to develop world class passers. In a continuing twist on logic, training the most effective goal scorers also trains the best passers. This is because great goal scoring ability transfers into the much easier, but similar skill of passing to the maximum possible degree.

As a further bonus the great striker, dribbler and passer is usually very confident and willing to take on team leadership roles and responsibilities. Because of the combination of skills and confidence this usually earns the respect of teammates and coaches. This team leadership component is a common trait of star players. The ability, peer respect and character required to lead in soccer carries over into life. This is unquestionably the greatest long-term benefit of tremendous deceptive dribbling training.

At first glance the Legends method of training only the deceptive dribbler and goal scorer seems to ignore the more common or core skills of the game, i.e. passing and receiving. However, the reality is a completely different story. Great goal scorers are always excellent passers. Great deceptive dribblers are inevitably able to beat players or create space for the pass under pressure. These two facets of the Legends approach were covered in depth in my first book but what comes next wasn’t. Over the past two years the importance of “Stance” in the development of the “open sport” athlete has become dramatically evident to me. Stance is the focus of much racquet sport coaching. I have coaching licenses in tennis, squash and badminton. All three are by comparison with soccer relatively “closed” sports. The licensing courses in all three racquet sports contained a tremendous focus on developing perfect stance at the moment of racquet and ball impact. By comparison soccer licensing courses have a much broader focus. Stance is rarely emphasized in soccer because the situations in which technical actions are performed are so varied and diverse that any discussion of the perfect “stance” is rendered useless by the massive menu of stances the game gives us to choose from. This is not surprising because soccer is the most “open” of all world sports. Due to the wide and ever changing nature of its demands soccer is very difficult to coach. There are thousands of different coaching theories leading to the inevitable confusion and conflicting methods that permeate the worldwide soccer coaching community. As a consequence there is possibly more disagreement and confusion between soccer coaches than any other sports coaching fraternity.

Bearing in mind that variations on technique are so incredibly numerous, it is beyond the capacity of a traditional coach to train every skill involved in the game to an elite level during a youth career. With this in mind the Legends advocates a unique approach that teaches the young player how to assume thousands of critical but less complicated stances needed to pass and receive the ball, by focusing on the stance control learned under greater pressure while performing the significantly more difficult skills of deceptive dribbling and finishing.

For over five decades the Brazilians have been hailed for their incredible passing ability. It is the Legends hypothesis that their passing excellence is built around the challenges and improvements to stance control that their talented players experienced within the more difficult neuromuscular demands of the “margin of greatness” skills i.e. deceptive dribbling and finishing.

Legends players are taught the thirteen best fakes and moves known to soccer. These moves give each player two options for every 1 v 1 situation they will possibly encounter in the game. These moves are the most complicated & difficult neuromuscular patterns in soccer. Legends players are also taught to score by powering, swerving, chipping, volleying & half-volleying the ball. These shooting techniques are the most difficult release skills of the game; skills many times more pressured and difficult than those of passing. Inherent within the teaching and constant escalating pressures of deceptive dribbling and goal scoring are thousands of stance points.

For example, an attacker choosing the “Wall Pass” as the penetrating tactic needs to be able to keep close ball control at speed and commit the defender at precisely the right moment. A successful wall pass play involves the build up to the pass; the execution of the initial pass and a good return pass. This maximizes the chance of receiving the return pass goal side of the opponent. The whole sequence, under a variety of game conditions, involves many crucial stance points…all of which are best and quickest learned while dribbling deceptively under pressure at speed. The first and crucial stance point is exactly when the initial ball carrier passes to his teammate. The dribble at the first defender must occur at optimum speed and the pass must be delivered exactly when the attacker is close enough to the defender to make him hesitate enough to allow the attacker to pass and win the race into the space between him and the goal.

At the crucial moment a well trained deceptive dribbler and finisher will have the honed ability to adapt his stance to the demands of the passing situation. This ability to assume the correct stance under extreme pressure is best honed in the more difficult dribble and shoot environment close to the opposition goal.

In his great book the “Talent Code” Daniel Coyle hypothesizes that only consistent, escalating challenges, involving ever greater degrees of difficulty, will lay down enough myelin insulation to guarantee exceptional mental and physical performance.

It makes perfect sense that the two most difficult and rarest of soccer’s skills i.e. deceptive dribbling and finishing, if conquered to a superior level, will carry over into a wide range of soccer’s other skills and situations and by developing the very best players help them to lead their teams in brave and creative ways. As Daniel Coyle so rightly states, “Greatness isn’t born. It’s grown!” Deceptive dribbling and finishing is the quickest way to soccer greatness!

While watching the Brazil vs Ivory Coast in the 2010 World Cup the British commentator made an observation that “The Brazilians are such good passers because they caress the ball.” He perhaps didn’t realize the degree to which his observation rings true, or just how perceptive it was. What the world’s soccer coaching community still fails to recognize despite all the evidence is that the Brazilians are such great passers because they are great deceptive dribblers and goal scorers. The goal scoring part of the equation is more obvious because passing and shooting share so many common components and shooting is many times harder. What is not so obvious is the role that deceptive dribbling plays in developing truly great passers and finishers.

When I was a physical education student in my early twenties I took coaching qualifications in many sports. Four of these were: Olympic Weightlifting, Badminton, Tennis and Squash. In all four the lecturers continually emphasized the vital importance of “stance”. Soccer coaches often refer to technique but rarely teach to specific stance points. This is probably because soccer is so diverse that it involves thousands of different stance points and an incredible variety of technical challenges. If indeed stance is as vitally important in soccer as in other sports, it is so in a very flexible way because it has the world’s most extensive, diverse and challenging array of technical and tactical neuromuscular demands.

If stance is so indisputably important, and soccer involves thousands of stance points, how then can flexibility of stance be taught by coaches and combined with shooting skill to develop talented players who can quickly create the perfect body position for the hardest of passes or shots?

The answer is deceptively simple but completely counterintuitive…by deceptive dribbling. This is dribbling with fakes and moves under extremes of pressure. Dribbling under pressure in crowds builds incredible flexibility of stance and speed of tactical recognition. Moves and fakes under pressure are the neuromuscular rocket science skills of soccer. In tennis the hardest skill is perhaps the drop shot, in basketball the through the legs dribble in the key, in gymnastics the double back somersault. Once an athlete can perform such difficult skills the easier ones involving simpler stance points are a breeze.

So there we have it!! Brazilians grow up in a culture of dribble and shoot. While Brits and Americans grow up in a culture of get rid of the ball quickly up field to win. Brazilians are encouraged to hog it, while young Limeys and Yanks are encouraged to “Kick It”!! The enjoyment and domination of the ball young Brazilians learn when younger, eventually makes them capable of greater flexibility and precision of body control, hence their incredible ability to set up a successful shot or pass.

Daniel Coyle’s book, “The Talent Code”, highlights the role of myelin in the development of any type of genius. Myelin is the critical body substance that governs ones ability to develop expertise in soccer. As Coyle states “practice makes myelin, and myelin makes perfect. Each time we deeply practice a nine-iron swing or a guitar chord or a chess opening, we are slowly installing broadband in our circuitry. We are firing a signal that tiny green myelin tentacles sense; they react by reaching toward the nerve fibers. They grasp, they squish, and they make another wrap, thickening the sheath. They build a little more insulation along the wire, which adds a bit more bandwidth and precision to the skill circuit, which translates into an infinitesimal bit more skill and speed. Struggle is not optional…it’s neurologically required: in order to get your skill circuit to fire optimally, you must by definition fire the circuit sub-optimally; you must make mistakes and pay attention to those mistakes; you must slowly teach your circuit. You must also keep firing that circuit…i.e., practicing…in order to keep myelin functioning properly.”

It has long been known that practice makes permanent; that only perfect practice makes perfect. Soccer is the most “open” of all sports. The skill repertoire required of all field players in soccer is the most varied and diverse of all sports. Because of this it is almost impossible to separately repeat all of soccer’s vital neuromuscular patterns to the necessary degree of expertise to become expert in every one. As a consequence most coaches settle for laying down only the necessary neuromuscular patterns for a simpler and less risky passing & receiving game designed to win now! In Britain or the 70’s and 80’s Charles Hughes simplified this process to a greater degree by advocating that the greatest statistical success would be achieved by reducing each player’s repertoire of skills to a “route one”, long ball, limited technical/tactical approach played by players with the necessary athleticism and aggression to minimize risk in the defensive half and maximize reward in the offensive half of the field.

The Legends philosophy is built around the belief that elite myelin “bandwidth” for all the skills of soccer can be trained in a fraction of the time by utilizing the Phys’ Ed’ principle of “Transfer of Training”. If the hypotheses of Daniel Coyle and the research of Anders Ericsson, Herbert Simon and Bill Chase are as credible as they seem, their findings reinforce the Legends belief that a focus on developing expertise in deceptive dribbling and finishing will, through “Transfer of Training”, multiply both the soccer and life character benefits and opportunities of players trained in this manner.

It’s so simple. If you want to be a great passer learn first to be a great deceptive dribbler and finisher! If you want to be a servant leader in life first attend to developing your own abilities to an elite level before attempting to lead others.

#75711 - 03/30/11 04:44 PM Re: Soccer as a Vehicle for Learning Life Lessons [Re: hindsight2020]
AndyBarney Offline

Registered: 06/14/06
Posts: 1785
BTW, are spring sign ups over? Can't figure out why he's bragging about a club with HOW MANY freshman girls starting varsity.


Rachel Cattrell from the current High School Freshman age group played for our club for many years. She's on the National Team.

I'm sure our methods helped her.

I wouldn't be surprised if many of her original Legends team mates are playing high school varsity. I'm sorry that I don't have the time to research this but I do hope that we gave them the skill foundation they needed to achieve significant individual success.

smile Andy

#75718 - 03/31/11 07:22 AM Re: Soccer as a Vehicle for Learning Life Lessons [Re: AndyBarney]
AndyBarney Offline

Registered: 06/14/06
Posts: 1785
Increasing the Odds of Developing a Great Leader: Specializing and Focusing on What Really Matters

I've never met anyone really successful at two things. At least not for long! Michael Jordan was a decent basketball player but not so hot at baseball or golf. There might be an exception out there somewhere. But I'm convinced it's the people in the top 5% to 10% of their chosen area of expertise that enjoy the greatest fulfillment. It takes many years to be the best at anything you do. In the Legends club we're intensely focused and long-term oriented. We have decided to do one incredibly important thing. We train great character for life. We develop brave, creative leaders by first making them exceptional soccer players. We teach them to embrace the most difficult and risky plays because it is always the “here and now”, or current moment of process, that determines eventual capability and success. If that means someone else wins the next game, so be it. We don't need to worry about how other coaches in the community are using their players to feed their ego. We don't need to win games early in a kid's career and then find out that our players can't cut the mustard when they are showcasing for a college scholarship, raising their own child or competing for the big business contract in later life.

Ego motivated coaches and parents keep shoving team records and statistical stuff down our throats showing how teams are winning this league or that tournament. These are childish attempts to show that their child’s team is successful. They somehow feel that these “wins” reflect their superiority in meaningful ways. Yet these same people cut, reject, pigeonhole and limit their players in their ego centered quest for recognition. It's pathetic!! Should we judge our schools by whether they win a State Championship in sports or by how many students graduate, go to college and enjoy a fulfilling career? Should we judge our sports programs by statistical wins or by the positive character they build in children?

In the Legends method we focus on doing the one most important thing right! We maximize each child’s brave, creative leadership character in soccer and life. As we ignore wins and losses to focus on your child, he/she is free to grow to the greatest possible personal degree. Because our coaches are totally focused on your child he/she is guaranteed to improve optimally with each practice and game. In programs where the coach or parent has one eye on the score the child is caught between two conflicting objectives. Most tactical ways to win games actually restrict learning opportunities for children. It seems paradoxical but win motivated coaches actually guarantee children a sub-optimal learning experience, while coaches who focus on developing brave, creative leaders through using the Legends methods, without regard for statistical wins and losses, increase your child’s odds of soccer and life success exponentially.

Because each player is constantly maximizing their own potential and using their superior skills and attitude to challenge teammates, the Legends learning curve is shorter than our competitor’s. As each individual’s personal ability and sense of self-worth grows the team’s statistical results also improve. It takes longer to build a statistically successful team using this individually optimizing approach but as the team matures statistical wins, at ever higher levels of the game, are the inevitable positive outcome.

My sincere hope is that coaches who axe, cut, pigeonhole, bench, rob players of learning opportunities to win, realize the damage that their need for a short-term ego boost is incredibly damaging to children. If they are quality people, they will gradually realize that child development is a marathon race and that the great mentor works from the ultimate goal backwards by focusing on key aspects of individual growth and improvement, not short-term wins. A statistically successful coach that uses any of the above negative tactics to win does so at the cost of long term character and leadership. Such statistical success doesn't mean much. If anything it hurts children. What matters is net improvement. Net improvement is determined by the amount of positive character learned and applied to life after the pre-teen or teenage victories are forgotten. Success in life is dependent on gross, or long-term, development. If we rob long-term development to get a winning short-term statistic the result is often long-term failure. Good teachers develop children into passionate, innovative learners who are committed to giving 100% effort. These children become brave, creative leaders for life. Professional coaches who focus on short-term wins at the cost of long-term learning make money or boost their ego under false pretences. They concentrate on the image not the substance, the short-term not the long-term and the instant gratification not the lifelong need to be part of something good and worthwhile.

In the Legends club our excellent coaches concentrate on the fundamental strength of a child's character by first teaching the individual to be exceptionally skillful with the ball, then how to apply these elite skills tactically to maximum effect!! Inevitably these key life skills carry over into more serious adult environments like career, marriage and parenthood.

To good parents these key life skills are far more important than any ego boost a short-term statistical win can provide.

#75725 - 03/31/11 12:01 PM Re: Soccer as a Vehicle for Learning Life Lessons [Re: AndyBarney]
AndyBarney Offline

Registered: 06/14/06
Posts: 1785
The Growth Spurt Years - Playing to Win or Playing to Optimize Potential

Playing to win isn't an issue in our club. At every age our players consistently fight hard for the victory. The challenge is more about getting the parents and players to understand how to practice and play to develop an incredible self-concept, an effort based attitude and brave, creative leadership for life. It’s about getting everyone to understand how to replace the anti-developmental, short-term win paradigm that robs long-term potential, with the brave, creative short-term risk that guarantees long-term soccer success and the fulfillment of leadership potential.

The molehill is soccer development. The mountain is character for life. Interestingly, the two are mutually complimentary, i.e. while focusing on brave, creative leadership character for life individual players will maximize their personal potential as a leader so that, in the long-term, they can help their team win.

It is my personal conviction that the Manchester United Academy approach of "ages 5-11 being the phase of creative technical training" is a decent start but in the long-term view, far too short. Creative technical training has to, at the very least, be continued through the growth spurt, or else the mature individual ends up with a backpack of useless untrained connective tissue added after age 12. If creative technical training isn’t continued after age 12, over half of the mature player’s connective tissue will have developed after the cessation of creative technical training. If this occurs those tissues will retard or overwhelm the creatively trained tissue developed by all the hard work during the first 11 years. Through the decades many of my players aged 4-11 learned to dribble with incredible deception and great ratios of success against opponents. However during the 12-15 years these same players often struggled to complete creative deceptive dribbling moves that worked when they were younger. This loss of ability accompanied the body changes associated with the growth spurt. During this frustrating experience many of the moves that had worked previously were no longer working. My players were losing the ball to opponents they used to dominate. Teams we would have previously beaten were beating us. However, I wouldn’t let them give up on or abandon their previously successful deceptive dribbling methods. At this time all my players were tempted to give up on their creative dribbling and play a simpler game. When this temptation crept into their game I applied conditions that forced them to be creative, such as having to perform a move before every pass. Eventually every player filled out, developed his/her mature strength and explosive power, and rediscovered their ability to dominate opponents with their dribbling skills. When this happened their deceptive dribbling success mushroomed and their personal reputation and self-concept exploded. Had we not insisted on brave, creative play through the growth spurt many of these players would have lost their deceptive dribbling ability forever. This loss of skill and the peer respect that goes with it would have destroyed their ability to make and lead their high school and college team. What’s interesting and challenging is that no-one escapes the curse of the growth spurt. Even those who mature early, and quickly get their adult strength, have a tendency to rely on this superior strength to out muscle opponents, instead of using deceptive skill and guile. If, in the short-term, you can dominate an opponent by kicking and running it’s hard to appreciate that in two years that opponent’s speed and strength will catch up. When this equalization happens, the player who resorted to relying wholly on superior physical ability often finds that their dominance has disappeared, perhaps forever. There are many parallels in everyday life where people with certain natural or learned talents coast on their current ability, only to find that someone else working harder and/or more intelligently passes them by. Training deceptive dribbling skills through the growth spurt years is a great way to remind children that only those hard working individuals who “sharpen the saw”, i.e. work hard in the preparation phase of the task, will in the long run optimize their potential and success.

Look at Christiano Ronaldo when he joined Man United. He was accurately derided for being a "One Trick Pony" but continued to work on widening his technical repertoire to eventually become, at times, unstoppable!

It is my belief that we see stagnation in the great players when they cease to work on ever greater technical, tactical, physiological and psychological risks. In the last few decades we have seen a premature decline in effectiveness of Ronaldo & Ronaldinho. It also happened to George Best & Maradona. Conversely the super stars who maintained their focus e.g. Pele, Cruyff, Zidane, continued to have a major impact, (In Zidane’s case please excuse the pun), until they retired.

smile Andy

#75726 - 03/31/11 02:05 PM Re: Soccer as a Vehicle for Learning Life Lessons [Re: AndyBarney]
Duane Pipe Offline

Registered: 01/24/06
Posts: 74
Loc: Lone Jack, Mo

#75728 - 03/31/11 05:08 PM Re: Soccer as a Vehicle for Learning Life Lessons [Re: Duane Pipe]
AndyBarney Offline

Registered: 06/14/06
Posts: 1785
Improvisation is Intuition in Action

Improvisation is intuition in action, a way to express the subconscious, a way to learn to respond to numerous subtle cues. Players who have been taught to work in a very structured, compositional way never maximize the improvisation of the great ones, (i.e. Pele, Maradona, Zidane, Ronaldo). The ability to access one’s creative intuition is brought about by an escalating process of free invention in which the player has nothing serious to gain and nothing of dire consequence to lose. The outpourings of intuition consist of a continuous, rapid flow of choice, choice, choice, choice. When we improvise with all our being, riding the flow of great skill and many choices, the options, difficulties, calculations and solutions gradually coalesce into a powerful insight, leading to automatic reactions on a higher plane. When this happens we have no time to get scared or retreat from what intuition is telling us. It is here, when a child’s brave, creative, leadership character is severely tested and forged by the combination of; 1) the spotlight; 2) intense neuromuscular challenge 3) fatigue 4) frustration; 5) physical pain 6) psychological stress, that potential is maximized. It is here that creative intuition is most difficult and yet it is here that true deep, lasting brave, creative character under pressure is permanently cemented into a child’s foundation.

Character is built in the difficult phases of any activity. The challenge is to make everything as difficult as possible with some success, to maximize the discomfort, to build the greatest degree of character possible. In the ball striking learning phase you can; a) tap a ball gently against a wall from 5 yards or; b) step back 25 yards and let one fly. Which of the two builds the greatest character? Is it the easy action or the difficult one? Alternatively, should you juggle a ball or rip a fake with it? Each of these technical skills is difficult but one is the money skill that takes incredible guts to perform under pressure and beats a player in the one v one while the other is rarely used in the clutch situations of the game. If brave, creative, leadership character is built by taking on the greatest challenges and by overcoming the greatest obstacles then deceptive dribbling and shooting should be the very first skills worked upon because these are the skills that have to be the most daunting and technically demanding!

Should I shoot or pass? Shooting is the ultimate acceptance of responsibility for the work of the whole team that got you within range to let one fly. Passing is a handing off of this responsibility. Shooting embraces the challenge of soccer’s most difficult and influential moment with all its difficulty and pressure.

Should you dribble or pass? Which is easiest? Is it easier to give the ball to someone else or is it easier to take a player on? If the emphasis is to make every moment on and off the ball a brave, creative leadership moment, the skill with the greatest risks, pressure, degree of technical difficulty etc should be the one chosen. Yet the polar opposite is true in conventional coaching. Conventional coaches want to win and even though the win comes at the cost of developing the most difficult skills and the character that can only be built while doing so, the vast majority of coaches cannot overcome their biases and lifelong conditioning to reject the win in the best interest of each and every player.

smile Andy

#75729 - 03/31/11 05:10 PM Re: Soccer as a Vehicle for Learning Life Lessons [Re: AndyBarney]
AndyBarney Offline

Registered: 06/14/06
Posts: 1785
Paralysis by Analysis or Ignition by Intuition

“When analytic thought, the knife, is applied to experience, something is always killed in the process”
Robert M Pirsig – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

What dies is creativity. When analysis and thought define the methods of team attack a rigidity of tactics takes over from creative improvisation. Predetermined methods override intuition and the element of surprise diminishes. At a high level of play the loss of creativity, improvisation and intuition is fatal because defenders rarely make mistakes. Great players have to be taught an intuitive sense of what will work in a wide variety of offensive circumstances, plus the deceptive dribbling and ball striking expertise necessary to capitalize on the best option. This option is more often than not the least predictable to defenders and involves the highest degree of technical difficulty.

The arena of tactics is perhaps best understood if broken down into two fundamental parts. These are 1) the predetermined and 2) the instantaneous intuitive. The coaching mistake to avoid is training attacking players from a predetermined perspective when it is the instantaneous intuitive that will reap the greatest harvest. The predetermined tactical view point is where analytic thought is applied to experience to solve a variety of new problems that are consistently original. As you progress to higher levels of play the predetermined offensive tactical approach becomes ever less viable. Successful solutions to unique problems are usually more creative and original than the problem. In soccer no two offensive problems can ever be identical twins. Each and every attack is different from anything that has gone before. The differences may be very subtle and relatively minimal but they will always be real and new. While each attack will have similarities to previous ones, the menu of choices is always changing. At the higher level of play the menu changes quicker so decisions have to be made faster. On the last pitch of a climb to the top of the most dangerous mountain in bad weather there is little time to reflect and analyze because every moment wasted can determine “life or death” so every second is crucial. In the penalty area in the final of the World Cup there is no time to carefully consider options. Time and space are so restricted that the correct response must be rocket fast; a “knee jerk” reaction! This type of instinct has to be trained but cannot be of a traditional tactical nature. Instinct training involves exposure to, and immersion in, a wide variety of creative, intuitive, deceptive, unpredictable solutions under rapid fire chaotic circumstances. The crowded penalty area in a World Cup final has similarities to some of life’s other high other pressure environments. The Stock Exchange, a Gordon Ramsey kitchen at prime time on a Friday evening, Grand Central Station in rush hour when one is late for work…all share similarities with the crowded penalty area. Without a combination of great technical skill, experience under great pressure, adaptability and creativity the stockbroker, Friday night chef or Grand Central Station traveler on a very tight deadline, is doomed to experience some degree of failure.

The Legends method of preparing players involves constant exposure to the ragged edge of creative chaos. Our players are taught to intuitively conquer sequential escalations in clutch deceptive dribbling and finishing situations. This process transitions through four essential stages. 1) Learning the most creative deceptive dribbling and finishing techniques to strict tolerances. 2) Conquering 1 v 1 tactics under pressure in a crowd 3) Combining with a variety of team mates in highly pressured and chaotic 2 v 2 match ups. 4) Integrating great technical skill, 1 v 1 and 2 v 2 clutch play into a clutch tactical framework that integrates all three previous stages and components in the most demanding instantaneous and intuitive practice scenario imaginable.

By training children in this way we optimize genetic potential for soccer but, more importantly, brave, creative leadership potential in life.

smile Andy

#75740 - 04/01/11 08:17 AM Re: Soccer as a Vehicle for Learning Life Lessons [Re: AndyBarney]
AndyBarney Offline

Registered: 06/14/06
Posts: 1785
The Best Leadership Training
Environment for Kids

While at the USYSA National Convention in 2010 Andrew Clifton and I had dinner with a national scout leader from their head office in Dallas. We discussed the premise of character development through scouting in some depth. It is in many ways very similar to the Legends one. He waxed lyrical about the myriad of ways in which scouting builds deep character for life. He was absolutely right on the money. Scouting is a fantastic character development tool for children.

Scouting is undoubtedly a good leadership training experience. However, is it as good as Legends soccer? This is a question I have often asked when comparing the Legends coaching system to other child development opportunities. I understand there are more questions to be asked and many different ways to evaluate alternative developmental opportunities. However, having asked the hard questions of all the alternative developmental environments suggested to me through the years, I still can’t identify one that combines such a powerful combination of character building hardship with fun and passion, as the Legends method of training soccer.

Is soccer the best way to train leaders? Specifically is the Legends approach the best approach within the best activity to develop leaders (kind of a best within the best line of thought)?

Leadership often starts in the home based on interactions with family, friends and their example, (mostly from parents). Leadership ability is trained by a series of activities rather than a pure focus on something as simplistic as a single sport. Most of the people we consider strong leaders have more to offer than can be learned from a pure dedication to a sport or a single way of thinking. Exposure to multiple ways of thinking during the developmental years gives a young person an advantage in how to lead across many different personalities and interests.

There are many different types of leaders. The hope that one type of training will create all the best leaders is quite flawed. There are multiple paths to greatness and it takes many different talents to make a truly interesting and productive society.

Critics say that situational leadership is the key in many situations, so thinking that children should receive training from a single environment or a single sport is misguided. Their premise is that one single forum is not the best way to prepare for the many challenges that will face a true leader. Their position is that learning theory has proven that different people learn in different ways, and that suggesting a “strict one-size-fits-all” leadership training method is to dumb down teaching and reduce our potential leaders to fit a mold that doesn’t work for everyone. They believe that promoting soccer as the only true path to leadership is insulting to those that don't possess the interest or ability in that area. That those people are better off chasing other dreams rather than following the Legends methods of training soccer.

I agree with these criticisms. I'm not suggesting the Legends approach is a panacea, (cure all). However, when one developmental environment combines a greater number of accepted leadership challenges, (with fun and passion), than any other, it stands to reason that children will have a greater chance of fulfilling their potential by participating in that environment. If this premise makes sense then the best environment needs to be identified and the best methods/curriculum for developing children within that environment utilized. In my opinion, this is what the Legends club has done!

In order to maximize leadership potential, soccer, (coached the Legends way), has to be combined with other developmental environments. However, unless I am missing something, soccer coached the Legends way is the most complete single developmental youth environment for training character.

Soccer coached using the Legends method combines fun with constant extremes of fun, fatigue, frustration, physical and psychological abuse. What other reasonably safe developmental environment does this? In what other child development forum does your child need to compute and assess as many variables in limited time? In other circumstances is your child’s fitness and decision making capability put under the same degree of pressure? In any other domain is your child on center stage, under the spotlight, in a highly criticized competitive contest? In any other setting is your child expected to come up with an exceptional variety of out-of-the-box solutions? Soccer coached the Legends way guarantees a unique combination of fear, daunting perceptive challenge and failure all presented in a way that children love. As a consequence Legends soccer develops a high degree of motivation, bravery, creativity and perseverance, all vital characteristics of leadership character.

Given the limited amount of time available parents have to make key choices with regard to the developmental environments they support. My premise is not that soccer is a "cure all" for character development. However I do believe that soccer coached the Legends way is the most complete single positive character developing pursuit a child can engage in. If this is true it should be an integral part of most children's developmental agenda.

I would encourage you, the reader, to think critically, and identify any other single developmental environment that could be better for character development than soccer. Then compare that evaluation with soccer coached the Legends way, (a high risk approach designed to develop brave, creative, leaders), and decide for yourself if soccer coached the Legends way is the most complete single positive character developing pursuit a child can engage in.

smile Andy

#75741 - 04/01/11 09:39 AM Re: Soccer as a Vehicle for Learning Life Lessons [Re: AndyBarney]
zidane5 Offline
old hand

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 737
please switch to decaf. get some help now

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